It's the little things that count for interiors

It's funny how, as an interior designer, I get annoyed at the smallest of details when I am out and about. I am currently writing this from a laptop in hospital and have noticed so many little design faults in the way it is laid out and the detail in the planning.

The first thing that I noticed in the room was finding a basin to wash my hands in. There are signs up everywhere about washing your hands and the spread of germs, but boy it was tricky to find a wash hand basin. Can you guess where I found it? Behind a column, half way into a patients "bedroom" space, the curtains were pulled around the bed, so I hadn't been able to see it. I am glad my daughter wasn't allocated that space as the whole room had to use the one basin!

Then to make it worse, they have the lever type faucets with a large wall mounted spout. Great for not having to touch the tap or faucet, but the height of the spout and the shape of the basin means that every time you turn the tap or faucet on the water shoots out, hits the basin, then "Murphy's law"states that it will hit you in the least desirable place - you guessed it your crotch!

Then the door handles, firstly the height of them. We are in a children's surgical ward and there are numerous children in wheel chairs with broken bones, the height of the round door knob to get into the bathroom is about about 1300mm high. A little bit frustrating for a child to get their way to the bathroom, then not be able to get in!

Secondly, the knobs are round, not a lever type. Most of the children have a lure in their hands to administer the IV drugs, they can barely move their hands let alone grip a door knob and turn it.

Getting lost is my next problem, there are no "landmarks" as such in a hospital and each time I come out of the room, I have to search around to find out which way to go to get out. Then you have to wind in and out of corridors that all look the same and if you happen to get in the lift and get out on the wrong floor then you are really in trouble!

Oh, and there are more than one ward 21 in the hospital, one in the main part of the hospital, and one in the children's area, difficult for visitors.

Because it is a children's ward, they have a large chair, upholstered in vinyl, that pulls out into a bed for a parent to stay the night with their child. This is great, as it beats sleeping upright in a chair, but there is no room to get into it! you have to leap from the end as it is hard up against the hospital bed.

There are loads more little things that are driving me crazy, but I hate being so negative when the hospital and the staff are so fantastic. The point I am really trying to get to is that with good planning and taking that little bit extra time to think about all the little things that make a good space great. Not aesthetically but functionally great.

How much longer does it take to measure where the water will come out and land in the basin? A couple of minutes. How difficult is it to think about who will be using the space? It is interior design 101 - taking the client brief.

As for finding your way around a hospital there are numerous ways to help out with direction, using flooring, signage, color coding floor levels, landmark directions, naming where you actually are also helps if you end up where you don't want to be.

I would just like to say that the older you get and the longer you work in the interior design field, the more you worry about all the little things that really do count to make a space work as it should. So start taking the time to go through all the little things in your project, think about the light switches, power outlet placements, door handle heights, where you put the paper towels to dry your hands, my daughter can't reach them here. As I said a few more minutes planning will mean you finish the job to a high quality standard and make all of us fussy designers happy!

More reading on some of these topics.
new home planning
bathroom fixtures
design process
client brief



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