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Safety with Style: House design ideas you can hold on to

Monday January 04, 2016

Door CroppedEver notice that it’s easier to enter a house, shop or office building when the door opens inward? Pushing forward while moving forward are more natural than pulling back before passing through. Pulling back requires one hand free, stepping backward (not a simple task for someone with Parkinson’s) and then either bearing the weight of the door with one arm while shifting forward (also not a simple task for someone with PD) or attempting to dart through before the door closes on the back of a shoe. Note to self: Design the entries so doors open in.

Why this Blog

In 2016, my Parkinson’s and I enter the teen years together at the same time that we face a major house renovation. Oh my, talk about stress. I’ll need to practice my teen eye rolls and whatever shrugs to manage it.

If, however, I approach both with the wisdom of my actual age, I might be able to blend the two experiences into positives. By working with the contractor on design, I become part of the process. And in the end, I get PD-accessible features throughout the house such as grab bars and user-friendly doors.

Even better, I’d like to open the door to a guest and say, “Welcome to my home” without it looking like “Welcome to my PD- accessible home.” So, the features need to be functional but blend with the décor. Can I do it?

I hope so. I also hope that sharing these design ideas helps others add safety with style to their living spaces.

A Brief History

The Islands

In late August, my husband, son and I gathered up the various pets, shook the soil from our New England roots and set out to the ‘other’ coast. We eyed land, toured older farms and studied new construction.  A local realtor guided us, prefacing every showing with the home-buying mantra – location, location, location.

As my PD and I age, the phrase “stumble around the house” becomes literal. So, with each place the realtor showed us, I translated the revered refrain into Parkinson-speak. His chant became: location (of bathrooms: can I make it in time from the kitchen), location (of handrails), location (of entryways).

Nothing we saw was set up with a PD ease of flow in mind.

This Old House

We followed the realtor’s advice and moved into our new house, which is quite a bit older than our old house. The windows leak, the floors lean in varying directions, and when the laundry room is in use, the exhaust vent over the stove shimmies as though it has a nasty tremor. It’s not set up for PD, it’s set up for the view and the barn out back. But that’s about to change.

The Barn

Barn

We’re transforming it into a yoga studio and office with a bathroom. What better place to start the renovation and learn from it before tackling the whole house? And what better place to begin than the doorway? It opens inward.

Barn Construction (7)

Barn Construction 2

Next post: Framing for fall-prevention.

Renee Le Verrier, RYTRenee Le Verrier, RYT
NWPF Blogger

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