Learn Why Aging In Place Is Good Business For Interior Designers

Aging-In-Place Opportunities For Interior Designers

Aging-In-Place: A Business Opportunity For Interior Designers

As more Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) reach retirement age, they continue to drive the growth in various business including healthcare and home improvement. Fiercely independent, many Boomers are choosing to remain in their homes as the age. This trend is driving changes in the interior design and construction industries. In fact, for well over a decade, professionals associations within the industry have been advising members to prepare for the coming “silver tsunami” that is the aging Boomer generation.

As boomers enter retirement, many are choosing to “age in place” in their current home, or in their retirement homes. This is creating an unprecedented opportunity for interior designers and builders as these homeowners need to update, upgrade and renovate their homes to make them more age-friendly.

Today, age-related modifications are a 13 billion dollar market that is growing rapidly. Aside from a small group who specialize in this area, for designers and remodelers seeking to grow their business, educating themselves on how to best meet the needs of this growing market segment is a must.

The American Institute of Architects' (AIA) 2016 Home Design Trends Survey shows an increase in demand for accessibility, adaptability and universal design features. Homeowners with the means are renovating their homes to make them more age-friendly, not only to improve function and safety but to also indulge in a few luxuries.

The Top Areas For Aging In Place Features

The National Association of Home Builders released a recent survey showing the top aging in place modification homeowners are requesting include features to make their homes safer as well as more functional.

The top five features that have seen the largest increases in the past few years are:

• Added lighting/Task lighting – up 12% year over year

• Curbless showers - up 9% year over year

• Grab bars – up 7% year over year

• Non-slip flooring – up 7% year over year

• Widened doorways – up 5% year over year

While these are the largest areas of annual growth for aging in place modifications, there are many areas that are growing that are not specifically geared to elderly homeowners, but are elements of universal design that perform double duty such as left-handed doorknobs, soft flooring, pullout shelves and electrical outlets that are placed higher off the floor. While universal design concepts are geared towards making a home more user-friendly for occupants of all ages, many of these elements will also serve older homeowners well as they age.

The Features That Matter Most

For interior designers and remodelers who are new to this growing market, the most important aspect is to provide clients with solutions and products that meet their specific needs for today and in the years ahead. Features that matter the most to this segment include accessibility, safety, comfort, adaptability, ease-of-use, easy maintenance, improved easily controllable lighting, temperature control, and security.

Of course, while they want features that enhance these aspects of living and aging-in-place, they also want the same things that younger homeowners are seeking like style, convenience, energy efficiency and design that meets their aesthetic and lifestyle needs now and into the future.

Accessibility Features In the Kitchen

Wider spaces between islands and counters, stoves with large knobs and wall ovens that reduce bending are all popular modifications. Improved lighting, more substantial more easily gripped cabinet hardware and softer flooring that is easier on the knees are also popular modifications. The key for interior designers is looking towards modifications that are functional now but have a long time horizon so as homeowners age these improvements remain functional.

Accessibility Features In The Bathroom

In the bathroom, the most popular amenities revolve around safety and comfort. Shower seats, no-threshold showers, comfort height vanities, lighting in the shower and luxury amenities like smart toilets and radiant floor heat are all growing trends in aging in place bathroom remodels.

To truly capture this market requires some understanding of the aging process and the environmental challenges homeowners may face as they age. Since this market is expected to continue to grow into the foreseeable future and will make up a large portion of the design and remodeling market, the investment in training and education will be well worth it!

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About Michael Conway

I'm the owner and strategist at Means-of-Production. My firm builds Squarespace websites, Houzz profiles, and content marketing and advertising solutions for architects, interior designers, design-build contractors and landscape design firms. Our all-in-one marketing tactics attract the right clients with exceptional architectural photography and brand messaging that sets you apart from the competition.