Standing the Test of Time
by Tibby Plasse
“We want homeowners to be able to stay in their homes for as long as possible, And subsequently, the more wellness that is incorporated into the design, the more the value of the property increases, garnering higher sale prices when an owner is ready to sell.”
–Jennifer Nelson, Showroom Manager, Nelson Tile & Stone
Making design choices that stand the test of time and that enable residents to age in place can save not only money but also time in planning how to be in your home for as long as you can enjoy it. Many do not realize that the knowledge and expertise in how to make such specific and seemingly small decisions are just around the corner at Nelson Tile & Stone.
“We want homeowners to be able to stay in their homes for as long as possible,” explains Jennifer Nelson, Showroom Manager at Nelson Tile & Stone. “And subsequently, the more wellness that is incorporated into the design, the more the value of the property increases, garnering higher sale prices when an owner is ready to sell.”
What does it mean to incorporate wellness into design?
For starters, it means examining all of the small day to day functions of the house and evaluating their function and safety for when you might get to the point when carrying bags of groceries is a slower process requiring more caution or when your stability and mobility has decreased. And those issues are not limited to the senior population; they can include families with small children, residents with special needs, or those with lasting impacts from an injury.
Take the bathroom for example. It’s regularly wet or at least damp. There are typically multiple cabinets and drawers for self-care products and towels, multiple faucets, and varying sizes and designs for bathtubs, showers, and toilet areas, as well as a range of lighting solutions. But all of these bathroom needs can and will eventually pose challenges.
“We can easily alleviate those challenges by taking a new direction with bathroom design that involves not just elements for aging in place, but things that most of us love about hotels and commercial spaces when we’re outside of our homes,” says Nelson.
She is referring to the palatial layouts of luxury hotel bathrooms, where there are typically no shower thresholds, removing the need to step over something. There is just a door to open, which creates a unified floorplan in the bathroom. Including a non-slip floor works well for anyone of any age to ensure safety as well as incorporating a bench or seat into the shower design. Nelson says another great way to improve the space for the young and the old is to use lever faucet handles in case someone’s grip isn’t strong enough.
“A few simple changes can make a big difference in both lifestyle and safety. Essentially, we’re looking at a home space, at all the appliances, floors, counters, and doors, and thinking, ‘OK what can we do to take down the physical effort required to make use of these spaces?’ And we also consider what can we do to make them safer, like using Thermostatic valves,” Nelson shares.
“Instead of leading with design, which we think we do a good job with, we specialize in function. We often hear of the mantra ‘function over design.’ We think this is important for being cost-effective, minimizing problems down the road, and making our lives easier every day.”
–Jennifer Nelson, Showroom Manager, Nelson Tile & Stone
Thermostatic valves are anti-scalding valves and they can be used in any of the cleaning and washing areas inside the home—mudrooms, kitchens, and of course, bathrooms. Nelson likes the Brizo’s high-performance option because it enables more unrestricted capacity, which creates higher volume and comes with the controls for volume as well as temperature.
Managing access to water is a big part of aging in place. You want to make sure that when you’re designing or redesigning a home, a bathroom is on the first floor to ensure access for anyone who cannot use the stairs unassisted. You can be thoughtful about where the shower controls are placed so no one is dodging cold water, as well as placing the controls in easily reachable places from outside the shower. Within the shower, utilize slide bars so family members of different heights can enjoy different water pressure. Even the hooks can be taken into consideration. If they’re closer to the showers instead of ill-placed towel bars that are typically on the opposite wall, it would negate the need to precariously reach for a towel at the risk of having to slip or overstretch. It’s easy to turn living simply into livable luxury with a few adjustments to design.
Nelson has a few more pointers to consider as well. “Good, well-planned lighting is ideal for all areas of the home but critical for bathroom space when you’re moving around in places that get wet. Having lever handles on doors instead of knobs is ideal for all ages because if you’re getting out of the shower, you’re likely not dry nor empty-handed. Using slip-resistant tile flooring is not just safer but it will last much longer.”
There’s a reason why the mosaic floors of every church in Italy are still around—tile literally stands the test of time; so does good lighting throughout the whole of the home. Utilizing mood lighting means having full control of the light in your house no matter the season or the time of day. Lighting has calming effects and improves circadian rhythms for sleeping.
“In our remodels,” explains Nelson, “we might install a bidet seat that lights up when you enter the room. Or we might include a soft light that doesn’t wake another sleeping person nearby or brighten the whole room.” Nelson says that they will often install two layers of lighting in a bathroom. “One that brightens during the day, but something softer for the evening. This helps prepare us for sleeping better when there is a better option than only a blue light overhead.”
Nelson Tile & Stone is a team of 16 people. They’re unique in that they were first a tile shop with in-house installers before becoming stone fabricators. Today, they are a full-service tile and countertop shop with a focus on full-service kitchen and bath remodels.
“Instead of leading with design, which we think we do a good job with,” says Nelson, “we specialize in function. We often hear of the mantra ‘function over design.’ We think this is important for being cost-effective, minimizing problems down the road, and making our lives easier every day.”
The 1,500-square-foot showroom has everything from a custom soft-close barn door, to working shower, to easy-clean toilet models, as well as full-size examples of many available upgrades like pop-up plugs that come out of the countertop. They even have the only working display in Oregon of the Pitt Cooking system, a gas cooktop that has burners that sit directly on the stone counter without extra metal or glass. Tile, plumbing fixtures for both kitchen and bath, cabinet hardware, and countertop examples for quartz, granite, and quartzite are all showcased. In the outside area, there are full slabs of granite and quartz.
Appointments can be scheduled for a staff member to conduct in-home walk-throughs for estimating purposes to make the most out of your time at the showroom. The showroom is open Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 4:30pm.