SWFL Custom Homes Blog
Must-have Home Features for Retirees
If you’re thinking of retiring in Florida, you’re likely looking for a home where you can comfortably age in place. Doing so usually requires the presence of many different design features, all of which are geared toward making your home easier to use and get around.
This can help accommodate physical challenges that arise as you start to lose a bit of the pep in your step. Even if you remain in good health, having these friendly features in your home can help you live with a little less friction. After all, the golden years are for relaxing!
Whether you’re scouting the market for an existing home, or are considering building one that’s fully customized, you’ll want to know what features to prioritize. Below, we review some that will have the biggest impact on improving your safety and quality of life while you enjoy a stress-free retirement.
When you’re getting older, it’s no secret that the ol’ joints just don’t work like they used to. This can make it a bit more difficult to get up from seated positions or move around between changing levels.
Retirees often find that having supportive railings in their bathrooms, on stairs, and around other key areas can spare a lot of effort and discomfort. Furthermore, having railings to grab can be very effective at preventing accidental falls.
Now, you might worry that having railings installed through the house will make it look like a nursing home. But the good news is that with today’s design diversity, there are countless options that have a sleek, sophisticated style. Many are so artfully designed that they end up looking like a natural part of the interior decor.
While grab rails are a must-have for preventing falls, pairing them with slip-resistant flooring is the most effective way to minimize the risk. Non-slip flooring products typically have a more tactile texture that provides more “grip” for your feet. Compared to the extra smooth surface of most laminates, tile, and hardwoods, rougher materials like cork, carpet, and specialized vinyl are much safer.
It’s also important to note that many retirees find it best when the same type of non-slip flooring is used continuously throughout the home. This is because it minimizes the need for installing transition strips between rooms, which can easily be tripped on or catch the wheels of a mobility device. Even when it’s not a disaster, it sure is aggravating.
Easy-Entry Showers and Tubs
Depending on your physical condition, getting in and out of showers and tubs can be a chore, even with the help of handrails. Retirees who have extra mobility challenges (or simply don’t want to deal with the fuss) tend to prefer having showers and tubs that were designed for easy entry.
These can be really luxurious features that provide a whole new level of comfort. There are roomy, ready-to-install tubs with side doors, and even interior seating for extra ease. And walk-in showers can be made up quite affordably, since they can be as simple as a sectioned-off portion of the bathroom. After decades of putting up with cramped shower stalls, you deserve a spa experience every day.
Lower Cabinetry & Countertops
Whether you’re vertically challenged or you make use of a wheelchair, the last thing you want to deal with is half of your kitchen being out of reach. Having cabinetry and countertops installed at a lower level can make it easy to reach items without expending extra effort, and removes the barrier to comfortably preparing food.
This type of upgrade also improves kitchen safety. Stretching and climbing to reach high cabinets increases the risk that you might lose your balance and fall. And here you just wanted a sandwich!
Keep in mind that the details matter, too. Low cabinets can still be a hassle if you have to dig through them. That’s why many retirees opt to install lazy-susan inserts and pull-out shelves or drawers.
The mere act of getting in and out of your house shouldn’t be a hurdle – figuratively or literally. But it can be just that when your home has an entryway with unavoidable steps.
Ideally, the right home will have friction-free entries at both the front and back, with smooth pavement leading to the doorway. If the structure sits up a bit of the way from the ground, then having an incline ramp can make the transition smooth.
Wide Doors & Hallways
Having to navigate tight corners and narrow hallways is annoying even when you’re young and limber. And after so many years, you can’t be blamed for just wanting some space.
This sentiment is especially common among those who are moving to Florida from the dense cities up north, where much of the housing is tight and crowded. Finally, some elbow room!
Space is also important from a mobility standpoint, especially if you use assistive devices like canes, walkers, or wheelchairs. You’ll need plenty of room to move around with these aids. Having wide doors and hallways can go a long way toward creating an accessibility-enhancing layout. You may also want to consider an open floor plan for maximum spaciousness and flexibility.
Bright, Targeted Lighting
Some may feel like retirees have a rosy outlook on life, but perhaps that’s just the blurry vision! In all seriousness, it’s common to lose a bit of our eyesight as we get long in the tooth. That’s why a comfortable living environment will need to be well-lit.
This goes for more than ambient lighting, which is the overall lighting that illuminates an entire room. Well-placed task lighting is also critical for anyone aging in place.
Task lighting refers to lighting that is specifically meant to provide the necessary light for activities, such as washing dishes, chopping food on a cutting board, or reading. This lighting needs to be placed in a way that it provides clear illumination for the task at hand, so that’s why you’ll commonly find it installed above sinks, countertops, and bedsides.
Full Ground-Level Amenities
Finally, one of the most crucial features is also one of the most general: full ground-level amenities. The ideal home for aging in place will be one single level, or at the very least, will have all of the basic necessities available on the ground floor.
This means that there should be a full bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen on the first level, making it so that you don’t need to take the stairs just to shower, take a nap, or grab a bite to eat. If your physical condition makes it a fuss to travel between levels throughout the day, you’ll be most comfortable having everything centrally located.
Full Ground-Level Amenities
If you’ve read to this point, then you’ll agree that this is a fairly long list of essential features. That’s why many retirees decide to build a custom home instead of looking for the perfect match on the market. Hiring a professional team to design a home according to your needs will ensure that you get everything you’re looking for, with the quality of a brand-new build.
Here at Capitol Homes, we’ve helped many retirees create the perfect home down here in Southern Florida. We invite you to take a look at our floor plans to see what we can do for you. All of our models are single levels, with spacious layouts that naturally include some of the features described here. Adding in extra features to enhance safety and mobility can also be done with ease.
If you’d like to talk with our design specialists to discuss the options in detail, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us to set up an appointment at our design center, or even schedule a visit to one of our model homes.