Kitchen Ideas for Aging in Place

With more of the Baby Boomer generation aging, the concept of aging in place has become more prominent. Modifications in living spaces make it possible for seniors who might otherwise move to assisted living facilities to remain independent and in their own homes. One of the most important spaces to consider when planning spaces for aging seniors is the kitchen.  The following five aging in place kitchen design ideas help make it possible for seniors to remain in their homes for as long as possible.

Incorporate Rounded Edges

Sharp edges on countertops, tables, and other kitchen surfaces can produce painful bruises and even puncture wounds when you bump into them. Opt for rounded corners on kitchen surfaces to reduce the risk of such injuries.

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Opt for a Shallow Sink

Huge sinks can be handy for draining pasta, and represent a source of strain for aging arms. Opt for a shallow sink of 6 or 8 inches deep to make it easier to rinse vegetables and wash dishes.

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Think Drawers, Not Doors

Large, wide drawers allow pots, pans, and small appliances to be stored where they are easily accessible, rather than hidden behind other items in a pantry.  Drawers at least 30 inches wide allow for ample storage for even the largest pots and pans.

Reduce Slip and Trip Floor Hazards

Falls represent one of the biggest hazards for seniors. Once a senior has fallen once, it is more likely for future falls to occur – each more debilitating than the last. Replace slippery laminate floors and area rugs with textured materials such as porcelain tile. As a bonus, porcelain tile is also easily cleaned and maintained.

Widen Passageways

Many seniors suffer from limited mobility, requiring a walker, scooter, or a wheelchair to get around. ADA guidelines call for at least 60 inches of clearance between cabinets and appliances in U-shaped kitchens, and a minimum of 40 inches of clearance in galley-style kitchens.

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Tips for Creating a Peaceful Home

Your home is meant to be a place to decompress, to relax with family, and share time with friends. It’s natural to want your home to be a peaceful retreat. Following the five tips below can help ensure that your home is the restful enclave you desire.

Declutter and Organize

There’s no need for your home to look like a museum or an antiseptic hotel. But piles of junk and clutter scattered about detract from an atmosphere of calm. If your house is in complete disarray, start to organize one room at a time. Sell, donate, or discard items that you don’t use and invest in storage for the items you cannot live without. Once you’ve restored order, make a point of picking up after yourself whenever you leave a space.

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Eliminate Negative Vibes

If you’re holding on to a piece of furniture or accent item you hate because it was expensive or because someone gave it to you, it’s time to rethink that decision. Eliminate negative vibes and replace them with a positive atmosphere by getting rid of pieces associated with things you don’t enjoy. Replace them with items in colors and fabrics that you love.

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Incorporate Natural Elements

The clean, modern look can be striking, but it can also be stark and sterile. Incorporating natural elements, such as wood furniture and fabrics, can make your home less institutional. Living plants also bring life to your home while helping clean the air.

Create Designated Electronics Zones

Whether you’re an audiophile, an avid gamer, or you work from home, your electronics represent a significant aspect of your life. That doesn’t mean your entire home should look like a recording studio. Set aside one or more designated areas for your electronics, and keep the rest of your home reasonably free of cords, monitors, and other tech elements.

Circulate Fresh Air

Breathing stale, stagnant indoor air all day is a recipe for fatigue and a general feeling of unwellness. Open your windows, if possible, and let fresh air into the house for at least a few minutes every day. You’ll feel better and your home will smell fresher.

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Tricks to Brighten up a Dark Room

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Many rooms are naturally bathed in abundant light, but others are not. But even a dim or dark room can be lightened up. Employing any or all of the five tips listed below can help overcome the challenge of brightening a dark or dim room.

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Go White and Bright

White not only makes rooms look bigger, it also reflects light to help brighten dark rooms. As a bonus, white walls are easily coordinated with nearly any type of furniture, and you can use accent pieces to provide pops of color. White furniture also reflects natural light, although it might not be the most practical choice for a household with pets or small children.

Cool with Blue

Natural light has a bluish tone, in contrast to the sometimes harsh yellow tones of incandescent bulbs. Adding blue furnishings and accents adds crispness and lends a subtle reference to the sky. As a bonus, blue works with nearly any accent color you might choose.

Contrast with Area Rugs

Polished hardwood floors can give a rich, homey feel to any room. However, if a room receives little natural light, hardwood floors can make the room look even darker. Adding area rugs that include pops of color can help to brighten the room without totally obscuring hardwood floors.

Update Room Lighting

Warm lighting with a yellowish cast gives a cozy feel to a room. However, for a room lacking natural light, choosing lighting with a bluish cast, or even bright white, can really brighten things up. Today’s modern bulbs provide bright lighting without a harsh fluorescent glare.

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Balance Light with Dark

It may seem counterintuitive to add dark colors, or even black, to a dim room, but bright white walls and furniture with no contrast can give a room an antiseptic atmosphere. Adding accents such as pillows, photos, and rugs, helps retain a room’s brightness while allowing it to look like a room that people actually spend time in.

Tips for New Homeowners

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Becoming a new homeowner is a reason for celebration, but it also comes with new responsibilities as well. Following the tips below can help you get off on the right foot with home ownership.

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Don’t Ignore Maintenance

As a homeowner, repairs and fixes around the house are on you. There is no landlord to arrange for a plumber or even to mow the lawn. If you’re handy, you can save money by taking care of simple fixes yourself. However, attempting to “economize” by taking on major tasks, such as rewiring a faulty electrical system or fixing a leaky roof, will almost certainly be costlier than hiring a professional contractor or electrician right off the bat. Worse, you could be putting yourself and your family in harm’s way by neglecting needed repairs. Take the time to stay on top of the maintenance schedule for your home

Get Help with Your Tax Returns

Tax laws concerning home ownership, including what does and does not qualify for a tax break is especially confusing for new homeowners. The money you spend to hire a certified public accountant (CPA), or an attorney who specializes in laws pertaining to home ownership, to file your tax returns for the year after you purchase your home will be money well spent. You may well gain enough in tax breaks to cover the expense of hiring a professional.

Save Receipts from Home-Related Projects

Receipts from home improvements can be used to increase your home’s tax basis, which is the purchase price of your home plus the total costs of any improvements you have made in the home.  A higher basis translates into lower taxable income whenever you decide to sell your home.

Obtain the Right Insurance Coverage

As a homeowner, skimping on insurance can drain your finances if you suffer a major loss, and even potentially leave you legally vulnerable. At a minimum, you should purchase enough insurance to replace the full value of your home and its contents in the event of a total loss, either through a natural disaster, fire, or a criminal act. Other types of insurance may be needed as well, depending on your circumstances and the location of your home. An independent insurance broker can help you determine what coverage is needed.

Becoming a first-time homeowner is exciting for any individual or family. By dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s listed above, you’ll ensure that your new home continues to fulfill your family’s vision of the American dream.

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Top 5 Home Design Trends

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Just like fashion trends, home design trends come and go. Incorporating one or more of the following five current home design trends can help your home sell faster, and for a higher price, no matter when you plan to sell your home.

Smart Home Functionality

Many home buyers are seeking smart home functionality to reduce high utility bills and their contribution to carbon gas emissions. Smart home functionality includes energy-efficient bulbs, outlets, thermostats, and appliances. Voice-activated assistants such as Amazon Echo and Google Home also contribute to smart home technology by turning lights and heat off in rooms that are not being used and scheduling the use of appliances for non-peak periods when utility costs are often lower.

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Greenery

Greenery is Pantone’s color of the year for 2017. Greenery translates into pops of green color throughout the home, including green appliances and accessories. Greenery also refers to bringing the outside inside in the form of plants and fountains typically found outdoors.

Matte Appliances

For years, stainless steel appliances have been in high demand. Stainless steel is still popular, but appliances with a matte or brushed finish are becoming more popular. Ovens, refrigerators and dishwashers with a matte finish give kitchens a fresh look.

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Unique Bathroom Vanities

Back in the day, bathroom vanities were almost an afterthought, if they existed at all. Today, unique bathroom vanities are highly sought after, especially vanities with double sinks. Repurposed furniture, such as chests or small tables, is especially popular for bathroom vanities. Repurposing a piece of furniture as a bathroom vanity is a challenging but manageable weekend DIY project for handy homeowners.

No Dedicated Home Office

Back in the day, a home office meant a desk, computer and phone, perhaps with a fax machine attached. These days, people work from laptops, tablets or even smartphones. Desks and landlines are out; Wi-Fi and docking stations are in. This trend translates to a reduced emphasis on dedicated home office space in favor of a small cabinet or converted closet to house a small workspace plus storage for a printer.

Turning Your Home into a Smart Home

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During the 1960s, George Jetson, his wife Jane, daughter Judy and son Elroy lived in a futuristic space pod where everything was automated. Today, that cartoon scenario is closer to reality than ever. You may not be able to live exactly like the Jetsons, but it is possible to automate and regulate quite a bit, operating lighting, appliances and even housecleaning from your smartphone or with a simple verbal command. The cost is less than you might imagine, with the additional benefit of reducing your household’s carbon footprint.

Smart Lighting

Smart lighting results in lower electric bills and is also environmentally friendly. Smart lighting can be configured to monitor energy usage, to turn itself on and off on a set schedule or to turn lights off in rooms that are not being used, translating into significant utility bill savings. Smart lighting systems can also incorporate colored bulbs or connect to a dimmer for mood lighting.

Smart Heating and Cooling

Anyone who has experienced sticker shock from a sky-high electric bill due to heating in the winter or air conditioning during the summer will appreciate the benefits of smart heating and cooling. Smart meters allow users to monitor and regulate electric usage, scheduling high-demand tasks such as laundry for non-peak periods. Smart meters also regulate heating and cooling systems, scheduling systems to run for the minimum time needed to maintain reasonable indoor comfort. Smart heating and cooling systems can also regulate thermostats on a schedule so that less heating and cooling energy is used at night.

Smart Cleaning

Smart cleaning robots are definitely fun. They can be set to clean up sudden messes and to run on a schedule to keep all the floors in your home clean, allowing homeowners to spend time doing other things. Smart cleaning robots “sense” obstacles such as furniture and avoid them. They also plug themselves in when they need to be recharged.

 

Smart Switches

Automated electrical controls are not new. However, smart switches remove the function of turning electrical items on and off from the realm of novelty items like The Clapper. These sophisticated controls allow users to schedule and monitor usage of anything plugged into them from a laptop computer or a mobile app. The payoff comes in the form of energy savings as well as lower utility bills.

 

Voice Activated Assistance

Voice activated systems such as Amazon Echo or Google Home use technology similar to virtual assistants such as Apple’s Siri. However, services like Amazon Echo or Google Home can do far more than smartphone-based assistants. These services can control a user’s lighting and thermostats, make phone calls or control an entire security system.