senior-life, senior home upgrade, house renovation for seniors

Category: Senior life

Vancouver house renovation and upgrade for seniors

How Storage Space Can Improve Your Lifestyle Quality

Decluttering and organizing our storage space helps more than just our mental health. It also makes the home safer by decreasing the chance of injuries and falls. The older you become, the more critical it turns. 

When you have a clean home and organized kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom, you stimulate your brain in a healthier, more free manner. Your eyes roam undisrupted, which helps you to focus. Consequently, you enjoy your life more.

Getting rid of the excess things can be stressful, but having them all around is worse. A middle solution? Upgrade your storage space and introduce some smart storage solutions. It will reward you with an opportunity for a fresh start.

We All Need More Storage Space As Time Goes By

There’s a vast number of reasons why we have clutter. Impulse shopping, emotional emptiness, collected memories… “I might need it,” “Soon the things will change,” “I will lose weight and wear it again” – we all know the same all song.  

Since the pandemic started and staying at home became the part of “new normal,” the chances are that your living space:

  1. Became more cluttered than ever
  2. Turned to a constant source of stress over things that you might not have been noticing before 

Now the times are changing, and life is gradually going back to “old normal.” Perhaps it’s the best moment to deal with everything that has been standing in your way for months and months? Making a fresh start is beneficial, and not to mention that it feels so good. 

coquitlam architecture
Coquitlam architecture

Psychological Effects of Clutter

Stress and More Stress

The most common psychological effect of clutter is stress—no need to say how it affects our health. The constant hassle of dealing with the mess and lack of organization can rocket your cortisol levels sky-high. Consequently, it provokes structural changes in our brain, inducing long-term sensitivity to stress.

Low Self-Esteem 

An organized home is a sign of an organized mind. Conversely, cluttered environments send a message of inadequacy, incapability to keep things under control – there’s a reason why cluttered homes are commonly linked to depression. And then there is another price: a messy house can cost you social life in more than one way. 

We get a lot of energy from our environment and the impulses it creates in our brains. It’s impossible to properly relax in a chaotic atmosphere. Even if you feel like it happens, your brain knows the difference. In the same way the sterile room can feel uneasy and awake the sensation of emptiness, a messy place will make you feel tired sooner than later. Finally, you will not have enough motivation to do the things you want, in return feeling lazy and less worthy. 

If you want to produce something new or move yourself to the next level in some area of your life, dealing with organization and storage is the ideal base. As the first step, ensure that no excess clutter will stand in the way of a change that you want to experience.

Focus and Productivity Issues

Clutter is tremendously distracting. Instead of focusing on one thing, it keeps your brain in a constant multitasking mode. Now, why is that bad? First, it’s very tiring. Secondly, it prevents you from finishing one big thing by scattering your mind and body over a dozen of tiny ones. And finally, you will give up easier due to feeling overwhelmed. 

Storage space in organized bathroom
Surrey interior designer

How Remodeling Your House to Add Storage Space Helps Keeping the Clutter Away

Smart Storage In Unused Spaces

Adding storage in dead-ends, empty corners, and under the stairs is a great idea. Hidden cabinets, built-in shelving, and pull-out drawers hide the world of new possibilities. Built-in shelves can work well both functionally and aesthetically in many places. Think about having them around doors, a TV area, or at the sides of a fireplace. If you want to create a room divider but are not ready to commit (let’s say you need it for a temporary home office), shelves are a brilliant idea. Make it a bookcase, or fill them up with decorative boxes to get even more storage options. 

Another great, multifunctional solution is a bespoke bench. These handy items can fit into any corner or under a window, providing hidden storage AND an extra sitting place. Consider a custom-sized bench at your foyer, and have a comfortable space to put your shoes on and store them after use. 

Utility Rooms

A laundry room can become a hobby room and a mudroom. Cover the walls with ceiling-high cabinets and shelves for storing various supplies, as well as shoes, coats, umbrellas, bags, and much more. A corner for showering your pet after a walk would also fit there perfectly. 

Some creative ideas might be of use if you don’t want to invest in a full remodeling. Are there any cabinets and closets that you don’t really like or use much? Repurpose them in a mudroom. You won’t have to look at them all day, and they will save you the cost of buying new stuff. An old ladder is perfect for doubling as a shelf. Even better, hang them high, horizontally oriented, and you will get a new, chic place for drying washed clothes. 

Kitchen Storage Space

Storage space in the kitchen

If you’re thinking about kitchen renovation, consider new floor-to-ceiling cabinets with a variety of storage options. Pull-out drawers of different depths, sliding baskets, dedicated, convenient spots for cookware, and more – every thoughtful detail will enhance your cooking experience and out more pleasure in the process. The best part? You can use tall, narrow spaces to install high cabinets with shelving for small items that often drag all around, such as spice jars, cans, and backup supplies. 

Removing walls and opting for an open space living area (including kitchen) will also help you declutter and become better organized. First, it will improve your habits. Second, in place of a wall, you will have a kitchen island with abundant storage options, customized to fit your needs. You can even sneak in a wine bar or something similar.

If your floor space is limited, consider a corner dining place with built-in benches that can, again, double as hidden storage for kitchen towels, table cloths, and many more. Alternatively, you can free up some counter space by using that corner for a small floor-to-ceiling pantry with drywall and shelving, instead of a dining area. 

Bathroom Decluttering 

A few lucky ones enjoy unlimited floor space in a bathroom. For the rest, it takes a bit of creativity and a great designer to perform magic. Start by thinking vertical instead of horizontal – floor space might be scarce, but there is so much more of it all over your walls. Instead of freestanding cabinets, opt for recessed ones. Wall-mounted shelves and cupboards offer a plethora of bathroom storage possibilities. Hung within reach, they allow effortless access to all kinds of items, from hairbrushes to towels and bulky bottles. 

Replacing the standard bathtub with a walk-in shower is one of the best moves you can make when remodeling your bathroom. It saves floor space, but there is much more. Transparent glass dividers make the room look and feel more spacious. The effect is even stronger if you use the same floor and wall tiles all over. Also, accessibility is essential in some cases, like when you’re remodeling to adapt the house for aging-in-place. A walk-in shower is a breeze to use. 

Bedroom Storage Solutions

Master Bedroom
North Vancouver home design

Even if you are not the type who leaves clothes everywhere – in a bedroom, there is always something that could be tucked away. Moreover, out of all rooms in the house, the bedroom is where you really shouldn’t have any visible excess if you aim for a healthier life. Even when you sleep, a part of your brain works. That means a part of you is always aware of the surrounding scene at all times. Furthermore, that also means anything can affect it enough to disturb your sleeping sequence. 

If you have enough floor space to use, think about hidden storage behind the bed, all over the wall. Better said, create a new, “fake” wall in front of the existing one. It will help to keep the room looking clear and free, while holding a ton of hidden compartments at the same time. Alternatively, think of a gallery bed. Lift it up to create more visual dynamics in the interior, and use the space below to slide in some large drawers. 

Doors and Traffic Areas

Being limited in floor space means using all you can to make storage. That also means you may be wasting some precious areas on conventional solutions. A standard door might be limiting your possibilities with the way it moves. Have you thought about switching them for a sliding model? Yes, it requires some wall, but that doesn’t mean you can’t place a cabinet in front.  

Organized Storage Space, Organized Mind

Once you have a place for everything and everything in its place, you will probably notice several things at the same time. Dopamine will replace cortisol. You will feel accomplished and ready for more. Moreover, your focus will noticeably improve, as well as the productivity. One thing will boost another and, before you know it, you will be leading a healthier and happier life. 

If you are ready for the next step but need more professional guidance in order to make the most of what you got, contact us and schedule a consultation. We will offer customized solutions, tailored personally for you, your home, and your lifestyle.

Renovation or Building a New House: Ernest Story

Ernest is a 61 year young who lives with his wife in a spacious house which, at the moment they come to our story, has long begun to show signs of ageing. Little by little, problems kept getting bigger, and the house needed a major repair. The question was, how to decide between renovation and building a new house.

One day, Ernest had decided to finally do something about it. He asked himself: Is it a good idea to repair the old house? How much a full renovation would cost? Is there a better solution? What would be more beneficial – renovation, or building something new?

Ernest realized that it would be best to investigate all options first. He started by asking neighbours and friends for opinions. Naturally, everyone had their own idea about what should be done.

The problem here is an utterly personal perspective. People have good intentions, but they can’t know what’s best for you, especially when it comes to your home. It’s all about different lifestyles, different habits, different needs. And when it comes to the matter of aging in place—different health. 

One idea started to make sense, though. Why spending a significant budget on a renovation if it’s possible to build a new house instead? But then again, could such an investment really pay off? 

What Ernest didn’t think of, at first, was consulting a design professional. He did make a call to the municipal hall in order to find out regulations that would help him decide. Mostly he was interested in how many square feet of a new house he could build.

New-Westminster-Renovation
New-Westminster-Renovation

Renovation or Building New, Ernest Couldn’t Decide

He discovered that it was possible to build a duplex house with two laneway houses, and two secondary suites on each side (ADU). This way, he could live on one side of the duplex and have a laneway house and the suites for renting. Naturally, a secondary suite sounded like a great way to secure some passive income for his retirement. Ernest realized that if he could also manage to sell the other side of the duplex, it would pay off the construction cost.

But as we are getting older, we start craving more quietness, peace, and privacy. Ernest understood that, very soon, he might come into a situation to regret the original idea. Having too many people roaming around his property sounded tiring by itself. Having the same but with a bunch of strangers on top…well, let’s say he cooled off the idea pretty fast. 

Yes, it would be great to have a new house, and even better if the project could pay itself off—but not at the cost of his privacy. After reviewing all options once more, it was clear that he and his family would do better if they build a duplex without any ADU’s.

Once again, Ernest picked up his phone and called several local builders for an interview. He thought it would help him choose which one to hire. Then was the moment to meet Aryo, whom he found by filling an online form.

The first question he asked Aryo was if he had any experience building duplexes in the area. Of course, the answer was positive.

“But, before we go further about my experience, let’s talk about your project and your goals.”

Master Bedroom
North Vancouver home design

Aryo Knew Better

After a long conversation, Aryo found out a lot of interesting facts. First of all, it turned out that Ernest did not really think his project through, not nearly enough. He failed to consider the age he was approaching and too many difficulties it will gradually bring. Moreover, he planned to build a tri-story duplex on each side, featuring less than 600 square feet on each floor.

Like many others, Ernest believed that living in a brand new, beautiful, and shiny house would be enough. The truth beyond, however, was different. Just any kind of new, shiny house wouldn’t bring the kind of happiness he imagined.

Aryo explained to Ernest why it’s good to have a proper, thoughtful plan. He elaborated on the significance of hiring a professional designer – and not just any. What he needed was a designer who takes into consideration the occupant’s lifestyle so that the final project would maximize personalized functionality. That way, the outcome would be much more beneficial for Ernest and his wife in the long-term. 

Such kind of consultation is rarely, if ever, offered by a builder. Not that the builders don’t care—on the contrary. But there’s a difference in knowledge and approach. A good builder knows how to build a sturdy, reliable, good quality house that the homeowner has ordered. But what if the homeowner doesn’t know what he wants, or what is good for him/her in the first place? Then a proper consultation can make all the difference between a disaster and a happy ending.

Maple ridge modern architect renovating or building a new home
Maple ridge modern architect

Renovation or Building New: Deciding Together

Aryo and Ernest talked for many hours. Their brainstorming paid off, and the plan slowly started to come up. Ernest was surprised to find out just how many small but significant details he was missing to consider. 

The idea of having to climb endless stairs, many times a day, suddenly exploded in all colors. Indeed, his original ideas were very fashionable, and those floating staircases could have been gorgeous. But now Ernest also realized that he would probably end up establishing a mini studio on the ground level in just a couple of years, merely to eliminate the need for endless climbing. 

Aryo knew that sooner than later, the couple would probably regret the decision. When your knees are hurting, and your muscles are weak, the last thing you want is a challenge in maintaining personal hygiene. There was no reason why Ernest’s wife should give up her dream of a fancy new tub. The thing was to have a proper one, as functional and approachable as striking in design. 

In the end, Ernest decided to build a house quite different from what he originally intended. But he was delighted to do so. The new project was smart, thoughtfully designed, and full of handy amenities that would add to the quality of their lives in fifteen years just as much as they do now. 

senior living
senior living

What Can a Professional Designer Do, That I Can Not?!

An outstanding design professional will compose the house that fits the homeowner’s lifestyle of today, as well as ten years or more in the future.

A designer who thinks outside the box doesn’t focus solely on what a client desires today. Many times, the homeowner is simply not aware of what lies ahead or even what would be best for him/her. Both renovation or building a new home can bring significant overall improvements if done correctly.

A good designer should really get to know his client. He will think about the homeowners’ present lifestyle as much as about all changes that will come to their life. Often, these changes involve newcomers (babies, in-laws) or a need for rental income, lifestyle improvement, even upgrading to catch up with new trends.

As homeowners, we often think that we are the only ones who know what is best for us and our houses. Some even believe that a professional designer is a redundant category, who will do the same as we would, but also charge for it. The truth, though, is somewhat different. 

You certainly know what your needs are….right now. Aging brings challenges that we might not be aware of until we face them, and that moment might not be the best time to do something about it. Thinking ahead is the key, but how to think ahead if we don’t know what will come? And if we don’t know what is ahead of us, then how could we even think of preventing the issues?

modern-architecture-home1

Don’t Wait, Prevent!

That’s where a good designer comes to the scene in full glory. A good designer has abundant experience in preventing issues. Not because he faced all of them, but because his clients did. One by one, they kept facing and solving different problems, learning a lot in the process. That is why a designer might know some things better than you. In a certain way, he was already there.

Before you start a major renovation, building a new house, making a considerable investment, dig deep down all the challenges that might come to your life. Pinpoint them and design your house with the future in mind. And the moment you find an obstacle, ask for professional assistance that will help you determine all necessities and come up with the appropriate solution that matches not only your lifestyle but your personality as well. 

By Aryo Falakrou (My Home Designer)

Age Friendly House: Ten Essential Renovations to Make Sooner Rather than Later

In the old days, when the existing home would become too challenging for a senior, the options were narrow, and commonly included moving out. Aging in place, in an appropriate age-friendly house, was not a thing, and if the family members were too busy to take proper care of the older relative, a nursing home was the common solution. While, in some instances, moving out proved to be necessary, the truth is that most seniors would rather have stayed in their own home, on familiar ground, in their own privacy. 

Seniors are adults who spent most of their lives in responsibility for raising the family, developing a career, taking care of everything. That self-image is hard to change, but golden years are also the time to decrease stress levels and enjoy the fruits of one’s efforts. Over time, we all have to let go of the ultimately-in-charge image and settle with the idea that the moment for relaxation has come. Slowly, we learn to enjoy it. 

Age-friendly house

My House, My Rules

When you’re a senior, you know how it feels. It’s not unlikely that you might have already lost a spouse or a partner in the process. You lost the feeling of being irreplaceable as a patron. The last thing you want to relinquish is control over your own life, regressing to the phase of a helpless child.

This bears significant importance if you have spent most of your life in the same house—or, at least, a long time. Such a place is crawling with warmth and memories, provides the meaning to existence. There’s also a sense of safety and security that no other place can beat. Moving out is like leaving your life behind, giving it up. From this perspective, it’s easy to understand why seniors should be provided with an alternative. After all, they deserve it. 

What it Means, an Age-Friendly House?

Age-related changes will have halved your young adult strength by the time you reach 80. The velocity of contraction and movement significantly reduces, together with muscle power. In turn, fatigability increases. The declines in motor function appear to accelerate markedly in this age. The central nervous system also suffers degradation, compromising activation of the motor unit during contractions. 

Still, there is a large variability between individuals in many aspects of motor performance. Some healthy individuals can lead an almost fully-independent life until their last days.

Other common age-related issues with a major impact on mobility are cardiovascular diseases, arthritis. Then there is Alzheimer’s disease as a whole set of problems of its own.

Mobility issues greatly affect seniors’ ability to perform daily functional tasks. There are, however, many preparations that you can make in advance to turn your home age-friendly and suitable for comfortable, peaceful aging in place.

luxury house designer
Calm and bright living space

The desire to live safely and undisturbed in our own homes is universal, as is the desire to be a part of the community. Making it happen is not easy, but it is possible. Transition to an age-friendly house requires some essential renovations that can help you live longer and feel independent. Those will enhance the level of physical safety and support you in staying mentally sharp, on top of your game. A good mental stage sustains other functions so the body can remain healthy as well. 

Making an age-friendly house is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach, but some things are universal. I will state the ten crucial changes and explain how those affect the inhabitants.

How to Transition Towards Age-Friendly House

Floor Plan

If possible, the entire living area will share the same floor, eliminating the need to use stairs entirely. You need to be able to move with minimal obstruction on the way. An open plan is the best solution, but some people enjoy small, defined rooms with more coziness and privacy.

Ideally, there shouldn’t be any steps between rooms or zones. Also, each traffic flow should be spacious enough to comfortably accommodate walking assistance, a helping person, or a wheelchair. Flooring is one of the crucial aspects of safety, so it must feature smooth, glare-free, slip-resistant surfaces or carpets. Every finish should be as low-maintenance as possible. 

Sunshine coast interior
Age in place home with comfort

Color/texture contrast is an excellent solution to indicate a change in surface levels. If the stairs are unavoidable, a contrast between vertical and horizontal will increase visibility. Together with excellent lighting and sturdy rails, it will significantly affect the safety and convenience of use. 

A smart-home system will help a lot to keep everything under control without excessive physical efforts. 

Doors and Windows

  • If possible, entrances should grant easy access and egress with no obstacles like steps. In a case when steps can’t be avoided, it’s necessary to have a sturdy rail for support. Doors should be changed to at least 4 inches wider than a typical home to grant undisrupted assisted passability. Ideally, a senior should be able to open all internal doors hands-free. That means either sensors, swivel doors, or ideally no doors at all, where available. Additionally, consider sink handles or levers rather than knobs.
  • Plenty of lower to the floor, easy-open windows, allowing an abundance of natural light, are a better solution than common ones. If there is a need for any shutters, heavy shades, or awnings, try to install the electrical, button-operated systems. 

Hallways

  • Those should be minimally three feet wide, preferably wider. Ideally, there will be space for a bench at the front door, and a surface area to place parcels and heavy bags. No-slip flooring is a must, with the matte finish. Some grab bars along the corridors are not a bad idea, either.
  • Hallways and corridors should be exceptionally well lit, ideally activated by sensors. Between bedroom and bathroom, automatic nighttime illumination would be a valuable asset.
master bathroom
Accessible Bathroom

Bathrooms

Over 30% of al bathroom injuries happen to seniors, of which over 80% are from slips and falls, half of those due to the inadequate features or missing propper support. A minor investment into several improvements can minimize such risk or eliminate it entirely.

  • Installing a curbless, roll-in shower with an adjustable handle is the best idea, but some seniors prefer to sit in a tub. If possible, install both. A reliable, quality fold-down seat in the shower and a lowered bathtub will secure a more convenient use.
  • Easily accessible grab-bars should exist inside and outside shower, as well as around a tub. Also, make all cabinetry easy to reach, with edges in contracting colors, easy to spot. The toilet should be height adjustable. All materials must be selected with convenience in mind, such as antibacterial, with anti-slip properties.
luxury kitchen designer
Age-friendly luxury kitchen design

Kitchen

The kitchen must have enough maneuvring space with easily accessible features. An open-plan kitchen is an excellent solution, both space- and safety-wise. It eliminates the need for doors, and in case you need any kind of assistance, there are no sound or visual barriers. 

  • Glass-front cabinet doors and pull-down or open shelving are convenient, providing easy access to all frequently used items. All appliances should feature accessible doors and easy to read controls. The more voice or sensor control, the better. 
  • There should be at least one working area available with a sitting position; the ideal solution is under-counter seated work areas.
contemporary design
Bedroom with a view

Bedroom

A well-designed bedroom can bring you comfort and calm, much needed to rest for the next day properly. Sometimes bedrooms are the most cluttered rooms in the home. In an age-friendly house, this room should be clutter-free and secured against tripping and falling. On the other hand, all storage must be designed as convenient and accessible. An architect with extensive knowledge of interior psychology, familiar with Feng-Shui’s philosophical approaches, can make the bedroom a true oasis for body, mind, and soul. 

  • The bedroom should have enough open space to allow undisturbed movement of a wheelchair, walking assistance device, or a person. 
  • Drawers and all storage need to be simple and easy to access drawers. A comfortable and accessible bed is an essential feature. Ensure it’s not too high or too low, obstacle-free, allowing for convenient getting in and getting up.
Living room
Bright and open living room

Age-Friendly House Renovation Is Not a Luxury, But a Necessity

Our senior population deserves a radical rethink in the way we design and build our homes. Acting with the future in mind, meeting our needs according to our lifestyle choices is a matter of wisdom. With some exceptions, aging in place is a highly functional concept that works, allowing a person to remain safe and well without the need for constant surveillance. An age-friendly house offers a high-quality life through golden years, a chance to keep everything under control and remain socially active for decades to come.

Read this article in Epochtimes 

How to make your home Senior friendly?

What’s senior friendly home and How can I make my home senior friendly?