CHALLENGE: My problem is, it seems that I am constantly updating my terminology on subjects related to the interior design industry. I and my colleague would like to be knowledgeable in every aspect of our chosen field. We recently were working with a client who started asking us numerous questions about carpet pile. We were stumped and could not answer her. We told her we would give her a call back with the answer, as we did not want to wiggle our way through it and provide her with incorrect information.
The questions were about the safe pile height of a carpet
or rug. The home we are working on is for an elderly couple. We are redesigning their living area.
SOLUTION: As interior designers, decorators, storeowners and salespeople, our responsibility is to create a safe environment for all individuals we work with. It also is our duty to become more knowledgeable as we progress further into our careers.
Since the early 1990s, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) has offered many solutions to creating a safer environment within the living spaces of our homes and public places as well. In particular, ADA addresses ways to make and keep environments safe for individuals with disabilities, but also for our aging population. The ADA law has given interior designers the opportunity to reflect on those qualities that make living environments safer. Most states have already required new construction to be ADA-compliant when it comes to accessibility for residential and non-residential spaces.
Textiles in today’s environment are especially important contributors toward a safer environment. As for the safety of textiles in the home, such as carpets and rugs, and for additional rules regulating doorways, floors, wall materials, etc., the following Web site will prove valuable to you and your business: www.adaportal.org. This site offers a collection of laws related to The Americans With Disabilities Act. The site is produced by the U.S. Department of Education; (800) 949-4232.
On your particular topic, two of the questions in the ADA check-off list for buildings are:
1. “If provided, are carpeting or mats a maximum of one-half inch high?”
2. “Is carpeting low-pile, tightly woven, and securely attached along the edges?”
Loose rugs tend to be items that cause many accidents that result in injuries and broken bones, etc. Also, as individuals age, eyesight changes. Pathways should be clear of any object that will be in the way of a direct walking path. The questions on the ADA checklist I have mentioned will prove very useful for redesigning an environment that is safe and free of problems for clients who are members of the aging population. A direct link to this checklist is: www.usdoj.gov/ crt/ada/recheck.pdf.
Additional concerns in the living environment such as doorway clearances, door handles, adequate space needed for a wheelchair to completely turn around, accessibility in and out of rooms—just to name a few—are concerns we need to be aware of. Please check out these Web sites for an enormous amount of information required for today’s interior designer.
Editor’s note: This is a continuing series of articles written by Sharon L. Anderson that will answer some of the many questions we receive at Draperies & Window Coverings as well as questions Anderson has encountered in her own business. If you have a question you would like Anderson to address, please send it to:
c/o Draperies & Window Coverings
1724 E. Grand Ave.
Lindenhurst, IL 60046
Fax: (847) 356-9013
Sharon L. Anderson has more than 20 years experience in the residential
and commercial areas of interior design. She is currently a faculty
member at two Southern California colleges. Anderson has been featured
in numerous books and publications.