Will and I just attended the beautiful wedding of a lovely young couple. From the setting on a lake in Maine to the joy on the faces of many friends and family, there was little to not celebrate. So Will and I found ourselves pretending we could subtract decades off of our lives and spent more time than my feet were prepared for on the dance floor. Turns out going to a wedding to celebrate a young couple’s commitment to one another also serves as a reminder of our physical limitations as we continue on our course of sharing this life together.
So, as I sat at my desk on a Monday morning contemplating another bowl of ice for my right foot, I came across a hot topic in building: designing for those of us who would like to prepare to age in place. And while I will never suggest to any one homeowner that they might want to consider any of these design ideas, it might be a good idea for all of us who are now feeling our joints despite generous doses of glucosamine to give some consideration to these details as we contemplate our custom homes.
The greatest gift we can give our older selves will be improved mobility and access to our homes’ elements. Let’s give ourselves a no-step entry way. Let’s make our passageways wide and either provide ourselves one-floor living or the space for a future elevator (it’s fairly easy and affordable to plan for it now). Let’s make our kitchen user-friendly, with easy-pull drawers and appliances. Let’s give ourselves good task lighting (and maybe gentle lighting in our entertaining spaces!).And we might not need the grab bars now, but why shouldn’t we block for them behind the walls in our bathrooms? Curb-less showers are now the latest trend so go ahead and add it now. And lastly, tell your guests you love mixing textures and no one will ever guess you were just being practical being able to dance around your kitchen island for many years to come.
For many of us, these years after child-rearing provide the best time to enjoy designing, building, and living in a beautifully constructed custom home. There is no reason why we shouldn’t discuss these less-pleasant realities of our future selves as we intentionally decide upon fun design elements. We just might have to do it with a hearty dose of humor.