Aging-in-Place, or Universal Design, means being able to live in one’s home independently regardless of age or ability. We all know someone who has trouble getting around. And with our aging population, we want the guarantee of being able to stay in our own home as long as we choose to. If you are going to design+build a new home, live the way you want because you have planned for it. Enjoy the posts below to see how to make this possible.
Here was the challenge: how to turn a family home into one that would keep its owner happy – and in place – for the rest of her life. It was the challenge that interior designer Betsy Edwards met with the help of Living Stone Construction. And it was posed by Annette Pace, who loved her farmhouse‐like home in north Asheville’s historic Beaverdam community but hadn’t lived in it for years.
Annette, who raised her sons in the house, didn’t want to give it up. But being a planner, she was planning ahead and wanted to see if Betsy could turn the house into a pretty home that would shelter and nurture Annette as she grew older.
“She had a real sense of commitment to the property,” Betsy says. “There was a sense of family and tradition there that was hard to give up.”
Betsy, whose business (Betsy Edwards Design) has reconfigured houses, hotels and restaurants all over the world, felt the home’s magic the moment she first saw it. “You could just feel the energy and beauty of it,” she says.
Annette, living elsewhere at the time, had expressed that she wanted to live in the house for the rest of her life. So as Betsy walked through its rooms, she envisioned how they could be changed to accommodate her client’s later years.
Some updating needed to be done, certainly, but cosmetic changes alone wouldn’t achieve the longevity that many homeowners want these days. Aging in place ‐ a term used to describe construction details that allow a resident to enjoy an independent life for years ‐ often means wider doorways and no‐threshold showers. In Annette’s case, it meant a master bedroom suite on the main floor – a space she suggested might be made out of the large room that held the family pool table.
Whether you’re raising a young family or beginning to enjoy an empty nest, the design of your home should meet your changing needs. Families looking to customize their homes to suit their lifestyles both now and in the future can easily implement universal design techniques.
Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design at a later point in time. Universal design enhances traditional design by incorporating elements that offer comfort, convenience and ease of use.
Multigenerational families and first-time homeowners alike will appreciate the often simple and inexpensive changes that make homes livable for all household members, regardless of age or ability. Homes with universal design are more user-friendly, require lower maintenance and complement an easy-living lifestyle.
Here are five ways to implement universal design in your home:
This bathroom takes into consideration aging in place with the lighting design. We used built-in mirror lighting to be able to see the reflection better and cabinet toe kick lighting which is especially helpful when using the bathroom at night.
Inviting, accommodating and a feast for the eyes—wet rooms are showing up in more and more homes and wowing visitors at new-home showcases.
Wet rooms—essentially open-concept or barrier-free bathrooms—are tiled continuously from floor to ceiling and across the floor surface, giving a sleek, unified appearance.
The shower is open to the room or enclosed in clear glass, and has no raised threshold to step over. Sinks, countertops and vanities mounted to the walls hover above the unbroken plane of the floor.
It’s not unusual for Bonnie and Gary Holstein to strike up a conversation with another couple. And it’s not unusual for them to become friends with new acquaintances, something that the Holsteins love about Asheville and Southcliff, the community south of town where they live their Living Stone Construction-built home.
“Just the other day, we struck up a conversation with another couple at the Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar, and they invited us to a concert at their home,” Bonnie said. She spoke as she and Gary were driving home from the Biltmore Estate, where they had exchanged numbers with another couple while taking photos of tulips.
Few people know more about trends than model home merchandisers.
The point of that job – my job – is to create memorable interiors that reflect a target market’s lifestyle desires and expectations. We must understand what drives them to make decisions about the features and amenities that are most important to them.
We know that today’s 50+ buyer has a clear preference for open floor plans, and that leads them to focus on kitchen design more than ever. Even smaller homes with fewer rooms are being designed with large kitchens. Because 50+ buyers tend to be very social, they entertain frequently at home and consider the kitchen as entertainment space.
Members of the baby boom generation are now moving into their 60s and approaching retirement – a process that brings with it a host of confusing choices and decisions. For many, the first question is often, “Where will I live when I retire?”
Most healthy retirees begin by taking some time to study their options and make a plan. Here are some of the many options.
Stay where you are. People who love their home, their neighborhood and their friends may decide to stay – at least, until there’s a good reason to move. But it’s important to be realistic. A big family home can become a burden to its residents as they age. But many empty nesters have hired expert remodelers to adapt their home to make it easy to use and maintain. Stairs often become a problem, but moving the master bedroom and the laundry room to the ground floor can be part of a solution that gives such retirees many more years in the home they love.
Living Stone Construction’s President, Sean Sullivan, and the Principal of ID.ology Interior Design, Laura Sullivan, recently traveled to Charlotte and completed the four-day CAPS course seminar and received accreditation in doing so. By completing this course, Sean and Laura are now considered Certified Aging-In-Place Specialists (CAPS), meaning they are well versed and obtain the necessary skills essential to competing in the fastest growing segment of the residential remodeling industry: home modifications for the aging-in-place.
Aging in Place, or Universal Design, means living in one’s home independently regardless of age or ability. During the design phase of construction, Living Stone carefully integrates universal design elements to suit the needs of the client.
89% of people 50+ wish to remain in their own homes indefinitely (AARP)
68% of remodelers already perform aging-in-place remodeling (NAHB).
Over half of all 55+ households rate their current home a 9 or 10 out of 10 (American
The aging population is the number two issue to affect the remodeling industry over the
next five years, only behind the availability of skilled labor (NAHB).
Remodelers report that the most requested aging-in-place features include: grab bars, higher
toilets, curbless showers, wider doorways, ramps or lower-thresholds, and task lighting.
What should my home contain if I want to age in place?
- A master bedroom and bath on the first floor.
NAHB’s Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) designation is one of the most popular professional designations among our remodeler members, and with good reason. CAPS remodeling targets the specific needs of a home owner, including modifications that are required for that owner to be able to fully access and use every part of the home even as specific physical limitations arise, often due to age. Looking at today’s demographics, it stands to reason that there is plenty of demand for such modifications and for the professional remodelers who know how to put them in place. Both Sean Sullivan and Laura Sullivan with ID.ology Interior Design are Certified Agin in Place Specialists.