I serve on the editorial Board for Kitchen and Bath Business Magazine, and often get questions for various design and trend information. Today I received a list of 5 questions about demand and designing for aging in place. The questions varied from how often our clients bring it up, how we handle this, and what recommendations we make. I am a “baby boomer” myself- on the end of the run born in 1964, so I just made it! I remember going to aging in place seminars as long as 20 years ago. The theory or prediction based on that large demographic population was that aging in place was going to be the next big thing for the remodeling industry.
A couple of things have disproved this theory. I will start with the unexpected improved health and vitality of my generation. It’s not just me planning adventure vacations and training for the next peak I am going to climb, it is a large group of folks over 65. The other market share issue that remains true is that the majority of renovating is still a result of growing families that love their neighborhood, but need more room and updates to their home. This is especially true in the North East because of the aging housing stock-not the people inside?. That said, we are seeing an uptick in renovating for empty nesters. They don’t want to “age in place” (that sounds like giving up)… they want to “live in place”, and be mindful of what they can do later in life if they decide to stay in the current home.
Wellesley Kitchen Remodel with Oven/Microwave Combo
Here are few things we do in kitchen and baths regardless of health or age that make living in place easier.
- Leave room around the island so that everyone can enjoy hanging out with each other, and anyone that needs a wheelchair or crutches can get a drink.
- We love wall ovens because it is always easier and safer to remove a 25lb bird that is already 18” closer to the counter top.
- We always suggest a non -skid tile in the bath and mudroom. Rushing out the door and being on time for a pickup or drop off is hard enough without slipping on top of that.
- Install a shaving stoop in the shower to allow leg shaving without falling.
Shaving Stoop in Shower
There are a few other incremental changes that make it easier to use your space a day after that ½ marathon.
- Make a spot to slide in a stool where you prep in the kitchen. This is where I catch the news while I am cooking dinner for the family; I’ll need this in the next renovation for sure.
- In the bath, instead of a freestanding tub for all the living in placers, install a deck mounted tub that is easy to sit on the edge and swing your legs around.
- Maybe that shaving stoop is a bench. A current design we are working on the client told me she would prefer to have a bench big enough to sit and swing her legs up to make shaving easier- ingenious (I will be stealing that one).
- Add blocking in the walls of your bath and shower now so that if you decide to add some grab bars later- no problem.
- Ask your designer for a list of Accessible kitchen and bath requirements and use that as a guide for where you want to end up.
Lastly, many of us may be far from needing to think about the need, but perhaps we can make our own place easier for mom and dad when they visit- or prepare for our future so our own kids do not have to. Don’t forget to put something fun and adventurous on your list too!