Ann Arbor area trends: What the 55-plus demographic wants in their new home

 

By Keith Fineberg, Architect
KSF Architects

A Home that Supports an Active Lifestyle

Right sizing: Carefully proportioned, human scale spaces; No wasted space; no redundant rooms– single eating and living spaces are typical.

Low or No maintenance: Both exterior and interior finishes requiring little to no care or maintenance allows active adults to live a recreational lifestyle with ample time to focus on passions and hobbies.

Connecting the Indoors with the Outdoors: This demographic wants a seamless connection with the outdoors for everything from gracious entertaining to refreshing personal space. Popular amenities include floor-to-ceiling windows, French doors or sliding, full glass door walls and that lead to porches and patios as added functioning living spaces.

Flex Potential: This demographic receives seasonal visits from adult children and their growing families as well as visitors from their past.  While accommodations for these guest are important, most homeowners don’t want spaces dedicated to this purpose exclusively.  For this reason, no room should be so customized that it is no longer adaptable. Keep elements simple and flexible so it is easy to adapt spaces as a family’s wants and needs evolve. A room can become a craft room, an exercise room, a guest bedroom, a game room, etc.  Also the snore room – the extra sleeping room for the spouse who snores.

Keith Fineberg, Architect / KSF Architects

A Home that supports independence at all ages

Open Access: Plans should be open with flowing spaces that accommodate the use of wheelchairs or walkers with ample proportions at doors and hallways. Some examples:.

Eliminate steps

Wider hallways

Lever or elliptical handles on doors and plumbing fixtures

Curbless showers

Raised outlets

Grab bars

Space for an elevator

Careful Kitchen design:

Ease of Use appliances – elevate the dish washer and wall oven

Multiple counter heights for comfortable and varied food prep

Cabinets with drawers not doors – contents come to you

Lots of storage – pantries with open shelves

Enhanced lighting: Glare free sources, automatic and motion activated switching are popular with this demographic.

A Home that supports a full and long life

Updated/Trending Design Options: The 55+ buyer demands finishes and features that are current and reflect their vibrant personalities and preferences. It’s the time of life to splurge.  Spa-like master bathrooms are at the top of a wish list that includes smart home systems, home entertainment systems, outdoor kitchens and the like.

Display options: At this point in life, the Homeowner has likely accumulated treasures they want to see around them everyday.  Wall space for hanging pictures, lighted niches for small sculptural items, glass front cabinet doors and lighted open glass shelves for cherished knickknacks are necessities to keep this demographic happy in their homes.

Storage, Storage and more Storage: And for those items that need not be always seen but are cherished nonetheless, the design should take advantage of creative opportunities to offer storage in unused spaces such as in window seats, in nooks and crannies, below stairs or in the garage.

Pet Friendly: Many older adults will keep a pet as a companion. Spaces for washing the pet, and dedicated spots for feeding and sleeping are appreciated.

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