Tuesday, November 22, 2016

"Each Situation Is Different And Needs To be Approached With An Open Mind"

Based on our initial assessment of someone's home, or what they have described to us before we ever visit the home in-person, we may have an initial impression of how we want to approach suggesting the changes. Nevertheless, the first idea or solution we come up isn't always the one we'll eventually use. Just because something worked or didn't work in the past does not mean that it is what will guide our recommendation this time.

We could arrive at the best choice right off. Then again, we may think it through and discover ways why it won't work or can be done better. The important thing is that it be an effective solution to meet the expressed and perceived needs of the client and that it fall within budgetary parameters. We may remember something that we wanted to try in a similar situation before but never did.

We might survey a space and form an opinion as to how we want to proceed. However, further study and examination of the area, existing construction, and physical constraints may lead us in a different direction or have us pursue a better solution.


Sometimes something that we come up with seems reasonable at first, but we find that it comes up short or can be more difficult or expensive to implement than a different solution. Therefore we need a different, better idea.

After reviewing and evaluating various factors that we are observing, we then can arrive at something we might want or pursue or recommend to our clients. This still may not be the final solution, but we are getting closer and it creates a focus for the discussion.

As we run through various scenarios and look for ways to implement what we think is called for in a given situation, we take into account the physical needs of our clients, the physical condition and construction techniques of the home itself, the age of the fixtures and features in the room (bathroom, kitchen, built-ins, flooring, and lighting, for instance), and how severely the space needs to be modified to accommodate current needs.

We don't want to automatically toss out the first thing that comes to mind - it might be the one we end up recommending. Just like changing an answer on a test. Often, our first idea often is the best - but not always. We don't want to suggest a solution because it was our first idea (and it may be similar to approaches we have use in settings like this before), and we don't want to just shelve it either - until we look at it completely.

We just need to remember that we should be responsive to our client's needs and concerns while being true to good design concepts. They are not mutually exclusive. They can coincide quite well. While our first idea or consideration may seem what will work in the space and look good, it may be at odds with what the client is looking for, what they need, what they are willing to pay for, and what they are wanting us to do. This means a compromise or adjustment of our original idea to align better with what works for the client and still provides a good design solution for the space.

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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.