Have you heard of living in place? Also known as aging in place, it’s the concept that people want to remain in their homes as long as possible, as we age and our health and lifestyle needs change. For example, in the kitchen above, a simple faucet with a pull-out nozzle will make washing up easy for people with arthritis. Here are a few more tips for setting up your forever home.
Choose Gorgeous, Right-size Furniture
A couple where the husband is 5’10” and the wife is 5’ may have some challenges in making their home comfortable for them both, without health issues in the mix. Even if you aren’t so different in size, it’s important to have furniture that’s the right scale and fit for you. Adjustable tables and chairs can be a help in this, as can designing a bathroom or kitchen with multiple counter heights.
Also, specifying or customizing furniture to fit is a great solution. We found a smaller-scale recliner for my 85 y.o. mother who is only 5’. She had been struggling with a full-size recliner for years. Now she loves reading and relaxing in her right-size chair!
Create Accessible Flows
If you or your family member need to use a cane, walker, wheelchair or other ambulatory aid, it’s especially important to open up the circulation of your rooms. Ensure there’s at least a 3 to 3.5-foot pathway leading to doors and around furniture. Remove any trip hazards like loose rugs, and try to find rugs that have a low profile and rubber backing for places you still need them. Eliminate stairs and add ramps, or choose a one-level home, if you decide to relocate.
Bring It Down to Your Level
Think about how difficult it can be to get something down from a high shelf, especially if it’s heavy or bulky. Now imagine doing that while having bursitis, arthritis, or any number of painful conditions. Consider relocating heavy items to lower shelves, or installing a special pull-down shelf like this one, allowing easy, safe access to upper shelves.
Brighten Spaces with Lighting
As we grow older, our eyes change, and we
need more light to see well. I recommend installing recessed lighting that’s
centered over your task areas throughout your spaces for a bright, evenly lit
tone. Next, add table lamps for adjustable accent and task lighting.
One place you really need to see well is the kitchen. Recessed lights create a great foundation; then add under-cabinet lighting to illuminate your countertop workspace, making prep and cooking a delight. For soft, ambient light when task lights aren’t in use, finish off with a stylish pendant light or chandelier.
Beautify Bathroom Safety
Grab bars don’t have to be
clinical-looking. There are a wide range of ADA- approved grab bars that are
both beautiful and safe. You can use them as additional towel rails to conceal
Ideally, you want a curbless, step-in shower, like this one I designed for a couple in St Francis Woods, San Francisco. Curbless showers are highly desirable even for those who don’t medically require them, creating a beautiful, flowing look for your bathroom. Selecting a gorgeous, handmade ceramic tile like the one above will also elevate your space.
These are just a few ways to make your home a place you can remain for as long as you wish, with independence and freedom, into your golden years.
When the weather turns warm, I love to look outside for inspiration in my work. Artists who utilize natural forms always catch my eye.
Biomorphic forms are the most perfect forms and shapes drawn from nature. They are balanced physically and mathematically, created by nature, so they will naturally be the forms most pleasing to the eye and senses. Architects, designers and artists gain inspiration from these shapes and colors, to make their work more attractive. One such artist is @javiersenosiaina on Instagram. Just look at these beautiful shapes!
I imagine the artist carefully placing each tile as he builds up the pattern, while the sun moves across the sky and changes the reflections and shadows.
Here I’m reminded of the Nautilus in Dr. Doolittle, appropriate since it’s modeled on a real-life nautilus shell, which displays its internal chambers arranged in an approximately logarithmic spiral, related to the Fibonacci sequence.
This view makes me think of serendipity – finding something unexpected along a journey.
Another artist who’s famous for her curvaceous shapes is Zaha Hadid. While we sadly lost her in 2016, her amazing work remains to inspire us, like the Wangjing Soho towers in Beijing, curved to look like giant pebbles.
Her work for the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku won the London Design Museum’s Design of the Year award in 2014, embodying Hadid’s signature, voluptuous design.
The Al Wakrah stadium’s shape is an abstraction of a line of up-turned dhows – traditional boats that can be seen in Al Wakrah’s port in Qatar. The internal structure of the roof was also designed by Hadid to reflect the form of the boats, which is also reminiscent of sand dunes, formed by the wind. I can’t think of a more beautiful profile for a building.
In high-end residential projects, quality fabrics and furnishings, attention to detail, and partnering with artisan workrooms are what elevates a luxury interior from an average run-of-the-mill interior. Read on to see how we took an outdated, run-down space, and turned it into a timeless, high-end traditional living room.
In this project, the homeowner is nearing retirement, and wanted a quality luxury interior that complemented the traditional architecture in his “forever” home.
Creating a beautiful foundation for the room starts with the rug. This hand-knotted, hand-dyed Tibetan wool rug from Tufenkian places an heirloom-quality rug center stage.
It’s worth investing in a handmade rug, as the weaving quality and superior hand-dyed subtleties are unattainable in a machine-made rug. I also encourage clients to purchase original artwork you love, or that reminds you of a special time or destination. Here, the artwork coordinates with the rug. Compare the difference between this and the “before” image.
In love with the comfort of the oversize sofa, the homeowner didn’t want to give it up. So we had an expert upholsterer make a slipcover that is such an exact fit, you’d think it was upholstered, while still allowing for ease of cleaning.
Velvets and silks are luxurious fabrics chosen for the handmade accent sofa pillows, filled with sink-in goose down for an incredibly soft feel.
Opulence and luxury are also expressed through layers of custom window treatments, starting with the practical, woven grass shades that cover the windows in two layers. An operable lining provides privacy behind the grass shades, or a single layer brings in lovely filtered light through the natural grass.
For the decorative portion, the stationary draperies soften the bay windows with a playful polka-dot cut velvet on one side, and an outdoor fabric that is fade-resistant on the backside. When viewed from outside, the sage green lining complements the exterior house color. Linings of your draperies don’t have to be white! We finished off the draperies with a custom designed tieback, accented with raffia to complement the grass shades.
You can see the previous wood shutters visually cut off the windows, made the room too dark, and were impractical to use on a daily basis.
After, quality accessories such as the Italian blown glass lamp topped with a green silk shade and scalloped-edge cherry side table are bespoke, timeless design pieces.
When it comes to luxury, details matter! Taking time to get it right is absolutely worth the attention, an investment you’ll enjoy for years to come.
Do YOU have a luxury interior design project that requires special care? Kimball Starr will ensure a perfect finish – contact her today for a consultation!
Drop a pin on a map anywhere in Northern California and you’re already close to water – an important element in luxury home design. Today I’m sharing a few aspects of California coastal style that will make your spirit soar!
Neutral Color & Texture Palette
The coastal color palette is simple, light and breezy. Create a foundation with neutrals, then layer in some pops of color, such as the traditional navy blue and white, or a fun turquoise. Texture is also considered a key neutral element here, with use of wood, bamboo, rattan and other natural materials adding to the textural feeling.
Sun, Sand, Surf, and Outdoor Dining
Use all your senses to recall those magic moments, by bringing in the basics of water, sand, wind, and sun to your design. Indoor-outdoor dining is a key element here, year-round. If you don’t always have the best weather, pull that breezy feeling indoors, as in this Cape Cod-inspired kitchen.
Let Light In
Coastal designs blur the line between indoors and out – plenty of windows, glass doors and skylights, all essential elements that allow light and the sunshine to flood in. To fake it, add lamps and sconces, place a glass-topped table in a sunny breakfast nook or mount a mirror opposite a window. Trade in heavy draperies for light fabrics, or take down the curtains altogether and replace with simple shades. The hallmark color of a coastal home is white, because it allows light to bounce and dazzle.
If YOU want to refresh your home in the coastal style, contact Kimball Starr to make your ocean retreat a reality.
Now that the summer months are here, my thoughts turn to travel, especially to those countries near water. One of my personal favorite interior design styles was popularized overseas, and is just as relevant along the Northern California coastline: The Mediterranean style originated in countries north of the Mediterranean Sea, such as Spain, Italy, and Greece. Let’s take a look at what makes this style so enduring.
When we talk about Mediterranean style, you may think of whitewashed buildings high atop steep cliffs above Santorini, the city lights of Monaco, or fields of Tuscan wineries. I imagine white sand beaches and bright blue waters along the Turkish coast, and colorful tapestries hung in a Moroccan market.
Furniture in the Mediterranean style ranges from formal to functional, with ornately turned legs and feet. Furniture hardware can often be heavy and include burnished metal details.
Mediterranean colors echo those of the sea and sky, and, depending on the region, can also include terra cotta, lavender and yellow. Mosaic tile designs embody the colors of the Med, and blend easily with many design styles. Bring tiling designs into your home on flooring, a kitchen backsplash, or on something you can take with you if you move, like a mirror frame or a tabletop.
Another popular Mediterranean style accent is exposed wood beams, often paired with gleaming white marble floors or white walls.
People of the Med adore their outdoor spaces, so make sure your interiors flow easily into an exterior dining area or patio, and you can’t go wrong. Arranging your outdoor seating around a water feature is also a popular approach.
The outdoor lifestyle of the Med often includes a veranda or an open interior courtyard, to optimize for the warm, sunny weather. This is another place you’ll see colorful geometric tiling, or sometimes even pure white, and plenty of healthy plantings, so that’s an easy way to get the look, by layering in plants and tiling.
Here’s a Med-inspired courtyard deck I designed for a San Francisco SOMA loft. The stunning water fountain imported from Morocco features an uplight for dramatic nighttime scenes. It’s surrounded by large-scale textural floor tiles in multiple colorations, and a stylized patterned outdoor polypropylene rug that resists fading, which can be hosed off for easy maintenance. The entire space is dotted with easy-care live plants, including the succulent wall hangings on the trellis behind the water feature. An LED sconce will light the space for 50,000 hours before it needs changing. Durable outdoor furniture withstands the weather and remains welcoming, making this truly an outdoor living room.
Do YOU have a Mediterranean-style project that wants to be realized? Kimball Starr Interior Design can help with a consultation. Contact her today!
If you plan to re-do your home for the winter holidays, NOW is the time to start planning! I know it seems like winter is a long way off, but July is the perfect time to consider your options for a bathroom renovation or just replacing your furniture for a fresh look. Here are some valuable tips to ensure your project finishes on schedule.
Scope of the Project
Think about the scale of what you want to accomplish. If you want to re-do your kitchen, bathroom or living room, is this a complete remodel, or is it only new furniture? Does this involve a contractor and structural changes? Are we changing windows, tile and other finishes, or are we just replacing furniture? If it’s furniture, is this a full-house refurnish or just a couple of rooms?
A lot of folks think the project with the contractor will take longer, but you’d be surprised to learn that a whole house of furniture can often take far longer than a small remodel, due to furniture ordering, production, and delivery lead times.
If you’re replacing furniture without major construction for holiday hosting, plan for 3 months minimum from when you order to when you get it in house, so this is important to start early. 10-12 weeks for furniture is a good rule of thumb: 8-10 weeks to order plus 2 weeks to ship. But not if you’re doing an entire house!
If you’re doing living, dining and master or guest bedroom, plan for 3 months to receive the furniture, plus another 2-4 months for furniture plan, meetings, review and the order process, depending on scope and how quickly the decisions are made.
Steps of a Renovation
What if you want to fully renovate your powder room? Here are the steps:
1. Hire a contractor, who leads the
timeline and drives the schedule.
2. Come up with a design plan – permit
drawings will be required.
3. Execute the plan, managing deliveries
and services from professional installers.
4. With construction, you need time to fix
errors, which is called a “punch list”, and complete the final details. This
part often takes longer than expected.
In our furniture example, finishing details such as art and mirrors come last but do take time, so don’t forget to plan for what I think is the best part!
Account for Delays
Definitely account for potential delays in your plan. If any of the furniture or finishes you’re ordering is European, everyone goes on vacation in August, so that’s an entire month you can’t get anything done if you’re buying from anywhere in Europe. Same thing with Thanksgiving and Christmas here in the United States: Warehouses, production facilities and even showrooms may close for two weeks or more, so plan for these delays.
Then there’s delivery. Should things become damaged in shipping, you’ll need some extra time to either repair or replace. Shipping companies are often understaffed and people get a little careless when they’re rushed, so mistakes can happen. Aim for November BEFORE Thanksgiving, rather than December. Then if there are unexpected delays, you’ve bought yourself some time to work with.
In my experience, a bathroom remodel will take about 2-3 months from demolition to conclusion. This is realistic to finish before the holiday season, especially if it’s a small bathroom, and client decisions can be made quickly. I suggest 1-3 months for the design planning process, including designing the floor plan and selecting finishes. This can vary based on the scope and level of detail, plus how quickly decisions are made.
Now, a full kitchen renovation will take at least 3-5 months, from demolition to completion of all details. For the design process, again, it can take anywhere from 2-4 months for planning, layout, selection of fixtures and finishes, and final decisions. Plus, then you might decide you need to change recessed lighting, or re-do the attached/related areas of the space, so it feels complete. If you start now, you could potentially finish your kitchen in time to be cooking Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner for your guests.
While some people do manage renovation projects themselves, it’s good to hire professionals, especially if you have a very tight schedule. Drawing up a floor plan seems like it should be quick, but if you don’t know about things like clearances or required circulation space for fire codes, you could find yourself in hot water quickly. That’s why hiring a designer is a great idea.Plus, a designer can help you select a trustworthy local contractor, a very important decision in any home renovation project. The designer can communicate with and manage the contractor and installation professionals, which can keep your project on schedule and on budget. This is a must for a project that needs to finish in time for your holiday guests to arrive!
If YOU want to renovate your bathroom, kitchen or bedroom in time for the winter holidays, call or email now! Kimball Starr offers complimentary consultations to explore your ideas.