It used to be that adding features that adapt to lifestyle changes in your home meant you had to make do with design that looked less like a stylish, comfortable retreat, and more like a hospital room.
The good news is that contemporary universal design features have become much more aesthetically pleasing and adaptable to many different styles. In fact, a well-designed accessible space can be quite spa-like and luxurious due to creative design ideas and high-end finishes. Plus, the cost of universal design isn’t prohibitive anymore, often only adding a few hundred dollars to your original budget for features that last a lifetime.
According to AARP, older home owners overwhelmingly prefer to age in place, which means living in your home safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age or ability level. In fact, this is so prevalent that the NAHB Remodelers of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in collaboration with Home Innovation Research Labs, NAHB 50+ Housing Council, and AARP, developed the Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) program to address the growing number of consumers that seek these modifications. While most CAPS professionals are remodelers, an increasing number are general contractors, designers, architects, and health care consultants.
No matter what stage of life you are in, here are a few common-sense features perfect for creating living spaces that allow you to enjoy your home at any time of life:
- Wall-mounted sinks: With no vanity cabinet or supporting legs underneath, wall-mounted sinks are a creative design choice with the added bonus of making cleaning floors a snap. They are also perfect for accommodating wheelchair footrests and walkers.
- Slip-resistant tile: Slip-and-falls are a danger for any age, so slip-resistant tile is always a good idea. Ask your contractor for tile with a COF rating of .60 or above, which meets safety requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Plus it’s about the same cost as normal tiles.
- Wider doors: Anytime a room is remodeled, widening the doors to 36 inches wide is considered universal access friendly.
- Curbless showers: Head to your nearest spa and you’ll probably see curbless showers as part of their facilities. From a design standpoint, the minimalist lines fit seamlessly into a contemporary spa-style bathroom. Curbless showers have no lip at the floor and can be easily accessed by wheelchairs.
- Lever-style door handles and faucets: Lever-type handles are easier to use than twist-type knobs or handles, and they’re especially convenient for kids or anyone with limited dexterity.
- Touch faucets: While you’re looking at faucets, check out touch-sensitive faucets that turn off and on with a simple touch. These are great and extremely convenient for any age.
- Tall toilets with no-slam seats and lids. Toilet seats with soft-close mechanisms are a dream for anyone who has ever been woken up late at night by the sharp bang of a falling lid. They are usually only slightly higher in cost than regular lids, and can be easily installed on your own.
The next time you schedule a remodel or upgrade in your home, stop and take a minute to think about adding a few features like these. With only a few changes you can have a stylish home sure to gracefully accommodate every life stage.
Got questions or ideas about living in Arlington, Virginia? I’m here to help. I’ve lived and worked in the area for more than 30 years and can help you find the right accommodations for your specific needs. Please feel free to call or email me at 703-593-6320 or firstname.lastname@example.org.