Last year at the National Kitchen and Bath show there was one feature that stood out to us that we’re using in all of our designs: Lighting…everywhere. This “simple” feature combines beauty, safety and function.

These products are now readily available to consumers and they just make life easier…for anyone, at any ability.

Mirrors, sinks and vanities that keep us safe in the middle of the night.
Interior drawer lights add efficiency.
Interior lighting make any cabinet more efficient.

Our goal for any space we are designing is that it becomes a place where you will gravitate.

Here are our top five (simple yet effective) wellness tips for creating a space that is bound to make your guests want to stay longer.

1. Inject color – How do you want to feel in this space? Our client wanted this room to energize her as it’s also her home office. So we used saturated oranges and electric blues to do just that. Fun fact: orange is associated with joy and radiates warmth. In the body, it’s associated with circulation and the nervous system.

2. Material selections – Use materials that can alter your guest’s experience of warmth – when people are physically warmer, their levels of interpersonal warmth increase.  Because who needs a cranky guest? Simple additions include adding a warm throw and a few colorful pillows on the bed. Soft fabrics on upholstered pieces such as the chair in this space add to the comfort of this room.  (teaser for our next post!)

3. Lighting control – Lift your guest’s mood with natural sunlight but also give them the ability to control the amount of sunlight the room. Window treatments should not only be operable but also have black out lining to ensure a good night’s rest. (Did you know that direct access to daylight and views reduces blood pressure, lowers the incidence of headaches, and in healthcare setting results in the need for less pain medication and shorter stays in the hospital?)

4. If you have bare wood floors, adding a throw rug serves two purposes: added warmth to the space (who wants to wake up and put their feet on a bare floor?) and also addresses any acoustical challenges. The bold, large scaled striped throw rug that we used for this project injects personality and warmth to this space.

5. Artwork – We chose artwork that energizes…that “sparks joy” in our client. Artwork personalizes the room and becomes the perfect finishing touch.

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A friend recently told me the story of a woman named Rose who was a patient at the nursing home where her Dad resided. Each and every day my friend would see Rose, dressed to the nines with lipstick and hair styled – position her wheelchair by the front door…waiting for someone to take her home.  Sadly, there was no one and no plan for her return.

And I thought to myself – I will not be that woman.  

Studies show that 90% of people want to age in their homes.  Unfortunately, most people don’t plan properly to make that desire a reality.  My husband and I want to be in our “forever home” by the time our 11 year old graduates high school.

My vision of a stylish, well lit, universally designed home is so vivid that it will be impossible not to become reality.  

Because I refuse to sit waiting at the front door.

Want to learn more?  Sign up for my blog posts as I write about how your forever home can be designed so that you can “thrive in place”.

Can’t wait for future posts?  Read more by linking to articles under the blog category: livable design.

Are you thinking of building a second home? Not just another home but one with subtle nuances that will accommodate your family into the future? We call adding these inconspicuous refinements “livable design details”. Proactive design that enhances and welcomes every generation.

A “simple” first step is to find a house plan (or blueprints) that appeal to you. Start by paying attention to the overall flow of the floor plan…prior to meeting your architect. Envision yourself walking through the space and living there. This will enable you to initiate a productive in-depth conversation with your architect and designer about how you want your home to function for you and your family. (stay tuned for a future post where we go deep into what we recommend be in every second home)

Five tips to keep in mind when developing a livable design plan:

1. Look for a home with a single story floor plan that has a zero step entrance. If you prefer a multi storied home, the layout of the main areas should have at least one (master) bedroom suite on the main floor.

This traditional style cottage (above) could easily adapt to include a zero step entrance while the contemporary home, below, is a perfect example.

2. Thinking of adding an elevator? You don’t have to commit right away. Add a closet to the floor plan to be easily converted at a later date. To add one that is ADA compliant, (Americans with Disability Act) the minimum door width for an elevator interior is 36″. The depth of the interior must be at least 51″, and the width must be at least 68″, (unless the elevator has center-opening doors, in which case at least 80″ is required). Although this size may seem large, it’s important to plan to have enough space for not only the wheelchair bound person but also a caregiver.

Example of ADA compliant elevator.

3. Need to accommodate for family with special needs? Hallways and door openings should allow for a minimum of 32″ wide doorways and 36″ – 42″ for hallways.

4. Is bigger always better? In this case, yes. Think about increasing each room size to account for furniture plans that allow for a minimum 36″ pass by space should a wheelchair become necessary. Keeping this in mind – bathrooms need a turning radius of five foot minimum while kitchens need a pass through area of 42 – 48″.

A example of how a five foot turning radius affects the size of even a small bathroom.

5. Increase the amount of accessible walk-in storage. Not only will this hide clutter and prevent items from being left out, it will also help to prevent falls. Maximizing floor-to-ceiling storage increases orderliness throughout the home.

Bonus: Situate your home in a southern exposure for maximum light! Read more about how light affects design in our blog post entitled “The Healing effects of Light”

Is it just me or does everyone feel a bit off kilter when they walk into a dark and cluttered room? 

And, how about when you enter a light-filled space, filled with earth tones like beiges and browns with muted cranberry accents? Doesn’t that make you feel a little more serene and stable?

It’s amazing the effect the right design can have on our psyche. Research proves how a room’s design influences and enhances people’s moods and emotions.

Fiori Interior Design takes that concept, blending your goals with your personal style to design spaces that elevate moods, improve focus and enhance efficiency. By bringing your favorite vintage or patina items into the design, we raise the bar, making your space infinitely more interesting and welcoming.

We kept several of our client’s favorite pieces and blended them with new pieces in their master bedroom re-do.

One of our projects was recently recognized in The Star Ledger.

Our Wyckoff, NJ client was interviewed by the Star Ledger explaining the changes she made to her 1960s ranch-style home, and goes into detail about her experience with our process. 

Click the link below to read about it and to see before & after shots!

NJ Home Makeover

I’ve been spending a considerable amount of time with one of my favorite clients. We’ve been having a blast working on her house, designing one room at a time.   After finishing up her family room, she sat down on her new –and now favorite – sofa. She literally started petting it, saying how warm and happy her sofa makes her feel. As you might imagine, we cracked a few jokes over her new “pet!” 

But, in all seriousness, tactile experiences are important.  Research has revealed how significantly our sense of touch influences our worldview.  In one series of studies, participants negotiating while sitting in soft chairs did not drive as hard a bargain as those sitting on harder chairs with no cushions!

And while we’re not usually conducting serious business in our family rooms, the notion is the same. We are definitely influenced by how things look and feel.  In your home, a pleasant tactile experience can greatly improve our conversations as well as our own personal comfort. 

I can sometimes tolerate a room without windows on a dreary day but on a sunny day… it’s unbearable!  People tend to gravitate to the areas of their homes that provide them with the most sunlight and the best views. 
Why?  Because research repeatedly proves that natural light is healing. Stress levels decrease and mental energy is replenished in spaces that provide natural light and provide views of nature.  
Do you have a favorite place in your home where you can thrive?  

A recent statistic stated that the highest population of baby boomers live in Califorina.   It should really comes as no surprise.  As we age, we naturally yearn for more natural sunlight…simply stated because it makes us feel better.  

So, if you don’t live on the West Coast, here are a few easy tips as to how you can maximize the comfort and performance in your home from lighting expert Mariana Figueiro.

  • Lighting on a task area surface should be brighter than the surrounding space
  • Minimize glare by curbing the use of glossy materials
  • Lighting so shadows are “softer” (ones that don’t cast harsh shadows)
  • Balance light levels in an area
  • To keep circadian rhythms in sync: during the daytime hours (or at least for 2 hours in the morning) increase light levels and use bluish white for at least 2 hrs in the morning.”  In addition,  during the evening hours decrease light levels and use lights with a wam yellowish tint.