This months featured home designer Troy Farnsworth shares with us his expertise in helping his clients age in place vibrantly and beautifully. Welcome Troy!
Smart Design Is Integral To Aging In Place
Since childhood, you have been inundated with messages regarding being “prepared.” Prepared for dinner, prepared for the weather, prepared for school, prepared for when you move away from home, prepared for retirement. I’m sure you can add to this list based on your life experiences. The things that catch us by surprise are those events and situations we didn’t anticipate.
My name is Troy Farnsworth, Professional Building Designer, Builder, and Visionary. Here is something that caught me by surprise! A fulfilling turn in my business. About two decades into my career, I identified the value in designing homes with Universal Design.
The term “Universal Design” was coined by architect Ronald L. Mace to describe the concept of designing all products and the built environment to be aesthetic and usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone, regardless of age, ability, or status in life. (Wikipedia). For many who are familiar with the term “Universal Design,” they might describe a home designed with this concept in mind as wheelchair accessible. This is a valid statement. Based on my experience, the majority of people assume there is “no value” for them to live in a home with these amenities incorporated into the design. On the contrary!
In 2005, I designed a home for the “Street of Dreams” which was purchased by a family actively involved in the home building community. Throughout the years, I have had conversations with Anita (Mrs. Homeowner) who has shared a number of “testimonies” with me regarding the advantage of living in the home. Let me share a few with you: Anita explained that one year around the holiday season her mother had a medical situation in which she was left to rely on a wheelchair temporarily. Anita’s mother was adamant about participating in the preparation of the holiday dinner. Since the kitchen design included a workspace with a 30” high countertop with leg space below, she was able to sit conveniently and be a part of the festivities.
A “Universal Design” kitchen should include sufficient clear floor area, planned work areas, “staging” areas no more than 4 feet from all major appliances, roll out shelving ( roll out shelf can reduce bending and make lifting easier), appliances conveniently located, ample lighting (natural and ambient), leg space at the sink, cooktop and work spaces. Many of these amenities make this kitchen more functional for everyone!
Another circumstance Anita shared with me was a situation where her husband (Bruce) was getting into his car and twisted his ankle on a rock and, while trying to maintain his balance, twisted the other ankle. As a result Bruce was dependent on a wheelchair for two weeks. Anita told me, “The fact that you designed this house with no steps into the house and the curbless shower made Bruce’s temporary situation much easier to deal with.” Anita continued on: “You know Troy, we have had a number of visitors through the years and on more than one occasion people have commented on how they wish their home was designed this way. Some have spouses who are physically challenged. Others recognize the conveniences.”
Life does bring some unanticipated situations are way. Some things are inevitable. As we mature through life things change! For some mobility becomes a challenge. Better to be “prepared” as we have been told through the years!
Your home is one of the most significant investments you will make. With a home that supports your every need (planned or caught by surprise) you can feel secure and concentrate on other areas of preparing as needed.
I wish you a happy, healthy, productive life!
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