Few of us pay attention to how we get around in our home until for one reason or another it gets harder to navigate that home. I personally had not given much thought to the fact that my master bedroom was on the second floor until I had knee surgery and found that it was difficult climbing those 13 steps. Luckily for me that inconvenience was temporary and I worked around it with the help of my wife.
Baby boomers like myself are beginning to realize that we are not immortal or immune to the effects of time. Sooner or later we will need to make our living spaces accessible or we will require constant assistance .
As architects, we work with these issues every day. From designing a new home which is fully accessible to a library addition on the first floor which can be converted to a master suite or guest suite by closing a pocket door at the end of the hall. Built in accessibility can be so subtle it is almost unnoticeable unless you are looking for it. Wider doors, spacious bathrooms, grade level entries and curbless showers are a few of the easy features to include in a home where you plan to spend a lifetime.
We designed a home for an 89 year old client and his partner who were both avid gardeners and loved to cook. Although the 89 year old was in a wheelchair, he still wanted to get into and out of his house on his own as well be able to prepare meals and tend to his beautiful flower garden. He also did not want his home to scream handicapped accessible. We listened and designed the first floor of his home so he could work and move around without help. He could easily come and go while tending his garden or help cook a fine meal. He decided the second floor could be for guests.
Options have improved for making a home accessible from pre-made adjustable countertops to less expensive residential elevators, baby boomers have once again changed the way we look at living our lives at home.
Photos by Rob Karosis