Interior “Disability” Design

One of the things I have always loved is Interior Design.

After working crazy hours, when I was able to work, I would like nothing better than to spend the weekend at home. It’s always been my happy place.

As a young girl I loved creating a new look in my bedroom regularly, using different bedspreads, curtains, lamps, throws and scatter cushions. Even at a tender age, my soft toys were set out about my room in a “designed” way.

So as an adult it was no surprise I would be passionate about an interior decorating hobby. I love creating welcoming pictures around my home with soft furnishings, furniture placement, rugs, cushions, throws, paintings, curtains, blinds, books, flowers and any other items bringing a smile to my face.

My favourite style is French Provencial with a bit of the Hamptons style thrown in. Some would call my décor “Vintage” others “Traditional”, but whatever title is given, I love to create a space where I feel there’s no place I’d rather be!

No matter how large or small your home is, whether you own it or are renting, I believe if you make it a space reflective of the things you love, it will always feel like home.

A Disability Dilemma

Being able bodied gives enormous scope for creativity. It also gives you the energy and physical ability you need to achieve particular designs. When creating a new design you need to be able to step back, step forward, adjust, readjust, repeat, crouch down, go up a ladder…..you get the picture. It’s a workout!!

Two main events happened in my life, causing me to not only completely reinvent how to continue to enjoy my hobby, but also to consider how to re-design my home “tastefully” to adapt to a new world with disabilities.

The first event was the creation of my colostomy. Having a colostomy means having to manage colostomy supplies and adequate storage is required. However, I didn’t want was a bathroom resembling a hospital ensuite. I wanted to still be able to retain as much… I guess the word is “dignity”, within my home as possible. I wanted to be able to store my supplies in a way I would feel organised but I also wanted to enjoy going to my stoma supply cupboard numerous times a day. I needed to create a happy stoma space.

Of course this meant only one thing…. going shopping!! My husband was fully supportive about this particular shopping trip. He knew it was as important to me from a well-being perspective as it was from a practical perspective.

I found a beautiful French style cabinet, which has sat happily in our bedroom for 8 years. It matches the rest of our furniture and it’s next to the ensuite so works perfectly. No one would ever know what this little cabinet holds and I love it.

Rudolphs cupboard-open
A Stylish Stoma Storage Design

The other event to turn my life upside down was a pathological left femur break, and subsequent diagnosis of a rare progressive bone disease. It’s left me with a diseased, unstable spine, non union broken femur and multiple non union foot fractures, among other things.

This health event was particularly challenging in terms of interior décor.

The first issue I needed to think about was the best way to rest my leg as it tried to heal. I needed a foot stool to raise my leg but it couldn’t be too high or too low. My husband and I worked out, after using a couple of cushions, around 15 cms high was perfect to provide support and limit pain when sitting ( in my favourite Hamptons’ style wing chair of course).

I had previously bought some lovely cushions online and had a couple spare. My clever husband decided he could make a footstool, specific for my needs and we used one of my favourite cushion covers to upholster it. We added lovely wheels so I could easily move it, depending on what position gave me the least pain while sitting. I love the final result!!

The footstool

Kitchen and Bathroom Creativity

As my bone disease progressed and my disability worsened, it became clear we needed to think about how I could function better in the kitchen. Finding something incredibly comfortable to stand on, rather than tiles causing my legs to ache and swell and my fractured feet to scream, was soon an emergency.

The kitchen floor was an area I wanted to do well and in keeping with my style. We found a lovely indoor/outdoor mat which matched my décor and was practical, but it still wasn’t soft enough. My husband had the idea of putting a yoga mat underneath it. It works perfectly and no one would ever know.

Kitchen rug decor

The bathroom was a little more challenging. I knew I needed rails. I couldn’t stand safely in the shower, I couldn’t get on and off the toilet or stand in the bathroom to get dressed.

We needed rails and lots of them. I didn’t want the bathroom to feel like I was in a nursing home. I love a pretty bathroom. I had visions of white plastic looking handrails everywhere, and a white plastic toilet seat surround to help me get up and down.

I met with an Occupational Therapist and told her my concerns. I had design ideas to make some hand rails double as lovely towel rails, and the toilet seat rails to look like chair arms, fixed to the bathroom floor each side of the toilet. I also wanted a stainless steel look.

She listened to my ideas, and consulted with the company who was approved to provide and install the rails.

Yes….the answer was yes!! My designs were approved. Even better, the rails had a texture to enhance grip and a diamond pattern. I actually loved the look of them even without seeing them installed!

The final result though is beyond my wildest dreams. It’s coordinated, practical and, I think, still a little glamorous.

We used the same kitchen idea in our bathroom of an indoor/outdoor rug, with a yoga mat underneath for comfort. It was the finishing touch. I really couldn’t be happier.

An Elegant Bathroom Despite Disability

You Don’t Have To Make Do

Your home is important, even more so when you spend the majority of your time in it due to health issues.

You don’t have to give up on making it an environment you can completely enjoy. Your taste is likely very different to mine, so your ideas to make your home “disabled” friendly will be exciting for you to see come to fruition.

The fun of interior “disability” design is the creative element. Having a project, creating a vision and finding ways to execute it, is rewarding and well worth the effort.

You’ll likely need to enlist the help of an Occupational therapist, carers, family and maybe friends to bring your vision to life, but don’t think you have to settle for stock standard.

You don’t have to make do.

Have fun and happy “disability” designing!

Sam xx

If you’re looking for genuine support, care, understanding and friendship, you are so welcome to join my closed Facebook support forum, Medical Musings with Friends . It’s a safe place to connect with others living with chronic and complex diseases, who truly understand the daily challenges. A warm welcome awaits.

I’m a Contributor at “The Mighty”. You can check out my published articles at My Author Page

I also write @ Blogs by Christian Women

I’m a member of  the Chronic Illness Bloggers Network  the  Grace Girls Facebook Group and the Salt and Light Linkup Group

If you would like to read a little more about my journey, here’s the link to My Story

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Best In Show Nominee 2021 in the Categories: Blog; Community;
Patient Leader Hero; Facebook; Instagram; Podcast https://www.wegohealth.com/profile/awards
Australian Aspire Awards 2020 Nominee – Awarded Medal of Recognition for Individual Best Achievement Community Advocacy.
Thank you to Arthritis Queensland for the nomination!

4 thoughts on “Interior “Disability” Design

  1. Sam, dear, dear Sam! Once again, you have read right into my mind and concerns. We are just about to move into more a disability friendly home, and my head is spinning with how I will make it blend my style and my needs now, and you have given me inspiration and even shared some wonderful examples of ways you have made this work! Thank you from my heart, once again, for your caring and your sharing and your giving spirit! Sending you prayers and blessings and gratitude💗🙏🏻💐

    Like

    1. Oh Shirley, what perfect timing given you are moving. I am so glad you found this helpful. If you ever want to chat about design ideas never hesitate to email me or PM me. I’m sure you will be able to create a beautiful, stylish home filled, not only with practical disability designs, but lots of love. Take care, Sam xx

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  2. Thank you for the clever idea, Sam. Having the yoga mat under the INdoor/outdoor carpet is such a great idea. I may think of that for our kitchen. Thank you for the clever idea, Sam.

    rick

    Liked by 1 person

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