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Aging in Place: Changing Your Home With Your Maturing Lifestyle


Every design project, simple or complex, is about creating a space to suit the needs and aesthetic of its intended occupants. As needs change, the space must also change.

Some changes are small — new furniture for a growing child, refinished floors, and a fresh coat of paint, or a style update for a tired look. But at a certain point, life and age require more major changes that could be the difference between staying in your home and moving to a user-friendlier environment.

If you have cared for an aging parent, or had the misfortune to break a leg or require joint replacement, you are already familiar with the obstacles in your home. Although the layout of every home is different, most share the same major obstacle — stairs. Typically, the master bedroom, closet and bath are on the second floor, while a lower level might hold a washing machine, recreational items, or storage. For clients who love their home, their garden, their neighborhood, or their farm and want to remain indefinitely, gathering all of the necessary spaces on one main floor may allow aging in place, rather than leaving what they love behind.

In Plan A, the home office on the first floor was the perfect starting point for main floor living renovation. Approaching retirement, this client was prepared to offer the home office as square footage for a new master suite. More square footage was added in the form of an addition to provide a sitting room, craft room, laundry, and garage. The office function in the house shrunk to fit its diminished requirement by placing a desk in the new sitting room. The craft room can also multipurpose for exercise or yoga.

Plan B has the same needs, but a different scenario. Ample square footage from a previous addition provided existing space to open up a compartmentalized living area, and an addition for the master suite will provide new space for a private main floor retreat.

Wherever possible, a transition space or hallway is an ideal way to move from public to private space on the main floor. If space does not permit a hallway, other features may be used to make the door more aesthetically pleasing, such as a stained-glass panel that incorporates the color scheme or a design element from the adjoining space.

Another layer of aging-in-place renovations may involve the addition of features that increase comfort for homeowners with decreased ability. This barrier-free phase may add features that address a specific requirement (i.e., blindness) or incorporate a host of modifications to make the space universally accessible.

It is important when considering an aging-in-place renovation to your home that both your immediate and long-term goals for the project are considered in plan. As always, working with a professional interior designer, architect, and certified home-building specialist will ensure that the renovations are correctly executed, aesthetically pleasing, and add value to the home.