6. Drawers could be called the great equalizer. All of us benefit from bringing things closer to us without straining. Even most moderately priced cabinetry offers drawers. Today’s drawer appliances, dishwashers, microwave ovens, refrigerators, to name a few – are in demand from people, and particularly those in the Boomer segment.
7. In both the kitchen and the bath, not only drawers, but doors that go away are a strong trend. Whether they fold to the side, swing up, recess in or otherwise open, getting them out of the way while one is accessing what’s behind them is good. Hardware has been created and improved so that there have never been more options.
8. In the bath, let’s start with the vanity area and talk knee spaces. People are requesting designs that include the option of sitting for at least some of the tasks at hand. Today’s lavatory designs invite an open knee space and they are, at last, a strong trend.
9. Have you ever seen more choices in toilets? The trend is definitely to comfort- or right-height seats and, given the choice, I plan more than one height, to accommodate changing needs and varied user heights, when doing a whole house. Although this trend is still designer-instigated, clients are responding strongly to the many additional options becoming available, including heated and self-closing seats, personal hygiene, dual-flush, etc.
10. No-threshold showers have begun to take hold with not just designers, but with builders and consumers, as well. When containment of water is planned carefully based on the size, position, direction and amount of water flowing, the extent of waterproof layer, the slope of floor, type and location of drains, and the plan for doors, curtains or open entries, this is a wonderful choice.
It is my opinion, as a home designer, that every home should have a large, covered front porch.
A front porch is many things. It is a place to welcome guests to your home. It is a place to get in out of the weather. A front porch is a transitionary place between the outside world and the inner world of your home. It is a place to cool off out of the summer sun and to warm up in the sun rays of winter.
Most of all, a covered front porch is a place to connect with people, with your neighbors as they walk by on the street or as they go to get their mail. A front porch is a place to sit and converse about the the meaning and purpose of life or to talk about the football game. It’s a place to sit with guests and talk about the latest book they’ve read or about how to better love our families. A front porch is a place to talk theology and politics because they need to be talked about. It’s a place to play a game of checkers or chess. A front porch is many things…
The Front Porch Hall of Fame is an honor given to people who make for good company in any front porch conversation.
My first inductee to The Front Porch Hall of Fame is T.K. Murphy known to most as “Murphy” or simply “Murph”. He was a man of God who served God with his life. He loved God’s Church and served God’s Church. He was a reader; he had the largest personal library of which I know. He was a student of the Scriptures. He was a memorizer of the Scriptures, whole books were recorded in his memory. He was a preacher/teacher. He was a student of history. He was a family man – loving his wife and three boys. Murphy was from the South. He lived many years in Alaska, several in Eugene, and most recently in the ranching country of Eastern Oregon. Murphy only wore jeans and boots. He was a leatherworker, who owned a leather business. All of these attributes (and so much more), combined with his personality, made Murphy fine Front Porch material. Murphy passed from this life to the next this morning (8/13/11). He is missed.
[From: The Acorn]
A new home design center recently opened in The Oaks mall. Last week I toured the center looking at a majestic Jacuzzi tub, lovely bathroom fixtures, highend appliances, and solid wood kitchen cabinets.
Approaching the salesperson to compliment him on his beautiful store, I asked him if the company incorporates any elements of Universal Design. He directed me to their corporate website, which had no mention of the principle.
The design center is not alone—in fact, it is in the majority.
“Not incorporating elements of Universal Design in remodels is unfortunately quite common,” said Holly Spiegel, senior design consultant at Adaptive Design Associates in Westlake Village.
“Many consumers are unaware of the concept,” Spiegel continued. “Universal Design is intended to simplify everyday life by making products and using designs to create comfortable and functional environments for everyone, regardless of age or ability. Many designers overlook this important concept in remodeling plans or incorporate only the simplest of elements.”
Traditional homes are designed for average families and can limit the independence and functionality of some residents. Most singlefamily homes built today, and certainly those build 20 to 30 years ago, do not contain Universal Design elements. As we age and as our homes age, updates should include Universal Design features.
Universal Design concepts in a kitchen remodel take into consideration people of all heights and ages. Remodel elements may include kitchen counters of varying heights and a microwave placed at countertop height. These changes allow a 10-year old or an 80-yearold to comfortably navigate the kitchen.
Other kitchen modifications assist those with physical disabilities. Lever faucets are easier to turn off and on for weak hands. Building in knee space under the sink can be used by a family member who may need to sit while washing dishes. Large roll-out drawers make it easier for those with limited reach. Wide doorways facilitate the use of a wheelchair or walker as well as make it easier to move in that new refrigerator or stove.
Bathroom remodels utilizing Universal Design concepts include a curbless shower with adjustable hand-held controls. After a recent Achilles tendon tear, Peter, an avid runner now on crutches, was happy his remodel included both.
Floors and bathtubs with nonslip surfaces help everyone stay on their feet. Handrails and grab bars in bathrooms are great for young and old. Lever door handles and rocker light switches support those with poor hand strength but are also good when your arms are full of laundry or towels.
The market for homes with Universal Design features that allow residents to “age in place,” or remain in their home as they age, will increase. Most boomers say they want to age in place. In the next 10 years, 20 percent of the population will be over the age of 65 and the over-85 population will triple. Making home updates in our 50s and 60s will allow us to live safely and independently for many years to come.
If a kitchen or bath remodel is in your future, you may want to consider using a Certified Agingin Place Specialist. A CAPS professional has been trained in the unique needs of the older adult population. Rather than offering a product, Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists offer a service, such as designing a kitchen or bath remodel with UD design elements that are also aesthetically pleasing.
To find a CAPS professional go to http://www.nahb.org/directory a nd choose CAPS under designation.
Universal Design features allow you to enjoy your home as your needs and lifestyle change, living with kids, grandkids, an aging or injured loved ones.
Senior Concerns in Thousand Oaks is providing this column. Senior Concerns is a nonprofit agency serving Ventura and western Los Angeles counties.
For more information, visit www.seniorconcerns.org, and for comments or questions, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAPS certification, taught by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), was created in collaboration with the American Association of Retired People (AARP). A CAPS-designated home remodeler can help you create a home that is livable for your lifespan. You will learn much more – including answers to frequently asked questions about “aging in place” – on the NAHB website.
Click here to find out more about GANT Construction’s Aging-In-Place information.
WHAT IS AGING-IN-PLACE?
Aging in Place is a type of design that modifies your existing home to fit your needs as they come along.
More specifically, Aging in Place consists of creating an living space that is “barrier free”, i.e., rooms, entrances and locations that minimize or eliminate barriers like stairs or steps, steep elevations or slopes, thresholds greater than ½”, and small, cluttered, or passages that just don’t work.
We will make an design a living space that will increase use, safety, security, and independence for you as they age.
Adaptable Design focuses on the problems of different people; individual differences, and changes in a homeowner’s capability over time.
It is the ability of certain building features, such as kitchen counters, sinks, and grab bars to be added to, raised, lowered, or changed to accommodate the needs of either people with or without disabilities, or to accommodate the needs of people with different types or degrees of disability.
In addition to Adaptable Design there are three other basic categories of design for Aging in Place as defined by the National Association of Home Builders;
* Universal Design – Focuses on as much of the population as possible by designing space and using products that can be used by as many people as possible.
* Accessible Design – Focuses on people with a disability by designing a space you can get around in with ease and comfort.
* Visitability Design – Focuses on wheelchair accessibility and works to create a path to or from ground floors.
How do I know what kind of Aging In Place Design I need?
The answer depends greatly on your existing needs and your needs for the future. However, there is an assessment that a Contractor performs when preparing an Aging In Place Design;
What issue, if any, is of concern, and to what extent (light, moderate or severe). We notate things like; vision, hearing, sense of feeling in arms or legs, use of hands, strength, balance, use of neck, reaching/stretching, coordination, endurance, awareness/understanding, breathing, dressing and undressing.
We will look at the existing homes entries, hallways and doorways, stairs, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, living areas, storage/utility areas and parking areas and suggest improvments for the areas that are not working.
Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists
The Remodelors Council of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in collaboration with the NAHB Research Center, NAHB Seniors Housing Council and AARP developed the Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS)program to address the needs of consumers who want to make their house a home for a lifetime – regardless of one’s age, or functional abilities.
A Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist is specially trained in:
The unique needs of older people;
Home modifications that can help people continue living independently in their homes longer;
Common remodeling projects;
Solutions to common barriers.
CAPS professionals have been taught the strategies and techniques for designing and building aesthetically pleasing, barrier-free living environments. The CAPS program goes beyond design to address the codes and standards, common remodeling projects and their costs, product ideas and resources needed to provide comprehensive and practical aging-in-place solutions.
Promoting Independence In the Home
In the past, if someone had difficulty living by themselves, it was a signal that now was time to move in with family or go to a nursing home. But, for most people, that no longer is the case. Today, you can live on your own for many years, even as you grow older and start needing help with everyday tasks. This is called “aging in place.”
When you develop a chronic health condition, like diabetes, arthritis, or Alzheimer’s disease, aging in place means more that just staying put. You need a place to live that is safe and fits with your abilities. As driving becomes more difficult, it is important to access reliable and affordable transportation. A wide range of paid services may be available in your community. You may also want extra funds for family caregivers or for home modifications (such as a ramp or lift) that can extend the time you can live at home.
Americans of all ages value their ability to live independently. But without a plan for aging in place, it can be hard to stay in control of your life. Knowing your health risks and financial options can make a big difference in your ability to stay in a familiar place.
As the market for more energy efficient homes grows, the Earth Advantage Institute has released its top 10 green building trends to watch for in 2011.
[GANT Construction especially likes ideas: 1, 6, 7, & 8 – ADUs are a great idea!]
1. Affordable Green
Many consumers typically associate green and energy-efficient homes and features with higher costs. However, the development of new business models, technologies, and the mainstreaming of high performance materials is bringing high-performance, healthy homes within reach of all homeowners. Leading the charge are affordable housing groups, including Habitat for Humanity and local land trusts, now building and selling LEED® for Homes- and ENERGY STAR®-certified homes across the country at price points as low as $100,000*. In the existing homes market, energy upgrades are now available through new programs that include low-cost audits and utility bill-based financing. Through such programs as Clean Energy Works Oregon, and Solar City‘s solar lease-to-own business model, no up-front payment is required to take advantage of energy upgrades.
2. Sharing and Comparing Home-Energy Use
As social and purchasing sites like Facebook and Groupon add millions more members, the sharing of home energy consumption data – for rewards – is not far behind. The website Earth Aid (http://www.earthaid.net) lets you track home energy usage and earn rewards for energy savings from local vendors. You can also elect to share the information with others on Earth Aid to see who can conserve the most energy. When coupled with other developments including home energy displays, a voluntary home energy scoring system announced by the Department of Energy, and programs including Oregon and Washington’s Energy Performance Score, a lot more people will be sharing — and comparing — their home energy consumption.
For the rest of the article go to:
Bring on a heat wave or deep freeze. This cozy little house stays comfortable year-round without green gadgets or a typical HVAC system.
Nestled in seven pristine acres of Hudson Valley forest, this intimate little spec home is sustainable, but not in the way you might think. It has no solar panels, no geothermal system, and no wind turbines, yet it’s expected to consume only one-tenth of the heating and cooling energy used by the average three-bedroom home. How does it work?
Like a thermos.
Think of it as a 1,650-square-foot version of that super-insulated bottle that keeps your coffee hot or your iced tea cold, except in reverse. Its ultra-tight shell keeps extreme temperatures out, most of the time with little to no mechanical intervention. And its main power sources are things nature provides for free: sunlight, shade, earth, and breezes.
Created by architect Dennis Wedlick and custom builder Bill Stratton, the “Hudson Passive Project,” as it’s known, doesn’t follow the same certification playbooks most American green builders have come to rely on. Rather than adhering to LEED or similar blueprints for sustainability (“I equate LEED with the IRS,” Wedlick says. “It’s about as much paperwork and it’s easier to cheat … .”) the house is built to stringent standards set by the Passive House Institute in Germany. Under this rubric, certification is an all-or-nothing deal that’s wholly contingent on hard metrics (BTUs and pascals), not a points-based system. And the emphasis is on passive engineering and resource conservation. The design relies on simple architecture—not technology—to capture or shield the sun, depending on the season. The construction then ensures that not a single unit of precious thermal energy escapes before it is fully maximized.
For the rest of this article go to Builder Magazine Online:
Forget stocks. Don’t bet on gold. After four years of plunging home prices, the most attractive asset class in America is housing.
From his wide-rimmed cowboy hat to his roper boots, Mike Castleman fits moviedom’s image of the lanky Texas rancher. On a recent March evening, Castleman is feeding cattle biscuits to his two pet longhorn steers, Big Buddy and Little Buddy, on his 460-acre Bar Ten Creek Ranch in Dripping Springs, a hamlet outside Austin in the Texas Hill Country. The spread is a medley of meandering streams, craggy cliffs, and centuries-old oaks. But even in this pastoral setting, his mind keeps returning to a subject he knows as well as any expert around: the housing market. “I’m a dirt-road economist who sees what’s happening on the ground, and in 35 years I’ve never seen a shortage of new construction like the one I’m seeing today,” declares Castleman, 70, now offering a biscuit to his miniature donkey Thumper. “The talking heads who are down on real estate will hate to hear this, but America needs to build a lot more houses. And in most markets the price of new homes is fixin’ to rise, not fall.”
For the rest of the article click:
The Architecture of Happiness is a delightful little book by Alain de Botton. If you are at all a fan of architecture you will also enjoy the read. De Botton is an unparalleled wordsmith. Below I have quoted some of my favorite lines from the book with little added comment.
Throughout the book he does not necessarily give conclusions or solutions, this is more his observations on architecture and his critique of architects … which really is more of a challenge. A challenge to architects to create beautiful spaces that have an positive effect on our psychology.
I start with the closing line from the book:
“We owe it to the fields that our houses will not be the inferiors of the virgin land they have replaced. We owe it to the worms and the trees that the buildings we cover them with will stand as promises of the highest and most intelligent kinds of happiness.”
From the back cover: “Virtually every page contains a sentence any essayist would have been proud to have written … Gentle affection pervades these pages, as does knowledge of architecture that is both broad and deep. A lyrical and generously illustrated monograph about the intimate relationship between our buildings and ourselves.” – Kirkus Reviews
“Those who have made architectural beauty their life’s work know only too well how futile their efforts can prove. After an exhaustive study of the buildings of Venice, in a moment of depressive lucidity, John Ruskin acknowledged that few Venetians in fact seemed elevated by their city, perhaps the most beautiful urban tapestry in the world. Alongside St. Mark’s Church (described by Ruskin in The Stones of Venice as ‘a Book of Common Prayer, a vast illuminated missal, bound with alabaster instead of parchment, studded with porphyry pillars instead of jewels, and written within and without in letters of enamel and gold’), they sat in cafés, read the papers, sunbathed, bickered and stole from one another as, high on the church’s roof, unobserved, ‘the images of Christ and His angels looked down upon them.’” (p 17)
“Then a new and contentious series of questions at once opens up. We have to confront the vexed point on which so much of the history of architecture pivots. We have to ask what exactly a beautiful building might look like.” (p26)
“What is a beautiful building? To be modern is to experience this as an awkward and possibly unanswerable question, the very notion of beauty having come to seem like a concept doomed to ignite unfruitful and childish argument. How can anyone claim to know what is attractive? How can anyone adjudicate between the competing claims of different styles of defend a particular choice in the face of the contradictory tastes of others? The creation of beauty, once viewed as the central task of the architect, has quietly evaporated from serious professional discussion and retreated to a confused private imperative.” (p28)
“The essence of great architecture was understood to reside in what was functionally unnecessary.” (p47)
“LeCorbusier recommended that the houses of the future be ascetic and clean, disciplined and frugal. His hatred of any kind of decoration extended to a pity for the British Royal and the ornate, golden carriage in which they traveled to open Parliament every year. He suggested that they push the carved monstrosity off the cliffs of Dover…
For LeCorbusier, true, great architecture – meaning, architecture motivated by the quest for efficiency …
If the function of a plane was to fly, what was the function of a house? LeCorbusier arrived (‘scientifically’ he assured his readers) at a simple list of requirements, beyond which all other ambitions were no more than ‘romantic cobwebs’. The function of a house was, he wrote, to provide: ‘1. A shelter against heat, cold, rain, thieves and the inquisitive. 2. A receptacle for light and sun. 3. A certain number of cells appropriated to cooking, work, and personal life’”. (p57)
“Modernism claimed to have supplied a definitive answer to the question of beauty in architecture: the point of a house was not to be beautiful but to function well’.” (p62)
“Of almost any building, we ask not only that it do a certain thing but also that it look a certain way, that it contribute to a given mood of religiosity or scholarship, rusticity or modernity, commerce or domesticity. We may require it to generate a feeling of reassurance or of excitement, or harmony or of containment. We may hope that it will connect us to the past or stand as a symbol of the future, and we would complain, no less expressive level of function were left unattended.
In a more encompassing suggestion, John Ruskin proposed that we seek two things of our buildings. We want them to shelter us. And we want them to speak to us – to speak to us of whatever we find important and need to be reminded of.” (p62)
“If there existed a dictionary … the dictionary would resemble the giant catalogues which provide architects with information on light fittings and ironmongery, but, rather than focusing as those do on mechanical performance and compliance with building codes, it would expound on the expressive implications of every element in an architectural composition.
In its comprehensive concern with minutiae, the dictionary would acknowledge the fact that just as the alteration of a single word can change the whole sense of a poem, so, too, can our impression of a house be transformed when a straight limestone lintel is exchanged for a fractionally curved brick one. With the aid of such a resource, we might become more conscious readers, as well as writers, of our environment.”(p97-98)
“Touring the cathedrals today with cameras and guidebooks in hand, we may experience something at odds with our practical secularism: a peculiar and embarrassing desire to fall to our knees and worship a being as mighty and sublime as we ourselves are small and inadequate. Such a reaction would not, of course, have surprised the cathedral builders, for it was precisely towards such a surrender of our self-sufficiency that their efforts were directed, the purpose of their ethereal walls and lace-like ceilings being to make metaphysical stirrings not only plausible but irresistible within even the soberest of hearts.” (p112)
“We might even, the early theologians suggested, come better to understand God through beauty, for it was He who had created every beautiful thing in the world: the eastern sky at dawn, the forests, the animals, and even more domestic items like a graceful armchair, a bowl of lemons and a ray of afternoon sun shining through a cotton window blind onto the kitchen table. In contact with attractive buildings, we could intimate some of the refinement, intelligence, kindness and harmony of their ultimate maker. In the eleventh century the Muslim philosopher Ibn Sina noted that to admire a mosaic for being flawless, ordered and symmetrical, was at the same time to recognize divine glory, for ‘God is at the source of every beautiful thing.’ In the thirteenth century, from across a divide of faith, Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln, asked us to picture ‘a beautiful house, this beautiful universe. Think of this or that beautiful object. But then, omitting “this” and “that”, think of what makes “this” and “that” beautiful. Try to see what beauty is in itself … If you succeed, you will see God Himself, the Beauty which dwells in all beautiful things.’” (p118)
“Spending time in beautiful spaces, far from a self-indulgent luxury, was deemed to lie at the core of the quest to become an honorable person.” (p118)
“The architecture produced under the influence of an idealizing theory of the arts might be described as a form of propaganda. The word is an alarming one, for we are inclined to believe that high art should be free of ideology and admired purely for its own sake.” (p145)
“The theorists of the idealizing tradition were refreshingly frank in their insistence that art should try to make things happen – and, more importantly, that it should try to make us good.” (p147)
“Beauty, then, is a fragment of the divine, and the sight of it saddens us by evoking our sense of loss and our yearning for the life denied us [because of sin, resulting in the loss of Eden]. The quantities written into beautiful objects are those of a God from whom we live far removed, in a world mired in sin. But works of art are finite enough, and the care taken by those who create them great enough, that they can claim a measure of perfection ordinarily unattainable by human beings. These works are bitter-sweet tokens of a goodness to which we still aspire, however infrequently we may approach it in our actions or our thoughts.” (p149)
“[LeCorbusier scolds], ‘These things are beautiful because in the middle of the apparent incoherence of nature or the cities of men, they are places of geometry, a realm where practical mathematics reigns … And is not geometry pure joy?’
Joy because geometry represents a victory over nature and because, despite what a sentimental reading might suggest, nature is in truth opposed to the order we rely on to survive.” (p179)
“Architecture should have the confidence and the kindness to be a little boring.” (p183)
“In his In Praise of Shadows (1933) Junichiro Tanizaki attempted to explain why he and his [Japanese] countrymen found flaws so beautiful: ‘We find it hard to be really at home with things that shine and glitter. The Westerner uses silver and steel and nickel tableware, and polishes it to a fine brilliance, but we object to the practice. While we do sometimes indeed use silver for teakettles, decanters, or sake cups, we prefer not to polish it. On the contrary we begin to enjoy it only when the luster has worn off, when it has begun to take on a dark, smoky, patina.’ (p235)
In writing about LeCorbusier’s 1925 city plan, detailed in The City of Tomorrow and its Planning, le Botton comments, “And because such an environment is uncomfortable, there is always a greater risk that people will respond abusively to it, that they will come to the ragged patches of earth between their towers and urinate on tyres, burn cars, inject drugs – and express all the darkest sides of their nature against which the scenery can amount no protest.” (p245)
In a comment about front doors, which I totally agree and even go further in believing every home should have a full covered front porch, le Botton writes, “When we approach front doors, we appreciate those that have a small threshold in front of them, a piece of railing, a canopy or a simple line of flowers or stones – features that help us to mark the transition between public and private space and appease the anxiety of entering or leaving a house.” (p247)
“The failure of architects to create congenial environments mirrors our inability to find happiness in other areas of our lives. Bad architecture is in the end as much a failure of psychology as of design … those rare architects … create environments that satisfy needs we never consciously knew we even had.” (p248)
“We owe it to the fields that our houses will not be the inferiors of the virgin land they have replaced. We owe it to the worms and the trees that the buildings we cover them with will stand as promises of the highest and most intelligent kinds of happiness.” (p267)