Thursday, July 24, 2014

Making the Useful Beautiful in Universal Design: Grab Bars

William Morris is most known for being quoted that you should have nothing in the home that you don't know to be useful or beautiful. It is exciting to see his philosophy applied to utilitarian things such as grab bars. At last they are seen turned into decorative elements or combined with other details to become more functional and beautiful.

Grab bars in bathrooms can be integrated into corner shelves, soap dishes and shower head mounts in showers, or conveniently serve dual purposes with decorative towel bars or toilet paper holders. Like all of these other details, they are found in popular finishes like oil-rubbed bronze or stain nickel, and can even be made of wood. The only difference is that they must be anchored sturdily to hold the weight of the user.

Less often installed, but also useful, are bars that are mounted along the edge of kitchen counter tops. These can be used as handrails to roll a wheelchair user around the kitchen space, and can serve dual purpose for kitchen towels and for hanging kitchen tools in convenient to reach places.

 Grabcessories can be found through many of the large retailers. American Standard has the Invisia Bath line that includes faucets with curved surround bars. On-line retailer Grab Bar Specialists carries many different manufacturers and extensive universal access products. They have almost anything imaginable--a potentially wonderful resource for anyone wishing to put together a accessible bathroom.

“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.”--William Morris

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Deck Maintenance for Safety

Did you know that May was Deck Safety Month? I know that was news to me.

A story in the news of a deck collapse at an inn on Pawleys Island in North Carolina called deck safety to my attention. You occasionally hear of a home deck failure when people have overloaded it with party guests, and the idea is pretty terrifying.

Deck failures typically involve aging materials and failures at attachment points. People don't think about it much. They realize wood can rot, but nails can decay as well. An annual inspection can help you be sure your deck structure is strong and safe. A professional inspection can be performed if you are unsure yourself.

The owners of the inn where the collapse occurred in June said that the deck was not in disrepair but was water-logged and could not hold all the weight. This illustrates how important it is to keep the surface sealed, not just for appearance and longevity, but for safety as well. With our recent painting project we decided we wanted the deck painted to coordinate with our window trim. Lionel applied Duckback Deck & Dock, an elastomeric product from Sherwin Williams that seals, fills in cracks, and helps prevent slips and falls when walking. Harmon Builders also specifies Benjamin Moore stains for their deck projects.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

When It All Comes Together

The Harmon Builders team has done a number of projects for us recently, starting with replacing our windows and front door last summer. Things are coming together beautifully. I have always wanted to live in a home that looks just how I envision it should, and I finally feel like I have that.

I know Lionel Lloyd of The Painted Finish is planning to take some "real" photos, so I just snapped a few to show some of the details I love. Lionel is a true artist, so I look forward to seeing his work. I am so happy with everything that I am excited to share it!

Mahogany door from the Eagle Window and Door series by Andersen.

Kwikset lock set: Ashfield in Rustic Bronze

E-Series Eagle Windows from the AW Architectural Collection to replicate original sash and bow windows. Aluminum clad exterior in cinnamon toast color.

Sherwin-Williams paint on the siding and red porch ceiling, gray trim paint by Farrow & Ball. Restored center columns that had been knocked out by a previous owner. Copper gutters. Farrow & Ball is locally available at Patrick Street Interiors.

Gutter and rain barrels.