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Making Your Home Comfortable In Retirement

Monday, October 10, 2016

As life expectancy increases many Australians are wanting to stay in their own homes for as long as possible; allowing them to remain close to their local community and family. If this is a choice you’re considering, it’s important to remember that changes may be required to your home to ensure your comfort and safety as the years go by.

REMODELLING FOR OPEN PLANNING

There’s no denying that most people as they age become frailer which increases the risk of falls and related injuries. Some day-to-day activities around the house can become difficult and even present a safety risk if a home is left unaltered to accommodate for living needs. Fortunately, renovating your home to meet new requirements allows you to continue to live independently for longer.

When brainstorming ideas for remodeling your home, consider an open plan arrangement so you can move around easily in your house and safely access the things you need on a daily basis. One option is to combine the kitchen, dining and living areas together. While the move to combine living areas has been on trend for a few years now, the exercise can go pear-shaped without proper planning. Before changing any space, it would be best to get expert advice on the best place to start. Your discussions should include how you can improve the livability of a space, how best to create the illusion of more space and maximise on natural lighting.

EASY ACCESS SHOWERS AND OTHER FEATURES

For those who live in a multi-storey house, an important feature when redesigning is ensuring that a bathroom and a bedroom is available on the ground floor for easy access so you can minimise taking the stairs if needed. An ensuite to an existing bedroom may be possible depending on the size, position and layout of the space.

Once the placement has been decided, the bathroom should have accessibility features to accommodate for an older person which can be blended in so that aesthetics are not sacrificed for functionality. You may want to consider these options for future proofing:

  • Using products which can be multi-functional such as grab bars that can also act as substitutes for towel rails and toilet paper holders.
  • Adjust the height of various items such as the toilet, cabinetry and basin to aid accessibility.
  • Create a walk in shower space that can accommodate for wheel chair access if required. In addition to being easier to clean, having a shower space that can allow for ease of access and a relatively level flooring is a much safer alternative.
  • Install an adjustable hand shower rail and possibly a shower bench. Both these items will make showering and self-care a lot easier.

With the help of an experienced builder and designer you can create a space that works perfectly for your needs, but won’t mean sacrifices when it comes to resale of your home later down the track.

FLOORING

Flooring should be revisited as you get older as slippery surfaces can pose a safety risk which can be easily avoided if you get the surface right. That said, safety is the not the sole factor when choosing the right flooring, maintenance requirements as well as aesthetic considerations should also be factors when deciding on appropriate flooring.

We’d suggest avoiding very hard surfaces like natural stone and ceramic tiles. While some choose to go with carpet in their home to avoid the risk of slippery surfaces and to keep warm in winter, carpet can be difficult to keep clean and maintain- an inconvenience that is hard to justify as you get older. For ease in cleaning and maintenance you can’t go past wooden floorboards that in addition to being more durable than other flooring surfaces also brings an aesthetic appeal which adds value to your house when reselling.

LIGHTING

The lighting in rooms where accidents are more likely to occur - in particular the kitchen, should be reviewed to prevent accident and injury. To get the lighting right, look to maximise natural light were possible by introducing an additional window or skylight. If these aren’t an option, consider opting for recessed lighting or task lighting to improve visibility when you are cooking. You may also want to review the placement and height of light switches, so that they are easily accessible when entering and leaving a room.

There are many innovative products on the market to provide greater lighting in a kitchen such as strips of LED lighting that can be introduced under the countertop or can really light up a walk in pantry so all the nooks and crannies are made visible. If you don’t already have contrasting surfaces such as your countertops to your flooring, it would be beneficial to do so to make your kitchen safer and easier to see things.

Nu-Look specialises in project planning and delivery for renovations in the kitchen and bathroom so that you get the most suitable living arrangement as you head into retirement. Call us for a free appointment and we can arrange a time to discuss your changed living requirements.