AGING IN PLACE
like people, homes can grow better with age.
As they grow older, aging in place provides homeowners the option to remain in their homes as they age. Many homes require custom architectural modifications for safety, accessibility, mobility and comfort. Planning ahead for your later years may allow more personal autonomy and independence by providing an appropriate, functional environment for daily living.
House in the Woods
Stonehaven Homes, Inc.
Merry Powell Interiors
John Magor Photography
This home design grew out of an intense collaboration with clients who had spent years thinking about the house they wanted to live in, one they could enjoy now and as they aged, even if aging might mean the loss of physical mobility. With the main living space on a single level, wide doorways and a shaft for a future elevator, as well as kitchen countertops of varying heights, the home needs few if any changes should it need to accommodate a wheelchair user. Until that time, stairs linking the basement level library and attic level guest bedrooms have a comfortable rise and run, and the outdoors is accessible from various levels. It was important to the homeowners that the house would perform well over time. We explored materials and techniques for a building envelope best suited to our climate, employing advanced insulation and air-sealing, and sizing and locating window openings to both take in and protect from sunlight as the seasons change. Using simple but expressive forms and a straightforward material palette, the home sits comfortably its wooded landscape, with every opening framing a special view.
The three must-haves for this 3,200 sq. ft. residence were as much natural light as possible, energy efficiency, and the ability age in place. Built on a gently sloping meadow with views of large trees on all sides and a pond in the distance, the long east-west form orients living spaces to the south and more private sleeping rooms to the north. Passive solar elements include roof overhangs and trellises that allow winter sun but protect south-facing windows from summer heat. Insulating concrete forms for exterior walls, high efficiency mechanical equipment, and careful air-sealing created a house that doesn’t cost a lot to heat and cool. Between the horizontal lines of the stone base and roof cornice, gabled bays project from a band of stucco cladding. Inside, openings in thick exterior walls are wood, with custom designed casings and trim throughout.
House on a Hill
Loudin Building Systems
This 3,300 square foot residence is built on a steep wooded hillside. A large shed dormer lights a beautifully detailed stairway and elevator enclosure connecting the basement garage to the main level and additional living space in the attic. Stone, brick, precast concrete, steel and wood provide a rich palette of materials, with strong horizontal forms anchoring the structure to its site. Overhangs define porches and patios that extend living spaces into the gardens and woods outside. Interior spaces are oriented around a large hearth with a number of seating and dining areas tucked into exterior walls and bays within sight of the fireplace. Paneled cherry wainscoting, coffered ceilings, and mouldings join forces with exterior views to create rich interior spaces.
To assure their ability to age in place, all the living space is on the main floor, connected to the basement-level garage by an elevator. Three sides of the elevator shaft are glass panels with custom metalwork, allowing natural light to fill the interior space. Wide doors and generously proportioned rooms mean that few adaptations will be required to make the house fully wheelchair accessible.
Merry Powell Interiors
After hurricane flooding destroyed their home on the intra-coastal waterway, this couple chose to rebuild for resiliency, despite the emergency of having no house to live in and a tight budget. The new house is built on piers and is sited to take full advantage of sunshine and views. Wide overhangs protect door and window openings and cover much of the porch that wraps around the entire house, since outdoor living is as important as indoor living in this breezy South Carolina town. The house has a compact footprint and open floor plan, and built with materials selected to endure the elements.
Elevating a home on piers has some benefits in terms of views, but for one family member with mobility issues it presented some obvious difficulties. A home elevator and ramp make access possible, and once inside all spaces are designed to accommodate a wheelchair.