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Archive for Universal Design

Feb 01 2017

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He Said/She Said: Successfully Designing for Couples

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In a relationship, many situations require compromise. Designing a dream space for two shouldn’t be one of them. Award-winning interior designer, Christopher Grubb, believes that designing for two is all about successful negotiation and never about compromise. As a Beverly Hills-based designer accustomed to demanding clientele, Grubb draws on his experience to explain to designers, contactors and remodelers what it takes to make both partners feel they’re being heard and that both of their needs are being met.

Some tips he uses when working with couples include:

Have them pull inspiration images separately. I will joke that I’ve seen in some relationships there is a design override between couples. I’m not saying my clients have that, but it helps me understand what they BOTH want. We as designers can quickly see the commonality of their desires in their images to guide the design to satisfy both of their desires.

Answering the question: “What are the trends?” I don’t exactly subscribe to trends but do see “movements” in design. I can point some trends I see but usually ask them what do YOU see as trends? It gives me a chance to hear what they think and what they like and seem excited about. Of course the next question is how on trend do you want your space to be or how timeless to see how much they really want to be trendy.

Never take sides – no matter who signs the check. Designing for a couple becomes a very intimate relationship, and remodels are stressful. I’ve been in emotional situations often, and to disarm the situation, I will respond with my observations of what each has said they like during the process and remind them we are designing as a team effort.

– Playing therapist. Remodels create a lot of stress with the interruption of ones living space, the financial investment, strangers in their home, etc. We all want to design, and the process of the final result is arduous to say the least. Many calls are the client simply venting and wanting someone who will listen. Another successful action I use is to call and ask, “How are you and how are things going?” This reiterates that I care both about the project and my clients’ mental wellbeing.

– Never compromise – always negotiate. Many clients see the grand total or a project, and their first question is “Can we find materials that are less money?” I remind them that the construction is the majority of the cost, and I don’t want them to compromise on a material and later regret they didn’t get what they wanted. They will walk into their space everyday and be disappointed they didn’t get what they really wanted. Another situation is when one of the couples wants something that is more expensive or the other partner feels is unnecessary. One may like the gorgeous tub fill and the other balks. IF you’ve listened, you can negotiate and remind the other that they wanted the towel warmer and add that it is beautiful and functional. They have both gotten what they want.

– Avoid stereotyping. Many think the husband will be all about the cost or succumb to the old adage “Whatever she wants.” Or that the wife will want a bathtub (that actually only 25 percent of people use). My success is listening and not going into a project with any pre-conceived ideas.

Top image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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!

Feb 08 2016

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KBB’s Editorial Advisory Board Talks Favorite Products and Trends at KBIS

Opening Photos

Kitchen & Bath Business’ Editorial Advisory Board walked the KBIS 2016 floor in search of creativity, sustainability and innovation. See what impressed them, and be sure and check out our upcoming February/March issue for even more of their findings and photos.

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Dekton Aura Bookmatch

Amy Ahearn, CKD, CAPS, Ahearn Cabinetry Designs, Bernardsville, N.J.

Consentino has remarkably done what the market demanded: create engineered natural material surface slabs that are bookmatched to each other, heretofore the exclusive domain of natural stone, specifically marble. Other properties include high resistance to heat (you can torch your crème brûlée right on the countertop), non-porous and not subject to thermal shock, which can affect traditional quartz tops. Dekton is not new (it debuted in late 2012), but it did have a great presence at the show. Not limited to countertops, Dekton – dubbed the “ultra-compact surface” – can be used for cladding, flooring and interior and exterior surfaces. A unique blend and proprietary recipe comprised of porcelain, glass and quartz, the realistic veining and bookmatching of the slabs might even have fooled Michelangelo himself!

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Nar Bustamante, Nar Fine Carpentry, Carmichael & El Dorado Hills, Calif.

This Kallista shower fixture (above) brought the feeling of classy yet something I could probably pick up at a plumbing supply store in Mexico City in the 50s. I loved the timeless simplicity and commanding elegance of this piece

Chemetal (below) has come a long way with some awesome finishes for its products. This line will do very well with the modern market. They had some great metal patinas and a variety of eye-catching, multicolored concepts.

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Paula Kennedy, CMKBD, CAPS, Timeless Kitchen Design, Seattle

Paula noted several trends at the show, including:

– Transitional is more widespread
– Growing confidence in color
– Desire to simplify lives and reduce footprint
– Healthy home, healthy living
– Wireless controls in the bath & appliances
– Appliances to fit “smaller living”
– Auto, tech & fashion-driven design
– Gun metal, mirrored and brass finishes
– Industrial chic growing/deepening

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From top left clockwise, Paula’s favorites from KBIS include ROHL’s new Mink finish, Flash Freeze & Blast Chill by Irinox and GE’s Monogram Pizza oven.

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American Standard’s Coastal tub

Michelle Henderson, Banner Plumbing Supply, Buffalo Grove, Ill.

There is a demand for freestanding tubs, but in most cases the tub is either a solid surface like material and a higher price point, or the more competitive tubs tend to be a double-walled acrylic. Because of the nature of acrylic and the backing required, the tub walls are thick and therefore have very small interiors. Somehow American Standard has made these tubs of cast acrylic, but they are only slightly thicker than their solid surface competitors. And here is the kicker… they’ve managed to offer a reasonable price point.

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American Standard’s Sedona tub

The Coastal (oval) is $2,799, and the Sedona (rectangle) is $2,599. Both of these tubs have integrated drains that consist of a finished slotted overflow and a toe tap closure. Many of my clients are ripping out their oversized built-in tubs they never use so they can expand the shower to a more luxurious size. When they do so, they want to keep a tub in the bathroom for resale, and the freestanding tubs are a perfect solution. The only catch is that price is very often a consideration because they never used the original tub, and this new one is just for show. The price point of this tub is perfect for that client, and the product looks great.

*Fairmont Designs

Fairmont Designs’ Belle Fleur

The simple yet elegant design of this vanity makes it a perfect fit for a formal powder room or a girl’s bath. Bow front, Queen Anne legs and glass knobs typically scream old world, but this piece is the perfect example of how something very traditional can be simplified and lend itself to a more transitional palate. The vanity features fully concealed soft-close hinges, as well as a hidden soft-close drawer perfect for a blow dryers or tissues. There is a coordinating blizzard white quartz top available and a very complementary white oval mirror.

Christopher Grubb, Arch-Interiors Design Group, Beverly Hills, Calif.

I’m seeing a lot of gold. Some manufacturers even said they showed a few pieces last year and because of demand and expanded the finish into other products they have for a more complete collection.

Last year I saw several items with or in black (faucets etc.) This year feel it was universal from a lot of manufacturers. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see black cabinetry in both contemporary and traditional styles making a resurgence.

Gray continues as a popular finish; like the shiny gray on appliances for those who are suffering from “stainless fatigue.”

Legrand

From controlling your appliances to Wifi switching in the home, technology continues to expand in unheard of ways. Legrand (above) has Wifi switching, and what I like is this is transitional in look so it will fit in more design projects.

*Laundry Vignette

Rachel Roberts, Kitchen & Bath Galleries of North Hills, Raleigh, N.C.

I loved all the laundry vignettes. Often it seems to be an overlooked area for displays, so it was great to get some inspiration for designs for these spaces –whether as a separate room or part of a closet.

Toni Sabatino, Toni Sabatino Style, New York

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Left, clockwise: Richelieu has done great cabinetry inserts, as well as surfaces and hardware. Emmevi Rubinetterie, Italy, featured a Pinnochio faucet with water coming out of his nose when you move his arms. Thompson Traders’ Artisanal sinks and accessories – this is really stunning handwork.

 

 

Dec 16 2015

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Universal Design for Health and Longevity

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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