2007 - [Sustainable Concepts] Designing for Retirement and an
2007, vol. 55
Welcome to the October 2007 newsletter from Design
Forward. Please take some time to enjoy this month's
Quote of the Month: "Retirement has been a discovery
of beauty for me. I never had the time before to notice
the beauty of my grandkids, my wife, the tree outside
my very own front door. And, the beauty of time itself."
Lisa A. Swan
Designing a home for retirement can be a dream
come true for many people. It is the opportunity
to build the home they always wanted and focus on
spaces for themselves. With family and children
grown up and moved away, designing a home for two
growing into old age has special considerations.
Here are 10 ideas to consider for you retirement
- A single level floor plan is the easiest for
getting around. If designing a multi-story, be
sure to put one full bedroom and bathroom on the
- Consider an open floor plan that eliminates
hallways and is the easiest plan to modify for
changing needs in later years.
- Design all hallways at 4'-0" wide and doors
at 3'-0" wide for wheelchair access, in case it
is needed in the future. Use the lever style door
handles instead of knobs.
- Put light switches and climate controls no more
than 48" off the ground for easy reach in a wheelchair.
Use rocker light switches, which are easier to
- In the kitchen, designate areas using low height
counters where you can sit to complete basic tasks
such as chopping vegetables or kneading bread.
- Low maintenance appliances and surfaces - consider
countertops with anti-microbial finishes and features
that make life easier, such as a pot-filler faucet
located next to the stove or a separate sink for
washing fruits and vegetables.
- When designing a bathroom, consider walk-in
showers with a separate tub. This gives a more
luxurious bathroom experience, but also allows
for practicality if mobility is limited or a wheelchair
is needed later in life.
- Choose hand-held showerheads for easy use while
sitting, a shower with a built-in seat and do
not design a shower with a curb, instead use a
gently sloped floor.
- Outdoor kitchen - if you love to be outdoors
or barbeque, building an outdoor kitchen can make
dining outside a pleasure. It eliminates several
trips back and forth between the main kitchen
and outside, and gives you all the luxury of using
the outdoors. A small kitchenette with a sink,
under the counter refrigerator, icemaker, grill
and hot plate can be perfect for warm climates
and year-round use.
- Oversize the garage to make it easier to get
in and out of the car, especially if you park
more than one car. The standard two-car garages
are just enough to get in and out, but larger
garage will allow for easy access.
Article © Lisa A. Swan. Photo © www.democratherald.com/wib/
Carol Ann Garrett doesn't mind that there is grass
growing on the roof of her house. In fact, she encourages
The Lodge at Lick Creek she built in Copper Hill
is an eco-friendly dwelling, with a mammoth, eight-sided
greatroom with walls built of cordwood, a bedroom
built of straw and solar "trees" that provide electricity
for sun-powered refrigerators.
What first raised Garrett's consciousness about
the need to take care of the environment and work
with it came the summer her son, Shawn, was born.
He's now a sophomore at the University of Virginia
"Needles were washing up on the shore in New Jersey
because trash barges were dumping medical wastes
in the ocean," she said. "I got to thinking about
all those disposable diapers that don't biodegrade."
It was not until 2000 after the former New York
City fashion designer - who did fashion shows with
Peter Max and skinny model Twiggy and spent time
flying between the Big Apple and glamorous places
all over the world - had an opportunity to build
her environmentally friendly retreat.
She spent more than four years - and her retirement
fund - building the lodge on 38 acres just across
the Roanoke County line, pretty much half-way between
Roanoke and Blacksburg.
In April, the lodge was featured in the Go Green
Initiative 2007 Tour as an environmental retreat
Article © Meg Hibbert. Picture © ourvalley.org
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