A vibrant, healthy couple in their upper 50s, who recently became empty nesters, was excited to renovate their living and formal dining areas to better fit their lifestyle. They invited me to design one large warm, enticing, beautiful space for entertaining. They were tired of the cold, commercial-like feeling of their space and wanted to retire their furniture. The couple loved their slate flooring and wanted to keep it. They also wanted nature to be incorporated in the décor.
Like many adults, they were not aware that at their age they should be proactively having their home designed for successful aging. A great time to begin is when you’re already planning renovations. Since my expertise is design for Boomers and Seniors, and that there are very few residential interior designers trained in highly specialized design for older adults, this couple was in good hands.
Aging in Place design makes homes safer, makes daily activities easier, prepares the home to accommodate changing needs throughout the aging process, and helps avoid assisted living.
It’s wise to have your home ready BEFORE YOU NEED IT so that it will prevent falls and accidents, preserve your independence and enable you to stay there and not be forced into assisted living when a health or life changing event occurs and it’s a crisis. So, even if you have no plans to renovate, don’t wait.
My Aging in Place design is transparent, which is important because no one wants to be reminded that they’re not as young as they used to be. I also employ Evidenced-Based design, which has been proven to reduce stress, improve mood and speed up healing. The design concept I created for the clients was infused with Biophilic Design (which mimics nature). A new wheelchair accessible furniture plan and electrical plan was also designed. Elegant chandeliers and accent lighting were designed in to provide an abundance of lighting to help prevent falls, make reading or other activities easier, and create warmth and interest. The amount of lighting needed was calculated specifically for aging eyes and the size of the space.
My design included removing a built-in cabinet and the niche above it from the dining area to create a focal point wall featuring an organic planter with real birch tree poles. Another niche above a large window was closed off as an update. Window treatment was added to create warmth and drama and soften acoustics.
The new furniture plan included two separate seating areas with custom furniture I designed and had fabricated, tables and very low-profile, secured area rugs, which make the room inviting and able to seat more guests.
What makes the seating invisibly unique, is that it’s designed specifically for older adults by way of size, construction and materials. While it’s better for adults 55+, it’s good for any age. Conversely, standard furniture does not work well for older adults. It hinders them, whereas furniture designed for older adults actually helps them.
This furniture was designed and constructed for better fit, comfort and to be easier to get in and out of, which becomes routinely more difficult with aging. It’s a problem you wouldn’t think about until you’re dealing with it. Perhaps you’ve seen your parents or grandparents struggle as they try to get up and out of a sofa or chair, even a dining chair. That is not something that is isolated to them, it happens to nearly all older adults. It’s sad and dangerous.
Moreover, frustration and falls can be avoided by having the proper furniture. I’ve had many clients that either thought their sofa or chairs had just worn out or weren’t made well, because they no longer supported them. But that wasn’t the case. Their bodies had gradually changed with aging and they needed furniture that supported those changes. Once I provided them with the right furniture, they were comfortable once again and the difficulty of getting up and out was significantly reduced.
I’ll let you in on a secret. You or your loved ones don’t have to settle for furniture that doesn’t fit and/or is unsafe for older adults. Here’s how to access proper seating for adults 55+ (that’s also attractive): 1) live in a large senior living community that has appropriate furniture or 2) have a senior living designer, such as myself, order or design seating (sofa, chairs, dining chairs, etc.) for you.
This type of furniture is not available to the general public, so you won’t find it in furniture stores. It takes several months to order and receive or have made, so keep that in mind. Is it expensive? It’s more costly than cheap imported furniture that many stores offer or what you’ll find online, but it’s not outrageous. It’s good quality, durable and cleanable, and is well worth it!
This couple doesn’t have an immediate physical need, but their new furniture works now and will benefit them along the way as they grow older. So, they won’t have to buy more furniture later to meet their needs and keep them safer.
These clients now have a living space they’re proud to entertain in and enjoy winding down there after a long day at work. Transparently, the Aging in Place design elements are helping to protect and keep them safe.
In the future, should they decide to sell their home and downsize, their renovated living room will create a great first impression with prospective buyers and their MLS listing can boast “Award-Winning Design” as a selling point. Both the living room and master bedroom (a renovation project I designed a few years ago) are award winners.
If you or someone you know is planning to renovate, remodel or downsize and move, please contact me. I’d love to help.