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Home improvement and remodeling spending continues to grow at a healthy pace, with much of the money spent going towards renovations that are born out of homeowners’ concern about the future.

Let’s face it – we all begin to “age” from the day we’re born. And while old age may not be something homeowners with young families typically think about when remodeling their home, a new trend is beginning to emerge.

Universal Design

A recent Harvard University study found that 44% of the over 25 million homeowners aged 65 and over have a need for home accessibility features. These people have either a disability or some difficulty in using certain homes features – particularly kitchen and bathroom setups – without assistance or modification.

Yet the study revealed that the current housing stock is not equipped to meet their specific needs, with many homes not having what’s considered basic accessibility features: at least one no-step entry and a full bath on the entry level.

Aging in place, also known as universal design, is a concept that refers to building and remodeling projects that accommodate every member of a household, including those with special needs. While some aging households will move into homes better suited for their changing lifestyle, for homeowners who know they’re in it for the long haul, universal design helps create the “forever home” they want.

Today’s homeowners of all ages are now beginning to approach design with this new sensibility in mind.

Aging in Place on the Main Line

So what accessibility trends are popular for people who plan to age in their homes? To start, ones that don’t scream “old people live here.” Homeowners young and not-so-young alike want an attractive home that will accommodate whatever lifestyle changes come their way.

The historic homes that make up many Main Line neighborhoods present a real challenge for aging in place renovation or remodeling, as they were built at a time when universal design was an unknown concept. Interesting architectural features like step-up porches and multi-level living can be real impediments to safe and independent living down the road.

Here are some of the latest aging in place ideas transforming Main Line area homes.

  • Plan for Future Needs. Create a more open floor plan and have at least one level entryway that allows for easier maneuvering. This eliminates the needs for ramps. If one-floor living is not an option, consider elevators and stair chairlifts.
  • One Floor Living. Many Main Line Homes are two or more stories. You may want to consider a remodeling design that includes a master suite on the main floor. The upstairs master can be for guests or turned into a studio or office space.
  • Easy Maintenance. Ease of maintenance is a top priority for many homeowners. Inside the home, the kitchen and baths are most often cited as rooms that need to be updated. Examples include cleaner lines and self-regulating appliances, lighting and ventilation.
  • Kitchens and Baths. Add easily accessible switches, outlets and controls, as well as easy to use handles, such as lever-style doorknobs. Install attractive grab bars and barrier-free shower entries. In the kitchen, pull-out work surfaces at different heights are a must.

No matter how you view it, remodeling your home for aging in place is a really smart move. At Cottage Industries, we believe the design features that address aging in place are also great choices for younger families. Keeping accessibility in mind at any age allows you to prepare for the future. An added bonus: in the case you do decide to sell, incorporating universal design now is a great resale strategy.

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