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Versatile Living Spaces for Now and Later

Goehring & MorganSeptember 30, 2016

There are more than 76 million baby boomers in the country. As baby boomers (those born between 1946-1964) age, they are looking for more ways to maintain their independence.


The aging in place movement has emerged from this, and it’s causing designers, architects and builders to be smarter about how we work with clients to construct their homes. If you’re a baby boomer who is about to embark on the custom homebuilding process, here are some tips for building your with versatile living spaces to help you to age in place.

Think about Your Needs — Today and Tomorrow

Mobility becomes more of a challenge as you age, so consider whether building a home with multiple levels will still suit you 10 or 20 years from now. A one-story home may be the best fit or a home with multiple stories and a first-floor master or all the bedrooms on one floor could better. What about a garage? It might be better to attach it to a side door next to the kitchen for easy entry into the home.

Building a home that’s too big also can be a challenge and difficult to maintain as you age. Think about the space you need today and tomorrow and find a balance between them that allows you to live in your home for as long as possible.

Think About the Layout & Features

In addition to one-story convenience, a home built for aging in place should have the right layout and features, such as door levers, motion-activated faucets and cabinet pulls, no-step entries to minimize tripping hazards, wide doors and hallways that are at least 36” and 48”, respectively, and good lighting to increase safety in the home.

Customize Your Bathroom

Another place you can minimize slips and falls is in the bathroom. Consider adding grab bars in your shower stall, near the tub or toilet. These grab bars don’t have to look as utilitarian as those you might see in a public restroom, so work with your builder and designer to create something that blends seamlessly into the rest of the decor in your bathroom.

Another idea? Install a raised toilet and a shower rather than a tub. Most people don’t spend hours soaking in a tub anymore, and you can install a bench in it as well as grab bars for added safety.

Get Smart Appliances

There are tons of appliances on the market with automatic features. Consider getting a smart thermostat that will automatically adjust based on usage patterns in your home. Install a smart refrigerator, oven, washer and dryer with controls that are easy to read and include automatic safety features. Most of today’s smart appliances come with a companion app that allows you to control features remotely. Look for appliances with these add-ons and purchase raised appliances at a higher height for additional safety.

Consider an Elevator

Elevators actually are a cost-effective addition to a custom home. They’re often cheaper than adding a first-floor master suite, depending on the specs. We’ve designed elevators that are pre-wired for future for several clients. With this design, we build the elevator shaft and electric, maintaining the upstairs and downstairs locations as closets until the homeowner needs to install the elevator.

Goehring and Morgan has worked with a number of clients who have long-term plans to stay in their custom home. Throughout the design process, we discuss future needs with clients and an increasing number of them already know that they need to build their home to age in place. With a lot of forethought and planning during the building process, baby boomers (and those nearing this age) can create a home that works for them today and tomorrow.

Interesting in a custom home? Goehring & Morgan can help you build your dream. Contact us today to learn more.