Yeechy Stuff that hopefully won’t go Bump in the night!

Well, it’s the season for Halloween preparations here in America, and tales of yeechy, gross creatures and things. What better time for an interior design blog than to talk about toilets or water closets! Perhaps not the most comfortable subject to discuss, but nonetheless, we all have them!

One of the reasons we grimace when thinking about them, is the process of cleaning them, and cleaning around them. The floor mop never seems to fit into the nooks and crannies behind the toilet for thorough cleaning, and we end up on our hands and knees doing it by hand. But with the 100% raised from the floor models today, we needn’t do such things any more! What a relief! Also, if we are over 50 years of age, or have a movement challenge, we can install these models a bit higher on the wall to help us sit easier, with less bending. We couldn’t do that with a floor model!

For those using wheelchairs, raised from the floor models are great as they allow space underneath. One of the biggest hurdles to bathrooms is that the rooms are small. If there is an injury in the family, the wheelchair often can’t turn around in the bathroom; just these few inches can help so much! And yet, these models never look like they belong in a nursing home–they don’t! They are sleek and modern to fit into any home for any user.

One floorless model also has a concealed tank that fits into the wall cavity (as shown), taking even less space in the room, and allowing the room to look even more attractive. A Gerberit Concealed Tank & Carrier System claims to support 880 pounds (400 kg) with its 16 gauge steel support. And it also utilizes water-saving, dual-flush technology. I give the brand name not to endorse it, but to allow you to find this type of system should you be interested.

While we’re on the subject of toilets & water closets, one American manufacturer is producing a model that water-washes and dries the underside of the user. Water temperature and water pressure are adjustable.

Well, that’s a few solutions to yecchy things! At Breay Design we know YOUR interiors need to fit YOUR lifestyle like your favorite shoe. That’s why Sharon Breay, certified and awarded interior and yard designer named her speaking company “Does the Shoe……FIT?” If you need some help, or wish a program or workshop, contact us; we’ll be happy to work with you.

Paint Yourself a Rug

Painted rugs are quite popular today, although originally a colonial and pioneer decorating touch. But why not today again? They are environmental, barrier free by their flatness, inexpensive, and allow you to create something uniquely you. They are great for small spaces, like entries, but look equally good in larger spaces, too.

The rug itself can be either painter’s canvas with two coats of gesso or the backside of a piece of vinyl flooring. Here are some instructional steps from Sherwin Williams paint company on making one, using the back of a piece of vinyl flooring.

     1   Purchase a 10’x12″ piece of vinyl flooring.

     2. Map out the design by using painter’s tape. Design can be your own or a copy of a piece of art perhaps blocked in square by square from a grid you draw over the original design or art that you admire.

     3.  Apply the paint, tinted with floor enamel. If you take your artwork to a paint store, they can help you get the proper paint and color(s). After the artwork is painted on the rug, allow it to dry

     4. “Antique” with one coat of faux finishing glazing liquid tinted brown. This liquid is made by major paint companies.

     5. Top the dry rug with 2 coats of polyurethane so the clost can be damp-mopped.

And there you are! These “rugs” look great over hardwood flooring, tile, vinyl. Be sure to choose a style and colors that fit your design scheme to give everything a consistent look.  Remember, your surroundings need to fit you like your favorite shoes. Ask yourself…..”Does the Shoe FIT?” If not, give us a call. We are awarded in interior and exterior design, and have helped many hundreds of clients just like you.


About a year ago (March 30, 2010)  I wrote a blog entry on senior living, and barrier free design.  Here are some additional facts to think about when preparing a home for senior living, whether that be for your parents or the future you. Remember, aging–despite the advertisements–IS inevitable.

Visually, seniors have problems with low contrasts such as the graphics on appliances, or between text sizes on signage, or between wall and floor transitions. Solutions could be found in using big bold, dark text on a light background; or using a darker flooring or flooring border, with light colored walls.

Dark surfaces around brightly lit surfaces, such as a window or light fixture with brilliant light, can also cause slower cognitive response. One solution to this is to use fluorescent bulbs as they give diffused, softer lighting rather than intense, hard edged light from halogen bulbs. I recommend using a type of fluorescent that has a kelvin color temperature (color–nothing to do with feel) of 3000 degrees as it is closest to the color of incandescent light bulbs that most seniors are accustomed to.

Here are some other findings the Architectural Research Consortium discovered in 2009: Seniors have problems adapting from high noise levels to low noise levels and vice versa. They do better with comunication in quieter spaces than hearing loud voices.

The research report also states that temperature levels need to change as we age. Seniors often stay home more, have lower activity levels, and wear light weight clothing. So thermal comfort for them usually is at a higher level than for young people.

Since seniors have reduced perception in both taste and smell, smoke detectors and other similar aids are extremely important.

Aging should not be defined as a period of withdrawal and less involvement. Providing environments that take into account senior needs will allow a much more satisfying life.

Make your home fit you like your favorite shoe. Ask yourself, “Does the Shoe…FIT?” If you need help, contact us; we are the space specialists, with cross country references for designing for seniors.

Missing the Tree inside?

Does the house look bare without the “Holiday Tree?” January, for many of us, can mean barren looking interiors after holiday things are taken down. Often winter can keep us house-bound–when we’d rather be out in the garden. Do you miss real, live, trees?

Consider Bonsai, live miniature trees and shrubs that grow in pots. They can be colorful, easy to place around the house, and fairly easy to care for. Some popular plants used as bonsai include Juniper, Elm, Sago Palm, Australian Tea Tree, Red Maple, Green Maple, Cotoneaster, Rose, Oak, Boxwood, Blue Cedar, Pyracantha, Black Pine, Azalea, Ginkgo, Ivy, and Bamboo. There are many more!

Just as lawn trees need water, the small containers for these miniature trees necessitate watering frequently, about once every 2 – 3 days. Submerge the pot in water up to the tree trunk for a couple of minutes. If you have a flowering bonsai, feed it monthly all year. Nonflowering types should not be fertilized in winter.

Bonsai like direct early morning sunlight, or filtered afternoon sunlight. In warm climates they can be kept outside all day in a bright shady spot. They do need time outdoors weekly, so find a protected. cool, bright shady spot like a porch or balcony or patio to place them on for a little time a few days a week. In the cold of winter, even time near a cool semi-shady winidow will be a boost for them.

Pinching off the ends of new growth with your finger helps the plant keep it’s original bonsai shape. Bonsai  like repotted every 2 – 3 years, in the spring, pruning the roots enough to give room for expansion. Remove one-third of the soil from the tree, then transplant in sandy soil in a slightly larger pot.

Remember, your home and work environments need to fit you like a favorite shoe. Ask yourself, “Does the Shoe…..FIT?” If you need some help with your interiors or exteriors, contact us. We are the interior/exterior space specialists.

Did You allow for Circulation Space?

Whoops! We lost a day someplace! Sorry for the delay in this blog. However, the other day, a former particpant in one of my design workshops wrote me aboutsome spacing for an island in her soon-to-be-remodeled kitchen. (See Comments under the blog, When is an Area Rug NOT an Area Rug, with Sharon Breay’s response.)  I was pleased she was thinking ahead about circulation space.

Space for circulation is often overlooked in our involvement with styles, colors, room focus, etc. We forget to really analyze how much space we need in order to get around in an area. Oh, we leave “some” space–maybe a foot or so.

In kitchen areas, we can generally expect more than one person to be moving about, at least some of the time. Cabinet and appliance doors open to narrow a passageway. Stools are pulled out into the passageway. Likewise dining room chairs must be pushed from the table to allow us to get into them and up from them.

A standard rule with designers is to leave a minimum of 3.5 feet space in a kitchen aisle or around a dining table for circulation. Coffee tables and sofa’s need about 2 feet of space between them for leg room. To enter a conversational furniture arrangement, again use the 3.5 feet rule as minimum. Of course, one “can” get through in a smaller space–however, it is awkward and appears cramped. People are more comfortable with the extra space.

Your existing hallways  or corridors may not be 5′, but if someone in the household is walking down the hall with a laundry basket, and someone else is approaching  from the opposite end with something at his side, they will wish the hallway WAS 5 feet wide. (Even wheelchairs can turn around in a 5′ space–a definite consideration should there be an accident or an elderly in the home.) Typically, we say a minimum 3 feet of width for a passage that only one person will walk through, and a minimum of 3′-6″ where there may be two people passing from opposite directions. (Odd?? yes! How does that second person fit into a 6′ space?–Both people have to slide a bit sideways!)  If you are building, just make the halls 5′ wide. You will be very glad you did–as will every owner of the home thereafter. 

Remember, your spaces need to fit you like your favorite shoe. Ask yourself, “Does the Shoe….FIT? If not, feel free to contact us, Breay Design Associates, for help……You’ll be glad you did!

Me fall?? NEVER!

Recently I had a bad fall and was in a wheelchair for awhile. Isn’t it strange how we think “It will never happen to me”? Actually with our active lifestyles, our sports, our Colorado skiing and rock climbing, our children’s activities, few households go more than a couple years without some type of injury.

And then there’s Mom & Dad–aging, but still active. According to the Denver Community Relations Agency for Human Rights, 58% of people over 65 years have 1 or more “disability.” According to the American Assoc. of Retired Persons, 90% of retired persons want to age in their own home.

There are multitudes of methods that we have to help them all do so. The easiest time to create a home that will accommodate physical challenges, as well as help the rest of us,  is when a remodel is done. Researching how your home could be made more accessible to everyone will be well worth your time. There is much more to consider than a ramp or grab bars.

One small example: those in wheelchairs cannot reach up to our kitchen wall cabinets, generally where the plates, glasses, saucers, etc. are kept. As a matter of fact, neither can children. (Isn’t it almost easier to just set the table yourself than get everything out for them to do so?) Typically, we don’t put smaller items like dishes and glasses into the lower 24″ deep cabinets; reaching to the back of the cabinet is difficult, and clumsy. And yet, it is demoralizing to need to ask for help reaching them.

How easy it would be if two 24″ or 30″ wide x 30″ high x 12″ deep wall cabinets were adhered back to back, put on roller casters, and slid under the typical 36″ high kitchen countertop? (Countertop would be braced to the back wall.) There would be twice the space of one wall cabinet, as the cabinets are back to back, easy to rotate. Put a top on this unit, and everyone has a mobile work island with storage, that can easily be rolled under the counter when not in use.  Move it out, and you have a bar, or chair space for a child to work at the 36″ counter. No more demoralizing; everyone can reach commonly used objects.