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Designing with a senior in mind

Sunrise Senior Living asked interior designer Emily Henderson to redo the apartment of resident who uses a wheelchair resident at its Washington facility.

From that experience, Henderson created tips and advice for other seniors who are downsizing.

"The biggest issues are storage and organization," she said. "But the important thing is that your home should look like you at any age, and you should have your favorite things around."

Henderson was given free rein by the resident, Fran Ferguson. The verdict? "She was thrilled."

Henderson's tips include:

Dine with multipurpose in mind. Use a dining table with drop-leaf sides or shelves.

Stylize your storage. Ditch the mishmash of storage containers for matching pieces that have hidden compartments and that are low and accessible. A tabletop with file cabinet legs, perhaps, and desktop horizontal filing trays.

Create chair-rail chic. Bright colors above and below are important when vision isn't what it used to be. And they brighten your mood, too.

Couch comfort. The best sofas combine firm cushions, solid structure and are the correct height.

Be well-rounded. Oval or circular tables with nonglass tops keep rooms open and safe.

Light the way. Place soft lighting near the bed and tuck away cords to prevent tripping.

Provide colorful contrasts. Walls, trim and floors should be in neutral or warm colors and should stand out from each other.

Use meaningful accessories. Evocative mementos are part of a true home. But keep the knickknacks to a minimum in the bedroom. It should be an uncluttered place of calm.

Personalize wall art. You can display some of those memories in large frames or simple grids.

Give your bedroom a boost. Create a happy, inviting bed with pillows, throws and upholstery in different colors and textures.

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