Home Sweet Home for Life
Adapting a home for aging in place is a sound investment—and a lot easier on maturing bodies.
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“We have so much light that sometimes I feel like I’m in a television studio,” the owner says. But she appreciates all the options. The study, for example, has overhead lighting on a dimmer switch, a desk lamp, task lighting and natural light from a window. In addition to electric lights, the owner’s closet has a large window with a seat, where she can sit to put on her shoes. His closet does not have an exterior wall, so it has a skylight instead.
“Extra lighting is important because as we age, our vision deteriorates,” Wilkins says. But who wouldn’t like more light in the closet? And that’s the point of universal design. When and if the owners decide to sell their house, no one will know the addition was designed to accommodate aging in place, Wilkins says. “They would just say, ‘Wow, what a great master suite.’”
Universal design is not for new construction and additions only. Done right, an aging-in-place renovation can look attractive and add resale value while making the home easier and safer to live in. “With the housing market the way it is, many people are being forced to stay in their home, so they are renovating,” Wilkins says.
Stairs are one of the primary concerns among homeowners with mobility issues. In many cases, a bedroom can be added onto the home’s first floor. When it comes time to resell, that bedroom can remain a first-floor master bedroom, or it can be restaged for showing as an office or playroom. But it is not always necessary to add a room or convert an existing first-floor room into a bedroom. “Instead, if there are closets on the first and second floors that line up vertically, an elevator can be installed,” Wilkins says.
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