Interior design student’s top tips for a dementia friendly home

Interior design student Hannah Martin is on a placement year at Kettle Design while she completes her degree at the University of Huddersfield.

One of her specialisms is designing dementia friendly spaces after seeing a family member struggle with the disease.

Dementia is an umbrella term for a number of progressive conditions that affect the brain, which include Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. It can affect a person at any age and there are more than 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK. This is set to rise to over one million by 2021.

Here Hannah, who will join Kettle Design full time when she graduates this summer, talks about her tips for designing a dementia friendly home.

My final year project has focused all around creating dementia friendly spaces in the home. As part of my research, I’ve visited a number of dementia care homes, talked to nurses and also spent time with dementia patients and their families.

The disease can progress rapidly and make walking difficult for patients, who may even have to use a wheelchair. So something as familiar as a home setting can become a bewildering and frightening place.

It can also become a huge hazard for them if it has not been designed well. That’s why it’s so important to rethink the space to ensure that it is as comfortable as possible for them and also their families and carers.

I wanted to use my interior design skills to design a dementia friendly space to help other people in their homes to make their life easier.

There are big structural changes such as installing a lift, adding disability access ramps, putting rails around the house and making a disabled bathroom. But there are lots of little clever interior design solutions that can help too, from considering what colours are used in the home to affect their mood to avoiding dark surfaces on the floor which can look like a hole to someone with dementia.

People with dementia are the same people they were before they developed the condition with the same hearts. It’s just their minds aren’t completely there anymore. We need to do more to help them.

Hannah’s tips for a dementia friendly home:

Think about colour

Try and ensure that colours are pleasing to the eye as colours can have a big impact on the mood of someone with dementia. Reds are usually associated with danger, but for a dementia patient, red is stimulating and can be effectively used in an activity space to keep them motivated and mentally active. Blues, greens and violet tones are calming tones that are also aesthetically pleasing. They are good to use in a bedroom. Yellow tones are bright, warm and happy colours and suited to a kitchen or living room.

Embrace contrasts

Colours need to contract to ensure visibility within spaces. Contrasting walls and floors, tables and chairs, even sets of plates and bowls, ensures that everything is noticeable and recognisable as their eyesight and visibility decreases. Contrasting also helps people with dementia to become aware of their surroundings and know where to go. Contrast the colour of light switches with the wall, so they can be easily seen. You can also use contrasting colours for furniture but avoid stripes.

Be careful with flooring

Having one overall flooring surface is crucial in designing a dementia friendly interior. People with dementia are easily confused and distressed. Having one floor surface means they do not get muddled and think they are tripping or stepping on something they shouldn’t. A straight clean passageway through a space is important. Dark coloured floors should always be avoided as dark surfaces on a floor or kitchen top can resemble a hole. Avoid shiny floors as they can look wet, blue floors can look like water while green floors can be confused for grassy surfaces. Keeping a natural coloured surface such as wooden floor is perfect.

Warm lighting

Lighting determines a space and the time of day, and having bright warm lights can create a safe and warm environment. People with dementia often become confused about what time of day it is so keeping a space bright – using brighter lightbulbs and dimmer switches – throughout the day is crucial to keeping them active and awake. By contrast, dark spaces can make them think it’s night time and make them sleepy. Check that curtains and blinds are not blocking any natural light from a room.

Consider signage

Signs are important to make people aware of different areas within a space. Try labelling doors and walls to help guide the person through a space and remind them of where they are. Have bold, effective signs and make sure they are at eye-level height. You can also stick pictures on the front of cupboards to remind the person what is inside – for example, a picture of cutlery on the cutlery drawer, a picture of clothes on the door of a wardrobe.

Beware of mirrors

Mirrors can be upsetting to a person with dementia as they may not recognise the person in the reflection as being themselves. Clear materials, mirrors and reflective surfaces can also be mistaken as not being there so can be a hazard. It may be best to remove them completely.

  • If you would like to find out more about how Kettle Design can help you please get in touch on 0151 538 9983 or email

Freshen up your home with a sophisticated paint palette

Spring is a great time of the year to give your house a lick of paint.

We love Zoffany Paint because it is great quality and has an outstanding depth of colour. It’s also British made and pretty reasonably priced. Decorators like it too because it gives fantastic coverage.

There’s a sophisticated palette of 156 colours in three finishes to choose from and they work in both contemporary and traditional settings.

It can be hard deciding on a paint colour and making sure that you get it right first time. It’s not unusual for people to choose a paint looking at a chart and when they put it on their walls it can look so different.

Let us help you. We know what all Zoffany paint colours will look like when they are on a wall – and in all different lights, whether that is in sunlight, a shaded room or under LED light.

  • Try and select warmer paint colours such as warm beiges and harbour grey to counteract a harsh daylight rendered LED light.
  • We recommend you apply a sample pot of colour to the area and observe the changing light conditions throughout the day prior to making your final colour selection.
  • Pop into our showroom on The Mount in Heswall and browse our Zoffany paint range. We also have tester pots for you to try at home.

Did you know? Zoffany water-based paints contain low VOCs (volatile organic compounds that contribute to atmospheric pollution) while Zoffany oil-based paints have been specially formulated to reduce VOC content.




Playful ceramic people sculptures bring sense of fun

They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes – and a wide palette of colours – and they bring a sense of fun to a home.

The Visitor was created by former civil engineer Guido Deleu in 1996 as part of a contest to design a sculpture for the main entrance of a cultural centre in Flanders in Belgium.

He quickly came to embody a kind and friendly figure.

Today, Selma Calheiura, owner of the studio Cores da Terra has created a range of ceramics inspired by The Visitor.

All the pieces are handmade using only natural elements and colour pigments. Each one is a little bit different.

They range in height from 23cm to 37cm and 75cm and come in a choice of 30 colours from white, yellow and black to pink, purple, orange and blue. Prices start from £80.

Whether they are grouped together or placed artfully on a mantlepiece or table, The Visitor always captures people’s attention and makes them smile. We love them.

Pop in and see them in our shop in Heswall or ask to see our catalogue where we have the whole range of colours for you to choose from.

The Visitor in red

A Q&A with Suzanne Mercer of Kettle Design

Award-winning interior designer Suzanne Mercer opened Kettle Design in Heswall in 1996. Here she talks about what inspires her and some of her proudest professional moments.

What makes Kettle Design stand out?

I think what makes us special is that, uniquely, we are the only technical interior design company in Wirral and Merseyside. It means that we have the expertise in-house – with our fantastic architects, designers, artists and engineers – to look at the structure of a room and understand the architectural detailing.

Where did you train?

I went to Loughborough University and trained in Mechanical Engineering and Product Design.

Where does your love of design come from?

It definitely comes from both of my parents, who were passionate about it in different ways. My mother loved colour while my father was inspired by architecture. As a result, I spent most weekends as a child visiting National Trust properties.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Usually in the most obscure places. I can be out for a walk with my children when I spot things that spark my imagination.

I also love visiting museums because the architecture of the space, or even some of the objects that catch my eyes, can set me thinking about how I might be able to recreate them in an interior design way.

What are your proudest design moments to date?

One of the things I really love about my job is meeting people, getting to know them and finding out what inspires them. Helping them to create a space which completely works for them is hugely satisfying.

I recently worked with some lovely clients on a project in Lancashire. The house was at the design stage and it was wonderful to work with their architect to create a fabulous dream home for them.

They gave me complete freedom to re-design the interior layout, to design all the bespoke furniture and to supply all the finishes. And they were delighted with the results.

A particularly poignant project for me was working with a client whose mother needed a home designed for her late stage care.

We wanted to give her as much independence as possible. One of the design features we incorporated was some wonderful technology which allowed her to take a bath by herself.

From her wheelchair she could sit in a seat which raised her out of her chair and into a bath which she could fill to a pre-set temperature by pressing a button. As she moved up and over the side of the bath an air blower kept her warm, and the same blower dried her as she was lifted back to her wheelchair.

It was just one of the ways we were able to give her independence while maintaining a look to her living space that wasn’t clinical.

Tell us about your design services

I’m a member of the British Institute Interior Design.

My design services include: concept design and feasibility studies, full interior design service, furniture, fittings and equipment supply, turnkey operations.

I’ve also got a specialist knowledge of show house services, sustainable design expertise and design for disabled and elderly people.

Past projects have included listed building and conservation projects, hotels, houses and apartments, offices, restaurants and retail.

Suzanne Mercer of Kettle Design

Bespoke sofas

Design ideas

Kettle Design showroom

2018 Northern Design Awards

Kettle Design wins Best Interior Design Residential Project at Northern Design Awards.

Award in recognition of ‘outstanding interior design work’ on a home in Hoylake.

Kettle Design is delighted to have won an award for our outstanding interior design work on a residential property in Hoylake.

We were presented with the best Residential Interior Design Project less than £150k at the Northern Design Awards.

The prestigious awards bring together designers, retailers and property developers in a celebration of Northern style, innovation and design. The judging panel included designers Wayne Hemingway, George Bond, Linda Parker, Nick Munro and BIID President Gilly Craft.

The award was in recognition of our work to transform the lounge and dining room of a house in Hoylake into two distinct spaces.

The brief was to turn a rather cold sitting room into a comfortable and relaxing place and to redesign their dining room into a stylish place to eat and entertain guests.

The main requirement was to make each room distinctive but to also make them feel linked. We love challenges like this.

We began by creating a mood board of our proposed soft and warm fabrics and relaxing colour schemes – neutrals mixed with greens, golds and bronzes. We followed this with 3D renders to give them a complete insight into our plan and to help them visualise how the space would look and feel.

At Kettle Design, we pride ourselves on our technical expertise which means that when it comes to moving walls and cutting through ceilings to move radiators, we know what we are doing.

We made both spaces more intimate, added a fireplace to give focus to the sitting room, installed a flat screen television above it, wrapped a bespoke sofa around the faceted windows and added a bespoke rug.

In the alcoves we lined the wall with statement wallpaper made from real banana leaves while the dining room walls were covered with dark linen paper.

To give both rooms added wow factor we laid the most beautiful bleached oak herringbone floor that feels blissful underfoot and installed a stunning piece of bronze sculpture by Bruges artist Jacques Vanroose.

The project was completed on time and within budget and the client was so delighted with the finished result that they have asked us to declutter and transform other areas of their home.

We were delighted that the project caught the eye of the Northern Design Awards 2018.

Kettle Design is run by Suzanne Mercer and her team of architects, designers, artists and engineers. It is the only technical interior design company in Wirral and Merseyside.

The company, which celebrates its 23rd anniversary this year, provides a full interior design service for domestic and commercial clients as well as a number of high profile clients.



Kettle Design

The award winning Kettle Design team