Browsing Tag

adapting a house for an elderly person

The right LED can change your life!

August 14, 2019
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Do you find that you can’t see as well at home in the evening? Do you need to ask for help to change light bulbs? Would you like to make savings on your electricity bills? Would you like create mood lighting in your home?

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LED bulbs may be the answer! I think that the right LED can change your life. There’s been a lot of change in light bulb technology and loads more choice in the shops since ordinary light bulbs started to be phased out. That’s why it can be tough getting a clear idea of what LED bulb to buy.

Long Life

For me LED bulbs were a no brainer. My mum can’t reach her ceiling light bulbs and the thought of her being stuck in the dark while I raced over to change a light bulb meant that I was delighted to buy bulbs that can have 25,000 even 50,000 hours of life. These new LED bulbs have a long life but always check the pack for life span – look at the amount of hours not days, after all you don’t know how many hours consitutes a day for some manufacturers! It seems that there isn’t an official standard for LED bulbs and reliability does vary between manufacturers

Energy Saving

Elderly people living on a budget could be tempted to skimp on how many lights they have on at home to make savings on the electricity bills. A combination of low light and poor eyesight means that tripping can become a real hazard. The good news is that LED bulbs use 90% less energy than a traditional light bulb (incadescent)… so you can make a saving on your bills as well as lighting your home well. Look out for bulbs that have gills on them – LED lights are cool to the touch and need to be kept cool. That’s exactly what those gills are doing: allowing the heat to dissipate.

Choosing the right bulb power can be confusing – I made up a chart that helps me decide which bulb to buy:

buildmumahouse jola piesakowska led lights lumens

This applies to UK power supplies

Next question… I’ve seen it on the pack. What on earth is Lumens? I found the chart below on a fact sheet produced by the Electrical Contractor’s Association website and it explains that lumens measures the amount of light radiated by the bulb. There is a further measurement and that is lux – but it’s not often a bit of information that is printed on a bulb box.

Build Mum A House Buildmumahouse

Quality of Light

When I was building my mum’s house she only had a few ‘must’ s and having a bright kitchen was vital for her. She was adamant that only a florescent tube would deliver enough light. However the plans had an open plan kitchen / living area. Florescent tubes are are white and bright and light up all the area around it, not so good if you want to create mood areas. LED lights have been fantastic, they give a directional light. I found that I was able to choose not only the angle of the beam but also the colour of light that is given off

  • daylight bulbs for the kitchen area
  • warm light for the sitting and relaxing area.
source: www.eca.co.uk

source: www.eca.co.uk

and finally there is the question of CRI I found this chart on the Philips website and it explains it quite simply that you should look for a CRI of 80-90:

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Yes, its confusing and you need to shop carefully… but these are expensive bulbs, they should last a long time and they can make a difference to your quality of light in your home.

TOP TIPS to help you choose the right LED bulb

  • Check for lifespan for estimated in hours not years/days.
  • Look for a well built bulb case with gills on it to keep the bulb cool and last longer.
  • Check out the angle of the light bulb – LEDs are directional so pick a wide angle for a good spread and narrow angle for highlighting.
  • Daylight colour bulbs are good for hobby areas or food prep areas. Warm lights are great for a relaxing area and are closer to the look of traditional bulbs.
  • For hobby areas where accurate colour can help the definition of what you are working on, look for a bulb that has a CRI of 80 to 90

I’m looking at mood lighting on my Instagram account Buildmumahouse and would love to hear from you if you who have any experiences or advice to share of setting up mood and task areas in your home

The Walk In Shower Solution That Helps You Keep your Independence in Style.

March 26, 2019
walk in shower, buildmumahouse, jola piesakowska, bathroom aging in placeaging in place,

Where can you find a non- slip, walk in shower that can be fitted quickly, in awkward spaces, without major disruption and LOOKS FANTASTIC? Have a look at the Fiora Elax shower trays that will surprise you as they aren’t actually a tray as we know it!

I recently discovered this Spanish shower room manufacturer – Fiora. I love their modern classic styling and high quality production and their company goal that sums up everything I look for in a bathroom product

“all our work must not lose sight of its main goal, which is that its use must improve the everyday life of people”

and I think that they follow through their belief that their range of bathroom products are designed to offer

“…multiple and diverse solutions.”

That’s exactly what I’m looking for in a walk in shower, good design, style, high quality and a product that is age proof and can be suitable for anyone with reduced mobility.

The Fiora Elax range looks fantastic, the styling is high end and very urban. It’s a shame that the catalogues emphasis glass walls and are focused only on the able bodied, there’s no reference to the installation of a shower seat or that they actually do cater for the needs of aging or arthritic joints.

It’s Not a Walk In Shower Tray – it’s a Mat!

I think that the Fiora Elax walk-in shower system is a solution worth considering for anyone looking for a shower tray that is non-slip, has a ‘give’ underfoot, warm to touch, and soft to stand on.

 

Bathroom, walk in shower, jola piesakowska, jolapiesakowska, walkin shower, walk in shower, bathroom trends, age in place, adapting a bathroom

copyright Fiora Elax

 

The shower tray is made of a flexible material that has a “give” making standing less tiring and it is warm to the touch – ideal for arthritic feet

 

 

 

 

bathroom makeover, walk in shower, aging in place, shower, adapting bathroom

Copyright Fiora Elax

 

 

The surface is rated at group 2 non-slip which means that it is a surface that is non-profiled (sleek) and has an even surface with a gritty texture.

 

Copyright Fiora Elax

 

 

 

and all of this is made possible because this tray arrives as a rolled up mat!

 

 

The shower tray mat comes in a range of tasteful colours which can be selected to contrast or blend in with the bathroom floor. Because this tray can be fitted level with the floor, which helps mobility issues, you can combine texture, warmth and a contrasting colour to help users with impaired vision.

 

The Perfect Solution for an En Suite Walk In Shower.

One of the problems about installing a walk in shower as an en suite without tearing the whole house apart, is that the shower needs to fit in with what space already exists. This is often a very big issue when you are installing a shower for someone who doesn’t want their home disrupted, and who isn’t feeling up to be part of a major building project.

This shower tray can fit practically anywhere. The material can be easily cut to size and shape using a knife. If you are planning to fit a shower seat you still need to look for a suitable wall to attach it to… but Fiora Elax shower tray mat can be cut and trimmed to size and shape that’s how it can fit most places.

bathroom renovation, age in place ensuite shower solution, jola Piesakowska, jolapiesakowska, buildmumahouse, build mum a house, Fiora Elax

Copyright Fiora Elax

Easy Access Shower Replacing a Bath?

It’s worth mentioning at this point that Fiora also make a range of matching and complimentary wall panels that take out some of the headache of ripping out the bath and installing a walk in shower.

Remove the old bath. Position the panels horizontally to cover the area where the untiled walls from behind the bath are exposed. Fit the shower drainage system and and lay the Fiora Elax mat to cover the footprint of the old bath.

Horizontal PANELS replacing a bath with an easy access shower

The Fiora Elax shower tray mat works like any other walk in shower tray, there are a range of stainless steel drainage grates and there are a lot of installation guides on their website. For more looks from Fiora have a look at my Instagram page buildmumahouse.

I would love to hear your comments, tips or your experiences of installing walk in showers, its such a popular thing to do these days and there are loads of people looking to share their experiences, do post them here on the Buildmumahouse blog.

 

 

 

Electronic surveillance systems. Are you spying on your parents or just keeping an eye out for them?

June 12, 2017
Panasonic, iPhone apps, Canary, Jola Piesakowska, Buildmumahouse

A friend’s mum fell in her garden and couldn’t get up, she lay there for hours before anyone knew of her situation.

A workman cleaning a 95 year old’s gutters asked for a glass of water, followed my relative to the kitchen. His accomplice ran upstairs and ransacked the bedrooms.

A family friend collapsed in the shower and couldn’t call for help, her newly renovated home was flooded and ruined. She had to move out.

Very real and frightening stories for anyone who has a relative who wants to stay living independently, at home. And you have a full time job. And you don’t live with your parents.

How can we keep an eye out for someone without being there? How can elderly people keep their independence safe in the knowledge that if something happens their carers can be alerted? I have recently been thinking about this.

Do you remember those baby monitors that you could buy in Mothercare to listen to your baby asleep upstairs? Battery powered, with walkie talkie aerials (and just as crackly). In the 90’s they were the height of techno sophistication, showed off at family gatherings, placed pride of place on the dining table. We would all be suddenly shushed during the meal because sister-in-law thought she had heard a gurgle on the airwaves.

Playskool 1987 baby monitor

We’ve grown up, our kids have grown up and now we’re considering parent monitoring.

In the USA there are service providers of round the clock interactive telecaregiver monitoring

At its offices in Lafayette, Ind., telecaregiver Cady sits before two large computer screens. On one, you can see the Fitzgeralds in Savannah, eating their dinner as Cady chats with them.

There are also thumbnail video images of two-dozen other homes, which Cady will check in with over the course of her shift. If one client signals for help, that image pops up larger. Children of her clients can log into the same video Cady watches and monitor their parents themselves.

Telecaregiver can remind people to take their medication at a certain time. They can alert a relative if someone appears confused or in distress. They can help with the simple tasks of daily life, like the time a client was about to sit down to breakfast.

The telecaregiver zoomed in on the frying pan and said, ‘Maybe you ought to cook the sausage and the eggs a little longer. The eggs look kind of runny and the sausage is pink,’

Fast forward to the High Street of 2017.

I popped into Maplins last weekend and on display there’s so much more than baby monitoring. Just as we had easy-to-use baby monitors, the high street shops are offering home DIY video and sensor monitoring for your home and pets. The new generation home monitoring systems don’t rely on a specialized installer or a contract monitoring alarm system. This is plug and play. Easy to set up technology with audio and video capability is now available at a realistic price.

Home monitoring systems are being sold as a way of protecting your property, keeping an eye on the postman, capturing burglars, seeing what your pets get up to during the day. They are triggered by motion sensors and can even be used to turn on lights or even your heating.

There’s now a vast array of home monitoring systems, linking high definition indoor and outdoor cameras to you mobile phone, computer or tablet. With or without an app. Via wifi or dect. Wired or wireless. Day and night vision.

Video and audio monitoring is now standard, a siren can be activated remotely from your device and some allow a two way conversation between you remotely and the subject of the camera.

Huffington Post summed up how these diy home monitoring systems can be used as  parent monitors keeping tabs on an elderly parent …”

 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-t-miller/how-to-keep-tabs-on-an-el_b_8954044.html

…if your mom didn’t pick up her pillbox to get her medicine or didn’t open the refrigerator door to make breakfast like she usually does, or if she left the house at a peculiar time you would be notified and could check on her. You can also check up on her anytime you want online or through a mobile app…

Looking at the range on display on the High Street what caught my eye is the Panasonic Home Safety range of monitors. Right there in Streatham High Road was everything for carers to keep an eye on parents and allow them to stay living independently at home.

The Panasonic Home Monitoring Display in my High Street

Panasonic Home safety range, like many others on the market has a monitor for windows and doors that alerts you when they are opened or closed. You can use this to check on your parents’ daily routine without feeling that you are invading their privacy. Or you can monitor their house for burglars. All from your smartphone.

There are indoor or outdoor monitors that not only transmit video images and audio to you but this range will allow you to speak to the person in the room or at the outside door that you are monitoring. Panasonic videos suggest you use this feature to tell the postman to deliver your parcel to the neighbours when you are out. With an elderly parent you can install this feature to keep an eye on whose at the front door and what they are up to.

Watch your Pets from Work

There are motion detectors that switch on lights when activated, this doesn’t need selling hard as everyone can do with lights coming on automatically to light the stairs or the path to the bathroom at night.

But for me the key differentiator is the water monitor. This is such a great idea for passively keeping an eye on someone’s home where there is the potential of a flooding risk, perhaps someone with early onset dementia symptoms, or prone to forgetfulness when running a bath or sink or shower. Catching a bathroom flood can save damage to a home or could indicate a fall or someone who has been taken unwell in the shower room. It allows you to act in time.

 

Using home monitoring systems as a parent monitor will transform how we can remotely care for an elderly or unwell person. As the carer you could feel that you have set up a care plan that involves you, is relatively low cost and gives 24 hour coverage.

I haven’t actually tested this system, so I can’t comment on how effective any of this is. None of the home monitoring systems seem to have considered the needs of caregivers in their advertising so for now its all about being creative with making these home systems work for your needs.

HOWEVER,

The video cameras are always switched on and walking around your home you can be viewed remotely, without knowing, at any time night or day.

On-line discussion forums have heated debates about how much we should intrude on parents’ privacy. Certainly all of this should be done with your parents’ consent. I’ve read discussions about carer’s personal experiences about where cameras and motion detectors have been put up. The most popular and the locations that are the least contentious seem to be

  • Rogue callers: by the front door pointing to the opening with a clear view to check on callers
  • To check on falls: low level motion activated cameras in the living spaces, the bedroom or bathroom. Motion activated lighting: to turn lights on to prevent falls in low light- walk past a motion sensor and a light is switched on. Monitoring the garden, looking out of a window to check on falls outdoors in the garden as well as keeping an eye on security.
  • Flooding: Water monitors placed in the bathroom by the bath or shower.

 

5 Points to Consider

 

  1. You need to have wi-fi up and running. Some systems use wifi to relay the data you will have to consider putting your parent on a wi-fi plan if they don’t have one already. This may be a cost that you will need to cover.
  2. Always update to the latest firmware and change the password. “This is to announce that firmware has updated for improvement of the cybersecurity vulnerability. To provide the highest levels of security, we recommend you to upgrade the firmware for your products.”
  3. Respect your parent’s privacy and think and a discussion about where you will position cameras. Alternatively there are some very good systems that only rely on motion sensors and give you a feel for changes to a routine.
  4. Storage. Check out costs of storing the footage. Some systems use a cloud storage for the video and charge for the service, some systems have a memory card in the hub and there will be no extra costs.
  5. Plan and agree on network of people who can help when you need to raise the alarm.

 

But is this amount of monitoring, snooping on your parents, is this an invasion of their privacy? What do you think?

Colour is better than Prozac: Jane Cumberbatch’s Pure Colour book REVIEW

August 6, 2016

Woo Hoo! I re Tweeted @designrandb competition Tweet and won Jane Cumberbatch’s Pure Colour book. Yippee! And just like the R&B Designs blog, this is book is packed with pure inspiration …I haven’t been able to put the book down all week. Thank you Juliet and Amanda!

As soon as I set eyes on this chunky book – the front cover in bright blue, with lime green lettering and the edges of the book dipped in shocking pink – I began to get excited about colour possibilities.

Jola Piesakowska Pure Colour buildmumahouse jane cumberbatch book

 

Jola Piesakowska Pure Colour buildmumahouse jane cumberbatch 003Jola Piesakowska Pure Colour buildmumahouse jane cumberbatch 007     Jane Cumberbatch, is a blogger, a designer, author and an interiors expert who has been called the Queen of Simple…but this book is a wonderful cacophony of photos, notes, ideas, information, tips and memories plus annotated swatches of paint, fabrics, wallpapers and textures. Just up my street.

 

“Pure Colour is my visual and personal notebook of ideas and inspiration showing you how to furnish your life with brilliant hues. The garden the sea and landscape are my colour charts, my paintboxes of creativity. From the green beans of the vegetable patch to the eau de Nil wash of a calm evening tide, I store these images in my head like snapshots of everyday ideas to furnish my home with freshness and simplicity. The first pink rosebud on a May morning is as perfect a shade for one of my wallpaper borders as it is a cue for my lipstick colour or the fabric for a long swirly summer skirt.” Jane

 

Interior decoration, cooking , recipes, styling, travel notes: this is the perfect English summer book. On miserable, wet days this week, I’ve snuggled down with a cup of tea and read fabulous reminiscences about sunny Mediterranean markets, and I’ve revelled in Jane’s evocative photos.

buildmumahouse jola piesakowska 008

 

As is usual in the English summer, today the weather has changed again and we woke up to a heatwave.  This sunny Saturday afternoon I’ve been stretched out on my sunlounger in the shade and  I have joined Jane on a journey to find cooling colour inspiration in food, places and things.

Clouds, cool patios, crisp white sheets:

Jola Piesakowska Pure Colour buildmumahouse jane cumberbatchChestnut puree recipes

The Saturday market in Olhao Portugal,

Scandi style

Variations of white

…and how to use limewash

 

as I turn page after page I am shown how to translate this and bring the Pure Colour look and feel into my home. It’s useful to see scraps of fabric or wallpaper samples that Jane has gathered and added comments and ideas and it does help anyone starting out to see how a professional builds up a mood board and a design notebook. For people like me who are inexperienced in using colours in my home, there are paint references so you know what to buy to get the look. I found the chapter on listing supplies and suppliers very useful. Finally, to make it all easier to get an overview of the looks featured, in the last section of the book Jane has used small images of the rooms that were featured and added notes on what paint was used and what paint finish.

Reading through the book again before reviewing it for this blog post, I was wondering what the shortcomings are and I think the only thing that’s missing for me are the aubergine and copper colours that I love – but I’ve learnt so much about Jane’s style and have been introduced to a design language that maximises the impact of pure colour and I really have learnt something new.

Yes, I’ve read the book and have decided that I agree with Jane Cumberbatch’s view that yellow is

“Brighter than Prozac”

As from today, all this week I am going to fill my Twitter @buildmumahouse1 and Instagram @buildmumahouse feeds with my own pure colour, and if you follow me I know that it’s going to cheer us all up! See you there!

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing clearly now: 5 steps to a brighter, lighter home with Catherine Woram

July 31, 2016
jola piesakowska buildmumahouse hallway balham home

What on earth is going on ? I always had pin sharp vision. As a cheeky child I’d giggle as I was the first one to tell my mum what number bus was coming down from Gipsy Corner. Well, that’s not me any more. It all started when my arms weren’t long enough to read the menu in restaurants and then it progressed to squinting at train destination boards.

A rather blunt optician told me a few years ago: of course you need glasses you’re over 40.

Well, I’m over 50 and now I need to find my glasses when I’m hunting for things around the house …and it’s worse in twilight.

I’ve read that as we age, muscles that control our pupil size and reaction to light lose some strength. This causes the pupil to become smaller and less responsive to changes in ambient lighting.

Because these changes continue, people in their 60s need three times more ambient light for comfortable reading than those in their 20s

Ok, so what can we do to make our homes brighter and lighter so that we make things easier for our eyesight. without compromising on style?

I spoke to Catherine Woram about this, it’s in one of her houses that I found the spa bathrooms that were perfect for any age. I love the way Catherine’s locations have a magical sparkling atmosphere, and seem to be about gently reflected light, ambient light and bouncing light.

I asked Catherine for tips on how we can bring light into our homes, beautifully – as we age our eye sight weakens ( and for some people its not age related) and bringing as much light into your home as possible brings clarity into your life while also lifting your spirits.

STEP 1: WHITE

My style has always been about white – for some reason I am obsessed with it and have painted things white for as long as I can remember!

jola piesakowska white bedroom hopton road

“Even when we lived in Australia for a year and furnished our flat from local junk shops I still painted everything white. My husband thought I had gone a step too far once when I saw the trees in Greece with white painted trunks and decided to do the same in our tiny London garden at the time!

I now run three location houses which take up a lot of time. Needless to say they are predominantly white and a mix of my favourite styles – decorative French and Moroccan styles. We have just found a house in Spain that we plan to transform with an awful lot of white paint plus Moroccan furniture in white/silver and gold”

STEP 2: ADD GREY

“White of course in its many shades as well as soft greys – but you have to be very careful with grey as it needs to have a slight warmth to it otherwise it can look like undercoat.

I love carvedjola piesakowska buildmumahouse grey white carved walls furniture of any kind – from pretty French pieces to heavier Moroccan designs – providing I paint them white!”

jola piesakowska buildmumahouse grey and white shades

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 3: OPEN UP TO NATURAL LIGHT

When you are in any of Catherine’s houses you realise that natural light is part of her vision.

“Light is always important and we have always thought carefully about light whether it is putting a roof light in the top landing in a small Victorian terraced house or a large kitchen extension.”

Many of the doors have glass panels, are double doors and very tall how does that open a house up to light? By the way, your double doors and wide doors are great for future proofing a home – entertaining friends and family, children running around, guests and maybe oneself with walking frames or wheelchairs.jola piesakowska buildmumahouse living room doors

“We have repeated the tall glazed French doors in three houses now – I had always wanted internal glazed doors similar to the ones you see in many old Parisian apartments.

We copied the design from a set of garden doors in a Victorian terrace and had a friend from the North East of England make them up in a taller design and opened up the walls to fit them. We repeated the design in the dressing room and bedrooms but used mirror rather than glass in these doors. They are, as you say, great for the home and also wheel-chair friendly as they can both be opened up.”

 

 

Skylight on the landing – HOW DID YOU DO THAT!!!! – it’s beautiful.

jola piesakowska buildmumahouse hopton loft light“The sky light was already there but featured an old Victorian window that we felt wasn’t very safe. I have kept the old window for another project and we replaced it with toughened glass below a large Velux window to light up the hall.

Our next project in the same vein is to open the ceiling at our Ross Road house and put a ready-made conservatory on the top and install a metal spiral staircase to provide access to the roof top as well as lots of light to the landing.”

 

 

 

STEP 4:  KITCHEN BRIGHT, CLEAN LINES

 The kitchen at Hopton Road is clean bright, white worktops but so classy and elegant – how do you get light of a modern kitchen and cross pollinate it with a classic look?

“We reused some of the old kitchen at Hopton and had new MDF door fronts made and mixed them with IKEA cabinets where we were missing cabinets. The long shelves avoid that cluttered look that many kitchens have with rows of wall cabinets. We used IKEA wall brackets for the shelves and painted everything in the same shade of white. The worktop is fake marble – real marble stains badly although more beautiful.”

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Catherine’s very modern kitchen in Balham opens up the house to unfiltered light

 

STEP 5: WHITE MATT SURFACES FOR A TRANQUIL,  CALM LIGHT

jola piesakowska buildmumahouse shower

“Glass shower enclosures with white tiles blend with the room while walls in a bathroom block light. I avoid any fitted pieces and tend to use freestanding baths/ antique tables set with basins and ornate silver taps sourced in Marrakesh. Where wall tiles are necessary (as I don’t like them) we use large matt white tiles so that they blend with the walls as much as possible.

Having said that I do love some of the new patterned tiles around and plan to use them…at some stage!”

 

If you would like to see more details of how Catherine has opened her houses up to the light, and to see more of the details that make her style so magical, follow me on Instagram @buildmumahouse or pop over to the Pinterest board on @buildmumahouse.

For more information and to read more about how we can all help ourselves and our families to lower the risks of vision loss follow this link to Bold Blind Beauty for some simple but effective guidelines.

 

5 tips to Upsize your Downsized home with Marianne Shillingford

July 13, 2016

Downsizing: you’re thinking of it, you’ve done it but how can you maximise your minimal space?

I spoke to Marianne Shillingford from Dulux about this – she has so much experience and love of colour and she explained to me that you can trick the eye and senses and make interiors feel more spacious and welcoming. I love colour but when it comes to decorating I’m so unadventurous- I keep reaching for the magnolia…everywhere! Marianne however, has some brilliant tips and insight to share with us, so here they are

                   5…4…3…2..1

Marianne Shillingford Creative Director of Dulux and Design Director of the Dulux Design Service

Marianne Shillingford Creative Director of Dulux and Design Director of the Dulux Design Service

Tip 1: Creating a guest room/ home office combo

Whilst it may seem difficult to catch the balance between creating a productive home office and cosy guest bedroom it is important to remember that both spaces should encourage serenity.


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