My sister and I were having a discussion the other day about a house she just sold. She was telling me how the stairs were a big factor in her deciding to move to a new property as she was looking ahead to getting older and being able to manage living in a house with so many steps between the sleeping quarters and the laundry facilities. It coincided with my recent studies on aging in place which is a vital consideration for older clients deciding on a residence.
While my sister is far from old; she is very aware of her wants and needs when it comes to buying a home and for her carrying a laundry basket up so many flights of stairs was a big consideration. Aging in place allows for future comfort in a home and while some homes are already well equipped (such as bungalows) other houses have the ability to be adapted going forward if you have the desire to live in your home for a long time to come.
The concept of being free and mobile in your home was presented to me many times while working in the floor covering business – having level floors with good traction and no height differences was a major consideration for my clients. I would share with clients other factors to consider as they were updating their homes which make aging in place easier and very useful going forward.
Turning radius and doorway widths can be a big undertaking but while you are in the throes of renovation it is definitely something to consider. If you have the opportunity to widen door frames at the time of renovation it will serve you well in the future should your mobility become compromised. While you are about the task of widening door frames and getting new doors, consider replacing your door knobs with levered handles – your future aching hands will thank you! On a side note, kitchen pulls are much easier to grab onto than tiny knobs (just keep that in your back pocket).
Consider higher toilets and easily accessible tubs for future use, also check the size around your tub and toilets. Some toilets are shoved into tiny spaces which may not accommodate your future walker or wheelchair. I’m not trying to predict doom and gloom here but it is certainly something to consider in those tight spaces in the home where barrier free design might be a future consideration. It is always better to create the space you want now before it becomes a necessity.
The future is bright but sometimes health and mobility issues may shadow out the sun. The ability to design your home environment to grow old with you is a proactive design consideration, enabling you to live in your space for as long as possible. As I watch my loved ones move and adapt spaces to suit their future needs I am more mindful of what the homes of some of my clients are able to offer them and which items I need to be more aware of when designing and showing homes. Interior design is such a pleasurable undertaking, and is even more rewarding when beauty and function can go hand in hand.
Kim Wyse is a freelancer designer in Red Deer. See her facebook page ‘Ask a Designer’.