Browsing Tag

disabled

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.”

jola_piesakowska_buildmumahouse_london_large

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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Go with the Flow …busting 6 myths about stairlifts

May 24, 2016
Buildmumahouse stairlist stannah stairlift jola piesakowska

There is a load of old twaddle about stairlifts. There are more jokes about stairlifts than any other mobility aid. People love ’em or hate ’em and some people can’t use their upstairs without ’em.

Stairlifts can mean that people can stay living in their home and don’t have to move so that they can reach their bedrooms easily. I installed a stairlift in my mum’s house and built a wider staircase to give it a wide berth, but if you are adapting a home and your staircase is narrow, or has a turn or two in it, there is a stairlift that solves that problem. The Flow 2. I checked it out at the Naidex show so, let’s bust some myths about stairlifts

Myth 1 My walls aren’t strong enough to support a stairlift.

You know what, the trackflow2 stairlift detail that a stairlift rides on is attached to the stairs, the design is safer this way because all the weight is sent downwards. Plus, the brackets that hold the rail aren’t attached to every step and that’s why installation can be done in a few hours.

 

Myth 2 If I leave something on the stairs the stairlift will crash into it and cause an accident.

Stairlifts move slowly and smoothly and modern sensors work to stop the chair well before you get too close to that handbag that someone left half-way up the stairs… And they won’t run your cat over either.

Myth 3 My stairs are too narrow I’ll hit my knees …and my stairs are too steep.

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Have a look at the Flow 2 stairlift, it has a swivelling and levelling motion that means that when the seat rides up or down at an angle it rotates and stays level: making steep and narrow stairs a doddle.

 

 

 

 

Myth 4  My legs are too long and my feet will drag on the stairs, my wife’s a lot short than me.

Sorry, the stairlift chairs are easily and fully adjustable.

Myth 5 It’s easy to be thrown off it

All stairlifts comScreen Shot 2016-05-24 at 20.36.52e with seat belts and the Flow 2  has an extra feature – the armrests are curved so that they wrap around you, you’re are almost cradled in the arms of your chair.

 

Myth 6 The chairs are ugly.

I think the rail on the Flow2 is very nicely designed but when it comes to the seat..Yup I agree. Go for the neutral colour upholstery and it won’t offend.

 

If you aren’t sure about stairlifts and would like some more information about them, drop me an email buildmumahouse@gmail.com. Let’s talk.

 

 

Why move house when you can adapt your space? 5 reasons to go prebuilt.

May 3, 2016

Why move when you can adapt? Young families are opening up their attics or digging out basements so that they can have more space without moving home. Now ‘older’ families with reduced mobility issues are looking at creating more downstairs ground level space so that they can stay in the same home where the kids grew up and the grandchildren like to visit.

I’ve been looking at home living modules as a solution to create single level living and wheelchair accessible home extensions. These are house extensions designed to your specifications and choice of décor, but with a huge difference – they are built, wired, decorated, plumbed and tested off site.  C3S is one such company, based in West Yorkshire, they build the entire extension as a module in their factory, using a team of highly qualified and experienced professionals. These guys won’t leave you with an extension that isn’t quite finished or a wetroom that leaks.

5 reasons to consider a prebuilt extension:

 

1. Disruption to your life is minimal:

the foundations are dug in your garden and then the entire unit is delivered by lorry and craned into position. In a matter of days it’s ready for use, fully connected and commissioned.

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Watch the delivery of this extension on You Tube!

 

2. Customise it.

A Mira shower is included in the standard specification but you can choose exactly what fittings you prefer. Have fun and get exactly what you want and need. Whether you go for the modern clean lines of the HEWI bathroom range,

HEWI basin with integrated grab rails and lots of surface area surrounding it

or a touch of luxury with easy to use taps.

So many beautiful lever taps to choose from @cphartbathrooms #design #agespanning #house spoilt for choice @buildmumahouse

So many beautiful lever taps to choose from @cphartbathrooms

 

From the positioning of electrical sockets, to carpets and colour schemes, the choice is yours. If like me you’re a bit nervous about using colour in your new bedroom, Marianne Shillingford Creative Director of Dulux suggests downloading the free Dulux Visualiser App on to your smartphone or tablet to get inspired. With this super easy app, take a photo of one of your favourite things and sample the colour using your phone or tablet’s camera. The app uses virtual reality to show you how that colour would look on your walls. Click on this link, try the app – it’s a lot of fun!

3. They’ve done it before.

The C3S team includes a project manager to oversee the entire job, the team can draw up the plans, the quote and even sort out the planning permissions. Their units are Local Authority Building Control England and Wales (LABC) approved and if you go the website they have details and assessments

Our solution is fully compliant with current building regulations and is certified under the Local Authority Building control (LABC) approval scheme
Mark Willis – Health, Safety, Environment & Quality, C3S.

4. It won’t break the bank

If you have wondered how much these basement extensions are costing your neighbours, the price, according to Back to Basement   is £2,200-£3,000 per sq m if new basement has to be dug out Source: Real Homes

An en-suite bedroom  modular unit from C3S includes the standard fixtures and fittings: walk in shower, grab rails, tiling painting, Altro flooring, starts at £23,000. In my calculations that’s about £1,160 per square metre including module construction, fit out, electrics and plumbing but not including groundworks, delivery or installation.

Altro flooring

Altro Flooring can be fitted to curve up the walls -ideal in a wetroom

Running costs of these prebuilt units are affordable too, fully insulated and energy efficient C3S fit UPVC A rated doors and windows.

5. No Need to Move

AND FINALLY, The Best Reason: You stay in your own home with your friends, neighbours, your life and memories around you …. with a new found freedom and comfort.

For more bathroom and bedroom decoration inspiration read my blog posts about HEWI bathrooms and Marianne Shillingford’s Dulux Colour space-creating tips and colour trends.

Then pop over Buildmumahouse PInterest to look at some fantastic bathroom ideas that address mobility issues and are on trend.

 

 

 

 

Is Age a Dirty Word in the Bathroom? A coffee and chat with the man from HEWI.

April 19, 2016

In Waterloo, behind a busy building site, under the arches, is an Aladdin’s cave: CP Hart’s magical showroom. CP Hart is the purveyor of the most fantastic, cutting edge, elegant, high end, exclusive bathrooms. Each featured bathroom is styled and lit to exquisite perfection, you can’t help but take delight in the style, the quality and the design details. It’s the stuff of dreams, not just aspiration. CP Hart have dedicated their showrooms to allow you to delight in design… there’s even a luxurious meeting area for designers, clients and architects to meet and spin their multimillion pound dreams.

Then come the two dirty words:    AGE.     DISABLED.

Thoughts of blue and white plastic bring my luxury bathroom dreams back down to earth with a bump.

Until… I walked past the freestanding baths, glistening in the spotlights- one wrapped in copper, one in pony skin …and the myriad of heavily chromed bath taps. I’ve turned the corner and walked into a modern bathroom set up: restrained, clean lines, beautiful surfaces, quality chrome and clever design details. HEWI. Bathrooms fit for the disabled.

I’ve been intrigued by HEWI ever since I spotted them a couple of years ago at CP Hart. Who on earth is this bathroom manufacturer that no-one has heard of but features in all the best hotels and retirement homes in the world?

Last week at CP Hart’s showrooms, I met with Stephen Maley HEWI’s UK Sales Director  to find out  bit more about the thinking behind the brand. Stephen is a qualified occupational therapist who used to work with prosthetics and their design and he is typical of the HEWI ethos.

The HEWI Ethos

They are a family firm who really want to understand what people need and what they want. A German family firm established by Henry Wilke in 1900s and today employ 600 people worldwide. What started in 1969 as a company making architect designed and loved nylon coated steel core lever handles, in bright colours- green, blue, red has become a company offering accessibility bathrooms for the trade, hotels, care villages and retirement apartments. HEWI products are engineered to last, using high grade materials and finishes combined with thoughtful and considerd design developed with input from occupational therapists, users and designers.

Manufacturing

The colourful nylon door handles that were the height of fashion in the 1980s had a lot more to them than I realised. High quality materials and vibrant dyes meant that these funky items were often seen in public buildings and high traffic areas and standing up to the use.

door handles

What I didn’t realise is that these were clever designs – the door handles were easy to use for weakened grip, the smooth warm finish perfect for rheumatoid arthritis affected hands and when added to a white door had 30 point light reflective values. They could be seen in low light and environments such as in smoke filled rooms.

 

Design …‘my disabled dream bathroom’

He lost his leg but not his style, I found this You Tube video of Grenadier Guard Scott

‘its exactly what I need everything seems to be so much easier’

To design for disability you have to understand the physical  as well as the emotional needs.

In this video Ed Warner Motion Founder sums up the use of good design

if you get the environment right for people you can improve both their cognitive and their physical health

Education

Most of the customers are architects and specifiers. These are usually youthful, energetic, enthusiastic design professionals. Quite far away from a young person facing life with an amputated limb, a stroke victim facing disability, a grandparent with reducing mobility. HEWI take it upon themselves to take part in disability awareness training for retailers, RIBA CPD core learning programmes with groups of architects or specifiers. I was fascinated to hear that HEWI have an ageing suit. At their talks one of the group is invited to step into the world of increased body weight and limited mobility and weekend grip, macular degeneration glasses or even pebbles in your shoes so that you get the idea that standing even for a short time is excruciating for some people.

Future Proof

This bit’s easy: brick walls or marine ply affixed to 2 x 2 frame, just imagine, one day you may want to bolt everything to the wall. There is no point having a wet room when you can’t hold on to anything.

Disabled and Reduced Mobility

My favourite item is the washbasin.

sink

 

Sleek and fun… the flannel rack doubles up as a grab and hand rails – sneaky! Loads of flat space around the sink for all your bits and pieces and plenty of space underneath for your knees when you sit down or pull in to the sink in your wheelchair

The shower has so many clever features too a strong grab bar disguised as a shower rail. A tip up shower seat that hooks on a rail an dcomes as a small hard seat or a padded one suitable for anyone with inflamed joints or nerves.

The HEWI shower with and without the shower seat

The HEWI shower with and without the shower seat

The grab rails are shaped so that you can comfortably pull yourself forward as well as pushing up

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I Not only are the grab rails built with a steel core but the third one down looks like chrome but has a nylon layer so that its always warm to touch- a real boon for arthritis sufferers whose hands are sensitised to the cold.

Colour and Fun

There’s a rhyme that its used by therapists that blue is for loo and a theory that blue is the last colour in the spectrum that people can distinguish. Is that why so many nasty disabled bathroom accessories are white and blue? If its contrast that we’re looking for, HEWI explore black and you can see that in the photo above,  its used with pleasing forms and looks really stylish, modern and sleek.

Colour is also used for zoning in public spaces and this year HEWI have introduced 16 co – ordinating colours in the nylon coated range, about time that accessibility products can be modern and fun.

orange colour conceept

Dementia

Red is action. Sterling University DNRC. the HEWI dementia range uses colour therapy and colour triggers for people with dementia. Using red for action they circle the bowl of the wash basin.

dementia bathroom

The dementia bathroom range has been designed to remind people of why they are there- action.

There’s an interview with architect Dr.Birgit Dietz who worked with HEWI researching this range and the use of red.

On the one hand this facilitates the dementia sufferer’s perception of the washbasin within the room and on other the other hand it helps them to understand how to use it. This promotes functional independence in the bathroom. The markings are red. Qualitative studies show that the colour read is most easily perceived by dementia sufferers. Red is also the most easily registered colour for people with age-related impaired vision or inoperable eye diseases, for example, macular degeneration. The dementia washbasin is therefore also suitable for people whose vision decreases with age.

Add to this a choice of non-reflective surfaces. As you lose perspective, the reflection of your outstretched hand can be confusing and make it harder to grab a rail or reach for the handle to flush the loo.

HEWI sales advisors are trained to explain to specifiers to think about the end users. Mirrors – open the door to the bathroom basin and get spooked by your own reflection in  the mirror. Anyone who gets up to use the bathroom in the night can image the fright that you could get from that.

 

Cross Generation- now you see it now you don’t

Designed to be rock solid when in place but with the use of superbly engineered spring loaded clips the grab bars are designed to be removed when not needed. This is a feature that works brilliantly in retirement apartments where the architect designs a future proofing bathroom but would work really well in a domestic situation – if you have anyone elderly or disabled staying over regularly. Remove the grab rail and chrome plates cover the mechanism leaving everything looking sleek modern and rail free.

PUTTING THE HANDLE ON

 

 

 

Plan Ahead

Don’t buy in haste. If you rush into buying accessibility products for the bathroom it takes time to get it right and its worth making a bathroom that you can enjoy because it serves your needs and its the sanctuary you want it to be. Have a look at my wet room suggestions as well, click this link and don’t forget to think about colour schemes as suggested by my post with Marianne Shillingford here.