Small spaces are always a challenge to design and they're even more of a challenge when the client is in a wheelchair. For this project, it was all about the clients needs - and those needs have taken a better part of a year to plan in detail. Now that we're moving into construction, I figured I would share with you what I've been planning. Let me take you through the preliminaries of this project:
The Existing Floor Plan
The existing layout hasn't been touched since it was planned in the late 1980's when three lawyers got together to develop this bit of real estate. It is truly amazing that this client, who has built her own custom wheelchair accessible home before, has made this through the last 15 years in this home. This is her chance as more independent living and I am so thrilled to be a part of her life change.
The New Floor Plan
This is a strata condominium and there are certain things we can not change. Plumbing drains and some electrical must remain where they are, but it didn't mean we could be more accessible. The most dramatic change is in the kitchen and at the entrance of the suite. Widening the approach to the main entry is going to allow the client to actually greet her guests, turn around, and lead them into her home. The master bathroom is completely changing so that the client can enter and take her own time. It is this level of detail, thoroughness, and completeness in a floor plan is what you need to hire a well-trained, experienced interior designer for. For this client, it was important for the high functioning areas of the home - the kitchen and bathroom - to be well planned so she can do her crafts and serve tea to her friends.
The Kitchen Floor Plan
Yes, this is a real Kitchen Floor Plan - a PROFESSIONAL one. Every single detail is fully accounted for and even the wheelchair clearances are fully noted. Sometimes it is important to have an anthropomorphic representation of the client and in this case the wheelchair is to scale and the turning radius is fully shown to ensure that clearances are met. For the sake of full communication with everyone, all the wheelchair approaches are noted on the floor plan. Clients pay for a certain level of detail in order to understand how they are going to function in the space, and even though every client is different the minimum detail is only a start of what we truly need to communicate through the remainder of the interpretive drawings.
The Bathroom Floor Plan
We opted for a roll-in shower and with intense opposition from the client, it took the physiotherapist, me, and a mobility specialist to illustrate the challenges of a bathtub versus the roll-in shower with a commode. This option provides for a rain shower head above and the heated flooring ensures that circulation is not lost or affected in the shower. The build-up for this bathroom will need to be feathered out slowly through the entire floor plan. This is a huge change in daily activity for this client and will revolutionize her life.
The Material Board
Water colours were the inspiration for this space and we started with the wood-grain tile throughout because the colour, cost, and installation were a major factor. I wanted to ensure that the weight of the wheelchair wasn't going to void a warranty of a hardwood floor and that is exactly what ended up happening in our material selection. With generous help from FloForm Countertops, we were able to create a colour palette that is sophisticated and dramatic. You'll note that Racoon Fur has struck again.
I can't wait to share more as things progress on-site.
Update: I've had a lot of shares for this post in one day, but one question I am commonly asked is what type of design software do I use for my construction drawings. It's easy: AutoCAD by Autodesk and SketchUp Pro by Trimble. I don't subscribe to drag-and-drop software because it "dumbs down" the drawing process without any added speed or benefit.