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Design Inspirations

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday
Mar222018

The Non-discriminating Shower

What is a non-discriminating shower?  The non discriminating shower is a good thing for everyone.  Everyone can use the shower and can have a showering experience just as good as the next person regardless of their sex, height, age, gender, or mobility. Interpreted to remodeling jargon, it is a shower that has a zero threshold entrance (no curb), has a hand shower that is accessible to people of all heights including those seated in wheel chairs, has a large enough area for a person in a wheel chair to turn around, has shower niches so that the shampoo is not on the floor, usually has a place to sit down and has grab bars for safety.

As I continue to remodel bathrooms, I am aware of the trend of 'non-discriminating' showers and I believe that it is more than a  trend - It is here to stay!    Everyone loves these showers, they love that they are large, they love the hand showers, they love the shower niches, they love the benches (I use it to shave my legs) (more information than you probably want to know)  I always recommend extra blocking in the walls for future grab bars even if the client does not want them at the time of the remodel.  It virtually costs nothing to add in blocking while you have the walls open.  Children, adults, and elderly of all abilities enjoy showering in these showers.  It is really an all for one and one for all remodeling winner!

Thursday
Feb012018

Creating Homelessness

 The housing displacement of elderly & low-income households in Kenmore Washington

Small homes or Tiny homes are the rage across the country, offering home ownership at an affordable price.  Ironically, we developed this concept years ago – calling them manufactured homes or trailer homes.  Manufactured home communities (MHCs) are sprinkled throughout our state and are usually inhabited by retirees or low-income families. Manufactured homes are HOMES, not apartments.  Residents purchase their homes from $15-$150,000 because it is affordable home ownership. They also pay a monthly fee to the park owner.  Most residents have used all their ‘nest egg’ to purchase these homes; they have made many repairs and upgrades to the home and expect to live there for many years. 

There are six MHC communities in Kenmore Washington with 257 households.  Some residents have lived in their community for over 30 years.  Recently, residents of all six parks were surprised to receive a letter informing them that there was a Planning Commission that was making recommendations to the City Council regarding MHCs and housing density in Kenmore.  Residents were invited to a meeting to learn about the future plans of their communities.  The commission was exploring options to allow development (code word for tearing down your home with no compensation) of the parks but requiring that a % of future apartments being built be ‘affordable.’  In return for losing their homes and a place to live, the residents would receive ‘first right’ of renting an apartment that would be built in the future.  This option satisfies both Kenmore’s’ density problem as well as their responsibility to provide low income housing.

WOW! (this is my commentary), WOW, so the solution to Kenmore’s density problem is to take the fixed income/low income population, the population with the lowest income, the lowest resources and the least ability to obtain legal counsel, and basically steal their homes (as home owner you have to remove your home, but there is nowhere to move it to so you have to demolish it to give back the land to the park owner ‘as it was prior to putting the home on it,’), again, steal their homes and forcing them out on the streets.   MANY residents are seniors over 80 years old and being forced out of their homes will have adverse HEALTH implications. (They will die.)  Many residents have children whose education will be disrupted, and mental health affected by becoming homeless.  MARK MY WORDS, there are few people, if any, in this community who have the financial resources to move to another home. They have put all their savings and resources into the homes that they purchased.  There is no PLAN B.

To be fair, there was another scenario that would trade development rights that the park owners had not heard of and did not think would work.  There was also an option to have the residents buy the park.  Again, the park owners pointed out that there was no way the residents could compete with the offers that they were receiving AND that the time for residents to go through the process of raising capital and financing could take years, and if the park owner wanted to sell, they would not want to wait years to do it.  So those plans were pretty much dead in the water.  They also asked the home owners what ideas they had to make ‘relocation acceptable', and if they had any good ideas that the council had not explored to solve this problem.

In short, it looks like the only option appealing to both the park owners and the city (the home owners don’t count) is to develop manufactured home parks that will provide housing for NEW people moving to Kenmore while forcing 257 long term Kenmore households into homelessness. 

Friday
Dec292017

Twas the Night before New Years

Twas the night before New Years, and Sally was sad,

Her kitchen had problems, the layout was bad.

She tossed and she turned to think what to do, 

'Can I have an island?', her options were few.

She needed advice to help her despair,

Christine the designer said, 'I will be there!'

The refer was move to open the aisle,

The back splash renewed to now be of tile.

An island was made for storage and sink, 

New venting was used to take out the stink.

The space plan was solved, decor was a treasure.

'My job here is done, now go cook with pleasure.'

Christine then did smile, as she drove out of sight,

'Nifty kitchens for all  and to all a good night!'

Thursday
Nov302017

Wanda's Wonderful Kitchen

This kitchen remodel is part of a whole house remodel that we designed for our wonderful client Wanda Kristjanson.  With the help of our structural engineer John Nissen, we were able to open up the kitchen into the dining/living room, add vertical space and give Wanda the island that she always wanted.  We were able to remove the wall between the kitchen and the dining area and create a large island with seating for guests.  We also relocated a fireplace that had been inhibiting space in the existing kitchen (see before picture)  Acacia wood flooring coupled with horizontal grain bamboo cabinets are offset by a striking black mosaic tile backsplash.

Perfect for entertaining as well as daily living, Wanda's wonderful kitchen is a good example of how your surroundings can significantly impact your level of happiness.  Wanda is happy and that makes me happy!

 Before picture kitchen:

Friday
Sep292017

Tale of the disappearing hood...

Planning a new kitchen involves selecting ventilation for your cooktop.  For many years, selections were limited to a variety of large overhead hoods or a down draft system that rises and lowers from the counter.  The choices are still Overhead or Downdraft but the visual presence of a hood now fades into the background.  The hood as the center of attention in the kitchen is no longer a given.

These kitchens all have ventilation for their cooktops, can you find the hood?  The Futuro hood is called the 'Skylight' which gives a hint as to the location, way up in the ceiling.  It is combined with a strong light which gives the impression that the unit is actually a type of skylight.  The second picture is the Faber pull out fan, it is the tiny 2" cabinet material above the cooktop.  You pull the trim forward to use the vent and tiny LED lights automatically turn on.   This hood can be vented or filtered (non vented.)  The third kitchen features a cooktop by Jenn Air that has a downdraft fan integrated into the actuall cooktop.  It is finished in the same color and finish as the cooktop so it blends in and becomes un noticable.  It does not need to go up and down, the power of the fan is strong enough to pull the odors down.

These new appliances give us more design options, letting us decide what we want to visually feature as well as what we want to hide!