Design, Disability and Decor

It’s a simple story. Three months after we were married, my husband got a preliminary diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. After some heated discussion with my new mother in law about me receiving damaged goods (apparently as he was over 40 he was non-returnable!) we carried on with life with a smile and three months and more tests later he was given the diagnosis of Primary Progressive MS, a form which is only 10-15% of those diagnosed and doesn’t ever get better, and there aren’t really any drugs to improve the condition.

The consultant told us he had a 90% chance of being in a wheelchair in 10years. This has not phased us, as we have carried on about our lives, travelling, working, hot air balloons over Oxfordshire, helicopters over the Rockies (more on that in another post), we’ve been on a Glacier in Canada with the wheelchair and seen the Northern Lights in Iceland. It won’t stop us!

Nearly seven years on and several falls, stitches, dislocations and lumps and bumps later, he walks permanently on crutches and uses a wheelchair outside the house. (I’ll write another post about his fab wheelchair separately – it’s been a life changer!). His disability is such that he can’t move his left leg without an electrical impulse machine attached to it under his trousers, sending a shock into the muscle to make his leg move. He also can’t lift his foot up off the floor without the machine.

So we moved from our Victorian Semi with steep stairs and lots of smaller steps into different rooms and after viewing 55 bungalows we found the one, a newly renovated 50’s semi on a corner plot in a quiet cul-de-sac and moved in nearly two years ago. (More on the ever ending house hunt in another post at some point soon!)

Adapting the house to suit his needs has been important for him, but I was absolutely determined my home wouldn’t look like a hospital or public loo. I wanted sexy design that would also help him in day to day living and be unobtrusive.

Believe it or not his disability impacts all thoughts I have around how we might want to design or buy things:

• The sofa needs high enough arms to help him up onto crutches

• Glass coffee or dining tables are a no-no due the number of falls he has.

• He needs to sit down to prepare food and cook, shave and clean his teeth.

• The dining table needs to be sturdy as he uses it to lean on (current one has permanently wobbly legs so it’s on the way out soon!)

• Dining chairs need to be the sort that don’t tip over. Last time he fell over and the chair went backwards it resulted in 30+ stitches.

• No deep shaggy rugs (no good for a wheelchair or if you can’t lift your foot up high enough to clear it)

• Low thresholds on the front door

• Doors wide enough in the house to accommodate the chair.

• A bed that’s not too high or to soft – otherwise he can’t pull his leg onto it to get into bed or he could fall off the side when getting out of bed.

And the list goes on…

I’ve spent a lot of time surfing looking for cool design and function. This blog is my ongoing story to find ways to decorate our home with chic, comfy stuff that also help the husband and his disability.

Not all stories are about disability, I have a growing love for interior design and it’s something I’d also like to share and talk about.

If you’d like to get in touch please comment on the blog, or shoot me a note via Twitter, details are all on the blog home page.

Thanks for reading!


15 thoughts on “Design, Disability and Decor

  1. Just found your blog via TrippingThroughTreacle and wanted to say I think this is awesome! Though I’m not wheelchair bound I have had to make many changes as to how where and how things are arranged. Sofa with arms high enough to help me get up, how things are stored in the pantry, and the latest a shower chair just to name a few. It’s not always easy finding the solutions and I think this will help many.
    I love your comment about laughter! That is the best medicine.
    Look forward to following your journey.


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