The number of multigenerational homes – ones with children, parents, and/or grandparents – continues to grow. The most recent figures show that nearly 20% of the population lives in a home that houses two or more generations. In theory, these homes provide a number of solutions: for the older generation, for example, money can be saved by avoid nursing homes or assisted living facilities. In reality, however, two adult generations living under the same roof can present some real challenges.
If you’re a Bryn Mawr homeowner contemplating adding on or remodeling your home to include an in-law suite, you probably have some questions and concerns about choosing the best aging-in-place layouts and modifications. At Cottage Industries, we believe your top priority should be making changes that create a more safe, usable, and enjoyable space that maintains the integrity of your home’s original character. You may be familiar with the most common aging-in-place features such as wider doors, curbless showers, and reconfigured kitchen counters and fixtures. Here are three aging-in-place remodeling ideas you may not have heard about.
Install an Elevator
Many Main Line homes are multi-story, some with three or four floors. For people with mobility issues, that can be a real impediment to completely enjoying the home. For those unable to climb stairs, you might want to install an elevator. Things to keep in mind include:
- Making sure it’s wheelchair accessible (even if no one currently uses a wheelchair).
- Which type of door you want to use: an automatic door, an accordion gate, or a light curtain.
- Where it can be most easily placed without eating up a lot of square footage.
Some people love to use stairs as a form of exercise, but need a little assistance. A new device known as the AssiStep offers extra support and helps prevent falls.
Shining a Light on Universal Design
Research has shown that someone 60 years old needs twice as much light to see as clearly as a 30-year old. Older eyes have reduced contrast sensitivity and color discrimination, as well as an increased sensitivity to glare. Proper lighting can help these aging eye problems and also help prevent falls, one of the biggest hazards for senior health. The simple solution is adding more light, but not in the way you may think. Instead of increasing the overall light levels in your home, use task lighting where needed for reading, hobbies, food prep, and grooming. Then, if needed, you can slightly increase the ambient light. Any easy way to do this is by replacing incandescent lamps with high-quality compact fluorescents or LED lamps.
A Beautiful Bathroom for the Ages
Grab bars and curbless showers are the most popular features when remodeling a bathroom for aging-in-place, but there are other attractive upgrades you can choose to make it a safer place. In addition to proper lighting, think about:
- Install cabinets with doors that close easily, and choose D-shaped pulls instead of knobs. Open shelves can also be a smart option.
- Water and slick tiles are a bad combination, so install non-slip tile or vinyl floors to reduce the chance of falls. Small tiles embedded in grout also provide more friction than larger tiles.
- Redesign the sink countertops by placing them at two heights. Mounting sinks on the wall leaves space for a wheelchair underneath. Use full length mirrors instead of ones that are mounted above the sink area, and choose faucets with lever handles.
Design for All
Design for aging-in-place goes far beyond removing barriers in the physical environment. At Cottage Industries, we focus on a comprehensive approach to universal design, working with you to enhance independence and safety while increasing function and maintaining architectural integrity. Schedule a conversation with us today to learn more about adding or remodeling an in-law suite in your Bryn Mawr home. We also invite you to download our free guide “Things Our Clients Should Understand” which talks about the elements necessary for a successful remodel.