First up in the new series of Conversations with Interiors lovers is Rachael from Eclectic Eccentric Home. Rachael lives in Braithwell, South Yorkshire and has a variety of different disabilities in the house with lots of conflicting needs. She’s a lover of vintage and antique furniture as you will see from her colourful Instagram feed!
WCH: What sort of home do you have?
Rachael: We live in a 3 bedroom 60s semi which has caused many issues in being practical and aesthetically pleasing.
WCH: Can you share a little more about the disabled person in your home?
Rachael: In the house we have a variety of health needs. I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome which is a complex collegen disorder that affects multiple body systems.
It affects my muscular skeletal system, my heart and gastric system amongst others. Aside from this I have several comorbid conditions which can and do exacerbate each other.
My children also have many traits of EDS and both have Autism so we have a very eventful life!
WCH: How do these disabilities impact your home?
Rachael: We’re currently having adaptations to our house to help with my mobility. We’re currently prepping the stairs and hall for a stair lift and needing to replace the carpets and flooring to accomodate it.
Ideally we’re going for a non-slip tile in the hall for the boys which will also be tactile enough with my propierception issues (the neurological ability of the body to sense movement and position) and smooth enough to use a wheelchair on the days I’m struggling with walking.
Currently I have strategically placed furniture to use as an aid but sometimes that’s not enough.
Recently we’ve invested in Maxi Comfort Seating from Wayfair which help so much in sitting and being able to stand. As part of my EDS I have Marfanoid Habitus (I’m tall and elongated) which makes finding the right height sofa and seats a difficult task. Seeing as I need to rest alot they are probably my best purchase for my needs at the moment !
Another life altering adaptation has been the bath seat. Not only has it helped me bathe it’s also helped me bathe my children by sitting on a shower stool I’ve been able to have that contact and help them. Something I’ve not been able to do in years!
Moving on to the boys needs I’ve also redesigned my eldest’s box room into a more sensory aware environment but with a growing up edge. I’m really pleased with how it’s worked out. It’s also given us more space to accommodate a spinning chair that’s being made for him by a wonderful neurological research charity that supports children with neurological differences called Cerebra , which will make his room even more of a fun place to be in.
To appeal to his sensory needs we’ve used an IKEA bedtent, lava lamps, a lush thick pile rug in bold colours and filled it with his favourite obsessions (myths and legends). I’ve tried also to go gender neutral with the colour scheme keeping the back ground green and white which is a combination that goes throughout the house. It just seems to be our calm combination colour pallet that works.
WCH: How do you incorporate or disguise the adaptations and equipment into your home and lovely Instagram feed?!
Rachael: I shy away from showing adaptations in my Instagram feed because I’m currently getting my head around them being my norm. I think most of my personal adaptations like the sofa, lots of surfaces to hold onto seem to look like a standard decor but trust me everything is carefully thought about!
WCH: Do you have any great tips for furniture buying, room design or planning that helps with the disability?
Rachael: I think the most important thing to really consider is functionality over design. I know we like pretty things but comfort is key. With careful consideration it’s possible to get a balance.
WCH: What’s been the trickiest thing to deal with in the home to make it accessible?
Rachael: In an ideal world we’d have a custom made bungalow with fantastic special needs provision but in our world it really is making the most of what you have. The house isn’t the greatest for our collective needs but going forward we do have potential to build out and reconfigure the layout if I become completely wheelchair dependent.
I’m lucky that I have support as the kitchen is virtually out of bounds due to both access and the way things are. In the next couple of years I’d like to make it my mission to restructure it so i can become more independent in there.
WCH: What’s been your best find for the home?
Rachael: Probably a vintage Parker knoll thats in my sons room. It’s a perfect size and support for my back. We’ve had it reupholstered to bring it back to life. Aside from this all my furniture in my living room aside from my sofa and chairs is vintage or antique. It’s built so much better in my opinion so works great for extra surfaces to hold on to!
WCH: What would you say to an architect or interior designer to help them in designing an accessible space?
Rachael: I like the idea of open plan single floor living with created zones and pockets of comfort. It needs to be both practical and stylish. Thinking of my own needs it also needs to be robust to withstand autistic meltdowns!!
A huge THANK YOU to Rachael and her family for sharing their stories, she’s definitely got a lot to think about from an accessibility and sensory perspective, and I love the colourful nature of her home!
If you want to follow Rachael her Instagram is @eclecticeccentrichome
All photos in this post are posted courtesy of Rachael.