Transitioning In A New Life | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

“Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” ― said Bette Davis.
One day we all going to be there if we are lucky to live long enough. How we get there is our responsibility.
Let’s start with “Barrier Free Design”. The first day of this class in my interior design studies, the professor, an architect of barrier free design brought a wheelchair and prompted us in turn to sit in that chair. I can assure you the world standing up as an able body and the world sitting down, as a non-able body are two different realities. We couldn’t even maneuver the wheelchair through desks due to lack of space. Everyday we are exposed to dangers caused by our simple distractions or caused by the action of others. Just to name one, think of the danger of being on the road, how many people now text while driving.
Kitchens and bathrooms are also the most dangerous rooms in the house and a simple fall in one of these rooms can incapacitate us for a long time. Stairs are another danger of the house. My friend at 65 was incapacitated for several months with a fractured to the right humerus bone,  just because she slipped going downstairs trying to get to a ringing phone.

Barrier Free Design doesn’t mean we must fill the house with stainless steel grab bars everywhere, it simply means to adapt the house to necessities we don’t have when we are young and able, but we could have in the golden years, that is if we intend to live in the same house until we depart this world. All the people in my family never even thought of going to senior homes as a good viable solution. The stayed in the same home they raised family and that’s what I will do too when my time comes.

As a designer, I encourage my clients to think of Barrier Free Design in the moment they are remodeling the house and not when they are in need. The solutions are simple:

1. Wider doors to allow walking through with a wheelchair, walker or cane.
2. Wrist blade faucets and wrist blade door handles are easy on people with hand arthritis.

unison inox

unison inox

3. Lowered sinks for people on wheel chairs.
4. Kitchen shelves with lowering mechanism.

(ConvertaShelf – photo above found on:
(Above photo:

5. Walk-in bathtubs with an interior seat are easier to get in versus climbing in a tub and risk a fall.
6. Decorative grab bars.
7. Rough and skid free flooring material and no waxed floor, no area rugs, no pointed corners, no stairs.
8. Plenty LED lighting to illuminate dark corners, working surfaces and wet areas. LED lights are a major saving on the electric bills.
9. Wider traffic spaces between furniture.
10. Raised garden beds for those who enjoy cultivating food and attending flowers.

This is prevention and not even all the solutions. Transitioning into a new life means downsizing or moving to a senior care center and in both cases a heavy house editing will be needed.

Consignment centers are a real saver of the environment and allow a second life to the pieces they consign. These centers take in their care only sellable furniture or accessories in good and clean conditions.
The process is very simple. Take photos of all you want to eliminate, including garden furniture and garden accessories. Email them to the store. The person in charge will decide if to come out to the house and assess in person the value of each piece. A three-month contract is signed between the parties and furniture will be taken away at your expense. The store will retain 50% of the sales value; the owner will keep the other 50%.

Consider antique stores for furniture, accessories and light fixtures older than 50 years and in good conditions. Kids nowadays don’t want anything old from their parents. They are into the mode of  “use it today and throw it away tomorrow”. Only connoisseurs will appreciate your antique pieces.
The less desirable furniture and accessories will go to Goodwill or similar organizations for which you can claim a reasonable tax credit. Remember these organizations make good money out of your trash.

The other alternative is to organize an estate sale. It is not like a garage sale where everything is out on the front lawn, I would not lose my time with that. An estate sale takes place inside the home opened to the public only on days marked for this event. Every piece has a sales tag and remains in the room where they were originally set. All the accessories and small items with a sale tag are gathered in an area where someone of trust can take control making sure nothing walks away for free. Buyers are responsible to take away the large or small pieces they purchase.

Books in foreign languages will go to schools and organizations of that language. Books in English can be left at libraries, Goodwill, or second-hand stores.


Clothing and accessories follow the same route. Designer clothes sell really good at upscale second-hand stores. You will be surprised how many people shop at upscale “second time around stores”, even wealthy people. One of my wealthy friends says: “only idiots shop at retail stores”…perhaps that’s how she became wealthy…. Her wardrobe is filled with extravagant designer clothes purchased in one of those stores. On the other hand, she is size 2 and can find the most darling clothes at a very low price. She is a fashion statement every time she goes out.

Another way to get rid of your clothes is to fill up luggages and take them to stores that are geared to buy used clothes.  Receiving money for your used clothes is an incentive to free the wardrobe and go to a restaurant to celebrate you accomplishment.

eBay and Craigslist are also good places to sell. For those clients who don’t care to spend time online, don’t know how to do it, or don’t have the time, I will assist them in the process, but of course, I will charge a certain percentage on the sale to cover for my time and knowledge. I love to help downsizing and then create a new environment. I am here prompt and ready to help. Ciao,

Copyright © 2016 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Val:FarfalleStampAs a designer in business since 1990, I am interested in helping people designing their interior and exterior spaces with an overall feeling of peace, relaxation and harmony that will draw them home eagerly. I am always looking to add that special touch with original findings to the spaces I design. Featured on Vogue Italia magazine, Gentry and many prominent magazines in California. appeared on RAI, National Italian T.V., my story continues. Find copies of my three books on


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