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Age-Friendly Home: More Renovation Tips

In the previous article, we have covered the topic of age-friendly home remodeling, and the ways proper adaptations can enable safe and comfortable aging-in-place. Here we will highlight some details that require special attention.

Age-Friendly Home Bathroom: Walk-in Bathtub or Walk-in Shower?

A walk-in bathtub is a favorite among some seniors who experience fatigue often and prefer to sit and bath over standing in the shower. Both solutions have their pros and cons, though. While a walk-in bathtub might be a more comfortable and more affordable investment at the start, it also costs more to use long-term.

west Vancouver bathroom project
Age-friendly home: west Vancouver bathroom project

A walk-in shower with an energy-efficient showerhead will not just ease your life. It will also save you some money on your water bill, up to 30%. Furthermore, it will make your property more competitive in the market, if you ever decide to sell. A renovated, modernized bathroom adds value to your home. 

For seniors with demanding physical conditions, there are also hands-free shower chairs that fit into a walk-in shower.

Grab Bar for Shower/ Tub

Installing grab bars in the right places all around the bathroom is obligatory for an age-friendly home. Equally important is to make sure they are installed correctly and sturdy enough to support sudden shocks and substantial weight. 

Safety bars can help people move around the bathroom more securely. It supports the body in case of sudden fatigue and protects you from injuries if you slip on the wet floor. Properly installed and conveniently positioned safety bars can help prevent bathroom accidents or even death.

Permanently installed safety bars must be anchored to the wall and made of durable materials like stainless steel. Don’t confuse them with suction cup bars, as those are intended only to provide limited assistance with balance.

Age-friendly home, grab bars
Image source: Flicker

Ideally, there should be a vertical entrance bar on a wall opposite the faucet wall, and another one on the faucet wall. For additional safety, one or two horizontal safety bars should be on a side wall, too. That way, you’ll have a bar available in any situation or position. 

Grab Bar for Toilet

Grab bars for the toilet, ideally, come as a pair that surrounds both sides and hosts both arms for proper support. Those are fixed to the wall behind, at one point each. Adequate installation is obligatory to ensure full safety. 

If your bathroom is small and you also worry about aesthetics, opt for multifunctional bars, like 2-in-1. These can also serve other practical purposes, such as holding hand-towels or toilet paper. Other options are wavy bars or long corner grab bars. The latter is a continuous rail that can stretch from the toilet to the door and makes an ideal solution if you need both vertical and horizontal support. 

Age-friendly home, toilet grab bars
Image source: Flicker

Finally, there are moveable grab bars. Those can be hinged to the wall and swiveled or folded out of the way when not in use. These types of bars are ideal for larger toilet areas and people who don’t require bar support all the time. 

Raised Toilet Seats

One of the significant challenges that come with age is bending down safely. An age-friendly home should feature modifications that bring things closer to a senior resident, eliminating most of the bending need. By raising the toilet seat up higher than a traditional toilet, we reduce the chance of an injury and minimize the pains.

Apart from helping seniors who suffer bending or standing difficulties, a raised seat also provides extra support while rehabbing from a surgery or an injury. The hinged toilet seat risers can add over three inches of height to a toilet and support up to several hundred pounds. Those are easy to install and present an excellent solution when buying a whole new toilet isn’t an option.

Age-friendly home, luxury bathroom design
Luxury bathroom design

An age-friendly home should feature bathroom faucets that require no tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist. Ideally, those should be easy to operate with one hand and require very little to none force to activate.

Touchless faucet technology is one of the best innovations for age-friendly homes. Even if your existing manual faucet lever meets all the safety criteria, you can still see plenty of benefits after replacing it with a sensor-controlled alternative. Start from eliminating the need to turn a lever every time, especially with sore, arthritic hands.

Hand-Held Shower Head

Hand-held showerheads are recommended bathroom features for age-friendly homes to help safeguard bathing activities. Those bear the additional advantage of being affordable: a hand-held showerhead costs only a fraction of the price compared to a complete valve hand shower system. 

Furthermore, if you opt for a tub instead of a walk-in shower, a hand-held showerhead will allow you to wash in any position you prefer, including seating.

Age-friendly bathroom
Image source: Flicker

In the tub area, safety and body control can heavily depend on the position of the showerhead. If it stands too high, it may present a challenge to reach. If it’s too low, it may require bending and uncomfortable body positioning. Both options can have an advert effect on balance, leading to scalding or slips and falls. That is another example of why it’s best to skip DIY for an age-friendly home and hire professionals to do the work.

Age-Friendly Home Requires Improved Lighting

Some studies found that a 60-year-old senior needs a double amount of lighting compared to adolescents. While adding more light is the solution, it still needs to be followed by proper customizations. Distribution is important, as well as sources and locations. An ambient LED lighting setting will secure uniform distribution without increasing power consumption. It is also an excellent way to equalize lighting transitions between rooms and eliminate sudden flashes and contrasts. 

master bathroom
Richmond master bathroom

Shielding is good, as it prevents issues that can come with glare, so don’t avoid them in an attempt to secure more light. Keep in mind that quality is crucial, which sometimes also means that less is more.

Enclosed environments like showers can easily trap moisture and become prone to mould and mildew. Bathroom exhaust fans use electricity and aren’t always practical. A better way to increase air circulation is by raising the ceiling level, where possible. If you can follow that by replacing the windows, you could also secure a maximal amount of available daylight.

Slip-Resistance Flooring

One of the essential things to pay attention to if you make an age-friendly home is a floor. That particularly applies to bathrooms and walk-in showers. Opt for small, textured shower tiles rather than large, glazed ones. The abundance of grouting, together with the texture, will keep your feet from slipping and help you to move safely once the floor gets soapy and wet. Look for tiles that are easy to clean and resistant to mold, humidity, and stains.

Reduce Hot Water Tank Temperature

Adding a simple thermostatic valve to the fixture that keeps the water is a wise move. It allows maintaining a safe, consistent temperature within a few degrees and prevents shower water fluctuations from warm to cold or hot without warning.

While steady water temperature is something we can all appreciate, in an age-friendly home, it’s a must. Aging brings mobility challenges, and that means a senior’s muscles move and react progressively slower. Sudden temperature changes come as a shock, without any warning to get out of the way. That triggers impulsive reactions, putting a senior in several potentially dangerous situations that could result in an injury.

Avoid Sharp Edge Countertops

Laminate or quartz countertops are a common remodeling solution for bathrooms and kitchens. In an age-friendly home, those need to stand at the optimal height to provide additional safety. Installing one lower countertop or several countertops with varying levels allows for the diversity of use.

Regardless of countertop materials, it would be best if you make sure to avoid sharp edges. Those typical 90-degree angles can prove seriously problematic for seniors since a single false move can result in a painful injury. Avoid the risk by rounding off all countertop edges, either as a simple curve, bullnose, or a double-bevel.

Aging in place requires a properly adapted age-friendly home. To avoid the risk that comes with mistakes and lack of the right information, schedule a free professional consultation, and see what we can do for you.

Age Friendly House: Ten Essential Renovations to Make Sooner Rather than Later

In the old days, when the existing home would become too challenging for a senior, the options were narrow, and commonly included moving out. Aging in place, in an appropriate age-friendly house, was not a thing, and if the family members were too busy to take proper care of the older relative, a nursing home was the common solution. While, in some instances, moving out proved to be necessary, the truth is that most seniors would rather have stayed in their own home, on familiar ground, in their own privacy. 

Seniors are adults who spent most of their lives in responsibility for raising the family, developing a career, taking care of everything. That self-image is hard to change, but golden years are also the time to decrease stress levels and enjoy the fruits of one’s efforts. Over time, we all have to let go of the ultimately-in-charge image and settle with the idea that the moment for relaxation has come. Slowly, we learn to enjoy it. 

Age-friendly house

My House, My Rules

When you’re a senior, you know how it feels. It’s not unlikely that you might have already lost a spouse or a partner in the process. You lost the feeling of being irreplaceable as a patron. The last thing you want to relinquish is control over your own life, regressing to the phase of a helpless child.

This bears significant importance if you have spent most of your life in the same house—or, at least, a long time. Such a place is crawling with warmth and memories, provides the meaning to existence. There’s also a sense of safety and security that no other place can beat. Moving out is like leaving your life behind, giving it up. From this perspective, it’s easy to understand why seniors should be provided with an alternative. After all, they deserve it. 

What it Means, an Age-Friendly House?

Age-related changes will have halved your young adult strength by the time you reach 80. The velocity of contraction and movement significantly reduces, together with muscle power. In turn, fatigability increases. The declines in motor function appear to accelerate markedly in this age. The central nervous system also suffers degradation, compromising activation of the motor unit during contractions. 

Still, there is a large variability between individuals in many aspects of motor performance. Some healthy individuals can lead an almost fully-independent life until their last days.

Other common age-related issues with a major impact on mobility are cardiovascular diseases, arthritis. Then there is Alzheimer’s disease as a whole set of problems of its own.

Mobility issues greatly affect seniors’ ability to perform daily functional tasks. There are, however, many preparations that you can make in advance to turn your home age-friendly and suitable for comfortable, peaceful aging in place.

luxury house designer
Calm and bright living space

The desire to live safely and undisturbed in our own homes is universal, as is the desire to be a part of the community. Making it happen is not easy, but it is possible. Transition to an age-friendly house requires some essential renovations that can help you live longer and feel independent. Those will enhance the level of physical safety and support you in staying mentally sharp, on top of your game. A good mental stage sustains other functions so the body can remain healthy as well. 

Making an age-friendly house is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach, but some things are universal. I will state the ten crucial changes and explain how those affect the inhabitants.

How to Transition Towards Age-Friendly House

Floor Plan

If possible, the entire living area will share the same floor, eliminating the need to use stairs entirely. You need to be able to move with minimal obstruction on the way. An open plan is the best solution, but some people enjoy small, defined rooms with more coziness and privacy.

Ideally, there shouldn’t be any steps between rooms or zones. Also, each traffic flow should be spacious enough to comfortably accommodate walking assistance, a helping person, or a wheelchair. Flooring is one of the crucial aspects of safety, so it must feature smooth, glare-free, slip-resistant surfaces or carpets. Every finish should be as low-maintenance as possible. 

Sunshine coast interior
Age in place home with comfort

Color/texture contrast is an excellent solution to indicate a change in surface levels. If the stairs are unavoidable, a contrast between vertical and horizontal will increase visibility. Together with excellent lighting and sturdy rails, it will significantly affect the safety and convenience of use. 

A smart-home system will help a lot to keep everything under control without excessive physical efforts. 

Doors and Windows

  • If possible, entrances should grant easy access and egress with no obstacles like steps. In a case when steps can’t be avoided, it’s necessary to have a sturdy rail for support. Doors should be changed to at least 4 inches wider than a typical home to grant undisrupted assisted passability. Ideally, a senior should be able to open all internal doors hands-free. That means either sensors, swivel doors, or ideally no doors at all, where available. Additionally, consider sink handles or levers rather than knobs.
  • Plenty of lower to the floor, easy-open windows, allowing an abundance of natural light, are a better solution than common ones. If there is a need for any shutters, heavy shades, or awnings, try to install the electrical, button-operated systems. 

Hallways

  • Those should be minimally three feet wide, preferably wider. Ideally, there will be space for a bench at the front door, and a surface area to place parcels and heavy bags. No-slip flooring is a must, with the matte finish. Some grab bars along the corridors are not a bad idea, either.
  • Hallways and corridors should be exceptionally well lit, ideally activated by sensors. Between bedroom and bathroom, automatic nighttime illumination would be a valuable asset.
master bathroom
Accessible Bathroom

Bathrooms

Over 30% of al bathroom injuries happen to seniors, of which over 80% are from slips and falls, half of those due to the inadequate features or missing propper support. A minor investment into several improvements can minimize such risk or eliminate it entirely.

  • Installing a curbless, roll-in shower with an adjustable handle is the best idea, but some seniors prefer to sit in a tub. If possible, install both. A reliable, quality fold-down seat in the shower and a lowered bathtub will secure a more convenient use.
  • Easily accessible grab-bars should exist inside and outside shower, as well as around a tub. Also, make all cabinetry easy to reach, with edges in contracting colors, easy to spot. The toilet should be height adjustable. All materials must be selected with convenience in mind, such as antibacterial, with anti-slip properties.
luxury kitchen designer
Age-friendly luxury kitchen design

Kitchen

The kitchen must have enough maneuvring space with easily accessible features. An open-plan kitchen is an excellent solution, both space- and safety-wise. It eliminates the need for doors, and in case you need any kind of assistance, there are no sound or visual barriers. 

  • Glass-front cabinet doors and pull-down or open shelving are convenient, providing easy access to all frequently used items. All appliances should feature accessible doors and easy to read controls. The more voice or sensor control, the better. 
  • There should be at least one working area available with a sitting position; the ideal solution is under-counter seated work areas.
contemporary design
Bedroom with a view

Bedroom

A well-designed bedroom can bring you comfort and calm, much needed to rest for the next day properly. Sometimes bedrooms are the most cluttered rooms in the home. In an age-friendly house, this room should be clutter-free and secured against tripping and falling. On the other hand, all storage must be designed as convenient and accessible. An architect with extensive knowledge of interior psychology, familiar with Feng-Shui’s philosophical approaches, can make the bedroom a true oasis for body, mind, and soul. 

  • The bedroom should have enough open space to allow undisturbed movement of a wheelchair, walking assistance device, or a person. 
  • Drawers and all storage need to be simple and easy to access drawers. A comfortable and accessible bed is an essential feature. Ensure it’s not too high or too low, obstacle-free, allowing for convenient getting in and getting up.
Living room
Bright and open living room

Age-Friendly House Renovation Is Not a Luxury, But a Necessity

Our senior population deserves a radical rethink in the way we design and build our homes. Acting with the future in mind, meeting our needs according to our lifestyle choices is a matter of wisdom. With some exceptions, aging in place is a highly functional concept that works, allowing a person to remain safe and well without the need for constant surveillance. An age-friendly house offers a high-quality life through golden years, a chance to keep everything under control and remain socially active for decades to come.

Read this article in Epochtimes 

Why I Like Open Concept Homes

Open floor plans dominate architectural trends in residential construction for a few decades, showing no signs of withdrawal. As a clear concept, it first appeared in the 1950s with the growing trend of contemporary styling. The popularity continued through the 1970s, and by the mid-’90s this type of layout has become a staple of modern design. Homeowners often turn to open concept solutions, mostly due to its sleekness and convenience.

A large portion of the major remodelling projects in older homes feature joining the kitchen, dining, and living room into a form of communal living space. The open concept implies, above all, elimination of all unnecessary walls and barriers in the living area. This kind of construction often relies on heavy-duty beams to carry the load. 

Sunshine coast interior, open concept
Sunshine coast interior

Why Do I Prefer to Design Open Concept Homes? 

The benefits of open floor plans are numerous: the free flow of natural light, the enhanced feeling of spaciousness, openness, and several social and family life advantages. It allows hosts to interact with their guests from the kitchen, or organize cooking parties. Also, parenting becomes more relaxed with the opportunity to do many things at once.

Maple ridge modern architect
Maple ridge modern architect

 Advantages of Open Concept Homes

  • An open floor plan encourages traffic flow. Without walls to hinder movements and doors to open and close, people can move through space more freely.
  • Social interaction and communication significantly improve in the absence of walls. Without barriers, it’s possible to talk and keep contact across the rooms without interruptions.
  • The abundance of light is one of the major benefits of open concept space. Large windows allow for the maximum of natural light to fill the living area. Additionally, the open concept solves the issue of having rooms with windows too small or non-existent.
  • Real estate value can significantly increase. An open floor plan is highly sought after and usually affects your home’s value in the eyes of prospective buyers.
  • The open floor concept simplifies multitasking for families with small kids. Parents can easily supervise children while simultaneously performing their daily activities.
  • The absence of partitions walls allows for more flexibility in setting up a layout. It’s easier to reconfigure furnishings and accessories while utilizing available space in the most efficient way possible.
  • In contrast to closed rooms, the open floor concept is also multifunctional. The area can efficiently serve as a family room, a recreation room, a home office, or an entertainment space. Without major interventions, you can use the place according to your needs of the moment.
  • Large gatherings can be accommodated with no problem. Simply rearranging elements within the open home offers more flexibility than trying to navigate around many static parts of the structure.
Maple ridge modern home
Maple ridge modern home

Psychology of the Open Concept Space

Interior design has a major impact on your emotions and perception. There is a dedicated part of your brain that reacts to the geometry of the space. That is why the best design orchestrates proportion, symmetry, balance, and rhythm to introduce an overall sense of harmony.

Meanwhile, every color, shape, or shade can trigger the subconscious associations. Light, at the same time, has a role of its own. The spaces we live in are an inherent part of people’s mental well-being. It’s the responsibility of the architect to take all factors into consideration and shape solutions that will benefit the user at many, or all, levels.

When it comes to your living space, openness offers wideness. Combined with windows that connect it to the outside world, it gives the feeling of freedom. Humans are not meant to live in boxes, and your living space should not remind you of a dungeon, keeping you closed between narrow walls. In contrast to your bedroom that requires a sense of intimacy and privacy, the living area should be a place to connect and spread your wings.

Some of the key designing factors every architect must consider are ease of movement, sensory stimulation, and social connectedness. Along comes the quality of light and air. The open concept works alongside all those factors to deliver the best package of benefits within designated limits.

luxury house designer
Luxury open space concept

Harmonized Aesthetics

When we design open space, we join the compartments of living room, kitchen, family room, and dining room. At the same time, we explore new, creative ways to separate these compartments. Even the tiniest changes in the decorative motives, panning, light pattern, or floor covering, create an orchestra of beauty. On the contrary, when a designer separates them by walls and hallway, not only does the place look smaller, but it indeed loses a lot of space for the circulation from one room to another. 

Having a clear plan in mind before diving into any design project is always important. However, when you’re working with an open concept space, it becomes the priority. To put a proper focus on the room’s aesthetics, you first need a defined idea of the ways you intend to use the space. Stunning visuals lose their impact if a person inside can’t function due to a bad floor plan or inadequate furniture.

The best way to harmonize is to create distinct groupings by function. When putting an open space together, visual cues separate each dedicated zone without the need for specified barriers. For instance, a kitchen and a dining area often share one common space. In this case, a kitchen island or peninsula acts as a visual dividing line between the two regions.

To create zoning between a dining area and a living room, a divider can be a short set of stairs, different paint colors, different flooring, a laser-cut decorative barrier, or a bookshelf.

Maintaining a steady aesthetic flow throughout an open-concept space is crucial. All principal design features, such as flooring, furnishing style, and lighting, should be consistent. Color palettes should complement one another. Highlights and accents are achieved through deco, layers of texture, and different hues.

Dining room, open concept home
Stairs as a divider

Increased Maneuverability

The open space concept offers more flexibility in use, and also improves productivity. A typical kitchen traffic flow follows the line of acquiring—washing/cutting—cooking food. The efficiency of this process greatly depends on the available space. The size and shape of a traditional working triangle are determined by the sink, fridge, and stove positions. Minimizing the distance between them is easier to achieve in an open concept plan due to its flexibility. 

The open plan also allows more users at the same time, without movement interruption.

That is very convenient for smaller homes, since allowing fewer restrictions for shared activities with high frequency. An open floor concept is a consistently functional space with augmented friends & family factors.

Regardless of age, moving around is more comfortable when your home is not separated by doors and hallways. Since there are no walls between the rooms, the travel distance is shorter between point A to point B in a house. This is especially significant for residents with mobility issues. Using walking assistance or a wheelchair is a lot easier with fewer barriers on the way.

Maple ridge contemporary home, open concept
Plenty of space for traffic flow

Furnishing an Open Concept Space

An open plan’s interior design depends on a space available to work with, the ways to divide and arrange dedicated zones, and the volume of traffic necessary to secure functionality.

One of the common mistakes in laying out an open concept home is not considering traffic flow. Functionally conducive walkways between zones should go hand in hand with furniture layout, supporting instead of compromising each other. 

An open floor plan should not be interrupted by too many visual barriers. Partitioning the area defeats the purpose of having an open-concept. An open shelving unit, for example, can create division while still maintaining a sense of openness, but cluttering it with too much deco will distract the eye’s line of sight.

When the entire room is within sight, it’s easier to spot the subtle inconsistencies that break up the harmony. Tall furniture can visually anchor one area more than the others. Significant differences in flooring or too many strong, contrasting wall colors will ruin the streamline and bring out the vibe of discomfort in place of a balanced, pleasant symmetry. 

modern kitchen designer
Consistency is the key

Fewer walls can also mean less storage space. The utilization of empty wall space can circumvent such an issue. Smart storage and built-in hidden shelves provide plenty of creative opportunities. A kitchen island or bar can also host some hidden storage compartments. Modern design offers visually flawless multifunctional pieces, such as a coffee table that doubles as a storage box or a sofa designed with surrounding exterior shelves.

Finally, seating should always inspire social interaction. A well-designed open space concept will offer some space for a private conversation, with sofas and armchairs arranged to create more intimate contacts.

By Aryo Falakrou (My Home Designer)

House and money

How to Finance your Renovations

How to Finance your Renovations

Everyday, as I drive the highway, I notice that over 90% of the vehicles on the road are 10 years or newer. That makes me wonder if all of these people own their vehicle or is the vehicle leased or financed?

The auto industry has made financing a vehicle that costs between $20,000 to $50,000 accessible and affordable. Many of us take on this expensive monthly payment for an ‘investment’ that does not count as an asset or, maybe we should say, a reliable asset.

If it is that easy to finance a car, some may wonder if it can be the same to finance a renovation project for their home.

The truth is financing a renovation project for a house or condo is not as difficult or out of reach as it may seem. A bank provides financing to purchase or lease a vehicle and then uses the vehicle as the collateral. The same would apply when someone needs to renovate his/her house or condo.

However, in the case of renovations, the banks use the value of your house in the current market as collateral and will offer homeowners anywhere from 60% to 75% of the value of the house or condo to set up a mortgage on your house.

Since most of the properties in Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley have gained value within last decade, the chances of any property owner having enough un-used collateral that can be liquidated to finance a renovation is very high.

Having this option to finance your renovations, there is no need suffer and continue to live in a run-downed house or condo that could have moldy walls. You can update that old kitchen and the bathrooms. Talk to us and let us put you in touch with the right people to make the transition to a much nicer looking living space. If you deserve to drive a nice car, then don’t you deserve to live in nice looking house/condo as well?

There are a number of financing options to consider when it comes to paying for your home renovations. The CHMC (Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation) has a list that includes:

  • Savings or Credit Card

  • Personal Loan

  • Personal Line of Credit

  • Secured Line of Credit

  • Home Equity Loan

  • Mortgage Refinancing

  • Financing upon Home Purchase

  • Grant and Rebate options for Energy Efficiency

bathroom renovation surrey

financing bathroom renovation

At Myhomedesigner.com Ltd., we can help design your dream home, provide the blue prints and get an accurate estimate, from one or two professional contractors, that can be presented to the bank or private lender. This will give them a better picture of where and how the money will be spent as well as how the property owner can pay back the loan.

It is important to have a good understanding of how much the renovations will cost and if you are prepared to go over budget, by how much. What is your cut off number? This is where all the research and ‘home’ work really pays off.

When it is time to speak with a financial institution or talk to a Mortgage Broker to assess your financing needs and to see what options are available to you, we will help you do the research, get the quotes, and have the plans in hand.

We are here to help you live your dreams.

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