It is the 1998’s and design for aging is not at the forefront of people’s mind but Lynette Evans designed the interior of a house for her elder parents with a lot of foresight in mind. It allowed her mother after her stroke to continue to live in her own home. The former editor of the Home and Garden Section of the San Francisco Chronicle and interior designer is now promoting what she then practiced together with her niece Monika Weiss. The two of them, loyal participants in AHWGO’s monthly salons talked to us at the last forum about their new venture ‘A Friendly House’ and showed Lynette’s design for her parents which was revolutionary back then and still is not common place. ‘A Friendly House’ talks about design for people in their later years and people with special needs, through stories and examples and expands our horizon by sourcing and testing products.
Here are examples of some of the things Lynette realized in the house for her parents.
1. The Kitchen. The seemingly standard cabinets have a small but important twist – the 10” high toe kick (the standard is 4”) allows walkers and wheelchairs to move up close to the working surface. Two different counter heights allow for seated work. An induction cook top stays cool enough to avoid burns from accidental touch and is in one plane with the counter – no need to lift pots to set them on the burners.
2. The Bathroom. In the bathroom a curbless shower reduces the risk of falling by eliminating the high ‘threshold’ and hand holds provide support where needed. A handheld shower gives the choice to rinse off instead of taking a full shower.
3. Wide doorways and generous corridors. Negotiating narrow hallways with many doors and doorways can scrape knuckles and present an unnecessary ‘bottleneck’ for easy flow.
4. Placement and type of furniture makes a huge difference. Shifting a chair can help in getting a different view or its back can offer support when walking by. A chair might be inviting or become ‘uninhabitable’ depending how easy it is to get in and out.
What this presentation showed again is that supporting people with a functional and beautiful home takes awareness for their needs but is not complicated.
The words of two Italian designers, Lucci and Orlandini, say it perfectly, “Design is functional form. The less complex an object of design is, the greater the chance it will be user-friendly. Based on elementary principles of ergonomics and the elimination of the superfluous, universal design makes our life easier by providing our environments with safety, reliability, simplicity and comfort.