How to Design your Home to Age in Place?

Older residents are residents. Whether it’s New Jersey or California, designing a home to age in place is one of the best ways to maintain comfort for yourself. Design professionals such as residential architects and certified aging-in-place experts essay a crucial role when it comes to such homes.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau in 2010 suggests that around 1,118,000 New Jersey residents are between the age group of 65 to 70 years. The estimate is that by 2030, New Jersey may have an overall population of two million.

Aging in place appears to be interlinked with the health of senior citizens. And why wouldn’t it? Your loved ones get to stay in their own safe space with better amenities and accessibility that conform to the requirements of their age group.

Subtle design ideas could have an impact on how comfortable you can stay in your home. And that too without having to compromise! Homeowners in their late fifties to mid-sixties could start to investigate aging-in-place concepts when renovating.

Aging-in-place harnesses the concept of feeling just like home and converts it into reality. So, why not?!

Here’s a look at some principles that could be useful for how to design your home to age-in-place.


Ground floor living seems to be a well-liked principle of aging-in-place. Upgrades to your home in the form of renovating the garage into an extra bedroom, reinforcing the bathroom walls with grab bars, a double shower rather than a tub to step over, and additional lights could be long-term design decisions.

The upper floor could function as a caretaker’s quarters or family that comes to visit. A residential architect could be an asset if you’re considering ways to design your home to age in place.

A step-less entry could go a long way in reducing the stress to your body by providing a leveled entrance to your home. Wider doors, hallways, and open spaces make it easy to get around regardless of whether you’re going to be mobile or immobile in the future.

All over the home

Aging-in-place means preparing your home for your future in it. That means a renovation could be on the table.

The architect for the renovation is the ideal choice for this task. A residential architect might suggest mechanisms that are comfortable when mobility is impaired.

For instance, a door lever could replace a doorknob. Similarly, awning windows could take the place of casements. They are easier to open and close.

Technology-based devices could facilitate aging-in-place. Check for a thermostat or lighting that you can access with a smartphone or tablet. The latter being the better choice as it can display larger icons. Small icons could be hard to navigate for the visually impaired on a smartphone.

LED lights seem to exhibit the potential of being beneficial for aging-in-place concepts as you don’t need to change them constantly. Many residential architects also recommend two-way switches, especially in the bedrooms, so that you can turn on the light when entering through the doorway and turning it off by the bedside.

Some general pointers include:

  • An open floorplan.
  • Larger windows.
  • An updated lighting system.
  • Wider doorways and passages.
  • Ramp installation.


For a multilevel home, the architect for the renovation could suggest situating the master bedroom on the ground floor with an attached bathroom. A bed with a low profile (20 – 23” from the top of the mattress to the floor) could be a decent choice for a home with a design to age in place.

Some general pointers include:

  • Bed rail.
  • A handy telephone next to the bed.
  • Decent clearance around the bed.
  • Lighting in the closet.
  • Nightstand at the same height as the bed.


For the kitchen, convenient accessibility is everything. Installing cabinets over your accessibility range could pose a threat to those who have issues with their balance. Instead, opting for easily openable drawers under the countertop could be a better choice.

The residential architect might also suggest leaving extra space in the floorplan to provide clearance for a wheelchair or walker. Wide and opens shelves could also prove to beneficial in terms of eliminating cupboards.

Some general pointers include:

  • Countertops with rounded edges.
  • Microwave at par with the height of the countertop.
  • Adjusting the height of the sink.
  • Large drawers.
  • Hands-free faucet.
  • Stove close to the sink.


Photo by: Bestbath

Bathrooms tend to have the potential of being the riskiest to navigate. Wet floors pose a threat to people with an impaired balance. That’s where grab bars come in to help you maintain balance.

The architect for the renovation will suggest the heights and placement for these grab bars.

If you’re constructing a brand-new shower, select a walk-in shower that can incorporate a seating arrangement into the design. Another safety measure is the anti-skid tiles.

Thermostatic shower controls and water temperature devices could help protect against burning from the scalding water.

Some general pointers include:

  • Adjusting the height of the water closet (WC) or installing a seat extender.
  • Installing grab bars near the toilet and showers.
  • Installing walk-in showers.
  • Anti-skid tiles.
  • Non-slip mats.
  • Shower seat.
  • Handheld showerhead.

Living Room

A simple furniture arrangement that eliminates clutter is a decent way for easy navigation. An uncluttered living room could be efficient for aging-in-place.

Like bathrooms, grabs bars play a critical role in the living room as well. You can place them on the walls next to the chair your loved ones usually sit in as they will make it easier for them to stand.

If the aging loved one uses a walker or is wheelchair-bound, make sure to leave enough space so that they can be accommodated. Their stability shouldn’t be compromised when maneuvering through the rooms.

Some general pointers include:

  • Simple furniture arrangement.
  • Open space.
  • Grab bars
  • Smooth flooring.


A smooth and leveled floor could be a safe bet to design your home to age in place. Surfaces such as rubber and linoleum don’t pose a threat, unlike heavily padded floors.

A residential architect might recommend keeping the floor as level as possible. If changes are unavoidable, the architect could suggest signaling them with a change in texture or material.

Avoid the use of colors as it could be problematic for the visually impaired.

Some general pointers include:

  • A smooth and leveled floor.
  • Indicating a change in threshold.
  • Avoid shiny and bright colors or textures.

Laundry Room

Doing laundry for the elderly is a difficult task in itself, and a home designed to age-in-place has to cater to this issue. The design should be such that it exhibits a convenient process.

The primary design decision should be that the laundry room must be located nearby the bedroom to reduce movement and transition.

Some general pointers include:

  • Laundry room in the vicinity of the bedroom.
  • Easy to read controls.
  • Front-load washer and dryer.
  • Easily accessible cabinets.

Is it Necessary?

Aging-in-place is a concept with changing momentum levels. Those who can afford it are likely to be more interested in renovating their homes at the correct time rather than waiting.

With a plethora of aging-in-place concepts available, residential architects have become the torch-bearers of the design requirements that this principle demands.

Benefits of Aging-in-Place

Staying at home could provide you with a sense of autonomy. The result of aging in place is to maintain the quality of your life.

Remaining in a habitual setting with family and friends cold positively impact your mood and associate itself with health as well. In some cases, the cost of aging-in-place is lower in comparison to the costs associated with assisted living communities.

  • No compromise on the quality of life.
  • The transition is easy.
  • Independence isn’t lost.
  • You feel safe as you’re used to the environment.

Impact of Design Choices

Implementing even a few of the ideas could create a huge difference for you or your loved one’s quality of life. These modifications will not only let your loved ones enjoy their home, but they will also allow them to live as independently as possible.

Although the implemented changes will take some time to get used to, you will be able to move throughout the home and feel empowered while doing so. After all, a home where you’ve lived most of your life will always feel safe and familiar.

A small design choice could have a ripple effect in bettering the comfort you could receive in your home.

Where to go?

Several ways can be used to connect with aging-in-place experts. Architects in partnership with certified experts could be the best approach for you. This method can get you a design in conjunction with the technical details that are necessary for aging-in-place.

These experts include Senior Home Safety Specialists and Certified Aging in Place Specialists. They must complete training programs offered by the National Association of Home Builders before they can assist anyone with the requirements of creating a home to age in place.

Contact your local architect to get started for a comfortable aging-in-place!