Aging In Place

In 2011, the first of the baby boom generation reached what used to be known as retirement age. And for the next 18 years, boomers will be turning 65 at a rate of about 8,000 a day, according to AARP. As this unique group grows older, it will likely transform the institutions of aging — just as it has done to other aspects of American life. Will boomers redefine this life stage? Most experts believe so. The boomer generation is more active, youthful and less likely to “embrace” aging as previous generations have. They want to remain independent as long as possible maintaining their lifestyle and home.

Despite the youthful mindset of boomers, most aging Americans will face inevitable changes in their lifetime. There are currently 9.8 million senior homeowners with some type of disability or impairment that can make it difficult to live at home according to the National Council on Aging. Group homes, assisted living facilities, retirement homes and extended care facilities are usually less desirable or not affordable options for these folks. For most, staying in their home is preferable to a group home. So to enable this to happen they realize that their home will require design modifications, renovating or remodeling to create an environment that is more healthy, secure, and supportive of them as they experience age related challenges.

The housing industry recognizes the attitudes of the baby boomers and is addressing the needs of seniors who want to remain living independently as long as possible. This design concept is known as “Aging in Place”. The number of people facing age related decisions in the next few years is a strong indicator for those in the building, interior design, and architecture professions to incorporate aging in place principles in their designs.  Aging in Place addresses the basic design elements in a space to ensure a safe and secure environment. Elements such as better lighting, non-slip floors, easy to reach cabinets and drawers can make a huge difference in how a room functions.

Designing a home with Aging in Place principles is complex. Here are just a handful of basic design elements that can make a difference in your home: Non-skid floors, taller toilet seats, balance bars, lever style door handles, level threshold door entry, easy roll out drawers, lower kitchen cabinets, larger doorways and halls, lowered light switches and raised outlets.

Whether planning ahead for yourself, taking care of an aging parent or disabled loved one, design changes you make in your home now based on Aging in Place principles will make life more comfortable for everyone in your home. Consult a designer familiar with these principles for more helpful advice.

Cynthia Champness Cuellar, IDS is the owner and principle designer of Rancho Interior Design. Call for appointment 951-767-2147 or email her at

2014 Interior Design Trends

0212141409The 2014 Las Vegas winter furniture market was held this past February. The market that is held twice a year features hundreds of vendors in the World Market Center. Each vendor showcases their newest products for store buyers and designers. Buyers and designers shop the market to discover the latest  products  and trends in home furnishings. The market is a great indicator of what we can expect to see in stores in the coming year and educates us designers on the latest looks to create for our clients.  Let’s take a look at some of the trends that emerged from the 2014 winter market.

Colors: Neutral colors are still and always will be very popular in home décor. Exotic prints in fabrics and  wall coverings are toned down with sophisticated neutral hues. This year think of adding bold, pure colors like peacock blue, navy, orange and yellow as accents in a room. Bold citrus colors when mixed with white, are beautifully crisp and upbeat-think papaya, coral and tangerine.  Bold colors can be introduced as an accent wall, sofa or chair against a neutral wall or by using colorful decorative accessories throughout the space. This year we will see more gold used in lighting fixtures, mirrors and accessories.

Global Influence: Hand crafted, brightly colored ceramics, baskets, plates, and statues from all over the world-China, Tibet, Peru, Brazil, India and Africa provide a beautiful pop of color and texture to a room. Think global traveler for an eclectic decor. Baskets and plates look beautiful when displayed in groups on a wall or table.

Industrial: The industrial look still remains strong. This “Restoration Hardware” style has grown in popularity as companies like “Pottery Barn” and others are featuring the look. To soften the hard edged style the new approach is pairing industrial tables with upholstered traditional, tufted chairs. This style has a very cool, urban look and broad appeal especially with the younger customer. Other industrial items include metal lockers used for storage, steel or metal accessories, vintage signs and old black and white photography art.

Eco-Friendly: Reclaimed, recycled or sustainable materials will be a strong trend in 2014.  The look includes furniture made from reclaimed or recycled wood sometimes paired with metal feet or top and often distressed for an even greater aged appearance.

Mid-Century: Mid-Century continues to be popular with a lot of manufacturers. It’s classic modern look fits well in 2014 interiors so plan on seeing more of it in the coming year.

Upholstery: More traditional detailing in upholstery pieces will be seen everywhere this year. Tufting on sofas, chairs, benches and headboards are important this year. In addition to tufting, nail heads add extra detailing on furniture pieces that you will see this year as well.

These are a few of the trends you will be seeing this year. Lifestyle furniture stores can give you ideas on how to put the looks together.  Designing a room, however, can still be a daunting experience and you should avoid designing a room that looks like a cookie cutter store showroom. You should aim for  uniqueness, incorporating your personality in the style that suits you best. For a professional perspective, be sure to consult an interior designer for help in pulling your looks together.

Cynthia Champness Cuellar, IDS, owner and principle designer Rancho Interior Design.

See our interview on Southern California Homes, a top site for California homes for sale, as well as New Mexico real estate, Northern California real estate and San Diego, CA homes for sale: Common Interior Designer Dilemmas.