First it was called “universal design.” Then “aging in place.” But people who are still able-bodied don’t necessarily want to be reminded that they are getting older.
So home-remodeling and design projects that pave the way for a time when residents may need a grab bar or a no-threshold entrance to a shower are being called “better living design” these days, says Michael Gatschet of Heartland Home Improvements.
“It’s a nicer, kinder way and probably encompasses a wider range of people than the ‘aging in place’ (customers) … or people who need handicap-accessible modifications,” Gatschet said. “… It’s better living for people of all abilities.”
The demand for this type of design is growing, even among people younger than 60, he said, and it will be part of the services his company will be touting at the Home Show that starts Thursday at Century II – where “better living design” could apply to many of the exhibits.
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Other trends to get your creative juices flowing: large-scale floor tiles that make smaller rooms look bigger, wide-slatted wood blinds for a better view outdoors, real barnwood floors complete with their county of origin, lighter-colored walls, stacked-stone accents, and grab bars that do double duty so they don’t look institutional.
Wess Galyon of the Wichita Area Builders Association, which sponsors the show, expects a strong one in 2015, with all the vendor booth space sold out, to the tune of about 280 exhibitors.
“The majority are returning; they do so well at the show,” Galyon said. In addition to businesses offering new products and services, some of the businesses have new owners, adding new dimensions.
While “better living” or aging-in-place design adds utility to a house, other design elements are being changed up to provide fresh looks, says Sue Clemens-Bibo of Design Gallery.
For example, floor tiles are going rectangular and larger, changing the whole look of a floor.
“The floor tiles we’ve been doing are 12 by 24 versus the standard square,” Clemens-Bibo said. The larger format actually makes a small bathroom look bigger, because there are fewer grout lines, she said. “It doesn’t look as busy.” And there’s a new Power Grout that is not as likely to stain, she said.
Other trends in flooring include long-wearing porcelain tiles that look like wood planks for areas that see a lot of foot traffic, such as back entries, bar areas and sometimes bathrooms, she said, and patterned carpet that offers interest in weave rather than in color, with the patterns playing out in swirls, checks, diamonds or lines.
“On backsplashes we’re doing a lot of the subway-tile look, but it’s not necessarily just a glazed tile but more of a stone look.”
People are putting more wooden shutters or blinds on windows, with side panels to soften the look.
“It’s like getting dressed in the morning and putting on your accessories. Drapery panels give you that extra oomph,” Clemens-Bibo said.
The louvers on the shutters also are getting bigger. “We’ve been doing a lot of 3- and 4-inch louvers, but they can also do a 5-inch louver. When they’re bigger you can see out better. You have more space between the louvers.”
People also can have their shutters stained to match surrounding wood, or have them painted any Sherwin-Williams color, she said.
On the walls, “we’re seeing a lot of people doing lighter colors,” Clemens-Bibo said. One look is a soft gray, with gray cabinets and and white trim, “so it’s a real fresh look.
“And we have customers who still want to have more of an earthy feel,” with stacked stone perhaps on a backsplash or around a fireplace or on posts, darker wood on the floors and the cabinets, and a cocoa, darker gray or dark taupe on the walls, she said.
Consumers are feeling more confident about their jobs and have hit a comfort level where they are starting to spend more on their homes, Galyon said. Money spent on remodeling is projected to be up significantly for the next few years, he said.
Last year’s Home Show started out in bitter cold and ice, drawing a bit of a smaller crowd, around 31,000, than the year before, when attendance was 32,000, Galyon said. He expects better weather and a better crowd this year.
The show, which runs Thursday through Feb. 8 in all three halls of Century II, also will feature seminars – the same ones as last year, when a new one on counter tops was full each time it was offered, Galyon said. People can also learn about financing home improvements. Companies and public services related to remodeling, redecorating and major home improvements make up the bulk of the show, he said.
Wichita Wood Floor Specialists will be at the show showcasing reclaimed wood from old Missouri barns. The wood is planed down and tongue-and-grooved for flooring, and comes with credentials: The county in which the barn once stood.
“Those barns have been out there for more than 100 years,” said Rachel Sample, owner of the floor company. “Back in the day they didn’t grow trees just to cut them down. It’s good wood. … No one else will have that same barn that you have in your house.” The wood runs a few dollars more per square foot than other hardwood flooring, she said.
“Since it’s been planed down, the finishing side of it isn’t as expensive as putting in a normal everyday hardwood floor.”
Her company offers the service of professionally cleaning and coating hardwood floors that don’t need to be sanded and refinished, leaving the floors dust-free and filling in any superficial scratches. Maintaining floors with a fresh cleaning and recoating every two years is cheaper and easier than sanding and refinishing, she said.
For people who are interested in aging-in-place design, they don’t have to wait to get old to reap the benefits, Gatschet of Heartland Home Improvements said. Imagine a mother of four coming in from the garage juggling groceries, appreciative of a lever handle for easier door opening and a handy counter top on which to drop the groceries, he said.
Meanwhile, blocking can placed in the shower wall so that a fold-down bench can be added later; doors can be installed on a zero-entry shower that can later be traded out for a shower curtain; and grab bars cab do double duty as soap dishes, avoiding an institutional look.
“We can modify this and make it accessible, and it doesn’t look like a hospital,” Gatschet said. “They don’t want it to look like a hospital.”
If you go
What: Exhibitors, seminars, sponsored by Wichita Area Builders Association
When: 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Feb. 7; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 8
Where: Century II, 225 W. Douglas
How much: $8 adults, $6 seniors, $3 children, free for ages 6 and under
Free parking at and shuttle service from Lawrence-Dumont Stadium
Information: wabahome.com, 316-265-4226
Friday: 4 p.m., “Remodeling Basics 101”; 5 p.m., “Getting Ready for the Building Process”; 6 p.m. “Remodeling Financing: You Have Options”
Feb. 7: 11 a.m. “Granite, Quartz and Solid-Surface Countertops: What’s Right for You?”; 1 p.m., “Remodeling Basics 101”; 2 p.m., “Remodeling Financing: You Have Options”; 3 p.m., “Granite, Quartz and Solid-Surface Countertops: What’s Right for You?”; 4 p.m., “Add Comfort and Save Money With Energy Improvements”; 5 p.m., “Getting Ready For the Building Process”
Feb. 8: 1 p.m., “Add Comfort and Save Money With Energy Improvements”; 2 p.m., “Remodeling Financing: You Have Options”; 3 p.m., “Getting Ready for the Building Process”