A relatively new concept in the world of design and renovation is that of helping homeowners prepare to Age in Place. Not sure what that means? According to ageinplace.com, “Aging in Place is a term used to describe a person living in the residence of their choice, for as long as they are able, as they age.” Whether someone is close to retirement age or already beyond, there are certainly considerations to be made for growing older in your own home comfortably and safely, without sacrificing style or elegance. Identifying the areas of your home that could prove to be safety concerns in the future is the first step.
Area 1: The Master Bathroom
The Master Bathroom is one of the most important rooms in the home, and one that can potentially be full of safety risks for an individual looking to Age in Place. This does not mean that it needs to be transformed into a cold, barren space reminiscent of a hospital restroom. The Master Bathroom is the ideal place to bring beauty, tranquility, and relaxation together with function, safety and security as we age. Most specifically, the shower and bathtub can be issues, especially for those for whom mobility may be compromised. Universal Design elements such as a curbless shower with an embedded French drain and a built-in or removable shower bench can reduce risk of tripping, and offer a comfortable place to wash and rinse as needed, aided by a hand-held shower head. Grab bars in the shower are also a good idea, as are easy to use and control levered faucets for the sinks, shower and tub, and many manufacturers today have created sleek, clean styles to match any design. If considering a full master bath renovation, such elements as radiant in-floor heat, and taller toilets and countertops could also make a big difference down the road, and can easily be incorporated into a modern, luxurious master suite sanctuary, that serves the homeowner well for years to come.
Area 2: The Kitchen
Another critical area of the home to make Aging in Place upgrades is the kitchen, which typically has multiple functions beyond simply cooking meals and entertaining. Homeowners who are renovating their kitchen to meet their needs for the next 10-20 years, as they age, should include new features and technology for better form and function. Custom cabinetry can be built to any specification, but it is especially helpful to include custom pullout drawers inside of the cabinets, to help put less strain on the back and knees. These cabinets can be built to any height specification as well, making food prep and cooking more comfortable, and with many beautiful solid surface options for countertops for easier cleanup and lower maintenance than tile with grout lines. Choices in sinks makes a big difference too, with a shallower wider sink putting less strain on the back for doing dishes, and cool touchless kitchen faucets turning on and off with ease. The technological advances in smart appliances really serve this homeowner also, making life a bit easier and safer by letting you know when you’ve left an oven on, or the refrigerator open. Most appliances can now be controlled simply by the touch of a button, or even remotely, facilitating function and use. A beautiful, open, Universally Designed kitchen can fulfill so many needs and desires of the homeowner, in form and function, and incorporating some of these simple steps can ensure it remains user-friendly for years to come, and is appealing to the next potential homeowner if it is ever sold again.
Improving Function in The Whole Home
While the Master Suite and Kitchen are the primary areas Aging in Place homeowners want to see changes made, there are great opportunities to improve safety and function in the rest of the home, during a renovation. It might sound simple, but a very helpful change can be replacing doorknobs with door levers. As we age, arthritis and loss of strength are common ailments, and it can be especially frustrating when trying to open doors. This simple change to press-down levers can make a big difference! Another area of much larger concern is anywhere in the home with stairs, to reduce risk of tripping and falling. There are several options to improve their safety. The most radical would be to remove stairs when possible, and replace with a ramp, which can be beautifully incorporated into the home, made to fit any surrounding flooring, such as tile, pavers, decking, or simply concrete. Where stairs cannot be removed, other choices remain. The first option is to add a chic, simple railing, which can be custom-designed as well, made of almost anything from wrought iron to hardwood and more. Another more modern feature would be to add ground-level stair lights, which can also be customized to any design style, and can even be programmed to a sensor that turns them on whenever the stairs are approached. Finally, there is the option of bypassing the stairs completely, and installing an elevator. This fix can be more complicated and costly, but it allows for unlimited access to a multilevel home for years to come.
Are you considering the renovations you’d like to make to your home, to ensure it meets your needs with beauty and function as you Age in Place? We invite you to use the help of a Design/Build contractor who specializes in making this home your forever home. Planning to Age in Place in style on the Monterey Peninsula? Call Bakker Construction today, your local Design/Build specialist who offers you the expertise and understanding to transform your house into the home you can thrive for years to come, at 831-998-7113.