Totally Green (And So Much More)

The Panaros’ new home is built with environmentally friendly materials and processes in a way that will allow them to age in place. Thinking ahead is green.

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The kitchen includes bi-fold cupboard doors under the sink that fold back to provide wheelchair access. Photograph by Jared CastaldiTo gather input for their concept, the Panaros formed an advisory panel consisting of the AARP, the Delaware Chapter of the Visiting Nurse Association and the University of Delaware’s newly launched Delaware Design Institute, as well as a family friend who is in a wheelchair.

“We soon realized there is an opportunity to make a choice that makes a house more green and accessible at every step in the process,” Julie says.

On the first floor, there are two bedrooms and a full bath with a tub equipped with a fold-down seat. The first floor also includes a home office, powder room and a wide, vaulted corridor leading to a gathering area that encompasses a living area, kitchen and dining space that opens on to a patio with a scenic view of the canal.

In the kitchen, the couple installed a pull-out counter-height cutting board, which makes it easy for a person in a wheelchair to prep food. Bi-fold cupboard doors under the sink fold back, providing ready wheelchair access.

The Panaros opted for casement windows over standard double-hung windows. Casements, with panels that crank out, enable the homeowners to enjoy unobstructed views and breezes. It also is far easier for someone with limited dexterity to operate a casement window—yet another win-win.

Throughout the house, there are no thresholds, which are bumps in the road for people with walkers and wheelchairs. There is also no step from the attached garage. “That also makes it much easier to come in from the garage if you’re young and have a bunch of kids,” Tony says.

The second floor is dedicated to a sumptuous master suite with a bedroom, sitting room, a spacious walk-in closet and a large balcony overlooking the water.

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