Design Your Forever Home

Design Your Forever Home

Your house isn't just the place where you sleep and eat - it's home. But some design choices don't exactly encourage you to stay into your golden years. Make sure your forever home is really forever with these 5 design strategies.

Long-Term Location. Think about services you'll need not just now, but in the future. If you're about to start a family, you're probably concerned about living close to the best schools. But at some point your kids will grow up and you might not want to live right next to a busy school with nonstop traffic. When you're looking for sites for your forever home, take lifelong requirements like grocery stores and medical clinics into consideration. A nearby hospital is a plus too, as is easy access to a bus line or other public transport for when you're no longer able to drive.

No Edgy or Trendy Design. Avoid the dreaded dated look by sticking to classic styles rather than something that's new and exciting, but could look outdated sooner rather than later. If you aren't sure which styles will still be relevant in a few decades, look at some of the house plan styles that have been around for centuries, like Colonials or Tudors.

Right-Size Spaces. Don't go hog-wild for oversized spaces and lots of spare rooms. At some point, your nest will be empty, and you don't want to be stuck maintaining an enormous house that now only has two people living in it. But by the same token, don't make your children's rooms so small that they can't fit in a spouse when they visit as adults. Build in extra storage in all of the bedrooms so that you can store extra blankets and kid keepsakes after it's time to renovate the bedrooms with a more mature look.

Flow is Everything.  An easy, intuitive flow through the house is key to keeping your house accessible for all generations. People of any age will appreciate simple navigation, clear wayfinding cues and wide entryways that a person using a mobility aid can pass through easily.

Aging in Place.  No one wants to lose their mobility, vision and strength, but pretending it will never happen isn't the answer. Build in accessible design features that will be easy to use in the future, but will also look attractive and benefit you in the present. For example, choosing fixtures that don't need much strength to maneuver will be handy now when one of your arms is busy holding a baby or grocery bags, and they'll still be easy to use later when you have less strength and dexterity. Have the shower and toilet areas reinforced so that you can add grab bars, which could also double as towel hangers until then. Stairs are tough for older people (and children) for a variety of reasons, so try to avoid features like split-level construction and sunken living rooms. Put at least one bedroom and bathroom on the main floor so that people with mobility issues won't have to struggle with stairs to get to them. You'll be glad you did when you enter your elder years, and in the meantime, think of all of the kid stumbles and drink spills you'll avoid by taking stairs out of the equation.


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