Planning a decorating project or remodel can be a daunting task if you suffer from daily chronic pain so I’ve taken some of the pain out of planning for you today. I get it. You need your home to support you with the degenerative changes that arthritis brings. You want to choose things you’ll love and enjoy for years down the road.
writing this week’s blog, I hope to help my readers learn how to plan ahead and prioritize their
home design projects. I’ve done several articles on various types of home
improvements but how this one differs from the rest is that it’s aimed
specifically at how to prioritize improvements for your special physical needs so you can build your own personal action
steps, budget and timeline. This in turn, hopefully, will give you clarity as well as impetus to take those first daunting steps.
As an arthritis sufferer, you may already be familiar with the term Universal Design. It’s defined as the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size ability or disability.
The following items fall under this classification and can greatly ease day to day challenges for you particularly with arthritic hands but also when your sense of balance is impaired.
Swing handle kitchen sink faucets
style light switches
controls on lighting, window shades, heating and air, Alarms and sensors
Push button front door
thresholds for transition from carpet to
In some cases it’s also advisable to use different colors when
transitioning from one flooring type to the next.
Space planning is one of the best services interior designers offer their arthritic clients. First, identify traffic patterns. Place largest pieces first. Don’t place furniture on an axis. It destabilizes the space visually. For arthritis sufferers, we want stability. We want at least one large piece to act as a visual anchor.
Resist the urge to use end tables at the end of your sofa. This is one of the areas where our hands and feet get caught up, turning a corner or rushing to answer the phone or door.
Test sofa and chair heights before purchasing. Make sure the seat height is comfortable for you. This varies from person to person. Test the depth of the seat cushion so the knee breaks where the cushion ends. Today’s sofas are often too deep to sit comfortably for any length of time.
Avoid seat cushions that are too soft. Go for a solid core with a dacron or down blend wrap.
about four o’clock one day this week or whenever the light is prettiest in your
home, turn on some of your favorite music, light a few candles, and get a
tablet and pen. I like Pink Martini or Frank Sinatra for home decorating,
background music. And I mention four o’clock because that’s when the shadows
are longest and the light is warm and golden. Please make sure your home is
clean and tidy for this exercise.
around and look at things objectively. Since you’re doing this during the
prettiest time of day hopefully you’ll be able to observe the positives. Try
and look at things in different ways, maybe try looking at the room in the
reflection of a mirror. The idea is to get a fresh perspective: to see the room
with new eyes, like a visitor would see it.
Focus on just one room at a time, preferably the living
room, to start. You can move to the dining room next, and then the entry since it’s relatively small. After that move to the master bedroom, guest rooms and so on.
you’re walking around the room, identify the features that are
really lovely. These are the things you want to call attention to visually. If
it’s a handsome fireplace, a striking painting will help define it. If the
fireplace is lacking a mantel, consider making that one of your next
investments. If it’s a beautiful view, note if anything is detracting from it.
Think of ways to call more attention to it.
identify the things you don’t like. Maybe the room’s worst
feature is its carpet, or paint, or sofa. Or maybe it’s as simple as
outdated table lamps. Write that down too.
comes the planning part. Pull up a chair and sketch out a rough draft while
it’s fresh in your mind.
I believe prefer to have my client’s refurbish whenever possible (painted,
polished, recovered, cleaned, or refinished) rather than replacing them. My philosophy is about “building” a home’s décor over a period of decades.
Not replacing everything every ten to
twenty years. I always say a home ages gracefully with a variety of eras and styles
in it. One way to achieve this is to keep what you have in good condition and
occasionally refurbish it. If there’s no hope in refurbishing the item, then
you know it will need to be replaced. It will probably take a bigger chunk out
of your budget and that’s why you have to plan this out and prioritize well.
identified the room’s best and features and how
to call attention to them. You’ve identified the room’s worst features and know
whether to paint, refinish, recover, or completely replace them. Go through the lists and identify the most important three to four projects and plan to update them for fall. Having these projects identified and
prioritized is a good step forward. Good for you. Always keep in mind the items
that made the cut. They are your starting point. As you make decisions, always
be thinking “how will this work with what’s already in my home”.
ready to put your plans into action.
· Buy yourself a binder and a set of
divider pages. Label the divider pages with the project’s name such as paint,
carpet, sofa or lamps. You’ll use these for receipts, estimates, orders,
magazine clippings, paint chips, etc.
Start a page of contacts and phone
Make a list of tools, products or
materials you’ll need.
· Write up a projected budget based on
the priorities you’ve listed and a corresponding, projected timeline.
· Make contact with any
sub-contractors or outside help you’ll need. Get references. Be sure and let
them know if you have a deadline. Educate yourself on the current prices in
home décor, and then share your budget up front to save you both from being
· Keep projects on task by calling or
emailing your contacts daily or weekly. Treat your subs and professionals like
you hope people would treat you or your family if they were in similar
· Do the necessary shopping via local
retail stores wherever possible.
· If you have a finish date in mind,
allow plenty of time. September, October and part of November are the busiest
time of year for home decorating projects. Measuring, getting estimates back,
ordering materials and arranging delivery and installations take time.
Click “Pain Free Design and Wellness” for a free chapter of my powerful new book that helps women with arthritis create beautiful, functional homes and take better care of themselves every day because home is where it all begins.
Live beautifully. Eat beautifully,