The remodeling process is exciting. It can be a time to start over, get a fresh new look, update what you can’t seem to let go of yet, or for many of our clients, a time of transition. Whichever category you fall under, remodeling is still an adventure and a process that requires communication of your lifestyle and preferences, sharing budgetary constraints while explaining design goals, and sharing your personal stories and information about how you live in your home now, as well as, predicting what you may need in the future.
Choosing to undergo a remodeling project can be overwhelming at any age, but for seniors, it can be even more overwhelming. Deciding to “live in place,” and objectively look at your home and make changes that can support you now and for the next phase of your life can be a reality check. Talking about your changing needs such as tripping, falling, reaching, adequate lighting, and clutter is not an easy conversation. If you choose to work with an interior designer, contractor or other trained professional, being honest about these changes, both physical, medical, and emotional is an important part of the process. As a result, the relationship between the client and the expert is an intimate one. The client is sharing a very personal side of themselves and the professional is a compassionate listener, advocate, and advisor in order to achieve the best result.
The remodeling process has many phases, but we broke it down into 10 general steps:
1. Determine scope of project
2. Research design options
3. Create a master design plan
4. Get rough construction estimates
5. Refine design per budget
6. Get working drawings and permits if needed
7. Select all of the finishes and materials
8. CONSTRUCTION STARTS
9. Finish detailing
10. Project complete
For seniors these 10 interior design/remodeling steps can be disruptive to daily routines and chaotic at times; however, on the contrary, they can be an activity that gives them purpose. With these steps comes the team to complete them. The team is company that they can look forward to seeing, and sharing information with for an extended period of time; which varies based on the size of the project.
One of our current clients, is an 82 year old woman living on her own in her home she has occupied for over 50 years. The project has evolved into a complete 1st floor remodeling job, to provide for one level living: a first floor Master Bedroom Suite, a full ADA bathroom, an accessible kitchen, and an open floor plan that is easy to get around. This new construction will provide warmth and light and will serve all of her changing needs. We are somewhere in the midst of #5-#7, selecting all finishes and materials, and we’ve given our client something to look forward to everyday. She loves the comfort of weekly or daily attention, and enjoys making decisions or voicing her opinions when it comes to the changes in her home. So far, she has met with contractors, architects, organizers, and of course us, the designers (all before the daily construction begins, and she will be greeted by an entire crew for a few months).
One of the most important cognitive activities for the elderly is engaging in meaningful conversation. Aside from the actual work of the rehab, we are able to talk and have our client share stories and memories of the time spent in her home. Often as people age, they withdraw from social interaction, giving them fewer opportunities to talk to others about things that are important to them. Therefore, by us asking for her opinions and advice on situations and events, her mind is stimulated, which allows her to experience a feeling of self-worth again. It’s proven that having a new hobby or taking up a craft is an excellent way for elderly individuals to keep their brains active and alert. The construction of our clients home has become an interest that has provided her with enjoyment, a sense of positive self-esteem, companionship, and partnership.
It’s truly heartwarming; we’re not only helping to make her home beautiful, comfortable, and safe for now and in the future, but we are also providing her with daily attention and companionship that boosts her self-respect and dignity. The result is the same for us though; helping to improve her life, learning from her history, and understanding the true value of communications, relationships, and most importantly her friendship!