Suppose one is not wanting to move, but rather to update their existing home to a place where they can age in place. Community is key to happiness, so why not keep your neighbors and update your home to a place where one can stay for a long time? We asked our expert in forever homes, Chad DeWitt of Framestudio what his thoughts were.
“When talking to clients about a home where they can live in forever, it’s a cruel reality check to bring up the need for grab bars and elevated toilets. These types of important details are rarely the focus of their fantasies.”
Designing a Home that Adapts with Us, Beautifully
But these are necessary provisions for accommodating the stiff joints, poor balance and diminished eyesight that come with age. For architects who specialize in Forever Homes – a house that enables people to age in place – one of the biggest challenges we face is how to create a home that is adaptable and functional without sacrificing aesthetics.
Here are 5 easy and inconspicuous features to consider for your next remodel or new home:
- Add extra space to your floor plans: Think of it as breathing room. The extra space will make navigating a room with assistance easier. Doorways should be sized 30-inches wide, especially in the bathrooms where the extra space will allow walkers or a wheelchair to squeeze in. Not everyone has the space to do a full wheelchair-accessible bathroom, but a few extra square feet goes a long way.
- Seek fixtures with multiple functions: It’s one thing to have a good-looking, matte-black grab bar. Why not install a beautiful towel bar that also doubles as a grab bar because it can support your weight? A feature designed for accessibility can become almost invisible.
- Increase your lighting levels: Eyesight often starts to diminish as early as the 40’s. Design your house with extra layers of lighting. For example, we often use wall sconces and overhead lights in a hallway. Enable them to be adjusted separately with dimmers so you can adjust the lighting levels as needed. Bathrooms, hallways and kitchens are important areas to add extra lighting.
- Change your doorknobs to levers: Levers aren’t just good looking. They also are easier to operate without gripping, which can be difficult for some people as they get older. Use pulls on kitchen cabinets because they’re easier to grip than knobs.
- Splurge on a curb-less shower and linear drain for your bathroom: Not only do they look good, but they are also easier to get in and out of – with no curb to step over.
Chad DeWitt is the creative director the founder of Framestudio, a San Francisco Bay Area-based architecture, and design studio. He has more than fifteen years of creating unique spaces for a variety of residential and commercial clients. He has an exhaustive knowledge of building materials. His current interests are split between bringing good design to an aging population, as well as updating mid-century homes.