Most of the time when we talk about remodeling trends we tend to focus on interior design or style trends we observe in the industry. There is, however, another housing trend that has been growing for a number of years—and it has very little to do with how your home looks. Increasing numbers of mature Americans prefer to remain in their own homes as they age—rather than moving to some kind of retirement community. Florida (including the Naples area) certainly has its share of retirees who’ve chosen to live here. And while there are lots of great reasons to stay in the Naples area, there are 7 “must-have” features for retirees who want to continue living safely and comfortably in their own homes.
1. Start at the Door
Most of us don’t actually enter our homes through the front door, so you may not need to replace your door. However, it’s a good idea to look at the doorway from your garage into your home. Consider installing a doorway with a very low (or no threshold) that can minimize the chance of tripping as you come into your home (particularly when you’re carrying items and have restricted vision).
2. Bathroom Basics
When you think about creating safe bathrooms for yourself your first thoughts may turn to grab bars. While that's obviously a good thing to include, there are other features that are equally (or more) important. You might want to look at installing a walk-in shower that has no lip that eliminates tripping potential. Then consider built-in benches and hand-held showerheads that allow showering while seated should you want it. And don't forget about adequate lighting—it can improve the safety of your shower. By the way, far from looking "institutional", these are changes that are in line with popular design today. If you’re considering a bathroom remodel, here are some additional bathroom essentials you’ll want to look at.
3. Kitchen Considerations
Some things don’t change with age. Your kitchen will probably remain the social center of your home. There are, however, some modifications you may want to make that will allow you to continue using your kitchen safely and conveniently. One option is to reconfigure your lower kitchen cabinets so that you have slide-out shelves instead of drawers. That change makes it much easier to access items at the back of your cabinets (and it makes it much easier to actually see items stored at the back of lower cabinets).
4. Doors and Hallways
There are times when “bigger is better” doesn’t apply, but when it comes to your doors and your hallways it’s pretty much true. You may never need wider halls and doorways for a wheelchair or a walker, but it’s a good move to make ahead of time. Once again, this won’t look out of place or “institutional.” It’s definitely a feature more new homes are incorporating regardless of the age of the homeowners.
5. Single-Level Living
Even if you have a multi-level home, you will want to think about some modifications that will allow you to live (at least for the most part) on one level. See if it’s possible to arrange things so that you have most of your daily living space on one level. That would include your Master Suite, kitchen, family room, and laundry room on one level. This is where a design-build remodeler can be invaluable. We’re used to looking at the possibilities—even if you don’t see an obvious way to accomplish the task.
6. Open Floor Plans
In addition to being a very popular design style, an open floor plan offers benefits for more mature homeowners. There are fewer doorways to negotiate. It’s easier to hear and see and hear people (spouses and guests) in a variety of rooms.
7. Let There Be Lights
Lighting is something that’s easily overlooked when considering aging in place, but it’s important. One thing you can do is to install automatic motion-sensor lighting in your Master Suite and in your hallways. Not only is this a safety enhancement, it is simply convenient and nice to have regardless of age. Instead of fumbling in the dark or being blinded by lights that are too bright, you’ll be able to negotiate your way through your hallways easily. Another thing to pursue is replacing existing lights with LED bulbs. Everybody knows that LED lights save money on your electric bill, but they offer another benefit: They last considerably longer than conventional bulbs. That means you will have to change them out less frequently. Avoiding ladders is a great way to reduce falling risk.
If you’re not sure where to start with creating a home that will continue to make your home a comfortable and safe place you can enjoy for years to come, we’d encourage you to talk to our professional design team. They’ll help you create a solution that meets your current and future needs—and looks great at the same time!