Where is the Focal Point?

Upon a recent out of state visit to family and friends, I noticed many spaces lacked a focal point. The main point of interest in a room or space is your focal point. The best way in designing a room is to begin with a focal point. As you enter a space your eye should be drawn to what anchors the space. Some focal points include fireplaces, artwork, a substantial piece of furniture, a large mirror, a wall painted a different color, etc. In a bedroom for example, generally the bed would be considered the focal point as you enter the room.

Because focal points add visual weight, the items around the focal point must be placed so it balances the weight and compliments the décor. Besides the focal point, other areas of interest should be established, but on a more subtle scale.

The person notices the mood or feels what is being featured as the main element in a space. The focal point is expected to carry out specific functions or activities. There should not be any confusion what is the dominate statement in a room.

Check your space or room. Can you see as you walk in an important anchor or statement and does it help you to understand the function or activity in the space? Does it have weight? Remember there can be several featured areas which compliments and stems to the main feature which is your focal point.

A room without a focal point will lack a statement, direction, unity and flow. Take time to walk through and imagine yourself as the person who is visiting and experiencing your spaces.  What is it that you want them to experience as they first walk in, as they sit down, or walk down a hallway or sit in the backyard? Anchor, add weight and focus on one big statement for each room or space and within each space there should be other smaller areas of interests as well.

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Designing for Seniors

                                                  Senior design
It has been noted that the senior population is about to double within the next 20 years. Interior designers and architects have been focusing on the special needs in designing for the aging population. It is sometimes easy to forget our aging population with new products and technology being created and marketed continuously for the younger generations. Older people do exist and need to be addressed as well.
Along with acquiring wisdom, aging has its challenges which are a part of life. With more people living longer and productive years, interior designers and architects have taken note of the challenges we face as we age. The quality of life can be improved with proper planning and execution and senior independence can be obtained.
So let’s take a look at what we need to plan for when designing for our senior populations.  An environment for the senior population has to take into consideration that many physical, emotional and spiritual changes can and have occurred. Take for example motor skills, which do decline and it becomes more difficult to maneuver around furnishings or areas. Even gadgets and electronics have to be modified to accommodate the slowing down and inability to use fingers, arms and legs effectively.
Color coding items or areas, using different heights or furniture placements can help to ease usage or mobility. Buttons, knobs, distinguishable tactile surfaces and sounds aids in providing a way to find or locate things. Easy reaching and storage is needed, with color coordinating and labeling for easy access. Smart furniture with natural and appropriate fabrics are also useful. Avoid anything that has sharp edges or can topple over easily.
As mobility can be restricted, space planning can provide better accessibility, such as open floor plans, stair free designs, wider openings, hallways and doorways.  Safe showers, lowers sinks, counters, etc., can help client’s find ease in living and mastering independence as much as possible. Making the spaces functional is top priority.
Using good color choices and proper lighting becomes even more important. Vision starts to decline as we age and color vision and color distinction becomes difficult. Using high contrast color schemes can help the elderly distinguish the different areas or levels within the space. For example, a bathroom can have a darker shade on the walls to help make the bathroom fixtures stand out such as the toilet, sink, etc.
Optimal lighting is also an integral component for better visibility, along with keeping glare down to a minimum. Proper lighting such as motion lights can help to avoid accidents or falls, as well as special flooring and materials can prevent slipping. Different colors or patterns can help a senior distinguish different areas or levels within a space.
Another consideration is the effect of colors and depression. Elderly people are more inclined to get depressed and feel isolated. Careful planning and color usage can help to promote wellness such as using a light rose color and pinks which can evoke a sense of peace and calmness.
Hearing is another important factor to consider. A large population over the age of 65 have some form of hearing loss and special gadgets such as phones with high amplification can help with hearing loss concerns.
Essential oils in a diffuser to feed the senses while providing well-being along with soft music or a quiet background can also prove to be useful.
So in essence, if you are either building a new home or reconfiguring an older home to fit the needs of someone who is older and is facing challenges, this is something that can be done effectivity with some careful planning, which can help to improve mobility, maintain independence and ltimately enhance the quality of life.