Aging-in-Place Home Design: Designing Custom Homes With Long-Term Functionality

September 21, 2023

Picture a home with wide doorways, low-pile carpeting, and stair railings. These are just some of the design features that will make your custom home comfortable and safe as you or your loved ones age in place. With careful design considerations, you can ensure your space is functional for long-term use from day one. This is especially important because while there are ways to make your home accessible for aging loved ones, the most efficient, economical, and complete way to do so is to implement the aging-in-place design details from the very start. Here are a few considerations for aging-in-place home design:

1. Go With a Ranch-Style Home

If you’re looking for a home that will accommodate aging in place, consider going with a ranch-style home. It’s the perfect option for those wanting to grow old in their homes. A single-story design is one of the classic features of ranch architecture. A one-story house offers more stability and safety than a multi-level house, making it ideal for aging in place. Plus, it eliminates the need to climb stairs and navigate multiple levels of living space.

A ranch-style home also makes it easier to implement age-in-place home improvements later on—things that make life easier as you age but don’t necessarily want in the home from the time of construction. You can add grab bars near the shower or toilet, widen doorways and hallways for wheelchair access, lower countertops and cabinets, and install non-slip flooring throughout the house. These modifications are much simpler to implement when you only have one story of space to work with!

Having all bedrooms and bathrooms on one level is another great perk of having a single-story home. This ensures that everything necessary is accessible without needing to go up or down any stairs, which can be difficult or impossible if mobility becomes an issue later on down the line.

2. Incorporate Residential Universal Design Features

Incorporating residential universal design features can help ensure a home is accessible and comfortable for everyone. Universal design considers the needs of people of all ages, abilities, and body types so that they can easily navigate their homes.

  • Single-story living eliminates the need to navigate staircases which can be difficult or dangerous for some individuals.
  • Wide doorways and halls provide more space for wheelchair users or individuals using mobility devices.
  • Accessible handles and switches make it easier for those with limited dexterity to operate doors and lights, while entries without steps remove barriers that may otherwise prevent someone from safely entering a home.

By incorporating these features into your custom home design, you can ensure it will meet your needs today and in the future when aging in place.

3. Take Special Care With Bathroom Design

When designing a bathroom, special care should be taken to ensure it meets the needs of all users now and in the future. An easy way to achieve this is by incorporating walk-in showers or curbless showers instead of traditional tubs. These can look stylish and provide space for those with mobility issues. Toilet and sink placement is also vital; make sure there’s plenty of room around them so that they’re accessible for everyone. Mirrors and sinks at wheelchair height are important too, but these can be added later if needed.

In addition, grab bars near toilets and shower areas are essential for safety as you age, and slip-resistant floors help reduce the risk of falls. If possible, opt for hands-free faucets, too—this eliminates the need to turn knobs or push buttons with wet hands or limited dexterity. With thoughtful design and tips for age-in-place bathroom design, you can create a bathroom that looks great now while being functional for years to come!

4. Consider Long-Term Features in the Kitchen

When it comes to kitchen design, it’s essential to consider the needs of all users now and in the future. If you’re planning a kitchen for aging in place, you’ll want to ensure all your cabinets are placed at eye level or lower. This will make them more accessible for people of any age without stretching too far. Additionally, it can be dangerous to have cabinets above stoves or refrigerators due to potential hazards like burns from steam or spills from food items stored on top of these appliances.

If you’re designing a kitchen with long-term functionality in mind, think about adding extra counter space and storage solutions that don’t take up too much room; one of the many benefits of kitchen islands is the extra counter space and storage, but ensure that the island isn’t too high up to be accessible in the long-term. Pullout shelves and drawers are great options as they allow you to easily access items without climbing up on stools or chairs. Appliances should also be carefully chosen; look for energy-efficient models that won’t require frequent repairs over time.

Lighting is another key factor in kitchen design trends and when designing an aging-in-place kitchen; ensure plenty of natural light during the day and good task lighting near countertops and other areas where food prep takes place. A bright, well-lit space can help reduce fatigue and provide a safe environment for everyone who uses the kitchen.

5. Think About Aging-in-Place Extras

Consider adding extras like covered entryways, smart home devices, task lighting, and more to make your home more friendly for aging-in-place. Covered entrances will protect from the elements, ice build-up, and other environmental factors that could be hazardous to an older adult’s health. Smooth flooring is also essential: high carpets and different levels of flooring can create tripping hazards.

Smart home technology is great for controlling the home with minimal physical exertion. Task lighting and other lighting options ensure no areas are too dark or bright for safe navigation in low-light conditions. Additionally, consider installing handrails on staircases, widening door frames to accommodate wheelchairs/walkers, and designating a first-floor bedroom in case of mobility issues in later years. These simple additions can go a long way toward making your custom home age-friendly for many years to come.

Aging-in-Place Home Design For Long-Term Functionality

Whether building your first custom home or building your forever custom home, incorporating aging-in-place features into your custom home can create a more universal design with more universal appeal and long-term functionality.

With ranch-style living, residential universal design features, special care taken with bathroom design, and kitchen considerations in mind, you’ll be able to work with a builder to create a functional and comfortable space. You can confidently move forward with your plans—your future self will thank you!

If you’re ready to bring your dream custom home to life, contact Custom Home Group at 717-284-4090!