From new homes to minor adjustments in your current home, Tish Mills shares her thoughts on the details to consider in order to create a safe and comfortable haven as you age in place.
What does aging in place mean from a design perspective?
Just because I am designing for aging in place, does not mean there will be a lack of style. I always start with the aesthetic for the project to be sure that we do not give up style and personality, in order to achieve an aging in place outcome. The two are not mutually exclusive but can feed one another.
For a new build, what types of things do you consider?
The trick that I’ve learned in incorporating aging in place is to do so in really subtle ways rather than the very overt traditional ways such as grab bars in showers. There are some really basic things to start with such as non-slip flooring. Creating better lighting is essential. In doing so in this case, I would include a mix of natural light and task ambient. Space also needs to be considered as well. Think gracious widths of hallways, and spacious turn radius into all rooms and certainly bathrooms. In bathrooms, its necessary to have wide spaces, and zero entry showers.
For an existing house where you are making modifications, what are your top five priorities and most cost-effective things to do?
- Lighting, first and fore most
- Include a bit more of an open furniture plan
- Introduce rounded corners
- De clutter! This can be rough as people do love their “stuff”, but it is very important as they age.
For bathrooms, what should be considered? Showers? Tubs? Are there new products out there you suggest or are using?
This is a favorite subject of mine!
- Non-slip flooring
- Zero entry showers
- If tub you go with a tub, lower side of easy entry and exit
- Large scale wall tile for easy care
- Excellent lighting
In a kitchen, counter heights, should they be changed?
Not necessarily. Counter heights are driven by the height of the owner. But I am including lower than normal bar seating as a drop down to basic table height as barstools are harder to get in and out of as owners age. I am also very mindful of the venting heights over ranges for reachability. Downdrafts have been helpful. As for sinks, larger sinks with more than one bowl and the racks that sit over for drying are so much better!
When considering flooring, what other options are there instead of area rugs?
We’ve installed several tile inset rugs instead of the traditional area rugs to help with stability. However, even the elderly want rugs or carpeting for ease on hips and back pain.
On Floor plan Layout, do you redesign accessibility for things like walkers, wheelchairs, etc.?
Absolutely. Often, we are quite fortunate to work on large scale spaces. So, we pull out the seating areas to create large turn-around spaces and, of course, wider passageways.
Tish Mills Kirk of Tish Mills Interiors, a preferred vendor of The Meridian Real Estate Group, is an award-winning interior designer who has been working with clients in their homes for more than two decades. She believes that it is essential to put together a cohesive plan for your home renovation before you get started that can be carried out by the team of experts you assemble. www.harmoniousliving.net
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