Archive for November 2015

Incorporating Medical Equipment into a Stylish Space

Having a family member with special medical needs means facing all kinds of challenges.  From a design perspective, creating a room that functions for these needs while providing comfort, cheer and inspiration to all family members is a call to creativity!

Recently I had the exciting opportunity to help fulfill another wish granted by The Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Mid-Atlantic.  This dynamic family was looking to create a sensory room designed to both stimulate and calm their twin four year old boys who experience multiple disabilities.  Special considerations such as dimmable lighting to reduce seizures, easy care carpet to manage spills, and a large scale movie screen for visual stimulation and family fun are a few features of  the new living room.DSC_0013

It was a joy to work with this family on creating their new room.  I was inspired by the love and caring they share with their children, the resilience they demonstrate in the face of difficulty, and the delight they expressed in being a part of the design process.  It was also heartwarming to interact with so many generous individuals and companies.  Several times I found myself moved to tears as the person on the other end of the phone said “We would be honored to be your partners,  how can we help?”  I hope this posting does not sound like advertising but our largest contributors deserve mention.  That said, I also want to note that 99% of the items in the room came with a greatly appreciated discount.

We began this design challenge as usual by gaining a thorough understanding of how this room needed to function, (living room, play room, office, nap and changing space, movie theatre).  A careful inventory of necessary medical equipment was made and I learned about the kinds of seating that would best suit the two boys and each parent. When first hearing about the wish for big screen viewing I was struck with the notion of an old fashioned theatre with drapes to frame the vision. IMG_2766 Using this as a jumping off place for the color scheme, the parents selected a modern blue and orange fabric to use for the drapes.  A heavy blackout window shade provided at an amazing discount by Next Day Blinds  works perfectly as a large scale movie screen.  IMG_3187

A raised hospital bed takes up one corner of the room and is used for naps and changing.  It has been incorporated into the style of the room through the use of dark blue sheets which de-emphasize the bed and is accented with wildly textured pillows which the boys like to stroke.  A matching bed skirt was made to disguise and take advantage of ample storage underneath.

Under the window a contemporary distressed wood buffet holds medicine and clothing within easy reach.  A small scale modern desk for computing needs fits neatly into the corner and allows the caregivers and parents to work while having the boys within their sight. Carpet tile was chosen for the whimsical style, ease of cleaning /replacement and was generously donated by FLOR Carpet.

Possibly the most fun aspect  (from a visual perspective) is the large orange leather double reclining sofa.  This easy to clean and texturally pleasing piece of furniture allows the whole family to cuddle together and was made possible through a generous discount given by Gladhill Furniture.  Other IMG_3185sensory stimulators such as the color changing candles, light projecting speakers and ethnic musical instruments were included not only for their sensory input but for their visual appeal as well.

We almost painted the room a vivid blue to reflect the parents love of bold color.  In fact, the blue of the Greek Islands was the beginning of our color exploration.  But this is the cool way that good design comes together; after trying several samples we decided that since this was a living room, and the entry into the home,  it would be wiser (saner?) to use a more neutral tone and let the furniture and accessories carry the stimulating colors.  Beautiful Home Services partnered with Make-A Wish on this piece of the project by providing their wonderful painting services free of charge.

Creating a room that is stylish yet highly functional for someone with medical needs does not have to be as tricky as it sounds. The key components in incorporating medical equipment into a residential space are to pay close attention to the color, size and function of the needed features. In this sensory living room careful space planning allowed for the storage of a hoyer lift between the desk and sofa.  It moves easily in and out of this space but does not take center stage because of the blue sling.    The projector and emergency medical equipment roll easily where needed but are unobtrusive on their stylish navy rolling bar cart.  Large specialized chairs were custom made by Specialized Orthotic Services for the boys and covered in blue to make sense within the space.


Extreme Storage Challenge

Two little girls with medical needs, two nurses, two oxygen tanks and respirators, two TVs, clothing, specialized food and feeding devices, 800 DVDs, oh and yes, a place for Mom to sit  – in one room.  This was my most recent challenge from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

This beautiful family has adopted two very disabled little girls ages eight and thirteen.  They are lovingly cared for in one large room of the families’ home.  You can imagine the many issues involved in the room re-design, primarily space planning and storage for all of the above.  To promote the safety of the eight year old who is very mobile but feels no pain, the family requested a Hannah bed which the company made possible by offering a significant discount.  This bed provides comfort and safety for little Faith who is constantly on-the-go.  As you can see it takes up a good 1/8th of the room.



The next piece of the puzzle was figuring out how to create a space for the TV as the family owns over 800 videos which keep the girls entertained and smiling.   Omnimount to the rescue.  This company generously donated a Play 25X TV Mount and a Tria shelf for the DVD Player.  This arms reaches out over the oxygen tank and tilts downwards for Faith’s optimum viewing on her new beanbag chair or from within her Hannah bed.

Faiths tvEvery corner of this room was tapped for storage.  One closet was converted to a food preparation area with floor to ceiling cabinetry.   Another closet was reconfigured to do double duty storing clothing and medical supplies.  A large secretary desk functions as work space for the nurses to complete and store their paperwork.  We took advantage of the raised crib and added under the bed rolling storage drawers.  With the 36 inches left of wall space we found room for a window seat/toy box for Faith who loves to look out of the window.

Once the space planning was complete and the functional needs addressed then came the fun part.  Mom fell in love with the pink multicolored rug featured at the top of the page.  The room came together based upon this fun “girly” color scheme of pink, green and yellow.  My favorite feature is a custom made mobile created and donated by Karen and her daughter of Almost Sunday.  The family loves butterflies and the room called out for pink and green.  Jenni has limited sight but unnamedregisters objects colored in black and red.  Voila, this artist conjured up the perfect finishing touch!

With the extra storage and cheerful new color scheme both girls, their family, and many caregivers are now set to enjoy their highly functional new space thanks to The Make-A-Wish Foundation!