Planning for and changing a living space to better accommodate the later years of life can be challenging. The search for appropriate living spaces that allow retirees to live safely and comfortably is one of the key challenges as retirement nears. For many baby boomers today the search is on for homes, condos or apartments that best deliver safe and comfortable living spaces best suited for life in the 60’s, 70’s and beyond. These homes will have single levels, must be recently remodeled and should include the latest in accessible and universal design features.
If you can’t find this type of home in the neighborhood you desire, you may venture to new areas of town and even look at properties that are distressed, but show promise. Winnowing through all the choices and taking the hardest path – finding a home in a completely unfamiliar neighborhood that is in need of significant improvement – is not for the weak of heart. This was the case for a recent client, all the “bones” were there – one level living, large and private yard for gardening all on a quiet side street. What was necessary was the vision and determination to turn a rough stone into a valuable gem.
The vision called for an entire new front façade and covered porch on the house that would improve appearance, accessibility and function. Included were new windows, front door and large covered front porch that would welcome visitors and allow a little BBQ out of the weather. This porch was a necessary addition as a focal point since the original front façade lacked an obvious front entry, and had a confusing layout with several ‘front’ doors. The existing front landscaping and fencing was in poor condition as well with several unhealthy trees and overgrown vegetation bordered with tired old cyclone fencing. Driven by a bold vision from our client, nearly all the existing landscaping and fencing was removed and re-designed around healthy new bushes and trees and a beautiful new cobblestone driveway and pathway.
Inside the house, the main floor featured lots of square footage and opportunities for accessibility, but the original kitchen lacked character and featured a poor layout and use of space. A new laundry room and butlers pantry was created where the original kitchen once stood, and the new kitchen was expanded and reconfigured. The kitchen was planned and designed with new cherry wood cabinetry, appliances, and bamboo flooring throughout. Our client opted for a mixture of new laminate countertops at the kitchen with a stone top at the island, a clever melding of different materials that helped the budget without sacrificing quality or longevity. The result is a comfortable new kitchen with great natural lighting, an island seating area, and lots of counter and storage space.
The master bathroom was another area of focus and was in need of a major update. The room was completely gutted and expanded to include a large two person shower with modern fixtures and a glass enclosure. Grab bars and a large tile bench were included as well as lots of space for a wheelchair turning radius taking into account the future aging needs of our client. Our homeowner selected a sleek and modern luxury vinyl for the bathroom floor, a much less expensive alternative than a tile floor while still achieving the tile aesthetic. A matching bamboo vanity and linen cabinet top off the space for a simple and elegant design with a subtle modern pan-asian flavor.
Other areas of the house that were affected included the dining and living rooms which received new bamboo flooring, windows, and trim. One of the challenges early on was the discovery of poor and unpredictable “remodel” work done by previous owners that required considerable corrective work. As is the case when remodeling a fixer house, ceilings needed to be stiffened, stairs re-built, walls straightened, and floors leveled. Electrical and plumbing issues were also found, addressed, and updated whenever possible. Through collaboration with the homeowner, sub-contractors and Square Deal, the affected areas of the home were brought up to modern code, giving peace of mind for the homeowner while adding value to the property itself. Our client now has a beautiful single-level space that will provide comfort and options for accessibility into their retirement years.
If you are unable to find the ideal and move-in ready home that is ideally suited for retirement life, you may elect to look for a home that others may pass over, as our client did. The decision to take on the challenge of a complete renovation may be the best choice for you depending on your budget, and retirement needs. My best recommendation would be to seek and find a capable and trusted design/build remodeling company to guide you through the challenges and choices in achieving the goal of a safe and comfortable home that will allow you to live independently for as long as possible.