An Organized New Year

Have you set a resolution to be more organized this year?

Now, do you struggle to organize what you already have because you don’t have enough drawer space, closet space, or even floor space?

One of the biggest struggles, especially with the current real estate market in Seattle, is maximizing your small—sometimes tiny— space, without sacrificing your lifestyle. Here are a few key tips to help maximize your small space in the new year.

 Multi-functional furniture is a big one. Whether it’s an ottoman that doubles as a storage space, or a coffee table that can turn into a functional work surface (or dining room for those who have really small spaces). Having furniture that can do double—sometimes triple—duty can completely change your space.

                                                                                            

   

Another area people let go right over their heads is the vertical space. You should try to utilize every square inch of your home when you struggle with space or storage!  While I’m not recommending you do multiple walls of shelving as this can sometimes make your space feel smaller; I am suggesting you use your vertical space in key places. If you do need to have a full wall of shelving, I recommend going with something with clean lines and something light and airy to help keep your space feeling open (even if it’s not!).

       

AGING IN STYLE | Design bridging the generational gap

By: Karen Pfeiffer Bush

There is much discussion about the contrast in life and work styles of different generations of Americans. Two of the most often referenced generational cohorts are the so-called baby boomers (commonly defined as those born between the mid-1940s and the early 1960s) and the millennials (usually defined as those born between the early 1980s and 2000).

While there is much debate about the differences in these generations and whether it’s fair to lump together the values and culture of millions of people based primarily on their years of birth, it is an intensely studied subject; the data from which is used to evaluate and forecast important trends spanning from healthcare to work force management, consumer purchasing, and housing.

Baby boomers make up about 20 percent of the U.S. population and millennials account for about 25 percent of our nation’s people. These demographics are important to retailers, employers and housing developers, and are fascinating to design and lifestyle-trend forecasters.

While certainly there is not one specific style that is predominant among either of these generational cohorts, there are definite trends. The most hotly debated point in the baby boomers vs. millennials dialogue is the vast difference in their work and life styles and general attitudes. Interestingly, though, there seems to be a trend developing toward a common design aesthetic popular amongst both cohorts. This aesthetic is likely based on culture for Millennials and life stage for Baby Boomers.

The common thread seems to be that of a cleaner, “less is more” design aesthetic focused on getting the most out of smaller spaces. The baby boomers are likely taking this path as they ease into retirement or semi-retirement and are downsizing and redesigning their spaces in consideration of lower maintenance and aging in place. Millennials may be drawn to this style based on having been raised during a recession and in a world where people are vocal about the human effect on the environment.

Regardless of the whys, it’s interesting to see that these two groups, often-at-odds with one another, are loving the same look at home. Baby boomers are quite intentionally furnishing and styling their homes for function as they age whiling making sure it “does not look like an old person lives there.” Millennials are about maximizing their spaces for function and efficiency, with a high focus on technology. Baby boomers don’t have a problem with technology at home, as long as it’s easy.

So, what is trending in the design world … whether you’re 33 or 73?

Color

Every year, designers and paint manufacturers wrestle with the ever-important prediction of what will be the latest trend in color for the upcoming year. Sherwin Williams has an annual party for designers to make the big announcement for their “Color of the Year,” which, for 2017, was Poised Taupe (SW 6039). This color is poetically described on their website as “Earthen brown combines with conservative grey and the result is a weathered, woodsy, and complex neutral that celebrates the imperfections and authenticity of a well-lived life.”

Warm greys and cool taupes are resonating with Baby Boomers and Millennials alike. Both groups are employing the technique of using greys and taupes as the starting point for wall-color; this is combined a pop of accent color. Pastels in the mauve and sage families are trending for accent walls as are muted autumn tones. Nature is the inspiration for these trending color pallets.

Furniture

Tailored, upholstered furniture in durable, stain-resistant fabrics is where it’s at. Fabric manufacturers who have historically geared their products toward commercial applications are breaking into the residential design world; appealing to all ages.

Combining vintage or antique furniture with new pieces is popular and a striking technique.

Millennials are looking for multi-use pieces to capitalize on efficiency, while both groups are focused on smaller scale and comfort.

There are complete furniture lines targeted toward small-space living and aging in place considerations.

Prints, Patterns and Textiles

Tropical prints are big as well as natural textiles and art-inspired wallpaper (yes, I said wallpaper).

Lighting

Natural-hued light and lighting used as art are common themes.

In essence, the design aesthetic being embraced by many Millennials as well as Baby Boomers is comfortable and efficient, streamlined and beautiful, and guided by nature.

So, Baby Boomers, if you’ve wondered if the talk about your generation is just hype and/or whether you are keeping up with the design trends of a younger generation, here’s the news: You and your Millennial counterparts are setting style standards together. You’re proof that it is possible to Age in Style!

Karen Pfeiffer Bush is a senior living specialist and owner of two Seattle-based companies, Housewarming (www.housewarmingseattle.com) and Studio 65 (www.studio65design.com). Contact Karen at (206) 719-1662 or email her at karen@housewarmingseattle.com.

This article was published in September 2017 editions of the Madison Park Times, Queen Anne & Magnolia News, and City Living Seattle.  This article is reprinted by permission of Pacific Publishing Co. ©2017

AGING IN STYLE | Adapting to limitations

By: Karen Pfeiffer Bush

As we age, we make adaptations, both consciously and unconsciously, for new and developing limitations; those include mobility, vision, hearing or memory. Examples of unconscious adaptations: Reading material held a little further away, standing more closely together during conversations, or cupping your ear to hear better. Conscious adaptations include getting a hearing aid or reading glasses (or perhaps a pair for each room of the house).

Technology helps

There’s a myriad of adaptive products both high and low-tech that cater to older-age limitations. Some have been around for decades; new ones are being developed and introduced every day.

High-tech medication dispensers alert family members and caregivers when medications have been missed. Fall monitors and motion sensors are examples of assistive technology devices. Leading-edge software programs help people preserve and boost their memories; some even trigger or nurture memories for those with serious memory loss and cognitive impairment.

Lower-tech adaptive products include grab bars and raised toilet seats. Large print publications and task lighting are simple solutions that make a world of difference.

Professional assistance

Trained professionals can help seniors figure out which products, tools, and adaptations will be most helpful in overcoming unique challenges. Ask your doctor or a social worker for referrals to service providers. Some services and products may be covered by insurance plans; especially, if recommended by a doctor.

If a senior develops mobility issues, has cognitive difficulties, or is recovering from surgery or an injury, their doctor will recommend working with an occupational therapist. Most occupational therapists (OT) hold master’s degrees and are trained to create customized programs for people to modify activities of daily life; even hobbies and exercise regimens.

With a doctor’s input, an OT evaluates a patient and then creates a plan; meeting with the patient recurrently in clinics or at the patient’s home. They assist with implementing the program and can make product suggestions and recommend adaptations to the home so it functions better and more safely.

For an overall design plan that will make their home function better, seniors can hire “aging in place” interior designers. These “niche” designers are well-versed in ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Standards for Accessible Design, as well as the “principles of universal design.”

The Standards for Accessible Design deal with issues such as pathways, doorways and accessibility for those with physical limitations and for individuals who may use wheelchairs, walkers, and other mobility aids.

Universal design is the practice of designing a space that is functional and a space that can be used by people of all ages and abilities. It is a guideline that fosters design that does not diminish use by able-bodied people of any age and, at the same time, allows use by those with physical limitations.

An interior designer can also make recommendations for finishes, lighting, flooring and furniture that will make a home safer and more functional for long-term senior living. An interior designer, that is trained in this field, will also make adaptive or assistive tools and products merge with your overall design aesthetic because function and safety absolutely can and should coexist with comfort and beauty.

Age in style

While it may not seem glamorous to focus on one’s new or changing physical or cognitive limitations, there has been no better time in history to age gracefully; and dare I say…In Style.

Through this new monthly column, “Aging in Style”, we’ll explore the many facets of beautiful senior living including fashion, activities, home design and community. We’ll tackle the challenging transitions and pesky limitations of aging. I look forward to sharing with you all sorts of fun and practical ways to refine or re-define your unique life’s style.

Karen Pfeiffer Bush is a senior living specialist and owner of two Seattle-based companies, Housewarming (www.housewarmingseattle.com) and Studio 65 (www.studio65design.com). Contact Karen at (206) 719-1662 or email her at karen@housewarmingseattle.com. 

This article was published in August 2017 editions of the Madison Park Times and Queen Anne & Magnolia News.  This article is reprinted by permission of Pacific Publishing Co. ©2017

Aging in Style | Intergenerational models are a win-win

A documentary called “The Growing Season” will make a debut in New York City next month. This film, directed by Evan Briggs, was shot over the course of a year at the Intergenerational Learning Center. The center is a daycare and preschool housed within Providence Mount Saint Vincent, a senior community in West Seattle. The film features interactions between senior residents of “the Mount” and the children attending the center.

My son, who is now a high school senior, attended the center from ages three to five. He still remembers it. And I certainly remember the wonderful interactions between residents and preschoolers. They created art together, celebrated holidays, and hosted special events. Some of the more able-bodied seniors could be seen rocking babies in the nursery. It made this first-time mom feel better about going back to work.

In addition to the “feel goods” for parents, there’s evidence that seniors benefit by being surrounded by young people. By spending time with people of differing ages and abilities, children are beneficiaries as well.

The film asks, “If given the chance, with the present moment being the only shared realm, what can the very young and the very old offer each other?” There are certainly moments of amusement, joy, and patience but, at times, the impact changes lives for a lifetime.

Differing ages can interact

There are other communities here and around the nation and world that embrace this “intergenerational model.”

At Wesley Homes in Des Moines, Washington, students from Highline College get to live in the senior community at reduced rental rates; this is in exchange for volunteering within the community. Several students offer tech support to senior residents; others help with daily tasks that seniors might find difficult. Reviews by the residents are glowing; daily, these young people are positively impacting lives within the senior community.

Here’s another example: There’s a senior community in our area that has “adopted” a little league baseball team. Many of the community residents attend every practice. Because so many residents want to attend the team’s games, a second bus must be rented on game days.

The baseball players have become regular visitors to the community and the coaches have sought advice from senior residents. Incidentally, they were one of the winningest teams in the area. An 89-year-old resident who, as a young man, played minor league baseball, never missed a single game or practice. He summed it, saying, “This relationship is clearly a win-win.”

Continuing education for seniors

In addition to bringing young people into senior communities, we are seeing a push towards retirees moving into younger communities like college towns.

Colleges and universities recognize the benefit of having older adults on campus. These institutions offer “lifelong learning” opportunities through organizations like the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Washington. In addition to on-campus programming, the institute takes learning programs out to area senior communities.

Studies in aging and brain health show staying mentally active and socially engaged has long-term emotional and health benefits. Yes, this can be accomplished by engaging with contemporaries. But many retirees, especially those “forever-young” baby boomers, choose to be around younger people whenever possible.

Giving and getting

Many boomers and other retirees are also actively involved in giving back through tutoring, mentoring, and volunteering. Young, or not so young, volunteering always does the heart good. If you’re having a bad day, challenge yourself to do something nice for someone. It may not completely fix your day but it certainly helps.

To quote a facilitator featured in the “The Growing Season” documentary, “Whether you’re young or old, there is only one time to be happy; that time is now.” Therefore, what will you do to find your happy? Will you find it through the wisdom of an elder or the joy of a child? Either way, remember: The present is our only shared realm. Let’s make it a win-win.

 

 

Karen Pfeiffer Bush is a senior living specialist and owner of two Seattle-based companies, Studio 65 (www.studio65design.com) and Housewarming (www.housewarmingseattle.com). Contact Karen at (206) 719-1662 or email her at karen@housewarmingseattle.com.

This article was published in October/November 2017 editions of the Madison Park Times, Queen Anne & Magnolia News, and City Living Seattle.  This article is reprinted by permission of Pacific Publishing Co. ©2017

AGING IN STYLE | Sorting out our stuff

Do I love it? Do I need it? Do I use it?

 

Overheard in a coffee shop in Seattle: “Sunday used to be family day. Now we spend it sorting our basement and garage; we’re trying to get rid of stuff.”

Stuff! The treasures we’ve collected along the path of life. We love, hate, or need our stuff. Often, we don’t know why the heck we bought things in the first place!

Whether downsizing or just sick of the clutter, eventually we are faced with the task of dealing with our stuff. It can be an emotional and physical ordeal. Some declare, “It’s the hardest challenge I’ve encountered.”

Sorting a lifetime of possessions means making decision after decision about what to keep and what to let go. All the while, we’re taking an emotion-filled walk down memory lane.

Decluttering and sorting is physically demanding, but it’s the emotional piece that really wears on you. This leads to bouncing from place to place; never completing anything.

Don’t despair! There are strategies for conquering the chaos without losing your cool.

Remember the adage, “The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time”? This philosophical insight is especially applicable to the challenge of downsizing your home. Develop a strategic approach and break it down into manageable tasks. This will keep you from being overwhelmed.

Keep your eye on the prize

In a sentence or two, jot down your thoughts about why you want to declutter and downsize. Include mental images of the outcome and the positive feelings you’ll experience. Everyone’s motivation is unique, and outcomes will differ.

Here’s an example: “I want to tidy up so that I am surrounded only by the things I truly love, need, and use. If I choose to downsize, moving will be easier. At that point, I’ll be living in a more efficient, easier-to-maintain home, which will allow me time to travel.” In a nutshell, the why/benefit: “LESS STUFF = FRENCH RIVIERA”. This equation works for me!

Keep work sessions short

Grab the kitchen timer or use the timer on your phone. Create a motivational musical playlist; my purging song list includes “Let It Go” and “Another One Bites the Dust.”

Pick an area in which to begin. Perhaps the guest room or a section of your garage? If you’re just beginning, start with “low hanging fruit” and work in an area that’s least likely to tug at your heart strings. You’ll get into a groove before tackling tougher stuff.

Once you’ve chosen an area, pick your starting point. For instance: Begin at the bottom left of a bookcase.

Set your timer for 15 minutes. Only go through the items on that shelf. The items you no longer want, place in a pile. Put the things you’re keeping back on the shelf.

If you can’t decide, ask yourself three questions: Do I love it? Do I need it? Do I use it? If you can’t answer “yes” to at least one of these questions, it’s time to give the item a new life.

When you’ve completed a row, move up, shelf by shelf. When the timer goes off, stop!

Now, it’s time to manage the “don’t want” pile. Is it an item for donation or is it something I need to run by a family member? Create boxes for each category but keep it simple.

As you fill boxes of donation items, move them to your car. Drop them off at a donation site the next time you go out.

Employing this strategy, sorting for 15 minutes and followed by moving the “don’t want” items out of the house, allows you to see immediate progress. You’re motivated to keep going.

If you’re energized, keep working through additional 15-minute sessions until you call it good for the day. No matter how much or little you accomplish, at least you’ve taken one bite out of the elephant. Make a commitment to return to same area the next day and take another bite or two.

Bite by bite, you’ll complete the bookshelf and then move to the dresser setting next to it. Drawer by drawer, you’ll complete that too. By working methodically in small sessions, you’ll complete an entire room. Eventually, zone by zone, the entire home.

When the going gets tough, ask for help

Working strategically certainly helps but, at times, the going will get tough. There is no shame in asking for help. Here’s a tip: Don’t ask anyone who will add an extra layer of challenge. Ask a friend or family member who is focused; someone who is trusted and understands and supports your goals.

At times, “to keep or toss” decisions will be hard. Friends and family can play the devil’s advocate. They can also provide physical and moral support.

Generally, people will want to help. If you can’t find anyone, locate a nearby professional with a web search. The National Association of Professional Organizers’ website is www.napo.net; the National Association of Senior Move Managers is found at www.NASMM.org.

Karen Pfeiffer Bush is a senior living specialist and owner of two Seattle-based companies, Studio 65 Design (www.studio65design.com) and Housewarming (www.housewarmingseattle.com). Contact Karen at (206) 719-1662 or email her at karen@housewarmingseattle.com.

This article was published in September/October 2017 editions of Seattle City Living, the Madison Park Times and Queen Anne & Magnolia News.  This article is reprinted by permission of Pacific Publishing Co. ©2017