Tuesday, October 11, 2016

"In Aging-In-Place Remodeling, Personal Preferences Are Just That"

For aging-in-place renovations and remodeling, we talk about choosing fixtures and features for people that align with their needs as well as best practices. Of course space requirements, physical ability of our clients, their budget, their desire to use high or low technology solutions, and what they may or may not have presently all factor into what ultimately is suggested and decided.

Nevertheless, anything that is designed for someone's use and installed in their home needs to meet with the personal approval of our clients in terms of shape, size, color, and finishes. After all, this is going to be something that they constantly see and use in their home so they have to be comfortable with the solution.

Just because something is trending, commonly used, or desired by many other people does not mean that a specific client is going to want to have it. Medical necessity aside, the client's personal preferences have to be taken into account in creating an effective and attractive design solution.

We should never lose sight of our customers opinions as well as their needs as we design solutions for them. There may be several ways to accomplish an objective, so it can be totally customizable for each individual setting even though there may similar situations where we have used this approach (or one like it) in the past.

If we were taking a multiple choice test and there were four or five possible choices for a given scenario, we would answer based on what we consider to be best practices. In the final analysis, however, many things control what items are selected - even if they are not for medically-specific needs.

When someone prefers a style, color, brand, or look that may not be our favorite, but it works for them and falls within their budget for the project, they are the ones writing the check so they have the final say. If an item is inferior based on our experience of how it performs or lasts over time, it is our obligation to share and document our conversation. Still, they can choose what they like - subject to space and building code limitations or requirements.
It's nice to have products and solutions that we like and that generally work - for entries, foyers, hallways, kitchens, baths, bedrooms, patios, and other areas of the home. Flooring, lighting, and other decor suggestions follow this also. Yet, each situation is slightly different - even in neighborhood where the homes were built at approximately the same time by the same or same group of builders. Even for two sisters, brothers, or other family members who share many traits based on the heritage and upbringing, their approach to decorating and living in their home may vary vastly from the others.

It's possible that a solution we create anew for someone might turn out so well and be so well received by our client that it becomes one that we will recommend to others or replicate in some fashion in the future when faced with a similar situation.

Standards and guidelines are fine - as long as they are not requirements that must be adhered to. Then, we can incorporate the client's wishes into the design and have it be both something they like as well as something that is needed.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, C.E.A.C., MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.