K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for Aging in Place

Jul 03 2017

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A Design for Everyone

Photo Courtesy of Bestbath

Trends often come and go, but one necessity in the design world is here to stay. Aging parents are moving back in with families with small children, veterans are returning from war, and the Baby Boomer population is growing older. To address this hot topic, KBB hosted the webinar “Making Bathroom Design Work for Multi-Generational Living,” sponsored by Bestbath.

The Q&A at the end of the discussion covered common questions designers have and ways they can encourage clients who would benefit from universal design elements to include them in their baths. These questions were addressed by Julie Schuster of New York City.-based Julie Schuster Design Studio and Barb Mueller, president of Designs Anew Houston LLC.


Is universal design a positive when it comes to resale value?
It is certainly a positive when it comes to multi-generational use. All of these things that you put into a bathroom don’t have to be obvious, but buyers can realize how comfortable, easy and safe elements like a comfort-height toilet and grab bars are without knowing they are universal design elements.

What height is considered to be a low-threshold shower height?
Three inches is the highest. If you can get away with it though, a completely cureless shower is the best.

How do you keep water from escaping a curbless shower?
Use something like the Schluter system, which actually brings the water-proofing membrane outside of the shower. It won’t affect the area outside of the shower. Plus, be sure to still use shower curtains and doors.

What should the minimum tub deck width be?
There isn’t a real standard, but we would say six to eight inches. The very thin decks that are sculpturally beautiful are not exactly feasible for a universally designed bath.

Should there be more contrasting colors in the bath so different areas are easier to see?
Yes, for example, there can be tile around the shower so the homeowner can tell where the shower starts. The client should be able to discern where one thing starts and another stops, like if the countertop is a different color than the cabinetry, someone with failing eyesight can more easily find drawers and sinks.

Is a universally designed bathroom more expensive?
If you’re gutting a bathroom, a universal bathroom is not dramatically more expensive at all. The cost of products like grab bars and different pulls make little small difference in the price.

Other takeaways include:

-A huge portion of the U.S. population is considered morbidly obese. When designing for a larger person, be sure to create more space and include thoughtful elements like a bench in the shower.

-There are several ways to warm up a bathroom for an elderly family member. Heated floors and towel warmers are some options.

-Have the bathroom door swing outward rather than in. That way, if someone inside falls, a family member is able to notice and reach them quickly. 

What are your thoughts on universal design? Let us know on our Facebook page and on Twitter @KBBconnect.

Jul 07 2016

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Designing for Athletes

We talk a lot about universal design and aging-in-place, but what about the busy, hyper-scheduled millennial client? Working with one of us is probably frustrating- we’re all over the place, we won’t have time for meetings and we usually know exactly what we want, and you can’t do much about it.

One aspect of our generation that designers – particularly ones trained for aging-in-place designs – can speak to is our concentrated (not always, of course) focus on fitness and health. Some of the design requirements for aging-in-place clients can actually help protect us and help us stay healthier longer.

I know I’m in the extreme range of this group. I wake up at 4 or 5 a.m. most weekdays to train for two or three hours before work, either running up and down Buckhead or cycling and swimming indoors. I run trial half-marathons usually twice a week. As I’ve gotten into my late twenties, I have to keep doing more to keep myself from getting hurt, and that’s where my bathtub comes in.

10623374_10202288078899649_912448506195404287_o                                         My mom and I before a recent race

For any type of athlete, hydrotherapy is one major part of recovery. The horrible ice bath after a hard workout decreases swelling and pain, and then a hot bath later on increases circulation and promotes healing. It also decreases tension in the muscles and joints.

And of course, getting in and out of my tub I’ve had to grab at the wall a couple of times to keep myself from falling – hence the universal need for grab bars.

Even if the client isn’t athletic, we as a generation are stressed. That’s where the growing trend for an in-home sauna comes in. Saunas promote sweating, which flushes out toxins. It increases blood flow, like the hot tub, helping tired, stressed bodies recover faster. Plus, apparently saunas improve blood flow to skin and keep us looking younger longer.

So as designers, you can help make our lives less stressed with suggestions like these, and hopefully we won’t stress you out with our tricky schedules!

May 19 2016

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Five Tech Trends in K&B Design

ICFFtalks_ms_051516-82

During ICFF, the 2016 NKBA K+B Insiders were on a panel to discuss designing for the modern lifestyle, which was specifically focused on the intersection of tech and design in the kitchen and bath.

Here are the five tech trends they discussed:

1. Tech Facilitates Function. “Tech is no longer an afterthought of the design process,” said New York City-based interior designer and NKBA K+B Insider Young Huh. Just as technology has a major influence on how we live in our homes, it’s starting to have a bigger and bigger impact on how designers approach their work as well. “We are now working with a whole generation of clients who never knew the world before the Internet, and that has a huge influence on the way we work,” he added.

2. Smart Kitchens Designed to Support Multi-Tasking. Regardless of age, we have all become multi-taskers. “It’s our job as designers to find ways to support this habit by integrating features such as charging stations, under-cabinet power strips and more into kitchen design,” said Atlanta-based interior designer, national TV personality and NKBA K+B Insider Brian Patrick Flynn.

Two manufacturers helping lead this trend include DuPont and Legrand; the DuPont Corian Charging Surface charges smart devices wirelessly, and the adorne by Legrand Under-Cabinet Lighting & Power System can be completely customized to accommodate smart devices while keeping the counter tidy and backsplash free of outlets. It’s all about accommodating without cluttering.

3. Integration Is King. For today’s homeowner, functionality is just as important as aesthetic in the kitchen or bath, or as New-York City based interior designer and NKBA K+B Insider Alberto Villalobos calls it, high-tech yet hidden; a practice that comes from floor plans becoming more open.

“In more urban markets, spaces must serve more than one function, so the ability to build appliances into the wall, allowing it to be discretely hidden but still compliment the rest of the space, is huge,” he said.

For example, Minotticucine recently introduced the Atelier Collection; the countertop of a simple base cabinet pulled back to reveal a cooktop underneath, a kitchen sink and a pop-up faucet. Cabinet doors also conceal under-counter refrigeration; a great example of seamless integration and smart use of space.

4. High-Tech Influences on Universal Design. Just as much as tech offers streamlined convenience in the kitchen and bath, there’s something to be said for how tech serves universal design and the aging-in-place demographic. Patricia Davis Brown, CKD, CBD, ASID, NCIDQ, an NKBA K+B Insider based in Vero Beach, Fla., says that beyond aging in place, its important to recognize how much more we’re asking of a house that serves a multi-generational family.

“Both in the kitchen and bath, I think we’ll continue to see greater advancements made in terms of voice control and automation and how that customizes the user experience for each person,” she said. “Lighting could be integrated with voice command, for example, to bring lights to the appropriate and safe level for food prep for a grandparent – without the hassle of light controls. We could even take it a step further to have wall-mounted vanities that adjust to the user’s height when he or she enters the bath. With the introduction of Siri and Alexa – its not that far off.”

5. From Smart Homes to a Smarter Society. Technological advancements have and will continue to have a huge influence on sustainable design. According to Los Angeles-based master builder and NKBA K+B Insider, Karl Champley, the bathroom consumes the largest amount of water in the household, and water is our most precious resource. In response to this, it is important to incorporate products that do the thinking for us.

“Many manufacturers produce products that help the consumer conserve. For example, Kohler’s .8 gallon flush toilets or GROHE’s bathroom faucets and shower systems that promise to reduce water consumption by up to 50 percent,” she said. “As Title 24 energy standards continue to gain awareness nationwide, it’s our responsibility as designers to educate the consumer on products that cut waste. Looking to the future of sustainability in K&B tech, the integration of water-recycling tubs and sinks are a must.”

Dec 16 2015

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Universal Design for Health and Longevity

Drawers

Häfele’s easy-to-access drawers

It’s hard to deny that on the whole we are living longer, healthier lives. Especially when one considers the wealth of information at our fingertips (WebMD anyone?) combined with constant advances in modern medicine. As we strive toward aging gracefully and comfortably well into our retirement years, it seems only natural to want to safely enjoy the homes we’ve spent a good chunk of our lives creating.

On December 10, designer Mary Jo Peterson was invited to speak on the topic of Universal Kitchen & Bath Design for Health and Longevity at the Häfele USA Showroom in NYC. The event was organized by the AIANY Design for Aging Committee. Jerry Maltz, founder and co-chair of the DAC, and Karen Kraskow, member, expressed their gratitude to Peterson for coming out to speak about designs that help make negotiating surroundings friendlier for people of all ages.

Peterson, an award-winning designer and author who has earned a long list of accolades in her field, including induction into the NKBA Hall of Fame in 2009, is president of her Connecticut-based design firm Mary Jo Peterson, Inc., and feels strongly that universal design should be an inherent part of all residential projects, particularly regarding the aging process. Her firm focuses on residential projects and provides design support to major homebuilders and product manufacturers nationwide, and over the last 25 years her contributions to the designs for kitchens and bathrooms have impacted thousands.

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Mary Jo Peterson

During her presentation, Peterson talked about technological advances that were once thought as high end are now commonly found in kitchens, such as the indications for red/hot and blue/cold on faucets or the clear toaster that curbs fire hazards from burnt toast. Also, snazzy LED lighting used inside floor panels that acts as a pathway for midnight trips from bed to the toilet are just plain practical.

Peterson brought up a number of fun, interesting and practical trends, including the increasingly popular biophile design, which is when outdoor spaces are created inside. Not only are they lovely to look at, they are known to reduce stress and enhance creativity. More common trends she mentioned in universal design included putting more emphasis on drawers; moving parts such as slide-out countertops and sliding doors; and open spaces to reduce potential injury while entering or exiting showers, baths and vanities.

“I’ve always said tubs are hard to make completely safe,” she said, “but there certainly are ways to make improvements. You can install a seat to hold up to 300 pounds. There are tubs with doors. They even make grab bars attractive now.”

Karen Kraskow

Above, Karen Kraskow is checking out some innovative countertop designs that could work well with clients with limited reach.
The white pullout counter top (to her left) instantly adds space to any kitchen, and the highly functional drawers include key LED lighting for optimal accessibility.

Enhanced toilets are also trending that come equipped with lighting, remote flush, bidet/washlet, automatic open/close and an MP3 player. Peterson mentioned that toilets with these kinds of accoutrements aren’t cheap, but they have come down about $1K in recent years.

Earlier on in her presentation she mentioned that being practical doesn’t have to mean being dull. “Design can inspire, not simply fix a problem,” she said. “Design can be both beautiful and practical.”

Peterson is certified in kitchen, bath and aging in place and is an active adult housing CLIPS (certified living-in-place specialist). She has also authored three books on the subject of universal design, including her most recent release in 2014 called Bath Planning: Guidelines, Codes, Standards.

– Carrie Farley