Save Yourself from Rainy Days


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/602806/save-yourself-rainy-days.html

Radha Prathi, March 24, 2017

problem It has been identified that water has a tendency to seep into adjoining walls that are at different levels. 

Come rainy season, and urban India is on tenterhooks, when it comes to their houses.

The reasons for these are many, ranging from poor construction to lack of a good rainwater draining system. Sometimes, a good many number of building parts, or even entire buildings have little or no exposure to sunlight. Correcting these anomalies is beyond the realms of practicality. Such being the case, it will be only wise to take the next best recourse.

Architects, builders, consumers and the waterproofing industry have identified the problems associated with moisture in buildings and have come up with solutions that can keep the building dry for the most part of the year. When the rainy season sets in, they have come up with techniques that will get the water off the building fast, so that pooling and leaking of water into the structure can be contained. Adding slopes in the roofing area wherever possible and rainwater harvesting project incorporated into buildings can stem this problem to a large extent.

It has been identified that water has a tendency to seep into the adjoining walls that are at different levels. Extra care during construction and plastering of these areas can control the damage caused due to dampness. Sometimes, water seepage can happen when there is error in the installation of the plumbing system. Then there are those instances when there can be inadequate surface preparation, improper use of primers, failure to take into account the thermal and wind movements of the structure etc which can undermine the strength of the construction over a period of time.

No matter what the problem, there are mostly ready-to-use products available that can repair possible damages to the buildings. If you are constructing a new facility, you can use them in the first instance, but if you are trying to protect an old home, you might have to walk that extra mile. Nevertheless, you can be sure that it is worth the effort.

Structural waterproofing

Open areas like balconies, porches and terrace slabs, which tend to be exposed to rainwater directly and for a longer time, will do well to mix admixes which will plasticise the walls and plug in the pores so that they do not retain water and absorb it later. As always, the market offers a range of these admixes with various grades of plasticising agents both in the paste and powder form. People looking at longevity of their constructions even have the options to fill hollow cement bricks with this mixture to make it waterproof from within.

Roof & terrace

It is universal knowledge that the roof and the terrace of any building are always exposed to the natural elements. This, coupled with bad upkeep can make the area develop cracks. Hence, waterproofing the terrace can protect it. You really do not need professionals to do this job, for the method is very simple. Sweep the terrace clean, wash it with clear water. Leak-guard pastes available off the shelf can be used to plug in cracks, dents and chipped area of the terrace.

Similarly, waterproof powder and chemical can also be bought in any hardware shop. Mix the powder as instructed in a bucket of clear water and apply the liquid to the surface with a wide paint brush. Apply a second coat after three hours and be rest assured that your terrace is safe for the next three to four years. As of now, there are no permanent waterproofing techniques for the roof; hence the need to repeat the exercise time and again.

Basement

Basement areas tend to become swimming pools during monsoons. The slope and the rainwater drains don’t help much, unless planned and executed well. You can prevent your basement from becoming redundant if you use appropriate waterproofing. While new basements can use structural procedure, old buildings have to first release the surface of the mould. Fumigation and subjecting the area to hot air blasts can clean it to a large extent. If the walls of the basement have started chipping or flaking, it will be worth the investment to get them plastered again before working on the floor.

Then, use non-metallic heavy duty floor hardener to reinforce the floor. Though this measure is costly, it has a long life and can be easy to clean and maintain. Waterproofing buildings has come of age. There are plenty of options in terms of both price and quality. The best time to waterproof buildings will be summer. Make sure that your homes and offices wear their rainproof cover before the first drizzle.

Smart Pools- An Upcoming Trend


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/586779/smart-pools-upcoming-trend.html

Urban India is being riddled with lifestyle diseases. Doctors vouch for the fact that this problem can be contained to a large extent if people get to exercise enough. People who have the time have many options to burn those extra calories, but the ones with time limitation will do well to swim for at least twenty minutes three or four times a week for a complete workout.

If one does choose to swim, the tall task of finding a pool in the vicinity of one’s residence can prove to be the next challenge. If you are lucky enough to have one nearby, then the availability and cleanliness factors of the pool can prove to be bothersome.

It is perhaps keeping these factors in mind, that engineers have come up with the concept a Smart Pool, which is compact, can be personal, needs very little maintenance and serves the purpose all the same. Initially, Smart Pools were designed to be fitted out into the penthouses on skyscrapers, cruise ships and caravans to cater to the needs of the super rich. However constant redesigning and addition of attractive and practical features have made builders and even owners of villas consider introducing a Smart Pool in their premises.

The concept

For those of you who are wondering what a Smart Pool is all about, it is a modestly sized swimming pool, mostly linear. which operates on electricity. It can be fitted indoors or outdoors. Smart Pools can be installed above the ground like a giant bath tub or within ground like a regular pool. It can be fitted in your basement, roof top or even in a room.

It is a place where you can swim against an adjustable water current of your choice. The pool can give you the variations in depth, breadth, smooth and harsh waters, according to your requirements. In other words, you can set the tone of the kind of water that you need to swim in, by operating it on the lines of your washing machine.

The features of Smart Pools can be compared with that of a conventional pool. The water can be filtered, heated and chlorinated automatically as and when you want. If you want to give your Smart Pool a touch of class and optimum utility, then it can be fitted with underwater lights and Jacuzzi jets.

If you want to give your Smart pool the conventional look, then, go in for sitting benches which can be fitted within the water to help you soak up or to attend to your therapeutic needs. These very benches can also used outside or around the pool.

Features

One of the interesting and useful accessories of a Smart Pool happens to be the insulated pool cover. This large pool lid can serve multiple purposes such as retaining the heat of the water; preventing dust and dirt from falling into the water between uses and keeping the empty pool clean and dry when not in use.

This variety of pool has been quite popular among the rich across the globe. Of late, the practical and medical utility of these pools have made spas, old age homes, hospitals, physiotherapy centres and even apartment complexes consider such pools fitted out in their premises.

These pools can double up as hydrotherapy aids and rehabilitation pools to soothe the nerves and give relief to aching bones and muscles by just soaking up in them at the prescribed temperature. It is possible to add bath salts, oils and fragrances just like one uses teabags to infuse the essential ingredients as and when necessary.

High-end Smart Pools also known as fitness pools fitted in body building studios have in-built underwater treadmills and resistance therapy jets which can increase the stamina of the user. Its manageable size and optimum utility has the ability to make even sport complexes of a moderate size and school and college campuses
consider having one in their premises.

Of late, quite a few Indian entrepreneurs have been working on the production of these pools and its attendant accessories. Even as more and more people start considering this novel facility, there will be an increase in demand for the pools.

Since in-house manufacturing is likely to bring down the price all the while offering more options, Smart Pools will prove to be the apt way out especially when negotiating with space constraints.

With Better Strength and Shine- Vitrifed Tiles


vitrified tileshttp://www.deccanherald.com/content/568168/with-better-strength-amp-shine.html

With its beautiful finishes, low porosity and commendable resistance to heat and water, vitrified tiles can be the perfect flooring option for your abode. Radha Prathi offers some insights

The ultimate idea of a clean floor in our country is when one has cleaned, swept and mopped it with all kinds of chemicals and solutions. We have been following this method for ages without a break, no matter what the kind of flooring is. Natural stone floorings like granite, marble or salt stone have borne the brunt of this harsh routine for a long time. Yet floors made of cement, ceramics, terracotta and certain low-quality mosaics have succumbed to scratches, pockmarks, cracks and even little craters by the sheer result of wear and tear.

This syndrome has proved to be a nightmare for conscientious housekeepers, who take pride in their work. While the building is well designed and has lots of scope for utility, it falls short in such cases, raking up huge maintenance bills. Sometimes, mere poor maintenance of the flooring botches up best-laid plans for a home.

The best solution to the problem will be to replace the flooring with a sustainable option. Now, we have two choices: for those who can afford, they can go in for marble or granite. Both, while costly, are long-lasting and classy. On the other hand, if you have a smaller budget, but do not have the heart to completely uproot the foundation, relaying the floor is another option. Don’t worry: relaying the tiles won’t pinch your pockets.

Reworking aesthetically

We live in the age of vitrified tiles. These beautiful tiles which come in all shapes, sizes, colours have become the builder’s pet and with reason too. They are man-made ceramic tiles endowed with great strength, low porosity and come with great resistance to scratches, heat, water and even frost. They come with glazed and matte finish for both indoor and outdoor uses.

Laying these beautiful tiles on your own is no big deal as most dealers who sell tiles also sell the requisite cement, adhesive, polish and acid necessary for the laying activity. Some of them also have trained tile layers who can lay tiles in an eight square premises within eight to 10 hours.

Yet the challenge lies in reworking on existing premises. If one can manage it, it will be in the best interest of the building in the long run to remove the present flooring completely, put a layer of cement over it and then lay the said tiles according to the instructions. This method can prove to be very cumbersome, a little expensive and time consuming though the results will be spectacular.

The other way to lay these tiles is to lay them over your present flooring. Many people all over the world have experimented with this idea and have arrived at different conclusions. While some of them have considered their effort to have been successes, others have cursed the day when they decided to go in for this particular method. If the tiles are not laid properly, they can make the floor uneven. Over a period of time, the gap between the tiles could open up to moisture. And when we mop the floor on a daily basis, lots of moisture gets accumulated in such gaps. Then we can do nothing much about it except rework on the entire flooring.

As in all things, if we follow the prescribed procedure properly, chances of disappointment can be non-existent. If you are one of those people who choose the easier but trickier option, you will do well to go to a professional for such things.

Starter tips

But if you are doing it on your own, here are some helpful pointers:

* First of all, remove all the doors in your facility, because the floor level will rise when the vitrified tiles are overlaid on them. They can be refit at the end of the exercise. You will need to get a carpenter to saw the extra wood towards the bottom of the door. This will ensure the door will fit perfectly with the new height of the floor.

* If the existing floor has developed a crack, check its strength and piece them together with cement. In other words, make sure that your flooring is even.

* Clean the floor thoroughly and keep it free of dust, paint, oil etc, before applying the chemical adhesive to the floor.

* To avoid wasting the adhesive, make sure it is mixed in small proportions. Never make the mistake of using the leftover adhesive of the previous batch while mixing a new batch. However wet or fresh it may be, never mix the old and the new because it is this little bit of thriftiness which will lead to lumping which will in turn make the flooring jagged in the long run.

* Even out the adhesive so that it covers all the borders of the tile. Remember, unevenness is either due to excess of the adhesive or a lack of the same.

* Ensure that you double check the direction of the arrow to gain the visualised pattern before laying the tile. Just in case you make a mistake, remove the tile immediately and scoop out the adhesive. Allow the place to dry and then scrape out the remaining adhesive before reworking. This kind of mistake may stop your work for a couple of hours, but doing the square thing will prove to be a stitch in time.

* Once the tiles are laid, make sure that you do not place anything heavy over them or walk over them for the next six to eight hours. If walking on them is unavoidable, ensure you walk on them only after four hours and only step on the centre portion of the stones. If you want to use the passage earlier than that time period, it will be best to relay the tile as described earlier. There is really no point in being penny wise, pound foolish.

* The following day, the hairline gaps should be packed neatly and carefully with white cement putty. Remember to wipe the floor clean with a wet mop only after 12 hours.

* Inspect the borders of the tiles with your toes. If it happens to be seamless, you have accomplished your mission, if not, nothing is lost.

* Your dealer will hire out a buffing machine which can correct small aberrations when used by an expert user.

* Once the buffing is done, go through the white cement exercise.

* Since most vitrified tiles come polished, there is no need to polish them all over again.

* A light acid wash can be implemented if the floor has been soiled. Please consult the tile dealer before taking a call.

So, are you ready to say hello to fabulous vitrified tiles now?

Being Sustainable


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/536540/being-sustainable.html

Radha Prathi, March 25, 2016

Eco-friendly: Substitute plastic with terracotta wherever possible.

Building an eco-friendly home does not necessarily have to be an expensive affair. Neither does it mean that the entire building should be bereft of anything man-made or industry-processed. All you really need is a judicious mix of natural and man-made materials to strike a sustainable balance. 

In order to build an environment-friendly home, we need not avoid materials like glass, metals and high-density plastic. While they are not recommended per se, materials like PVC pipes are a blessing in disguise as they are strong, light and sustainable. If incorporated in the right manner, the right combination of natural and synthetic can cut down on maintenance costs in the long run and keep your abode eco-friendly too.

Homeowners who feel strongly about using natural materials should remember that not all of them are sustainable or practical in the present day. Having plastered clay flooring or a thatched roof may be eco-friendly, but does it guarantee safety or a long shelf-life? So, it’s important to have a well laid-out plan about the materials you want use. You need to ask yourself if they are the right ones for you. Additionally, how does it fare in terms of maintenance?

One needs to do thorough homework before actually going in to select eco-friendly materials. There are a series of considerations that you would need to factor in to ensure that sustainability exists throughout the home, including your materials. You need to ask yourself if the chosen materials are durable on the long run. This includes the materials that you would be choosing for your home’s infrastructure and the appliances. For instance, the flooring inside your home can be paved with partially polished granite, marble or jasper, while the areas exposed to the elements can be laid with clay tiles.
Choices galore

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can make a wise choice to lend a touch of sustainability to your abode. Here are a few ways of doing that:

The basics: To get started, go back to the basics and use wood or terracotta jaali grills wherever possible. Start with the floors. While it is expensive nowadays, good quality wood has the potential of being an investment for a lifetime. Additionally, it has an edge over vinyl flooring as it gives your home a much earthier look. Use of wood will not only prove to be more sustainable, but will also help prevent radiation and cut down on cooling costs. Yes, the electricity bills don’t have to be exorbitant even in summer.

A bit of both: If you are opting for glass panes or long windows, you can go for half windows that are divided in the centre. Here, the bottom half is made of wood while the top half is made of glass. This arrangement will prevent excessive sunlight filtering in during summers and help trap the heat in the room during winters. You can also replace the wood with terracotta jaalis for internal partitions. This is known to facilitate good ventilation at home.
Earthy materials: Plastic overhead tanks and sumps can be substituted with stabilised terracotta tanks, which will keep the water cool. Keeping in mind the same principle, terracotta can also be used to tile a swimming pool.

As for the home’s exteriors or facade, they can be plastered with stabilised rammed earth walls. If you are looking to make it more interesting, you can perhaps get a unique, traditional artpiece done by the master craftsmen in Rajasthan.

Light yet durable: Bamboo is another strong yet light, eco-friendly material that can be used in place of metallic grills, at least in the interiors of the home.
Money matters Building a sustainable home is certainly an expensive affair. But by using the right mix of materials, it can be made affordable. In fact, there are various ways in which you can cut down on the costs at home.

One of the most popular ways is recycling. It can add an old-world charm to your home. This appeal can be brought in by using fully intact parts of old homes that have been demolished. Think foundation stones, doors, windows, terracotta tiles and plumbing materials. In addition to these, you can invest in water harvesting and solar heating systems, along with low lighting to score high on saving.

After careful consideration of every aspect of your home, preferably in consultation with your architect, you will be able to identify the sustainable materials that you can use for your abode. A judicious mix of materials can help you to not only reduce the  building costs, but also to cut down on your carbon footprint.

To Create That Wow Effect With Glass


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/535142/to-create-wow-effect-glass.html

With buildings constantly rising vertically every year, it is becoming increasingly difficult for homes that do not go beyond the first floor to get their fair share of ventilation. Though not much can be done, a little thoughtful makeover can actually lighten up the place. If you want your home to glimmer at all times of the day, glass is the way to go.

With so many varieties of glass available today — ranging from bulletproof and transparent to smoky and featured with visibility from one side — there are innumerable ways in which you can incorporate the material creatively into your living space. And with some imagination and professional help, you can transform your home or office into a state-of-the-art premises with a fine mix of glass.

It’s possible to transform any area into a roomy, well-lit and expandable place. Let’s take a look at a few practical solutions that can help you incorporate glass effortlessly into your home. For starters, how about using glass partitions? They prove to be cost effective in the long run as they are low on maintenance.

Open & spacious

Old buildings take up a lot of interior wall space. When renovating such places, take a careful stock of the walls that can be done away with. For instance, you can consider the walls that can be brought down to make open kitchens, dining areas, corridors and foyers.

Once you have decided which walls are coming down, ensure that the entire wall is not affected. It will be wise to leave about six inches of it from the floor upwards and about two feet from the roof downwards. The wall should be immediately plastered and allowed to cure for a couple of days before proceeding with any further work.

While leaving the space open is an obvious choice for open areas, it is something that is not feasible in an old building. A plain or stained glass of your choice can be fitted between the bracketing walls of the ceiling and flooring, allowing for ample light and extended space. Additionally, you can paint these glass partitions, if you wish for privacy in the rooms.

Portable walls

There are times when we feel the need for a temporary wall, say near the wash basin or in the drawing room — a bit of privacy can be the need of the hour. At such times, a portable glass wall can come in handy as you can move it easily from room to room.

And if you don’t want it to be made entirely of glass , you can have it fitted into a metallic or wooden frame. You can also  customise it to your taste. For example, you can have frosted or stained glass put in. And to make it truly portable, you can attach small wheels at the bottom and a little stopper.

Pillar idea

For those who do not want to use glass sheets, glass pillars are a good option. These are available readymade in various sizes, designs and colours. Additionally, you can get them customised to your preferences. These can be placed in various parts of your home, according to your need and necessity. For an ethereal look, you can add appropriate lighting to enhance the effect.

However, keep in mind that these pillars cost more than the glass sheets. If you are apprehensive about the cost factor, it can be a good idea to have a pillar or two on either end of the space or in the middle and have narrow panels of glass fitted in
between. This will take care of the ventilation needs as well.

Exteriors effect

Putting glass on your home’s exteriors allows you to brighten up the space by bringing in a lot of sunlight and making it look  spacious. These can be in the form of a wall, large windows or as a part of your balcony, porch or sit-out.

However, if the area is facing busy streets, it can prove to be a perpetual problem, courtesy the dust and noise. Such places are best covered with a strong and suitable variety of glass. These can range from stained glass to glazed glass. However, ensure that the glass can be slid open and closed easily to let in air as and when necessary.

Using glass at home may not just be limited to these; there are numerous other ways that you can creatively incorporate the material into your abode. Versatile and easy to maintain, glass is a perfect medium to enhance your home’s interiors and make your home look striking. Not to forget, the natural light that it can get in!

How to paint on glass

If you are looking to paint on the glass you have bought, there are several things you need to look at. But first, ensure that you do a practice run on the readymade glass painting kits that are available easily in the market.

Once you have got a hang of it, decide on a design for your glass and take a printout of it in the exact dimensions you need. Place the sheet on the glass.

Procure a small sample tin of black acrylic oil paint and a set of pearl paints. You will also need some thinner to erase mistakes that you might make, and two round-tipped brushes numbered triple zero and one.

Keep in mind that the outline for your design must be done in one sitting. Hence, set aside around two hours or more to complete the task.

As for filling in the colours, it can be done over many sittings once the outline has dried. What you are actually working on is the design’s backside.

If you want to give special effects like shading and dimension remember that the colour applied first will be seen first. Hence, you need to work backwards while using your glass painting techniques.

Transparent Beauty Accents


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/521792/transparent-beauty-accents.html

Radha Prathi, January 8, 2016

The ever-rising urban buildings are making it increasingly difficult for the vintage homes that don’t go beyond the first floor at best to get their fair share of ventilation, despite the fact that they have not flouted a single rule about leaving enough space around their homes.

Though not much can be done about the new buildings, a little thoughtful makeover can actually lighten up the place. If you want your home to glitter and glimmer on all days and all times of the day, glass is the way to go.  You don’t have to actually construct a new building to integrate glass in your building. A little imagination coupled with some professional help can translate your home or office into a state-of-the-art premises.

These days, we get glass sheets that are as strong, if not stronger, than corrugated sheets. They can be bullet-proof, transparent, smoky or featured with visibility from one side. You can make an educated choice about this. Once fitted, these partitions will prove to be cost effective in the long run. The number of walls to be maintained will come down. Plus, the new walls will spell low-maintenance rates. If your electricity bills come down because you don’t reach out to switch on the lights, fans or air conditioner as often as before, then consider that to be an additional bonus. Here are a couple of practical and economical glassy solutions that can transform any area into a roomy, well-lit and expandable place.

Bring them down

Old buildings take up a lot of interior wall space. When renovating such places, take a careful stock of the walls that can be done away with. For instance, you can consider the walls that can be brought down to make way for open kitchens, dining areas, corridors, foyers and service areas.

Once you decide on the walls that are going to come down, remember that the entire wall should not be affected. It will be wise to leave about six inches of it from the floor upwards and about two feet from the roof downwards.

The wall should be immediately plastered and allowed to cure for a couple of days before proceeding with the work. Plain or stained glass of your choice can be fit between the bracketing walls of the ceiling and the flooring. Those of you who value their privacy, can unleash their creativity and paint on the glass.

One of the best ways to make glass an intrinsic part of your home decor is to bring in glass paintings, specifically, DIY glass paintings. First of all, decide on a design and then, simply print it out in the exact dimensions you need. Place the glass on the sheet. Procure a small sample tin of black acrylic oil paint and a set of pearl paints. You will also need some thinner to erase mistakes that you might make and two round-tipped brushes numbered triple zero and one.

You could fill in the colours in a series of sittings. When you draw the outline and paint, you are actually working on the reverse side. If you want to give special effects like shading and dimensions, remember that in glass painting, the colour applied first will be seen foremost. In other words, it makes perfect sense to use your shading techniques in the reverse format for best results.
Make them portable

There are times when we feel the need for a temporary wall, say near the wash basin or one corner of the study room or even in the drawing room. At such times, a portable glass wall can come in handy. Glass walls need not always extend from top to bottom. Nowadays, you can have frosted or stained glass cut and fit into a metallic or wooden frame. If you choose to use plain glass and then paint on it, your very own personalised wall will be ready. You can fit small wheels at the bottom and a little stopper to make it portable.

Matter of strength

For those of you who do not want to use glass sheets because they might obstruct air circulation, glass pillars happen to be the next best option. Long, slender, readymade columns are available in all circumferences, heights, designs and colours. There are some firms which also take orders and make customised pillars that can be installed around the home, according to your necessity. Lighting between the pillars, either from the top or bottom, can actually add an ethereal appeal.

The cost of glass pillars is certainly much more than glass walls. If you are apprehensive about the cost factor, it can be a better idea to have a pillar or two on either end or in the middle and have narrow panels of glass fitted in between. This measure will take care of your ventilation needs too.

Outside in

Balconies, porches or sit-outs that face busy streets can be a perpetual problem because they keep gathering dust. Such places can be best covered with a strong and suitable variety of glass. Ensure that the glass can be slid open and close, to let in air as and when necessary. You can also go in for translucent glass, wherein, you will get plenty of light and also avoid people peeping into your homes. There’s a ‘glass solution’ to almost every decor challenge at home!

Give The Elderly Their Space


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/509005/give-elderly-their-space.html

Give the elderly their space

Radha Prathi

easy & smooth Architects and interior designers have come up with some brilliant ideas to cater to the needs of senior citizens.

Long, long ago, in ancient India, when people grew older, they took up Vanaprastha. The elders would go away to live in the forest by themselves and spend their time in spiritual pursuits. When living in civilised societies became the order of the day, the members of an extended joint family shared the responsibility of caring for the elders in the family. With industrialisation, India urbanised in a big way and paved way to nuclear families.

Over a period of time, the young population has been finding it increasingly
challenging to take care of its senior family members at home. Nevertheless, the need to protect our elders and to be there for them when they need us has not changed.

Architects and interior designers have come up with some brilliant ideas to cater to the needs of senior citizens. Although some of us may have introduced one or two of the elderly-friendly features, it will be a jolly good idea to incorporate them all at least in one room of the house. After all, everyone of us has to go through the norm of getting old and feeble at some point in the future. Here is a list of features that can be introduced in your homes, elder care centres and geriatric wards in hospitals and nursing homes:

The first step forward would be to hire a creative carpenter, electrician, plumber and a good mason to make some necessary and useful alterations. A fairly large room with an attached bathroom can be allocated for the purpose. It will be ideal if windows and doors are situated either in the east or west, if not on both sides. This measure can ensure natural and healthy ventilation and lighting. Fix mosquito nets for all the windows and ventilators.

Having staircases, steps or threshold within the house should be avoided as far as possible, to facilitate free movement. It will be a good idea to make provision for a lift or a wheelchair-friendly ramp instead of stairs, to prevent this problem. A lovely carpet along the incline can prove to be a boon to everyone in the home. The toddlers, if any, around the home will also find it a lot easier to move around without the fear of tripping.

Moreover, moving furniture and other heavy objects around the house will become a cakewalk. If you think that it is a tall order, then at least make it a point to remove the steps or threshold of the assigned premises and make it easier for the resident. Fix door knob grippers for all doors, including that of cupboards and lockers. They are user-friendly and can be operated without strain. These grippers, if stained or soiled, can be washed clean and left gleaming.

If you are renovating existing premises, check the wiring and rewire the room if necessary. This step can help prevent accidents. Bring down the height of the switch box (which houses the switches and plug points) so that it can be operable even while sitting on a wheel chair or crouching over a walking stick.

Fix glow tapes on all switches to enable night vision. Make sure that emergency calling systems or bells are fixed on all the switchboards, which when used can be heard in all rooms of the house. One such bell can be fixed along the bedstead for increased convenience.

The latest trend happens to be the tablet-enabled services calling and video calling system, which can help the distressed call for help during times of emergency. A little protruding rectangular plank of wood along the bottom of the switchboard can make it a charging station for electronic gadgets.

Being practical
Make sure that you fix two-way switches for electrical appliances like the geyser, fan, air conditioner, computer, television, music system, among other such gadgets present in the room, so that you can shut down the device from outside the room if the person has fallen asleep while using them.

A modern method would be to fix motion sensor lights in the room and the adjoining bathroom. Introducing smart electronic remote system for all switches is another way of keeping tabs on your electricity usage — some of which may be a result of fatigue or forgetfulness. Though we have come a long way from using landline telephones and intercoms, it will not be a bad idea to install a telephone connection in all rooms to facilitate emergency calls.

Fix grab rails along the walls of the room, especially the one leading to the bathroom. Make sure that these rails do a round on the insides of the bathroom. The rails should render good grip besides being strong and reassuring. Wooden, fibre glass or plastic railings can prove to be a good choice. Try and avoid metal railings for the simple reason that they can be cold and unfriendly, especially when someone is in need of warmth and comfort. The towel rod, the soap stand, the little shelf, among other such paraphernalia, should be shifted to a lower level so that they can be reached out from the wheel chair.

Safety first
Make it a point to lay anti-skid tiles across the living and bath area. These days you get them in a plethora of materials, designs and colours. In fact, you can redo the flooring of the entire home with anti-skid tiles and save yourself a hefty hospital bill that you might incur because of your super smooth shining floors. Place anti-slip mats in wet areas to make it doubly safe.
Once the alterations in the room are done, pay attention to the bathroom. Change to anti-skid flooring, fix switch boards as suggested and fix wide doors that open on the outside to enable wheelchair movement.

If you visit a state-of-the-art shop that sells sanitaryware, it will not be difficult to find senior-friendly health faucets, shower chairs, smart toilets with seat raisers, seat warmers et al. Ensure that the grab rails go around three sides of the toilet which will give immense confidence to the user with slow reflexes.

Do not forget to fix effective electronic pest repellent in every room of your house. Once the spadework is done, give the room a fresh coat of paint. Using glow paints on the bathroom door and in corners can avoid accidents at night.

Finally, attend to the furnishing and decor of the room. It will be ideal to use much loved possessions, which bear the emotional imprints of sentiments and memories for the peace and happiness of the older residents. A collage of family pictures, a favourite music play list that can be easily accessed, a television and a magazine stand that appeals to their taste can make the elderly feel loved and honoured at home.

Sometimes small gestures like introducing an easy chair or a rocking chair — if you do not have one already — can make them feel at ease. All it takes is a little enterprise (and expense) to bring a smile on a loved one’s face. And every effort is certainly worth it.