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How to Design Accessible Homes for Aging in Places by the Sea

By Gina Thompson

Your forever home is where you will spend the rest of your life, sharing laughs and growing old around beloved family and friends. Not only should your home be crafted with luxury in mind, but your home design should be tailored to embrace coastal comfort.

Thoughtful planning and quality building will ensure every corner of your domain is accessible and intertwines elegance with functionality. When it comes to aging in place by the sea, you'll need practical and unique ways to incorporate accessibility into your dream beach house design. Read on for accessible coastal home design ideas.

Indulge in Accessibility 

Graceful Ramps Instead of Stairs

At a home's entry, one of the most important things you can do to mitigate falls is to design no-step entries. That means there is no ledge or small step to get into the home or when moving throughout the home. Single-story homes can be just as grandeur as multi-story homes, but you can add elevation to rooms with ramps. Install elevators or chairlifts to access elevated floors if space is too limited for ramps.

Widen Doorways and Hallways

Standard homes have small hallways to conserve space, but wider doors and hallways will open your home up. Large archways and wider halls are not only opulent but will also ensure wheelchairs can maneuver easily.

Seamless Flooring

Luxury living means every step should be a symphony of comfort and safety. While able-bodied people might not think anything of the floor they are walking on, uneven flooring could cause hardships for people with limited mobility. Create a seamless transition from one flooring type to another, like carpet to tile. It can be hard for some wheelchairs to go over thresholds, and it could trip people who shuffle when they walk. The flooring should be smooth, but not so slippery that people will fall. Don't forget to secure loose rugs so they don't become a tripping hazard.

Walk-in Sanctuaries

Walk-in showers and bathtubs are the epitome of indulgence and are practical for people in wheelchairs or those who can't lift their legs high. Shower benches and seats are also an alternative to a walk-in bathtub. Grab bars near toilets and inside the shower are essential so people have something to hold on to, but get that ugly silver grab bar out of your mind. There are plenty of attractive options to choose from to make your bathroom accessible without being an eyesore.

Bring the Spa Home

Why stop at the bathroom when designing your luxury home? Homes with spas incorporate massage chairs, mood lighting, steamers, and indoor jacuzzis so you can feel pampered without leaving your property. Home saunas are also a relaxing addition to your home with added health benefits.

Let the Light In 

Welcome natural light and gorgeous views by incorporating big windows into your home design. Elevate windows a step further with glass walls. Moveable glass wall systems can also be installed, allowing you and your guests to freely move in and out of the house. Skylights are another contemporary architectural design incorporated into homes. When placed in the right spot, you won't need to add overhead lighting to rooms with skylights. 

Smart Homes for the Smart Owner

Thanks to modern technology, it is quite easy to turn off the lights or switch to a binge-worthy show with just the sound of your voice. Advanced devices and fixtures can be voice-activated or controlled via your phone. Smart home technology incorporated into coastal living looks like smart thermostats and humidity detectors to preserve your home. Since coastal homes are susceptible to moisture, wind, and humidity, keep track of the home's humidity levels to get ahead of any problems that may develop. Other eco-friendly home designs include solar panel roofs to reduce electricity use.

Accessible Coastal Retreat 

Private Pathways

Mobility is essential when aging in place in your coastal communities. For large properties, private pathways are accessible ways to reach beaches and communities without hassle. Compacted sand is a popular path design around beach homes, but heavy floods can loosen the sand. Boardwalks and rubber mats are other ways to make walking and using wheelchairs effortless on the sand. Don't forget to install handrails along the paths for extra support and balance.

Beach Pools

Bring the beach to your home with a walk-in pool. This type of pool design gradually deepens the farther you get in so you don't have to worry about stairs or anyone accidentally falling in.

Landscaped Gardens

No more kneeling and throwing out your lower back to pick the tomatoes. Add raised garden beds to your outdoor areas. Rosemary and sea lavender are easy to grow near the coast and bring pleasant smells to your home. Potatoes and asparagus are also seaside vegetables that tolerate high to moderate salt in the air.

While you should try to keep saltwater out of your raised garden bed, storms and rains still happen. Drill holes in the bottom of the garden beds to allow water to drain freely through plants without pooling up. Always dump any standing water for mosquito control.

Canopies of Tranquility

Shade are a necessity on your property. The coastal summers are hot, and the sun can be relentless. Adding shady areas can be achieved by installing awnings or strategically placed shade trees. Along the East Coast, Sabal Palms are great to plant for shade in beachy areas.

As you design your forever home by the sea, guarantee a lifetime of independence with these accessible features and ideas. Work with Sea Island Builder's Design-build Team for cutting-edge designs that don't lack quality or craftsmanship. An accessibility specialist will also ensure your home is comfortable, safe, and tailored to you and your family's needs.

Gina Thompson is an experienced multimedia journalist, producer, and content writer born and raised in Texas. In her spare time, she loves catching a live band, dancing, and finding the next big taco spot. As a writer, she is passionate about making a positive impact on her community by elevating the voices and stories that need to be heard.

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