Arlene Bobb has been designing luxurious interiors for years. And as many of her longtime clients grow older, she’s added another skill set to her bag of designer tricks. Bobb is a certified aging-in-place professional, designing spaces that are safe, functional and beautiful.
To that end, Bobb integrates accessible elements into her interiors, much as she’s done in her own Art Deco-style condominium in Bryn Mawr. Drawers open and close electronically. Hallways are 48 inches wide and can comfortably accommodate a wheelchair. Anyone renovating a home can take a few forward-thinking tips from the aging-in-place concept—like installing curb-free showers. “I’ve had grab bars in my bathroom for 15 years,” Bobb says.
Because someone who’s 60 needs three times the illumination to see the same thing as a 20-year-old, lighting is an important part of an aging-in-place design. Bobb’s eighth-floor condo was under construction when she and her life partner bought it, so she was able to specify wiring for recessed ceiling lights and wall sconces. She typically opts for an artful blend of pendants, can lighting, lamps and natural light.
The goal is always to create interiors that are as pretty as they are pragmatic. “My mother painted and enjoyed shopping for antiques and creating a beautiful home,” says Bobb. “Having been surrounded by the artistic details that she added to our family inspired me in interior design.”
In Bobb’s living room, contemporary paintings in bright colors are arranged above a curved, custom-made mohair sofa. A Lucite table and crystal chandelier reflect the sheen of striped silk pillows.
In the bathroom, a stained-glass wall installed over the tub adds glamour. And Bobb removed the den’s carpet because it posed a tripping hazard. “The most important thing in aging-in-place design is to prevent falls,” she says. “We don’t want to ever have a mat in a bathroom.”
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