As previously post in our blog “Home Design Tips for Baby Boomers ~ Interior, Functionality”; the keys to the over all design for a home for Baby Boomers, are very simple. Functional, Livable, and Longevity. In this blog, we will discuss what makes a home Livable for the Baby Boomer generation.
In the words of BabyBoomer-Magazine.com, “We Baby Boomers are conscientious and picky, busy and family-oriented, and we will age in a new way, connected to modernity, with an eye to beauty, high design, easy maintenance and energy efficiency.” In my words, Baby Boomers know what they like and do not want to settle. They have on-the-go active lifestyles, visiting family and friends. They may not be home-bodies, but they want their home to be their sanctuary. Key areas to focus on when considering how to optimize the livability of a home design are: amenities and efficiency.
Amenities includes furnishings, electronics, fixtures, and appliances.
- Furnishings: What furnishings will you be using in your new home. Are you buying all new, or moving your existing furniture? If you are buying all new, you can purchase specifically for the design of the home. If you are moving your existing here are somethings to consider: Most Baby Boomers are right-sizing their homes. For a lot of people this means, getting rid of clutter and excess belongs that have accumulated over the years. Take a look at your current home and decide what you will be taking with you and how these pieces will fit the feel you want your new home to have? As you design your home, make sure there is room for the furnishing you will be moving into the space. Any extra belongings can be gifted or sold.
- Electronics: Let’s face it, electronics are part of life. Computers, TVs, Radio, etc are all part and parcel to the lives we now lead. As you design your home, keep in mind where and how you will use the electronics in your new home. Do you listen to music or watch The Food Network as you cook? Watch the News, while preparing for your day? Spend an hour each night “visiting” with grandchildren via webcam? Designing your home with all of this in mind will help make electronic use seamless. Designing a computer nook in a centralized location of your home will allow easier access and make your “visits” more enjoyable. Outlets and cable jacks can be placed in the appropriate areas to allow TVs or radios in kitchens or bathrooms… it is all in how the home is designed and the fore thought that is put into the design of each room.
- Fixtures: this category applies specifically to Plumbing and Electrical fixtures. Why design a huge master bathroom centered around a garden tub, if you never relax in the tub? They have AMAZING steam showers with multiple jets and different settings that will relax the muscles as well as any spa tub. And plumbing fixtures are not just found in the bathroom… take a look at the kitchen. If you share the kitchen while preparing meals, consider placing a prep sink in an island as well as your standard sink. On the electrical side of things, do you want to have to go to the basement if you trip a breaker while stringing holiday lights? Why not design the electrical panel into your laundry room? Lighting is many times an after thought, but considering how each room will be lit, may help you avoid running an extension cord behind the couch to plug in the lamp… Again, it is all in how the home is designed and the fore thought that is put into the design of each room.
- Appliances: The important factor here is having right size appliances for your life. You may cook a large family meal several times a year, but day to day only cook for 2… Why heat a standard size oven for a casserole for 2? Why have a have a dishwasher you only fill twice a year? Appliance manufacturers now have oven ranges for smaller meals, compact dishwashers that use less water and take less space. Combination convection and microwave ovens are an appliance that once you have, you will never be without again. Looking at the overall design of the kitchen is also important. The standard work triangle that connects the 3 main “appliances” of the kitchen (refrigerator, range and sink) may not work for two cooks.
Efficiency is important to all families. Designing and building a high efficiency home will lower the cost of home ownership. The less you spend to run your home, the more funds you have to support your lifestyle. This is especially important for retirees. Building a “tight” home will mean less drafts, less heat loss, less heating costs. Energy Star appliances and fixtures means less power consumption, lower utility bills. Every aspect of the home’s building specifications effects the efficiency of the home. From R-values of insulation, the type of flooring installed, type of heating system, proper installation of windows and doors… Talking to your builder about how to increase efficiency is important.
Next in our Home Design Blog Series: Home Design Tips for Baby Boomers ~ Interior, Longevity