Trends in Remodeling: Aging in Place

September 26th, 2011

So you think you might be interested in remodeling……….What are the issues you might want to consider? We all want to get the most value for our dollar and one way to achieve that is to think long-term. Home values are based on demand and today’s homeowners should be aware that increasing the potential number of future interested buyers ought to be a factor in their design plan. At the same time, people are spending more time at home and wanting to live in their homes longer as they age. Designing for the future allows homeowners the comfort and independence not previously enjoyed by past generations, not to mention that is it better financially. Some of the current buzz words in interior design are Universal Design, Aging-in-Place and Environmentally Friendly all of which conger up limited, institutional and not-so-attractive interiors to the layperson. Not so anymore.

The latest technological advancements in product designs are stylish, available in a variety of finishes and no longer hard to find or overpriced. Simple design solutions such as widening doorways and hallways and specifying low-pile carpeting or non-slip matte finished hard surface flooring products can increase mobility. Designing bathrooms with curbless showers and /or zero-clearance drains, hand-held adjustable slider cradle showerheads, wall mounted decorative sinks, faucets with lever style handles, adding plywood reinforcement in walls for future option of installing grab bars, using decorative towel bars engineered to take the place of hospital looking grab bars are all changes that are easy to make and can be disguised as high end design features. The same thought process can be utilized in the kitchen by specifying pull-out storage drawers for easy access to items, stoves with knobs near the front, ovens with side-opening doors, and utilizing refrigerators that are more ergonomically friendly with the most used items in the refrigerator section on the top eliminating bending and lifting of heavy objects. Incorporating these ideas within an open, free- flowing designed floor plan can be not only user friendly but also beautiful and aesthetically pleasing to everyone that lives there.

Look for some amazing new products from Sweden to be hitting the market here in the States. With the push of a button, the interior shelves of ordinary looking overhead kitchen cabinets lower to counter height making them easily accessible and can be installed in existing cabinets. Same goes for microwave ovens, stove-tops and sinks with plumbing that adjust up and down allowing flexibility without sacrificing aesthetics by being limited to a permanent built-in lowered surface.

If you’re not ready to make construction changes to your home you can still utilize some of these concepts by just changing out your light switches to rocker-style, improving the dark spaces in your home by adding task and ambient lighting along with decorative fixtures, and thinking of contrasting colors when making selections for paint, surface finishes and fabrics since it is harder to distinguish objects in the same color tone as our eyes change as we age.

Our homes are our comfort zone, the place where we feel safe, the place that holds our memories and shelters those we love. Why not think about living there for as long as we can and preparing for that to be possible?