The "trending" question - What is hot in new construction and home renovation these days? I have a full list of responses, but feel most passionate about the need for "tasteful" universal design (the term coined by Ronald L. Mace) meaning developing spaces usable for broad movement whether your aging, disabled or conflicted by health issues.
With aging baby-boomers on the rise, the Gen Xer's are taking on our share of complexities in today's living. Young children are still at home, millennials are "finding their way" often paired with college expenses and now we have the worries of our aging parents. The financial impact comes from both ends for Gen X. If you are savvy about building or renovation strategies in your initial plan, you are enhancing your lifestyle and financial investments by a VERY high-percentage. The most exciting thing about universal design is it can be aesthetically pleasing with the ability to adapt in the future. Universal design is also very marketable to new home-buyers, think about your project as a future investment.
A few tips for universal design practices:
Single Story Homes:
A single story home is always a wonderful choice if your property allows. Wide hallways and ease of access for wheelchairs & walkers into bedrooms, bathrooms and secondary spaces are necessary and also aesthetically it feels spacious & airy. Wide hallways are a wonderful format for a FINE ART collection or display of wonderful objects. Large openings into
rooms are welcoming and allows for broader view points throughout your home. With each room tastefully decorated, you can enjoy each space while sitting in another room.
Elevators & Main Level Master Suites:
If you are renovating or building a two-story home, I highly recommend an elevator and a minimum of (1) master suite on the main level. The word elevator sounds intimidating, however in your building process if adapted into the design and building costs, it is a more reasonable event then future retrofits or a possible need for relocation. Elevators can be small in nature and blend with home interior surroundings.
No curbs in any of the showers. Yes, this seems simple, but if you forget this step in your initial design, you are faced with a large expense for modification during the building process.
A qualified designer or architect will draw and note the plans accordingly, allowing for ease of access into the shower. Plan for reinforced walls for grab bars. If you aren't quite ready for the look of grab bars (and by the way, a grab bar in every shower is smart; we all have moments that we can use alittle extra support). Request the builder to plan for sturdy walls for a future installation. Include a built-in seat for sitting down and a hand-shower.
Guest House (or Mother's In-Law quarters)
If you are blessed with a family that has open discussion about the future and "who will take care of Mom & Dad", you might ask if "Mom & Dad" are very willing to pitch in for a separate guest house or private quarters. Remember, Baby-Boomers are VERY independent people! Their extraordinary independence helped shape us "over-doting" Gen Xer's. You may find that their contribution could help meet all of your building goals. In addition, a separate quarters can be wonderfully useful for our displaced millennials as well.
You can actually refer to the "tiny-house brand" for building. This design fully embodies independence and separation. Note the small garage; our baby-boomer parents won't be ready to turn in the keys for a VERY long time.
All of these life-style changes can feel so overwhelming. With planning, organization and a great design team, universal design paired with beauty is a wonderful solution. After all, it is ONLY family :)