Category: Smart Homes

Mar 3 documents the “journey of an only daughter navigating the waters of senior care for her parents.”

The daughter lives on the East Coast and her parents on the West Coast. They see each other several times a year and stay connected via the phone. But each new year proves more challenging than the last.

Some fixes are simple, such as this one where the daughter decides to downsize after seeing she has bought into the same “Bigger-Better-More” lifestyle that has complicated her parents’ lives.

In this post, the daughter writes a 10-tip list of what she’s looking for in helping her parents explore senior living options. The list is concise and helpful and we especially loved Tip No. 10:

“Use your nose. This was a tip I got from a nurse I had a conversation with on the airplane coming back from a visit to my parents. She has worked in retirement/nursing homes for over 20 years and told me that if you walk into a place and it has an odor in the common areas … walk away. She said it’s the easiest way to determine if a facility is staffed properly to maintain sanitary living conditions.”

Eds Note: It seems impersonal calling her “the daughter,” but she has chosen not to identify herself on her site, a prudent choice given today’s lack of privacy on the Internet.

Sep 19

The New York Times has two stories today that speak to our Gimpy Girl hearts. The first requires little money and is not for the squeamish. The second requires big bucks and has something for everyone.

Read the story talks with New Yorkers about the ups and downs of keeping worms in the city.

The story is fine, but the graphic is not — too much food in too small a bin. Worms are not going to be happy and neither are the apartment dwellers when flies arrive and the bedding begins to smell. Read our post for more information on successful worm composting.

This second story is akin toRead the story to make life easier. The homes are fabulous and so are the designers. Here’s a quote from one:

‘I want people to know no matter whether they have mental or physical disabilities’ — change that word to differences — ‘they are only disabled if they can’t do what they want to do. Architecture can eliminate disability by design.’ You see my point. If you are in a house where you can do what you want to do, you’re not disabled anymore.’

Nov 14

We’ve shown other videos of the Fit House in Portland, Oregon, but this is the first to demonstrate these cool windows up close.

Nov 1

A deeply damaged urban neighborhood on Cleveland’s East side has been targeted as future housing for inter-generational families.

The non-profit Fairfax Renaissance Development Corp. is sponsoring a national competition to design the nation’s first Universal Design housing complex tailored for grandparents who are primary caregivers for their grandchildren.

There’s an enormous need for such housing in Cleveland and elsewhere, said Jay Gardner, a Fairfax spokesman who sees the project as a model for other urban centers.

The complex will include roughly 35 to 40 apartments and/or single family houses, with each house costing $85,000 to $120,000 to build.

The design competition, being coordinated by the Kent State University Urban Design Collaborative specifies the housing should be comfortable for aging people and safe for children as young as infants.

“We want to see shovels in the ground in 2009 and an opening in 2010,” Gardner said.

(via The Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Oct 31

Marty’s mother was a phenomenal packrat who passed her clutter DNA to Marty, who after a lifetime of collecting prefers, these days, to think of herself as a “recovering” packrat.

Cait, who is considerably younger than Marty, enthusiastically remains at the zenith of her packratting - routinely dragging home “finds” from estate sales, other people’s curbs and second-hand stores, as regular readers of this blog well know.

So here at Gimpy Girls World Headquarters we’re always looking for cutter-busting gurus and bring you several fine ones today:

Jeri Dansky, a professional organizer from California, knows of beaucoup ways to organize and declutter. (She and Marty have been e-mailing recently about tech stuff and even Jeri’s e-mails are clearly written, concise and easy to understand - a rarity in the world of e-mail.)

The this list of clutter-busting kitchen tips. (The Gimpy Girls so revere Kohler that if we could get down on our knees, we would bow up and down in front of Kohler Headquarters saying, “We are not worthy. We are not worthy.”)

And lastly, pick up a copy of

Oct 29

The world needs more Karen Braitmayers.

Braitmayer, according to the American Institute of Architects, has been instrumental in shaping national policy on barrier-free design that benefits people of all abilities.

Braitmayer, who has been elevated to the AIA’s College of Fellows, and her firm, Pacifica Studio, consult on projects involving universal design across the country.

Braitmayer is seen here in the blue-glass bridge at Seattle City Hall, where she pushed for a surface texture on the floor that wouldn’t be slippery for people using crutches and canes.

Her experience as a wheelchair user proved valuable early on in her career as architects regularly stopped by her desk for advice on barrier-free design.

“I’d find simple errors,” Braitmayer said, “that could have a huge impact on accessibility.”

To learn more about Braitmayer, who’s also an avid sailor, Click here to see the Seattle loft Braitmayer designed for a wheelchair user

(via Architectural Record)

Oct 29

This 2008 “Fit House” in Portland, Ore., has a practical renovation for an existing bath.

By removing one wall and adjusting the height of the sink, they were able to enlarge the bathroom and make it more suitable for wheelchair users and children in this family.

(Via My Home Ideas)

Oct 26

It’s getting pretty scary Out There with the financial markets collapsing, people losing jobs and energy prices up as we enter another winter.

For too long, we all have thrived on the Big, Better, More Theory of Life and now the bill is coming due. It seems the current situation will get worse before it gets better, giving us all the opportunity to re-evaluate what we really need to get by.

We’re hoping once the World rights itself, as it were, that more people will bond around the idea of shared resources, especially when it comes to designing, funding, and building living spaces that benefit everyone though the principles of Universal Design. This is not wishful thinking.

There’s a whole movement of ingenious people Out There working to give the world simple, basic housing supremely more functional than the spaces many of us live in today. And with necessity being the Mother of Invention, this crisis our world finds itself in may be the kick in the butt we need to move forward, band up and make things happen.

Designer, architect, humanitarian Architecture for Humanity, embraces innovative and sustainable design to improve living conditions for all and he’s dedicating his life to hooking up like-minded people.

Sinclair inspires us and we hope he will inspire you. He would be the first to say that there are millions of people Out There moving Universal Design forward in big and small ways. If you know them - or you are one of them - let us know so we can hook up and help spread the word.

– Cait & Marty

Oct 26

The original Beacon Hill Village in Boston is catching on elsewhere as more people join forces to remain in their homes as they age.

The Washington Post reports here on neighbors in Fairfax County and Capitol Hill forming “villages” modeled on the idea of a hotel’s concierge service.

For an annual fee, the villages use a small professional staff and volunteers to arrange members’ transportation to the doctor’s office or the grocery store, to find in-home medical care or to compile a list of reliable contractors who do home repairs at a discount, the Post reports.

The village approach can be money-saving, the Post reports, noting the faltering economy has given the concept a new urgency.

Oct 24

Mazeltov to the Pressalit design team that created the bathroom seen above. This is Universal Design at its best.

Everything but the toilet is on rails that move horizontally and vertically, so you can fit a loo, a sink and a shower seat in one small space with drainage in the floor.

It’s brilliant for wheelchair users but would benefit anyone needing flexibility in bathroom fixtures — and who doesn’t?

We include the tongue-in-cheek video below as a bonus, pretty much just for your entertainment. It’s obvious the Pressalit company has a sense of humor — they rank their soft-close toilet on the same scale of importance as the fall of the Berlin Wall.

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