A friend recently told me the story of a woman named Rose who was a patient at the nursing home where her Dad resided. Each and every day my friend would see Rose, dressed to the nines with lipstick and hair styled – position her wheelchair by the front door…waiting for someone to take her home.  Sadly, there was no one and no plan for her return.

And I thought to myself – I will not be that woman.  

Studies show that 90% of people want to age in their homes.  Unfortunately, most people don’t plan properly to make that desire a reality.  My husband and I want to be in our “forever home” by the time our 11 year old graduates high school.

My vision of a stylish, well lit, universally designed home is so vivid that it will be impossible not to become reality.  

Because I refuse to sit waiting at the front door.

Want to learn more?  Sign up for my blog posts as I write about how your forever home can be designed so that you can “thrive in place”.

Can’t wait for future posts?  Read more by linking to articles under the blog category: livable design.

Are you thinking of building a second home? Not just another home but one with subtle nuances that will accommodate your family into the future? We call adding these inconspicuous refinements “livable design details”. Proactive design that enhances and welcomes every generation.

A “simple” first step is to find a house plan (or blueprints) that appeal to you. Start by paying attention to the overall flow of the floor plan…prior to meeting your architect. Envision yourself walking through the space and living there. This will enable you to initiate a productive in-depth conversation with your architect and designer about how you want your home to function for you and your family. (stay tuned for a future post where we go deep into what we recommend be in every second home)

Five tips to keep in mind when developing a livable design plan:

1. Look for a home with a single story floor plan that has a zero step entrance. If you prefer a multi storied home, the layout of the main areas should have at least one (master) bedroom suite on the main floor.

This traditional style cottage (above) could easily adapt to include a zero step entrance while the contemporary home, below, is a perfect example.

2. Thinking of adding an elevator? You don’t have to commit right away. Add a closet to the floor plan to be easily converted at a later date. To add one that is ADA compliant, (Americans with Disability Act) the minimum door width for an elevator interior is 36″. The depth of the interior must be at least 51″, and the width must be at least 68″, (unless the elevator has center-opening doors, in which case at least 80″ is required). Although this size may seem large, it’s important to plan to have enough space for not only the wheelchair bound person but also a caregiver.

Example of ADA compliant elevator.

3. Need to accommodate for family with special needs? Hallways and door openings should allow for a minimum of 32″ wide doorways and 36″ – 42″ for hallways.

4. Is bigger always better? In this case, yes. Think about increasing each room size to account for furniture plans that allow for a minimum 36″ pass by space should a wheelchair become necessary. Keeping this in mind – bathrooms need a turning radius of five foot minimum while kitchens need a pass through area of 42 – 48″.

A example of how a five foot turning radius affects the size of even a small bathroom.

5. Increase the amount of accessible walk-in storage. Not only will this hide clutter and prevent items from being left out, it will also help to prevent falls. Maximizing floor-to-ceiling storage increases orderliness throughout the home.

Bonus: Situate your home in a southern exposure for maximum light! Read more about how light affects design in our blog post entitled “The Healing effects of Light”

I can sometimes tolerate a room without windows on a dreary day but on a sunny day… it’s unbearable!  People tend to gravitate to the areas of their homes that provide them with the most sunlight and the best views. 
Why?  Because research repeatedly proves that natural light is healing. Stress levels decrease and mental energy is replenished in spaces that provide natural light and provide views of nature.  
Do you have a favorite place in your home where you can thrive?  

A recent statistic stated that the highest population of baby boomers live in Califorina.   It should really comes as no surprise.  As we age, we naturally yearn for more natural sunlight…simply stated because it makes us feel better.  

So, if you don’t live on the West Coast, here are a few easy tips as to how you can maximize the comfort and performance in your home from lighting expert Mariana Figueiro.

  • Lighting on a task area surface should be brighter than the surrounding space
  • Minimize glare by curbing the use of glossy materials
  • Lighting so shadows are “softer” (ones that don’t cast harsh shadows)
  • Balance light levels in an area
  • To keep circadian rhythms in sync: during the daytime hours (or at least for 2 hours in the morning) increase light levels and use bluish white for at least 2 hrs in the morning.”  In addition,  during the evening hours decrease light levels and use lights with a wam yellowish tint.
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This month’s Wellnotes delves into the principles of “Livable Design”, more commonly referred to as “aging in place”. When we think about “aging in place” we think of wider doorways or higher electrical outlets.  A recent statistic however, shifted our focus from a physical to an emotional point of view: “Half of nursing home residents are placed there, not for health reasons but the absence of social interaction due to a lack of accessibility”.  A large part of a designer’s job is to implement designs so that social connections aren’t lost and more importantly, don’t look like an after thought.   As Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS) we can recommend many design options that not only speak to an aging population, but also benefits families with young children planning on staying in their homes indefinitely, such as:

  1. Levered door handles easily grasped by aging hands and small children.
  2. A slight entranceway ramp instead of stairs that are both wheelchair and stroller friendly.
  3. Entranceway cameras with an intercom system (with smartphone features) providing security to both the elderly and mothers with small children.
  4. Hallway motion sensor lights that illuminate objects benefiting both the elderly and toddler’s leaping out of bed in middle of the night.

Livable design is a thoughtful design process that can be implemented now and work for all ages.

                                                                                                               
Our interiors are designed to be highly personal.  We ensure that you’re surrounded with design that’s meaningful and represents you authentically—so that you’ll thrive.   Give us a call or email us.  We’d love to get to know you and help you create an uplifting environment.