Futureproofing your home with style
For many, accessible adaptations are a last resort triggered by a crisis. It’s time we instead put the emphasis on creating luxurious, inclusive interiors that bring joy and comfort.
Interior designer, Gabrielle Blackman, reveals some simple and elegant things to think about when redecorating or refurbishing your home that will make sure your home meets your needs, now and in the future.
I passionately believe that interior design should be inclusive and beautiful. It seems ridiculous to design interiors that don’t work for those looking after young children, or with some kind of mobility impairment or disability. Reduced mobility is something many of us will experience at some point in our lives.
Inclusive design is safe and comfortable for all age groups, the very young and older people, and it means your house will be able to work for you, your family, your children, or your parents, no matter what life may throw at you. For many, accessible adaptations are a last resort triggered by a crisis, such as a fall. It’s time we changed all that and instead put the emphasis on creating luxurious, inclusive interiors that bring joy and comfort both now and in the future.
We’ve all been spending much more time in our homes than we’re used to over the past 18 months, and I can imagine many of us will be thinking about the changes we can make once we come out the other side. So here are some simple and elegant things to think about when redecorating or refurbishing your home that will make sure your home meets your needs, now and in the future.
It is possible to create a safe and inclusive bathroom that also looks elegant and inviting – so if you are planning a new bathroom, here are some principles to bear in mind:
Line your walls under your tiling with marine ply. You will only need to do this around your sanitary ware – this is great for fixing mirrored cabinets, shelves and towel rings but also really helpful for grabrails should they ever be needed. This means you can choose really beautiful wall tiles knowing they will never need to be changed.
Non-slip flooring – it makes sense for everyone to have a safe, non-slip floor especially if you are having grandchildren to stay! Ask your tile shop for options on non-slip or slip resistant range. There are some lovely slip resistant tiles available that avoid the hospital vinyl floor feel.
Digital Showers! There are some amazing digital showers on the market, and whilst they are not the cheapest purchase, it is both a luxury and great for safety to have a shower control on the outside of the shower that can be programmed to your preferred temperature. Again, this is also fantastic for visiting family and little children as you know they will be totally safe.
I like to use one type of flooring per floor. This means you can have a wonderful smooth level floor throughout with no threshold bars or changes in level. It looks really smart, makes the space seem bigger and eliminates trip hazards. Luxury Vinyl Tiles from Karndean or Quick Step are an excellent choice for a really robust beautiful floor that looks great and is warm underfoot. Upstairs, I would fit a good quality carpet with a durafit system to prevent any rucking.
Walls and floors
It is a good idea to have a good contrast in tone between the wall colour and floor colour. Not only does it add interest and great depth, but it really helps anyone in your family who might have any issues with eyesight. It would also help to have the woodwork colour in a good contrast to the wall colour. This can be a huge help to those with visual impairment but also creates a lovely considered interior.
So many of these stylish and handy products are easily available on the market – but all too often, people don’t know what’s out there. Recent research by the Centre for Ageing Better has found that while individuals over 50 value inclusive home products, fixtures and fittings that are designed to be easy-to-use for everyone whatever their ability, many don’t know what products exist to support them.
Older consumers welcomed the idea of retailers offering them more information and guidance, with 59% of the adults aged 50 and over polled agreeing that in the future they would benefit from retailers giving them advice about products that might help them if their needs change as they grow older. I hope that by raising awareness of how easy – and how beautiful – these inclusive design choices can be, many more people will feel able to futureproof their home with style.
Ageing Better's report 'The missing market: How home retailers can better meet the needs of over 50s consumers' explores what consumers are looking for and what steps product designers, manufacturers and retailers could take to meet their needs as well as possible.
The views and opinions expressed in this guest blog are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the policy or positions of the Centre for Ageing Better.