When beginning the transition to age in place, many people wonder if their home is going to look clinical or institutional after the renovations are done. The good news is it doesn’t have to. No one should have to sacrifice design and aesthetics for function and safety.
More companies than ever are sensitive to the desires of aging Americans and are working hard to produce furniture and fixtures that are aesthetically pleasing and beneficial to all ages, especially those nearing retirement age.
Here are four design tips you can incorporate into your aging-in-place renovation to keep your home stylish:
1. Light It Up!
Increased visual impairment is common as we age, whether it is a decrease in contrast sensitivity or an increase in sensitivity to glare. Because of this, an age-friendly home can never have too much lighting. An abundance of lighting, however, doesn’t have to come at the cost of design preference. In fact, lighting can accentuate different design features in your home.
Incorporating recessed lighting in a room that only has one light source can help diffuse light and accent decorations in the room. For example, recessed lighting can be used above a case display. It provides lighting for the room but also draws your attention to the items within the case by illuminating them.
Additionally, bright sconce lighting can be used in hallways. Wall sconces can be mounted either up or down and can be used to create a dramatic change in lighting. As you walk through a hallway, you’ll notice there are some shadows that cannot be reached with the use of only a ceiling light. Wall sconces come with a variety of different fixtures, so you’ll always be able to match them with the rest of your home’s décor.
One important note about lighting: some of your lighting preferences may require rewiring, relocation, or new construction elements. DO NOT attempt to make these renovations on your own. Consult a certified aging-in-place contractor to help you meet your lighting goals and requirements.
For more information about aging-in-place lighting, check out our Ultimate Guide to Lighting.
2. Be Smart About Faucets
While you may not often think about how fixtures affect your daily life, they actually impact it quite a bit. As we age, they actually take on a greater role as our dexterity diminishes or our grip gets weaker. While drawer handles and door knobs are important, one of the most important fixtures for your home—and your health—is faucets.
The types and styles of faucets have come a long way since the mid-20th Century, and age-friendly faucets no longer have to look like they’ve come right from a hospital room. Faucet makers now understand the need for stylish designs that are easy to use for older hands.
When focusing on faucets, there are a variety of different finishes to choose from: bronze, copper, silver, chrome, and more. To stay consistent in design throughout your kitchen and bathrooms, you’ll want to narrow down your search by finish first. This ensures you’ll find an age-friendly faucet that comes in the finish you desire.
Some of the best faucets to use in your new aging-in-place home are ones that utilize smart technology. Most are controlled by sensors, removing the need to use knobs, or controls that regulate the temperature of the water. Quite a few faucets are a combination of both technologies, giving the user the benefit of a hands-free wash with the efficiency of a digital system.
Learn more about faucets for aging in place, by checking out our Ultimate Guide to Faucets.
3. Install Practical, Safe, Aesthetically-Pleasing Flooring
The type of flooring you install can change how you live without changing who you are. Slip-resistance, ease of movement, and cushioning are all factors to consider for flooring safety, but none of these features mean you’ll need to sacrifice style. Virtually all of the top brands—Armstrong, Mohawk, Lumber Liquidators, and others—provide safe flooring options in a variety of modern designs and styles.
If you enjoy the look of wood floors, you might want to consider either cork flooring or vinyl or linoleum flooring. All three have endless design options to choose from while still closely resembling wood flooring. You’re able to get ideal flooring for aging-in-place homes with the look of a design trend that is sweeping renovation projects everywhere.
When including this type of flooring, you may want to include area rugs to break up the space. Unfortunately, area rugs can a pose a risk and may cause tripping or slipping. If you insist on having an area rug in your home, make sure the rug is heavy enough to stay in place or that it has skid-resistant backing. It’s also a great idea to use transition strips on the edges of the rugs to reduce possible tripping accidents. Transition strips can easily be matched with your flooring for a seamless look.
Read more about age-friendly flooring by checking out our Best Flooring Options for Aging in Place.
4. Use Modern, Comfortable Furniture
Who says safe, comfortable furniture can’t also be visually pleasing? Aging-in-place furniture no longer has to look like it’s made for aging-in-place. As more people choose to age-in-place, more manufacturers are recognizing the need and are coming up with alternatives that meet the competing criteria of comfort, function, and design.
As you begin to think about how you want to furnish your living space, be mindful of how much space you really have. Generally speaking, many people are planning to downsize or have already downsized into a smaller home. Oversized chairs and bulky furniture may look comfortable, but they can also cramp small areas, creating impediments to maneuverability and taking away from the appearance of the room.
Make sure to downsize your furniture as you downsize or remodel your home for aging-in-place. It will create more space and make it much easier to navigate through the room. Keep in mind that incorporating smaller furniture into your home doesn’t mean you will be plagued with dainty and uncomfortable seating. In fact, many chairs, couches, and tables combine sturdy and sleek elements to create space-saving furniture that is appealing to a variety of homes and design preferences.
If you’re locked in to oversized or bulky furniture as part of your design preference, consider making renovations to the room to accommodate your style. Eliminate a closet to add more space or remove room dividers and/or non-load bearing pillars to create a “great room,” where larger furniture won’t get in the way.
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What to Do Now
If you are considering an aging-in-place lifestyle, the next step is to find a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) that has experience and can help you determine what types of modifications are needed to make your home safe and comfortable for years to come. Choosing an experienced CAPS contractor can make the aging-in-place transition much smoother.