Aging in Place: Renovation Meets Design

Conceptually, aging in place makes sense.  Practically, however, it can be a challenge.  We all strive for a safe and healthy home that embraces both form and function.  Houzz breaks out below the most requests for aging in place renovations.

Source: Houzz 2018

Fortunately, today’s interior designers are equipped to design spaces that meet the needs of aging in place and, at the same time, retain the design esthetic.   We tend to put off the hard decisions, like remodeling a bathroom to accommodate a zero-entry shower, until a medial crisis occurs.  Take a look around your space to ensure its compatibility to a possible change in lifestyle.  The more common requests of those who plan to age in place include generous and easy-to-operate lighting, hallways that are wider, larger bathrooms, lever handles for doors, and grab bars or handrails located by steps, curbs and stairs. Here’s the good news: remodeling for ease of use and access is for everyone.

The broad appeal of aging-in-place design gives us the latitude to replace items like outdated toilets with comfort-height toilets.  Another important aspect when updating a space is lighting. Brightening up dark spaces can alleviate eye strain, enable a brighter area to clearly see things like steps.  The easiest fix is to simply change light bulbs to a whiter and brighter glow.  LED bulbs are the most efficient.  Look for the number of lumens provided by the light bulb. The lumen (lm) is the real measurement of brightness and is the number you should look for when shopping for LEDs.  The next option is to add a table light or floor lamp to brighten areas. Finally, it may be best to add ceiling canned lights to really brighten dark areas.  Use dimmer switches where possible to change the mood of the space.  Bright light for working, removing glare, and walking to and from spaces.  Dim light for parties or movie night.

Zero-entry showers – or curbless showers – are very popular for several reasons.  First and foremost, these showers provide functionality for anyone, no matter the age.  Some households contain multi-generational families so having a shower that anyone in the family can use is very important. Zero-entry showers are much easier to clean without the curb…no more using a toothbrush to scrub the corners. The showers show off the full beauty of the space…even adding a grab bar in the shower that matches the faucet collection combines form and function for a stunning design.  Finally, every square inch is maximized.  The bathroom will seem larger!

Bottom line, aging in place does not mean design is sacrificed.  On the contrary, aging in place combines good design with accessibility for all.  It allows more freedom for a loved one, makes the home healthier and safer, and most importantly, gives peace-of-mind to everyone living in the home.

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