The Complete Aging in Place Remodeling Guide
Whether you’re planning your own home for aging in place comfortably or you’re expecting an older family member to move in, there are several features to keep in mind to make life easier and create an environment for independence. We’ve created a guide with everything you need to know about aging in place.
Aging in Place and in Style
Many homeowners worry that their aging-in-place home will prioritize safety over style. Luckily, today’s accessibility and safety features can be both stylish and functional, giving your home a design you love and the comfort you need. By working with a design expert that’s experienced with creating a home that’s designed perfect for aging gracefully, you’ll also get a design that suits your personal style. Keep this guide as a handy resource while you’re working with a design-build team for your home remodel in Lehigh Valley.
General Home Updates for Aging in Place
- Non-slip surfaces, like a runner indoors and grip strips for the exterior steps
- Stylish contrasting for every step, like alternating paint colors or wood stains
Doorways, Halls, & Flooring
- Doorways should be at least 36 inches wide
- Hallways should be wide enough to turn around in a wheelchair and be well-lit
- Lever door hardware makes operating doors easier than knobs
- Zero thresholds create a smooth surface when going from one room to the next
- If there is a change in floor levels, use a contrasting color system so it’s easier to see
Embrace Smart Technology
Smart technology may seem overwhelming to manage, but with voice controls and programmable settings, they can make life so much easier and reduce those tedious everyday tasks.
- Automatic sensor lights to turn on when you enter a room and turn off after you exit
- Voice command smart appliances, shades, and lights
- Lock and unlock doors, turn on and off lights, and monitor video doorbells from tablet or smartphone
Lighting & Electricity
If you’ve made the decision to stay in your home as you age, your lighting, electrical system, and security should be tailored to your changing needs. Other considerations for light and electricity include:
- Install more windows to take advantage of natural light during the say
- More frequent outlets and light features
- Lowered light switches with rocker or touch switches
- Sensor lighting that activates as soon as you enter a room
- Pre-programmed thermostats
- Use long-lasting LED so light bulbs
- Track lighting along the floor is great for getting around at night
When designing your Lehigh Valley home for aging in place, you may be focused on the physical environment, but don’t forget to also update your security systems.
- Audible and visual light system to indicate when the doorbell, phone, smoke alarm, or CO2 detectors have been activated
- Security and intercom system with monitoring
- Flashing porch light or 911 switch
- Security alarms that automatically notify the police, fire department, and EMS services
- Choose easy-to-clean finishes, like ceramic tiles and paint with a gloss finish
- Use long-lasting LED light bulbs throughout the home
- Built-in pet feeding system reduce lifting and bending
- No-step covered entries
- Exterior sensor lights at every entry
- Built-in surface outside for packages
- LED lit locks
The bathroom is one of the most accident-prone rooms in the home for anyone, but especially for those with mobility challenges, whether you’re living independently or with your family. Update your bathroom with features that will make this space safer but will still suit your style.
A curbless shower is safe but also very sleek and stylish. In fact, it’s even a top trending bathroom feature. Your shower should also have:
- Anti-scald controls
- Handheld showerhead with a 6-foot hose
- Tub and shower controls offset from center for easier access
- Built-in bench
- Clearance below that a wheelchair can roll right up for easy use
- Consider a double sink: one with a vanity for storage and another lower sink
- Touchless faucets with temperature controls are another necessity
- A faucet installed in the side of the sink rather than behind for easier access
Slip-resistant floor tiles with a matte or textured finish make everyone’s time in the bathroom safer. Cement tiles can be made in any shape, size, color, and pattern, and are more easily designed for slip-resistance. Choose stamped tile or penny tile for a stylish design that’s also functional.
Today’s grab bars are attractive and even incognito! Towel bars, soap dishes, and toilet paper holders are all available in models that can hold a person’s weight while staying securely in the wall with the right backing. You’ll also find grab bars in any finish that will match your bathroom’s style.
The kitchen is another accident-prone room. And, when the kitchen isn’t accessible, it’s less likely to be used, which can affect a person’s ability to get the proper nutrition on a regular basis. Here are some key factors to consider when you’re making updates:
- Lever handles, pedal-controls, and anti-scald controls
- Shallow sink (6″ deep)
- Faucet and water filtration fixture mounted on the side to limit reaching
- Space beneath the sink (you can install doors on the front for style purposes)
Counters & Cabinets
- Matte-finish countertops to reduce glare (leathered granite and chopping blocks are trending options that are stylish and functional)
- Multi-level work areas to accommodate prepping food at different heights
- Countertops with rounded corners for ease of getting around and reducing injury
- Upper cabinets installed three inches lower or do away with upper cabinets altogether
- Lower cabinets with pull-out shelves and drawers
- Loop handles
- Countertop microwave or built into the lower cabinets
- Easy-to-read controls
- Front-loading washing machine and dryer raised 12-15 inches above floor
- Side-by-side refrigerator and freezer
- Side-swing or wall oven
- Electric range cooktop with a light to indicate when the surface is hot
- Stove with automatic shut-off
- Under-cabinet task lighting on the upper cabinets and at floor level
- Lowered light switches with rocker or touch switches
- Smooth, non-glare, slip-resistant surfaces
- Wood look luxury vinyl tile and stamped ceramic and cement tiles are stylish and functional options
In-Law Suite or Additional Primary Suite
If you’re reading this guide as someone who’s planning a remodel to welcome a loved one, you could give them more independence and privacy with an in-law suite or a separate primary suite with all the accessibility features they need. Your in-law suite–attached or detached–could have a separate exterior door, a private patio, and well-marked and lit pathway to the main home. The smaller footprint of an in-law suite puts every need in reach while giving you peace of mind.
A ground-level primary suite will also allow for adding privacy. The additional primary suite can also include a wet bar with some of the kitchen features made just for the right level of accessibility and can include a private patio or morning coffee and a private place to enjoy time outside.
Aging in a Two-Story Home
To be able to access your second story more easily and safely, opt for an elevator. An in-home elevator can more easily blend in with the design of your home and just look like another closet when the door to the lift is closed. Have some fun with your elevator design and add details on the interior, like paneling and trim, a trending paint color, patterned wallpaper, and low-profile sconces.
Choose the Right Lehigh Valley Design-Build Team
We understand that this is quite an extensive list, so hiring a team that’s skilled in design for aging in place is important. Enjoy an easier and stress-free experience by working with a design-build team that will guide you through the process and be focused on your specific needs.
Penn Contractors is a design-build firm that values care and style, so you know your remodel is in great hands for both function and beautiful design. Contact us to schedule a consultation and we’ll be happy to answer any questions and develop a design with everything you need.