Age in Place: 3 Key features my parents villa is missing

age in place

Age in Place: 3 Key features my parents villa is missing


The past couple of weeks, I have been writing a blog series around Age in Place design. I have covered the following:

I have really enjoyed designing this bungalow. And while the main floor is complete, I will be working on a second story (walkout basement version) in the next couple of weeks.

This week, I thought I would take my parents’ villa and identify areas that are missing for their home that are important when aging in place.

The Villa

First of all, I am not going to post who the builder was as this post is not meant to be a bashing post (I don’t believe in that).

Second, my parents built their villa after a long search for options. They looked at a number of villa-type properties around the city. In the end, they chose a community that is a 10 minute drive from my home. I would say that is a huge bonus!

Third, since my parents knew that this was probably going to be their last build, they decided to get everything they wanted. I’m so glad they did not ‘skimp’ out on what they deemed important.

As you will see, their villa is really beautiful however, there are 3 areas that I believe are truly missing in order for them to age in place for as long as they can. Some are easy to change while others are not.

A view from the family room

1. Pathways

For me, this is the largest miss for me in this villa. While pathways can be changed and fixed, it can take a lot of money to do this. Additionally, there would most definitely be a ‘domino effect’ when things would need to be changed (wider doorways means patching of the floor…)

  1. The distance between the fridge and the island is only 32″ wide. That is with the fridge doors closed. It is really tight and there would be no way for a walker or a wheelchair to get through.
  2. The doorway leading into the laundry room is also 32″ wide. While the laundry room is on the main floor, again, it just isn’t a wide enough door to allow for a walker or wheelchair to get in.

This is only 32″ wide. In addition, there is not a lot of wriggle room to manuever in here.

If we ever needed to make the pathways bigger between the fridge and the island, we would be looking at reconfiguring the island (and did you notice that it has a raised bar on it?) I would remove the raised bar in the island and move it down to ensure there was at least 42″ of pathway space.

For the laundry room, it is almost impossible to make this entrance wider (the closet on the left backs onto the attached garage and the room where I am standing is the main floor powder room). While we could reconfigure the space, nothing can be done with this opening.

2. Appliances

I’m glad to know that these can easily be changed out. There are two appliances that I can see may need to be changed out in the future.

  1. The OTR (over the range) microwave. This was such a bad design idea for a kitchen in a villa for individuals that are 50+. My mom is below average height. This OTR is 54″ off the ground. What I would have liked to see is microwave drawer. Microwave drawers can be installed in a base cabinet the the drawer just pulls out like a cabinet drawer would.

An OTR (over the range) microwave is not good for Age in Place.

2. My parents have a really nice gas range. What I am envisioning is that there may come a time where someone may forget to turn the gas off.

My mom LOVES her gas range and cooktop so I can see in the future, an induction range being swapped out. Induction ranges are the most similar to a gas range yet do not pose the risk of gas potentially being left on.

I know that when the time comes, we may need to reconfigure a few of the kitchen cabinets to accommodate a microwave drawer.

3. Flooring

My mom and dad have really nice hardwood flooring on most of the main floor. They also have carpet in their master bedroom. While their carpet in their bedroom is a low pile carpet, there is a transition. If one of my parents ever needed a walker or a wheelchair, I can see us needing to change out the floor so that it is one, consistent flooring throughout.

What I like about their villa

While I have just mentioned that there are 3 areas that I believe are missing in my parents villa to age in place, there are many areas that have definitely received a check mark from me.

  • There are 10′ ceilings on the main floor and 9′ ceilings in the basement.
  • In almost every room, there are transom windows. This allows so much natural light to shine through, 365 days of the year.
  • Every necessity is located on the main floor. If my parents had to, they could easily live on the main floor without ever having to go down to their walkout basement.
  • Their villa has beautiful millwork. From the built in cabinets on the main floor, to the one in the walkout basement. Attention to this detail can be found throughout their home.
  • For the walkout basement, there is in-floor heating throughout the basement. This makes for a very cozy area at all times of the year.

Main floor family room off of the kitchen

There is a small wet bar directly below this closet. IF the time ever was needed for an elevator, this main floor closet could be converted to an elevator to the lower level.

Glass French doors leading into the private dining room. There are a total of four transom windows in this room.

The family room in the walk out basement. Beautiful millwork around the fireplace (and yes, my mom and dad have his/her chairs to watch all of their sports – when they eventually get back to playing).

Age in Place

When my parents downsized from their large home to this villa, I was so excited for them. They were building their last dream home, they were making some really smart decisions at building time (like adding in the in-floor heating for the basement), and my mom and I got to shop for all new furniture.

As the Mister and I begin our journey into thinking ahead and what our dream downsizing home will look like, I know we will be building UNLESS a builder can manage to incorporate all of the important features an Age in Place home should have. So far, I have not seen any.

I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of my mom and dad’s home. Now…if only I could get my mom to add in just a pop of colour some where (love you mom)!

Shop the Look

You may have noticed that my mom has a very ‘safe’ colour palette. She has mentioned that she’d like to start looking at some new bedding – which got me thinking of the main floor living space.

While my mom won’t want to break the bank, and they definitely will not be painting, I’ve pulled together a few items that I think would look great in their villa – and potentially your home too. I chose a blue palette as my mom likes this colour.

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Are you finding you are thinking about making some changes in your home or a space in your home? Contact me today to start the discussion.

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