Although everyone has their own concept of what makes a perfect house, there are some basic elements that both satisfy needs and simplify life... regardless of who you are or where you live. These elements are universal.
1. Single Level - single level housing was popular in the 1950s, and is now enjoying a resurgence in popularity as the ideal design for universal housing... designed for all ages and capabilities, perfect for all ages from the very young to the very old
2. Nine-foot Ceilings - it is amazing how nine-foot tall ceilings magically open up a space without increasing square footage... a small room no longer feels confining, with high ceilings generating a sense of well-being and comfort (one of the reasons many people love old homes)
3. Southern Exposure - there is nothing that chases the blues quite like sunlight, but it goes beyond that... in the winter, southern windows help warm the house... in the summer, deciduous trees can protect those same windows, keeping the house cool... southern exposure is ideal for solar panels, which not only heat the house but generate additional electricity which you can in turn sell to the electric company... and houseplants, which improve air quality, thrive in southern exposure
4. Outdoor Living Spaces - spending time outdoors is more than just enjoyable... it's also healthy, lowering stress and cortisol levels that make you feel tired and foggy... outdoor spaces also cost a fraction of indoor spaces
5. Maximize Insulation and Correct Leaky Windows - maximizing insulation not only helps lower energy costs, it also helps keep you more comfortable with more even temperatures... increasing attic insulation in 800 sq ft from R-11 to R-49 can save you about $600 a year, enabling payback in only about 3 years... replacing old leaky windows can also reap benefits in comfort and energy efficiency, and it has good return-on-investment when it comes time to sell
6. Separate Master Bedroom Suite - some separation is good for everyone's sanity... perhaps the best configuration for a single family house is living space in the middle with the master suite on one end and children's/guest suites on the other... no matter how much everyone loves and cares for each other, 'getaway' space helps keep everyone happy
7. Low-maintenance Exterior - no one prefers spending their free time on maintenance... one of the highest returns on investment comes from replacing old siding... with vinyl and fiber-cement siding both leading the pack
8. Great Storage - storage space is always a big priority... maximize your storage by fully utilizing the space you already have to make it the most usable... you have tons more hidden and under-utilized space than you may realize
9. Ergonomic Touches - thinking in terms of universal design features make the space more usuable for all ages and abilities, including mobility and wheelchair issues... but also good for both young children and aging in place... it includes things such as wide doorways, levers instead of doorknobs, curbless shower, rocker switches
No house is perfect, but quirks are what give both houses and people personality... it's what makes your home 'yours'... and what makes it your perfect house!
- Universal Design Basics... good design for all, including aging in place
- What is the difference between Universal Design and Aging-in-Place Remodeling?
- Award-winning Aging-in-Place House Plans
- Kitchen design for aging in place also great for kids
- New $150 million Made in Minnesota solar lottery program announced! Go solar for little or no money out of pocket!