Livable for a Lifetime


According to an ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) survey of U.S. homeowners, most Americans (82%) want to remain in their homes as they age, even if they should require assistance and care. Is your home designed to provide a comfortable and functional environment for every stage of your life? We are sharing some ideas to help make sure it is.

If you are nearing retirement age, you are probably looking forward to all the activities you have not had time for in the past. Maybe you would like to plan more sleepovers for the grandkids. Or perhaps you and your friends would like to start a cooking club that meets in each other’s homes. If you are like most people belonging to the boomer generation (1946-1964), when you imagine your future, it generally includes being active, doing the things you enjoy, and staying in your own home. Boomers usually like to avoid thinking about aging and how it might affect their active lifestyle.

It’s a good thing, however, to start the process now of remodeling your home so it will meet your future needs with comfort and style. As your home is remodeled, modifications that accommodate all physical limitations can be seamlessly incorporated into the design without detracting from your home’s beauty. This is what is known as “barrier-free” design or “universal design.” Without certain modifications, even the most luxurious of homes could become a barrier to your freedom of movement, should you ever have an accident or require surgery.

Consider your bathroom. If you ever are confined to a wheelchair, will you be able to bathe yourself independently? Here’s a check-list of items you may want to include as you upgrade to a barrier-free bathroom:

  • Zero-threshold shower with a seat
  • Grab bars inside and outside the shower
  • Adjustable-height hand shower with thermostatic controls
  • Wide-decked bathtub
  • Comfort-height toilet
  • Electronic hands-free faucets
  • Knee space under the vanity or wall-mounted sink
  • Rocker light switches or motion-detector light switches
  • Lever handles on doors

An additional benefit is that these kinds of products are available from many manufacturers today in stylish designs and luxury finishes that enhance the look of your bathroom, rather than make it appear institutional. The Wave grab bar from Great Grabz (photo above) provides a sophisticated look, yet can hold over 250 lbs. of force. Also pictured (photo left) is Jason’s sleek zero-threshold shower base that includes an integral seat and a slip-resistant textured floor.

Take a look around the rest of your home and think about whether you will be able to move from one area to another safely, independently and comfortably in the years to come. If you prepare ahead of time by remodeling your home using universal design guidelines, you can look forward to enjoying a home that is livable for a lifetime!

Pleased to Be Here

“I’m very pleased to be here. Let’s face it; at my age I’m very pleased to be anywhere.” George Burns

Aging in place – doesn’t the idea of it make you queasy? I envision someone slowing to a grinding halt and keeling over as gravity overcomes inertia. I know what it’s meant to suggest – the ability to live in one’s home – wherever that might be – for as long as confidently and comfortably as possible, but couldn’t they have called it something more appealing?

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports modification for aging in place is the fastest growing segment of the residential remodeling industry. A “Fixing to Stay” survey of 2,000 persons aged 45 and over, conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) found that 70% of the respondents had made at least one modification to their home to facilitate their ability to remain in the home as they aged. The most common modifications were:

  • Installing additional lighting in hallways and stairwells
  • Placing living quarters (bedroom, bath, kitchen, laundry) on the main floor
  • Replacing knobs with levers on doors and faucets
  • Adding handrails and/or grab bars

You can find a helpful Aging in Place Checklist for Home Remodeling on the NAHB site.

Incorporating universal design principals to make a home safer, more comfortable, and increase the likelihood of remaining independent, does not have to result in an unattractive, clinical environment.

Walkway before, without the ramp

As with every remodeling project, our goal is to assure that the results are not only functional, but aesthetically-pleasing. Here are two examples of recent work that achieve this goal. A past customer asked us to make changes to their home to make it safer and more accessible for an aging parent who was about to move in with them. The parent uses a walker and would havedifficulty maneuvering up the steps to enter the home. Initially, the plan was to install a ramp near a side door so it wouldn’t negatively impact the home’s curb appeal. However that location proved to be logistically-inconvenient. The home’s circularfront driveway provides an ideal location for picking-up

Walkway after, with ramp installed

and dropping-off passengers. To assurethe ramp blended seamlessly into the existing landscape, we created it using the same pavers installed on the driveway and porch so it looks like it was part of the original design and not an afterthought. Now the only challenge will be keeping neighborhood skateboarders away! Another project, a master bathroom remodel, was completed for a couple who wanted to remain in their home as long as possible. Though neither of required a walker or a wheelchair, they wanted to assure maximum accessibility to the shower and toilet area, in case one of them was in a wheelchair in the future.

At the same time, they wanted to assure that the remodel increased the home’s resale value. We designed a curb-less travertine stone shower with a built-in seat. It also includes a flexible shower and grab bars for safety. A fixed glass-block wall separates the shower from the barrier-free comfort-height toilet. The choices for accessible fixtures have increased dramatically in the last few years. Many manufacturers such as Kohler now make innovative products that provide extra stability, ease-of-use, and comfort, without compromising beautiful design. Many updates, such as grab bars, ramps, and increased lighting do not require a long lead times, nor are they large budget items. Contact us for more ideas on how to make your home accessible and safe.

Curb-less shower w/ grab bar and seat

Barrier-free, comfort-height toilet

There are no comments yet, but you can be the first

Comments are closed.

© Hammerschmidt Construction, Inc. - 2024 All Rights Reserved