By Kim Hibbs, Home Building Expert
Designing your custom home for life
Mrs. Derner works in the medical field. As she and her husband Fred were working to design their Kirkwood custom home, she knew that they should consider their needs as they would start to age. The home was truly their dream home in every sense. Therefore, they wanted to be sure that as they inched closer to retirement, it would continue to be a place where they could live happily. Their final design included features such as extra wide doorways and easily accessible showers and main floor laundry access. The additions help to lend to easy living now – and as the Derners grow older.
Aging in Place in your Custom Home
More and more, we are seeing this trend – “aging in place” – as a consideration for our clients. For our empty nesters looking at floor plans and dreaming about building their dream retirement house, we’ve pulled together a guide of considerations and design best practices to consider when designing your retirement house plan.
Retirement House Plans: First Floor Living
If your dream home is 1 1/2 stories, 2 stories or taller, ensure that there is ample opportunity for main floor living space – either at move-in, or through simple repurposing of existing spaces. Karen Smith, a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) says that more than 40 percent of new homes have master suites downstairs, a 15-percent increase over a decade ago. This trend is due to the increase in those concerned with building a home that will endure throughout the retirement and senior years – allowing aching backs and knees to skip the stairs.
If your preferred design must allow for multiple stories, consider adding stair lifts or an in-home elevator to your design.
Open Floor Plans for Aging in Place
Open floor plans allow easy access to various areas of the home with fewer hallways and doorways to maneuver through. Consider an open kitchen space that flows into an open dining area, common entryway, and family room. To prevent difficulty in transitioning from space to space, look at creating flat, even room transitions. The natural flow of open floor plan designs help to accommodate walking or ADA devices – without taking away from the style of your ultimate home design.
Simple considerations for your house design
The smallest touches can mean the biggest difference in your golden years. Considering them as you design now can ensure that you are finding the best options that will serve your functional needs without compromising your style out of future necessity. If you are designing your home to accommodate parents, in-laws or senior citizens living in a multi-generational setting, these are easy features that can be added into your final design to ensure comfort for your future roommates.
Consider the following when designing an empty nest dream home:
- Uniform lighting from room to room that can be adjusted to be brighter through easy dimmer switches and illumination controls.
- Night lighting – to help eyes adjust and to help avoid nighttime trips and falls.
- Taller toilets that make sitting and standing easier
- Low step-over shower surrounds or walk-in shower entries
- Shower seats can come in handy at any age – but most especially as standing begins to become difficult. Consider easy fold-down shower benches.
- Taller countertops and sinks can prevent stooping and bending.
- Low rise tubs with easy reach lever tub controls.
- Pull-out cabinet inserts will make it easier to get needed items from cabinets and closets.
- Lever handles on all interior and exterior doors help arthritic hands open and close doors with ease.
Discrete design solutions for aging in place
As considerations for aging in place and safety in retirement house design become more top of mind for home builders and their clients, new solutions are being developed that provide functional items such as shower grab bars without creating a design that stigmatizes the homeowner. One of our favorite new lines that we’ve utilized in retirement house designs is that Invisia Collection by American Standard. This collection disguises grab bars as decorative flourishes on traditional bath accessories such as toilet paper rolls, towel bars and the like. They offer the functional strength and durability needed to aid the homeowner – without being overt. Their design is elegant and modern.
Kohler Carol Schalla, the Senior Home Design editor for Midwest Living Magazine recently designed a luxurious empty nester bathroom in partnership with Kohler. Take a tour of her final design in this video.
Build your custom retirement dream house
Explore our recommended retirement floor plans with ranch and 1 1/2 story options. Contact Hibbs Homes to build a custom home that will remain luxurious and functional for you for the rest of your life. Contact us to learn more about building your retirement dream house in the St Louis area at (314) 392-9631.