Aging In Place Done With Style
Many Greater Sarasota-Bradenton area homeowners are members of the 55+ club and must deal with the mobility issues of advanced age. Since the beginning, we’ve been serving this customer base, but we knew that there was more that we could do if we only took the time to learn how.
Our company founder and owner, Ernest Gilbert, decided to go through the Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) training himself to pass what he learned on to the designers in our company. This program is put on by the National Association of Home Builders and was created with the help of the AARP and specialists in mobility issues.
Ernest learned about temporary and permanent mobility issues and what the appropriate approach is for either condition. He discovered that balance issues require a different level of mechanical assistance from those necessary to help with general weakness.
He was taught to recognize arrangements in a home that he hadn’t considered an impediment before going through the CAPS program. And he discovered problems/solutions that he wouldn’t have thought of in the past. In short, the program opened his eyes to look at home spaces with an eye for obstacles that the able-bodied would never notice.
What Does A CAPS Home Look Like?
One thing folks would never consider unless circumstance forced them to is the way hallways and room entrances are shaped. Hallways are often too narrow to make a 90-degree turn, much less change direction. When you add a standard door sweep to the equation, you have a frustrating situation for those who use wheelchairs.
One solution is to change standard doors into pocket doors. With the door safely tucked out of the way, the transition from the hallway to a room is a cinch.
A home that has been remodeled with Universal Design in mind can look much the same as any other home. You may notice more open space, wider entrances, and maybe a well-placed handrail here and there, but the overall feel will be the same as any other home.
In truth, a home designed with ease-of-access in mind might feel a little more welcoming, if anything.
Bathroom Remodeling With CAPS
Standard bathrooms can become obstacle courses for those with mobility issues. Slippery tile floors, grout lines, and unreachable sinks and counters pose endless difficulties and dangers. And toilet use is a special torture without several modifications.
The changes we make with bathroom remodeling in these situations can be extensive. Removing cabinets so a person in a wheelchair can roll under the counter and reach the sink is a common fix. Support rails next to a toilet that sits higher than standard is another.
Curbless showers allow wheelchair access into the shower, and we can even encapsulate the toilet and shower area into a single, seamless “wet-room” area to make things even easier. We will replace the tile floor with LVT, a high-grade vinyl plank flooring that is also seamless, waterproof, and, happily, quite beautiful.
Our showers can include adjustable rails for the showerhead to accommodate different reach levels and integrated handrails for added stability.
Home Remodeling With CAPS
The rest of the home can also be remodeled to make it less of an impediment to altered mobility and more of an aid. Lowered counters with open space beneath in kitchen remodeling, smooth transitions (or the elimination thereof) from one area to the next, and enough open space to allow wide turns in a wheelchair are some of the more common alterations we make in our customer’s homes.
When we can’t make a transition smooth, such as going from the home to an attached garage, we can make the transition more gradual by bypassing the steps with a ramp.
Combining CAPS With Beauty
One of Gilbert Design Build’s core values is to enrich the lives of others with better, more beautiful spaces. Universal Design (spaces that can be fully used by anyone regardless of their mobility level) allows us to make lives better with tangible results.
But simply making a home more accessible isn’t enough for us — we believe even Universal Design can be done in a way that preserves or even enhances the beauty of a home. There is no rule that states handrails must be obtrusive and ugly to function and, if there were, we’d ignore it anyway.
In showers, we can hide the handrails in the design, while in hallways, we simply use aesthetically pleasing materials to turn the handrail into a design feature. Even the support rails by the toilet can be pleasing to the eyes if you care enough to try.
Why We Do It
We believe strongly that nobody’s home should ever make them feel trapped. Your home should be your sanctuary, even after you’ve experienced a change in your ability to get around. That’s why Universal Design remodels are some of our most memorable jobs. Making a home more beautiful is always nice, but turning a home from someone’s jailor to their ally is truly satisfying.
Our love of Universal Design work and the challenge it presents to create practical yet beautiful solutions for our clients keeps us on our toes. We are always watching for new innovations in the field and aren’t above creating our own solutions if none exist on the market.
What truly surprises us is that we don’t get more work like this than we do. Too many people who have chosen to age in place spend years wrestling with a floorplan that no longer suits their level of mobility. Perhaps they don’t know there is an alternative, or maybe they don’t think it’s affordable. We’re here to tell you, there is always an alternative, and we love finding solutions that our clients can afford.
If you or a relative has chosen to age-in-place in a home that isn’t suited to keeping up with reduced mobility, contact us at Gilbert Design Build to set up a consultation. Answers are waiting for you; you just need to ask for our help.