Tips & Articles
Retirement is the time in life where we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor. For some, this means finally being able to own a cottage and enjoy a life of leisure in an area they find scenic and relaxing. You may lean towards buying a pre-existing structure, but there are several significant advantages available when building your own.
Designing your cottage from the ground up not only means having everything just right aesthetically, but also creating a living environment that considers the way our bodies change with age.
Some of today’s cottages are so elaborate that you can easily mistake them for a regular home. However, it is wise to adopt a simpler layout, if you hope to safely inhabit a cottage well into your senior years.
Choosing a single floor with no level changes means if you encounter mobility issues later on, you won’t be burdened with stairs or the costly installation of a chair elevator lift.
Also think about a “zero step” entrance that allows you to simply walk in from outside without using stairs or stepping over a barrier. It would truly be a shame if the layout of your cottage meant you could no longer use it as a senior citizen.
Wider Doorways and Hallways
It can be particularly distressing for wheelchair users to find a building’s doorways do not provide sufficient clearance for their chair. This is a particular concern for those with electric chairs as they are often wider than manual models. Hallways should also be approximately two feet wider for this purpose.
Designing your own cottage allows you to consider this factor for your later years. Also, if parents or other friends with mobility challenges visit, you won’t have to worry about them being able to navigate freely in the space.
Larger Bathrooms and Bedrooms
Many older cottages contain tiny bathrooms with little room for more than just a sink, toilet, and shower. This can be a major trial for those who use mobility devices. It can also leave insufficient space for the installation of the support bars these individuals often use to transfer safely.
You can easily avoid this future challenge by allocating more space for the bathroom. Its also wise to consider the area and plumbing design necessary to allow for a walk-in tub. These provide a way for seniors to bathe while sitting down and avoid the danger of potentially fatal falls. One in three Canadian seniors fall every year and the results are sometimes tragic.
Similarly, a larger bedroom also means more area for mobility devices and safety assists. Some seniors like to have a commode near their bed during the night in case they don’t feel safe making it to the washroom on their own. Leave enough space for bedroom furniture as well as any safety equipment you might need down the line.
It is customary to vary the types of flooring in a home. You can absolutely do that when designing your cottage and it is wise to think about surfaces that are good for seniors, such as non-slip flooring in the bathroom or low pile carpeting. Having this thought in mind when creating your cottage is a good way to avoid costly renovations in the future when your mobility needs change.
Plenty of Illumination
Our vision changes as we age and proper lighting for seniors is very important. Think carefully about where your light sources will be. There should be enough so that each room is well-lit and easy to navigate. Bumping into objects or tripping over table or furniture legs bathed in shadow can lead to falls. We all want to avoid a large hydro bill, but it’s better to have too many lighting options than too few.
When designing the kitchen, choose a height for cupboards that allows easy accessibility. You will find it tougher and tougher to bend, kneel, and reach up as life goes on, so try to reduce the frequency at which you will need to do this when designing your space.
Still have questions? Royal Homes’ planning experts are more than happy to work with you. We have designed both homes and cottages with accessibility concerns in mind and have many different layout options to choose from. Let us help you create the cottage you can use for a lifetime.