Design and Your Future



Friends of mine are planning their move out of state for an early retirement. They’ve lived here, in the northeast, their entire lives, raised their families and worked at their respective careers with gusto. Bravo, my friends!

Their quest for a new home began somewhere in the Deep South about 8 years ago, but after a short visit there, they determined that a rural area in Virginia would be a better lifestyle in terms of climate and culture along with some very hefty financial benefits.

They looked for their retirement, waterfront home for almost 5 years before they came upon what was ultimately their spot; but alas, when they first previewed the home, the interior was in such a horrific state of décor, they couldn’t get beyond it and walked away – twice.

A few dozen houses and a couple of years later, they revisited the house. This time, however, they used a different pair of eyes and began to see what the house could potentially be with some TLC and a modicum of imagination and change.

The house had a huge open floor plan with two bedrooms on the first floor (both in the back of the house). Space for a dining and living area already existed as did the first floor office, kitchen and eating area. It was ideal except the bedrooms blocked the beautiful view.

The second floor was about 1000 sq. ft. of open area with a modest bathroom – a blank canvas in the waiting so to speak.

They Bought It

Considering this most likely would be their last home, we talked a long time about what they should be sure to include within their renovation plans to support their needs for the long-haul. After just having personally gone through the care of elderly parents and their special needs, I provided a short, but important list of considerations.

Of course, they were working within a budget and needed to prioritize what they wanted versus what they would need going forward, but with some thought, it all fell into place.

The first project, while only aesthetic, was bringing the view of the beautiful water into the home by moving a bedroom from the back of the house to the front of the home off the kitchen area. By installing a bay of 4 windows, the view is seen from the moment you walk into the house. Your eyes are immediately drawn to the windows.


When considering the second floor, a large master suite was on the drawing board which would incorporate a bedroom, walk-in closet, master bath and an exercise/relaxation area. A huge amount of space. Remember,this couple lives in northern New Jersey and shared a small bath and bedroom quarters for over 15 years. Simply having the opportunity to have their own sink was very exciting.


I have to give my friends kudos in their design adventure. In speaking with them, I learned that she and her husband while in their 40s and 50s respectively, took the advice and thought long and hard about their comfort and needs today and in the future.


In their master suite, they decided to use the existing tub and linen closet area as a walk in shower for two. Here they insured safety bars were installed on the shower walls for holding on, the opening to the shower room was wide enough to accommodate a special shower chair or perhaps even a wheelchair, and last, they built the threshold to the shower so it could be changed to allow for a chair to roll over it, if need be.

The bedroom and closet doorways were also left wider should that be necessary at a later time. While they will use (and love) their master suite on the second floor, there are 15 stairs going up to the space. So if one would like a snack or a drink, there’s the run down to the fridge or cupboard. Here again, thinking for conveniences today and the future, they incorporated a small refrigerator to hold beverages and a small cupboard in the workout/relaxation side of the suite to satisfy those needs.

The concise list I provided allowed them to consider either of them becoming wheelchair- bound and requiring a handicap accessible home. They also considered their worst-case scenario of not being able to use their master suite, on the second floor, one day because of age or illness, so they insured one of their first floor bedrooms was designed to conform to their needs.

My friends are exactly one year away from their new life chapter. Today it is more apparent than ever that folks would prefer to remain in their homes longer. These few ideas not only help to create the home of your present but one that will accommodate you long into your future. There are many more home attributes to consider for the elderly i.e., technology and other conveniences, that require more thought and exploration.

My friends are extremely excited, and as you can see, prepared. Because of some simple forethought they will be able to enjoy their newly designed home for years to come without interruption to make changes. They can sit back and just relax.