everyone deserves a beautiful, accessible home
Many of our home remodel clients, especially empty nesters and those nearing retirement, often ask us how they can make their homes more accessible. Even owners who are decades away from retirement are smart to ask about creating accessible homes.
Homeowners who have built their community and a support system around them, generally want to remain in their homes. They take comfort in the familiar surroundings of their neighborhood. Those who live with physical or cognitive illness or who have unexpectedly found themselves with a disability deserve choices in beautiful, accessible living environments.
The truth is most people would rather live in their own homes as they age than go to an assisted living facility. This concept is often called Aging in Place.
assessment and design services
hpd architecture + interiors provide needs assessments and design services to show individuals, couples, and families how they can:
- Adapt their home for current and future needs
- Maintain or improve their independence and lifestyle
- Improve the safety of their home
- Create more comfortable and beautiful living spaces
We guide clients through conversations about accessibility by asking key questions, such as, how long a client intends to stay in his or her current home. For clients who don’t plan to sell their homes for the foreseeable future, accessibility can be part of a larger remodeling plan.
well-designed accessibility is a good investment
The majority of homes are built for younger families, they are not designed for comfortable, barrier-free living for those growing older or with physical difficulties. Homes generally do not have accessible features such as wide doorways, a walk-in shower without curbs, level entries, and door levers instead of knobs.
Creating an accessible home in the right neighborhood could be a smart resale strategy because homes catering to older buyers are in high demand. The adjustments need not be major ones to improve accessibility. They could simply be small fixes to enhance safety and comfort, both inside and out.
making interiors accessible
For the inside of a home, one of the first things we consider is whether the floor is on one level. For example, one trend in the 1970s and 1980s was to make family rooms sunken by one or two steps. Residents and guests had to step down into it. This feature presents an obvious hazard. When possible we recommend building up the floor on the lower level to match the surrounding area.
The same is true for flooring surfaces. If uneven transitions exist between carpeted areas to tile or hardwood floors, we redesign walking surfaces so no tripping or slipping hazards exist.
We also look for ways to make doors and cabinets easier to open. A simple way to make adjustments is to install different door hardware. People with arthritis can grip and open lever-style door knobs more easily.
Bathroom areas are also important spaces to consider. When feasible, we recommend widening doorways and changing the shower curb to be flush with the floor to allow for smooth entrance. Grab bars are an easy addition to increase safety and reduce slip and fall accidents. Fortunately, in the last few years, product manufacturers are creating more attractive grab bars that look like towel bars. There are many assistive devices that more easily blend into a home’s decor.
adding functionality and beauty to exteriors
hpd architecture + interiors also helps homeowners evaluate home exteriors. A daily trip to the mailbox and to get the newspaper may seem simple. However, to a homeowner living with balance or vision challenges it can be hazardous. Create an entryway and front walk that people on foot and in wheelchairs can access. Make sure all pathways are well lit and all flooring areas are covered in slip-resistant materials.
Maintaining access to favorite outdoor activities for older homeowners is critical to their enjoyment and well being. For instance, we work with clients who enjoy gardening, swimming in their pool and using their patios to entertain. We personalize the height and ease of access to these activities so they can continue to be part of their everyday routine.
safety and independence are a family affair
Grown children of older homeowners often inquire about technology that can help their parents enjoy their independence. There are all tools that can provide peace of mind to those who need to keep tabs on their parent’s activities. For example, video monitoring, motion detectors, and wireless sensors on doors and appliances can keep you informed of your loved-one’s activities. Remote access to home security systems via smartphones is widely available and easy to install.
An accessible home can still be as beautiful as a traditionally designed one. At hpd architecture + interiors, we believe that a home that is easy to navigate can be warm and comfortable too. Let us help you with your accessible home planning needs.
universal design resources
These are just a few of the many additional resources available.
Senior and Caregiver Resources
- The Senior Source serving the Greater Dallas Area www.theseniorsource.org
- Dallas Area Agency on Aging (DAAA) www.ccgd.org
- Family Caregivers Online www.familycaregiversonline.net
- Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services www.dads.state.tx.us
- American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) www.AARP.org
Senior Related Designations
- Certified Aging in Place Specialist designation (CAPS) www.nahb.org/capsinfo
- Senior Real Estate Specialist® designation (SRES) www.seniorsrealestate.com
- North Carolina State University, The Center for Universal Design www.design.ncsu.edu/cud
- Universal Design Living Laboratory www.UDLL.com
- The Institute for Human Centered Design www.AdaptiveEnvironments.org
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