Universal Design Helps Residents Age in Place

Universal Design Helps Residents Age in Place

Posted 02/13/2015


It never hurts to plan for the future, especially when the future involves staying in a home you love as you settle into your Golden Years.

That"s one of the thoughts behind Maracay Homes' new Freedom Collection of designs, on display now at our new 55+ neighborhood, Victory at Verrado. The Freedom Collection was developed in partnership with KTGY, a national architectural firm known for innovation in design for the active adult buyer.

"More than a third of our buyers identify themselves in the active adult demographic," explains Maracay President Andy Warren. "They are a sophisticated consumer that demands innovative designs tailored to their lifestyles. KTGY helped us design a collection of homes that addresses the unique needs of this demographic."

The Freedom Collection incorporates specific features  known as Universal Design – that add convenience and ease to living. The concept, originally aimed at creating easily accessible spaces for individuals with physical disabilities, has evolved into the design of functional, stylish spaces that make maneuverability easier for anyone, regardless of age, size or ability.

Sometimes it goes by other names, such as inclusive design, design for all, lifespan design or human-centered design. But regardless what you call it, Universal Design is moving to the forefront of the housing conversation as baby boomers purchase homes with their retirement years in view. Homes that incorporate Universal Design elements allow residents to "age in place." In other words, those who live in a home with these special features will be just as comfortable today as they will be down the road, as their needs and abilities change with age. Here’s a list of some of Universal Design's most popular features:

  • Single-floor layouts: No need to worry about stairs tripping you up in one-story floor plans where bedrooms, kitchen, at least one full bathroom and common areas are all located on the the same level.
  • Step-free entries: Entering and exiting the home, or the home's main rooms, is easy for everyone, regardless of whether they roll or stroll over the threshold using a wheelchair, a walker or just their own two feet.
  • Wide doorways and hallways: Doorways that are at least 36 inches wide, and hallways that are at least 42 inches wide, allow for the easy movement of large pieces of furniture or appliances. They also improve the home’s traffic flow by providing lots of room for occupants to move in, out and around easily.
  • Strategicaly placed controls and switches: Light switches and thermostats placed no higher than 48 inches off the floor are within easy reach for most people, even those in wheelchairs. Similarly, electrical outlets located 18-24 inches off the floor are convenient for all.
  • Functional furnishings: Multi-level kitchen counter tops with open space underneath allow the cook can work while seated. This proves that even everyday tasks like cooking can be more pleasant when they’re performed from a seated position.