Ask The Expert: Aging in Place and Universal Design for Kitchen & Bath
One of the aspects of Universal Design, Aging in Place (AIP) , considers the growing trend in baby boomers soon to retire and subsequent generations who have an eye toward living independently in their golden years. We asked Tampa based Aging in Place Specialist, Jamie Goldberg, AKBD, CAPS for her insight and advice on planning for AIP design at home.
The Decorating Diva.com: None of us likes to consider aging – specially in a world that puts so much emphasis on looking and being young. However, age we do and our bodies and capabilities change and how we interact with our homes also changes – possibly becoming more physically challenging to undertake routine tasks such as preparing a meal or taking a shower. What are some Aging in Place design factors that homeowners should consider when contemplating a bathroom or kitchen remodel ( in a home they plan to retire in)?
Jamie Goldberg: Homeowners should look for components that will make their lives easier, both now and as they age. People of all ages benefit from conveniences like zero-maintenance countertops; roll-out trays, pull-outs, pan drawers and lazy susans in their base cabinets; task lighting below their wall cabinets; point-of-use appliances in their islands; drawer-based microwaves and dishwashers; shower benches and slide bar showerheads. But they become especially helpful to older homeowners who may be dealing with more fatigue, arthritis or balance issues.
The Decorating Diva.com: Aging in Place and/or Universal Design are often not major considerations in bathroom or kitchen remodels (back to the fact that very few of us want to acknowledge we are getting older so little planning is undertaken). It isn’t until a homeowner realizes that they need assistive devices in the kitchen or bathroom that it becomes an issue. Can homeowners easily retrofit (without major expense or remodeling ) their kitchen and bath to be more user friendly?
Jamie Goldberg: Some elements can be easily added or changed, like new generation grab bars that don’t require blocking; changing sink faucets and door knobs to lever-handled models; adding a shower seat and handheld showerhead, or replacing a standard dishwasher with a drawer-based model. I wrote an article on “Affordable Ideas to Retrofit Your Home for Accessibility” (see resources below) for BobVila.com.
Some elements, however, will require a professional redesign and remodel. These are also outlined in that article, but generally-speaking, involve any accommodations that need to be made for wheelchair accessibility, typically including widening doorways, halls and work aisles in a kitchen, and relocating plumbing for roll-under access and appliances for safer cooking. I suggest going to the National Kitchen & Bath Association website, and searching for a certified professional, (who will have proficiency in universal design), or the National Association of Home Builders site and searching for a Certified Aging in Place Specialist designer or contractor.
We’d like to thank Jamie for generously sharing her expertise and are excited to have her back for our “Ask The Expert: Kitchen and Bathroom Design” panel. Visit Jamie’s website for more information on Aging In Place, kitchen design and bathroom design and her blog, Gold Notes for the latest news and updates from the world of kitchen and bath design. Follow her on twitter as she reports from the floor of kitchen and bath design trade shows.
Coming up: Week of June 22nd: Top Kitchen and Bath experts: Lori Carroll, Susan Palmer, Jamie Goldberg, Fu-Tung Cheng, Matthew Quinn and Susan Serra share their advice, tips and insights into kitchen and bath trends for 2009. Follow us on Twitter (The Decorating Diva on Twitter) and you’ll never miss an update.
The Decorating Diva is a luxury home design magazine and lifestyle journal dedicated to the concept of living a stylish and comfortably elegant life at home – joyfully surrounded by the beautiful things you love. Join, Carmen, The Decorating Diva’s founder, as she blogs about sophisticated, smart, stylish and beautiful decor for your home and shares her decorating and style advice with you. Follow her and several of our wonderful contributors on inspirational design trips as they explore enchanted lands both far and near – returning with a delightful treasure trove of design finds for your home.