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Homes that Age Gracefully

Homes that Age Gracefully

Planning a new home that will serve you for three decades

By Eric Englund, The House Designers Contributing Writer

“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be.” Those inspiring words were penned by Robert Browning, then sung first by John Lennon and later by Mary Chapin Carpenter and many others.

The idea of being able to settle into a house for many years is comforting to most of us. Don’t be afraid to build a new home with the idea of staying in it for 30 years or more!

If you like the concept of building a home that will see you comfortably into the 2040s, here are some pointers to remember.

KraftMaid Universal Design Kitchen Cabinetry

An open kitchen floor plan with limited barriers, wider passageways and variety of high and low cabinetry create a comfortable and functional space for people of all ages and abilities. The Passport Series by KraftMaid® is a welcoming collection of universally designed kitchen and bath cabinets with features like a raised toe kick, easy-to-reach wall storage, raised appliances, barrier-free sink base and point-of-use storage.


First of all, you can plan ahead so that certain details of your new home will help you to stay in it as you advance in years, or as family members experience differing levels of physical ability.

Grab bars are important in the bathroom, to avoid dangerous falls. A hand shower is a good idea, and it can be used in a sit-down shower for maximum ease and safety. A comfort-height toilet is taller than standard height, to ease sitting and standing. A walk-in or roll-in shower will be appreciated as the years progress.

In the kitchen, lower-height counters, sinks and stove can be convenient when someone in the family uses a wheelchair. Or consider kitchen appliances and cabinets with adjustable heights.

Red Cottage House Plan with Optional Bonus Room

The Red Cottage House Plan with Optional Bonus Room offers an open floor plan that can easily be adapted for changing needs and abilities.


A second topic is the point that you can make a modest-sized home serviceable for 30 years by repurposing its rooms as family needs evolve.

A bedroom has the most uses, changing from nursery to kid’s room to hobby room and more. It may be as simple as changing the paint color and window treatments.

A den or library can become a study or home office. Consider working at home on a part-time basis or even full-time. Or consider starting a home-based business of your own! A den can also make a nice TV room, to watch a second TV show when the larger TV is being used.

A guest suite on the main floor can be perfect for those times when an in-law or other relative wants to stay for a week or two — or for several years. A returning adult child could also use this suite while preparing for a second career.

And what about that space above the garage? Over time, that bonus room can change from a kids’ playroom to a home theater to an exercise room to an art studio. It makes an especially good location for an exercise room, because there is no one living below to be bothered by the noise of jumping jacks or weights.

Elevance rising wall bath from Kohler

Kohler® offers a full line of Aging in Place product solutions including the Elevance™ Rising Wall Bath, which features an extra wide opening, chair-height seat and integrated grab bar for easy entry and exit.


Not to be forgotten is the fact that, by staying in your new house for 30 years, you can make some expenses “one time only.”

Closing costs are an obvious example. Why pay them more than once (unless it makes sense to refinance).

Another example is the “pioneering” of the landscape. It’s a lot of work and expense, so do it only once. Then you can enjoy your yard for three decades.


Yes, with thoughtful planning and creative repurposing, you can enjoy your new home for 30 years or more. Think of it as your house aging gracefully as you are doing the same. “The best is yet to be!”

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