A home should be convenient, comfortable and safe for everyone — young and old. When planning your home renovation, consider what you will need for both the short and the long term. “Renovating for life” reflects the fact that as we move through different phases of life, our housing needs change. We suggest that you consider the following points:
- A family with young children has expanding housing needs, and its renovation priorities will usually include extra bathrooms, larger family living areas and a more open kitchen with an eat-in area. In two words, space and convenience.
- As children mature, they (and their parents) want more privacy. Housing priorities shift towards larger bedrooms, increased closet space and separated living areas.
- Grown children returning home, aging parents moving in, home-based businesses increasingly, homeowners must plan for continuous changes in household composition and space use.
- As homeowners get older, “accessibility” becomes a greater concern — a minimum of stairs, wider doorways and halls, and bathrooms and kitchens that are convenient and easy to use.
Professional renovators help you design for today and tomorrow. By planning a renovation carefully, you can make your home more flexible and adaptable to your changing needs. Experienced renovators offer some practical tips on “renovating for life” — building in comfort, convenience and safety throughout your home.
- Easy access to your home is key. Gently sloped driveways and walkways reduce the need for stairs. Garage or parking areas should provide enough space to get around with a baby carriage, armloads of groceries or a wheelchair.
- Make it easy to get in and out of the house with extra-wide doors, easy-to-use locks and good lighting. A large front porch or overhang will offer shelter outside, while a spacious area inside the entrance provides a convenient spot for setting down parcels and removing outdoor footwear. Build in ample closet space and plan for storage for off-season outerwear and equipment.
- Whenever possible, incorporate the kitchen, living room and a washroom into the main living area on one level. Widen narrow halls and doorways to make movement easier. An open floor plan can provide a comfortable family environment for work, play and relaxation. If space allows, create a separate, multi-purpose room on the same level. Over the years, it may serve as a den, an office or a spare bedroom.
- Consider the need and opportunities for future expansion of living space into the basement and/or attic, and rough in services (water, electricity, cable) as other renovation work is done.
- Consider “interchangeable rooms” and changing use of space over the years. For instance, young children’s rooms located close to the parents’ bedroom can easily become a home office or guest room, while the basement might offer ideal space and privacy for older children.
- Install laundry facilities on the main or upper floor. If you intend to use an outdoor clothes line, place the laundry room for convenient access to the outside.
- Choose easy-to-open windows with cranks, and install lever-action handles rather than knobs on all doors. Position electrical switches, outlets and mechanical system controls where they are easily accessible from a standing or sitting position.
- In the bathroom, think safety for the whole family. Reinforce the walls for grab bars in the shower and tub area. Install non-slip flooring and anti-scald showers.
- Roll-out or pull-down drawers, shelves and pantries make it a snap to keep order in the kitchen and have easy access to everything. Pull-out boards, hinged work surfaces and counters of various heights, with open leg room, let everyone in the family participate in food preparation, including children.