Universal Design Angles You Haven't Seen

By Denise Butchko | Posted: 12/23/2013 8:17AM


Getting old is a privilege, right?

Who cares if it involves a little creak-i-ness or bi-focals?

A friend shared a Facebook post recently that she was at a bar and overheard two “older gentlemen” say “Hey – 90 is the new 70”.

But what if it's now harder to carry things? Harder to open things? Harder to see things?

Enter Universal Design.

This is a concept that originated with the Johnson administration but has seen a rebirth as baby boomers log more time on the planet earth clock.

“And now the educational and marketing efforts are different, featuring bright-eyed people doing yoga and playing golf” say Rhonda Knoche, CMKBD and CAPS (certified aging in place specialist) and president of Rhonda Knoche Design.

So I asked Rhonda to share a couple of insights about Universal Design that could help all of us be more aware and more effective as we work with clients over the age of 30.

Counter Surface Materials
“You need to be aware that some materials actually have a “sheen” or “reflection” factor. So if you're using granite in the kitchen and people need to read recipes (or their Facebook feed), they will have a tougher time if the material is polished. Polished materials bounce and have a glare, so be aware of that as you consider which materials to select.” says Knoche. 

“You should also have this same awareness with flooring materials. So think about the lighting that is going to be incorporated into the design.”

And what should we consider when we're thinking about lighting?

Knoche suggests:
-LED lighting. It casts a better, purer cast of light. You'll get a better kelvin read with lower wattage. And just what is a kelvin read? Think color. And in the case of closets, the true color of your clothing.

Another benefit of LED lighting is that it lasts a really long time, so you're not climbing on a ladder as often to change a bulb.

Task lighting – because people don't often know the how to address this in the best light, they “throw a large quantity of light at it so you feel like a french frie at McDonald's” says Knoche. And the lighting is often not placed properly. You need to bring task lighting directly to the task. She suggests bringing under cabinet lighting towards the front of the upper cabinets so you're casting lighting directly to the task and it lands in the middle of your 24” base depth. Having a well lit back splash doesn't help accomplish a task.

So start thinking about lighting everywhere. Thanks to the brilliant minds at companies like Hafele and Rev-A-Shelf, we can design with lighting that is rechargeable, smaller and more attractive.

It's a great time to be a designer, even if we are aging by the day.


About the Author

Denise Butchko

Denise Butchko is a design and marketing expert who teaches these concepts with the intention of helping people grow their businesses (particularly those in the design/build industries). She’s been a contributor to Closets magazine since 2003 and is a judge for the closet industries “Top Shelf” Design Competition. She's also a member of the first graduating class of Registered Storage Designers. Her design work has been featured in national publications like “Better Homes & Gardens” and The Chicago Tribune and she works with some of the top interior design firms in the country. She’s helped cabinet companies launch closet product lines and trained sales professionals in both design and marketing, including ways to leverage social media and design to increase opportunities and brand themselves as the “go to expert”. If you want to have fun while you learn and bring your “A” game to your business, Denise is the one to partner with to make that happen. You can find her at Google+ or go to denisebutchko.com or to butchkoandcompany.com

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Patti Capri    
Choptank Closets, llc Easton MD 21601  |  January, 04, 2014 at 09:09 PM

Thanks Denise--I know when I see your name attached to a blog there will be someone or something useful and interesting. The glare factor and proper lite placement are two musts to remember to address--often there is the client and their Interior Designer working together to achieve the "look" desired in the space--and we are asked only to design the storage--these tips assure us opportunities to be the expert.


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