South Bend Kitchen Design Considerations

What exactly is Universal kitchen design?

You may have heard the terms “aging in place” or “universal design.” They are both hot topics in construction and remodeling right now, and should play a role when considering your South Bend kitchen design. Today, we’re going to take a quick look at both of them, as they relate to home design and remodeling considerations, to get everyone up to speed.


Definitions of Aging in Place and Universal Design

Aging in place refers to remaining in the housing of your choice as you age.

Universal design refers to creating living spaces usable by the widest range of people without the need for special modifications.

Both of these concepts have been around for a while, although not necessarily with the same names. Your grandparents may have chosen a single-level home as they thought ahead about mobility concerns, and who doesn’t remember the ubiquitous television advertisements for “The Clapper,” that would turn your lights on and off without you having to leave your bed or chair.

Changing Demographics in South Bend Kitchen Design

A number of drivers are prompting the current attention to aging in place and universal design, with perhaps the strongest being shifting demographics and improved health.

  • According to the CDC, in 1940, the life expectancy at birth for the average American was almost 63 years. A baby born in 2010 can expect to live to over 78, an increase in lifespan of over 15 years.
  • The so-called “baby boom” generation, born between 1946 and 1964, represents a population surge now in its 50s and 60s. Over 80% of baby boomers want to remain in their own homes according to the AARP. For baby boomers in our area, a smart South Bend kitchen design can be one piece of that puzzle.
  • According to recent data from the Census Bureau, over four million households in the United States, including over 70,000 in Indiana, span three or more generations under one roof. And, this number is on the rise.

This all adds up to a broad based increase in the number of people with a need to attend to issues related to the ways changes in health and mobility may impact their home life.

What This Means For Those Who Are Building or Remodeling

Considering issues of universal design and aging in place as you plan your home building or remodeling project has the potential to:

  • Increase the number of years that you can spend in your home,
  • Increase the resale value of your home as buyers seek homes where they may age in place,
  • Decrease long term healthcare costs through living at home rather than in a care facility, and
  • Improve how welcoming your home is to aging relatives and other visitors with special needs whether they are coming for dinner or for an extended stay.

There are many options for building and renovating a home in ways that are aesthetically pleasing as well as welcoming and accommodating to people of all ages. For new construction, attending to principles of universal design is one possibility. You can also add small, often inexpensive, modifications when building a home that can make later renovations to make aging in place easier and less expensive. When renovating and remodeling, or planning your South Bend kitchen design, updates that attend to aging in place range from installing nightlights to retrofitting a house for wheelchair accessibility.

We’ll explore these in future articles, but if you live in the South Bend area and have questions today, call HomeWorks for a consultation at 574-318-WORK.

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