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Home Sweet Home | Designing for Luxury Aging in Place

Photography by DeCastro Photography

How smart design allows for luxury aging in place.

Like it or not, everyone gets older. And while we can’t stop the clock, almost 80 percent of Americans want to stay in their own home as they age. Unfortunately, less than one percent of homes today are designed to allow that. That’s where Bonnie Lewis comes in. 

Scottsdale-based Lewis is one of just a handful of Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists (CAPS) in the country that are also professional interior designers. At her firm, Bonnie J. Lewis Design, she creates stunning luxury interiors that incorporate special design elements that allow the home to accommodate the needs of today, as well as unforeseen circumstances in the future. 

“Most homes are not designed for people older than 75,” Lewis says. “Houses, even luxury houses, aren’t designed for how the body ages.”

Architecture and home design aren’t usually done with an eye towards a homeowner that might have a mobility device, reduced hearing or vision, balance issues, loss of strength or reduced cognitive capabilities. 

“Most homes are not designed for people older than 75,” Lewis says. “Houses, even luxury houses, aren’t designed for how the body ages.”

“It usually requires redesigning and remodeling spaces to make them functional and fully accessible,” Lewis says. 

According to Lewis this usually means widening doorways, changing flooring, and often, changing a lot in the kitchen and bathrooms. 

ACCESSIBLE ISN’T UGLY

With the youngest baby boomers nearing 60, aging-in-place design has never been more needed, but according to Lewis, people are reluctant to do it.

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“Women are especially resistant because they don’t want an ugly, institutional look, which I totally understand,” Lewis says. “What they don’t realize is that is where my uniqueness is. I’m a degreed designer, I make it beautiful…and functional.”

Case in point is a recent project Lewis completed for a physician couple who bought their forever home in North Scottsdale. While the homeowners are still young at 55 and 65, as doctors they knew that when they remodeled their bathroom, they wanted to plan for whatever the future might hold. 

“Incorporating well-aging design into the couple’s remodel is a preventative measure that will help keep them safe, independent and eliminate the need to remodel again when their needs change as they age,” Lewis says. “It’s a smart investment, since it is better for the homeowners and better for the environment as it preemptively puts less in the landfill by doing one remodel versus two.”

The existing bathroom was dark and dated so one of Lewis’s first priorities was to lighten and brighten the space to make it more like a spa sanctuary than a dark cavern.

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“I started with evidenced based biophilic design (tying design to nature) to promote physiological and psychological wellness,” Lewis says. “The new design conveys a luxurious, sophisticated, organic ambiance in relaxing hues.”

Some of the standout design aesthetic elements include a custom 10-foot-high modern barn-style entry door, textured white wood-pattern tile plank flooring, custom translucent blue window treatments, organic patterned wallpaper and a freestanding tub. Within the beautiful space, Lewis deftly wove in well-aging design. One vanity is wheelchair accessible, the flooring is slip-resistant and an abundance of natural, ambient and task lighting was used to assist aging eyes and to prevent falls. In the shower, the flooring is slip-resistant, the plumbing is ADA compliant, and a bamboo shower seat and attractive support bars were integrated.

“Bonnie created and executed a breathtaking renovation, which exceeds any spa bathroom I have ever seen anywhere in the world,” the homeowner says. “She flawlessly incorporated accessibility features we did not think we would need for many years. I came to appreciate the large shower, which could accommodate both my husband and I as I needed help with showering after I fell during a hike, breaking my wrist within months of the remodel!”

AVOIDING ASSISTED LIVING

Preemptively creating a home with design features that allow you to age in place can mean the difference between staying home or being forced into an assisted living situation if a health problem or accident happens without warning. 

“When something happens, it’s now a crisis,” Lewis says. “All of a sudden, you need a home that can accommodate special needs and you can’t get the place remodeled in a week. It’s better to plan ahead-hope for the best but plan for the worst. A lot of people end up in assisted living because their home isn’t ready. Hospitals won’t release a patient unless there is at least one bathroom that is ADA compliant.”

By incorporating well-aging design, smart home technology and the professional eye of an expert like Lewis, the aging population can ensure that they’ve created a luxury, forever home.

This story is sponsored by our friends at Bonnie J. Lewis Design.

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