Remodeling is an activity that many people undertake to improve the quality and general livability of their homes. We generally think of remodeling as being done by homeowners although renters certainly can and do complete remodeling projects as well – just usually not anything to do with structural elements such as walls, floors, ceilings, or windows.
Remodeling can be a relatively simple and inexpensive activity that is done by the occupants of a home or apartment, or it can be quite complex and involve the contributions of several different types of professionals to complete. Remodeling can be a weekend project or one that takes days to finish.
While we might think of remodeling as being a fairly significant change to the appearance or layout of a home, it could be something as basic as painting a room, adding crown molding to a ceiling, installing chair rail, creating a more substantial appearance to window or door casing with additional trim, adding baseboard material, or using picture frame molding or wainscoting to accent the walls. It could include installing new carpeting or removing the carpeting and replacing it with tile or laminate. It could involve refacing the cabinet doors. It could be replacing light switches or faucets. It could be the addition of ceiling fans or adding light kits to existing ceiling fans. It could involve adding or replacing furniture. The list goes on.
Some of these “weekend” projects are appropriate for the homeowner or renter to complete. Some may require the services of a handyman or contractor – depending on the skill set of the occupants, their knowledge level, and how quickly they work.
Because many of these rather simple, almost routine projects can be considered and undertaken by the owners or renters, they often do not rise to the level of what we might consider as really being remodeling even though they definitely are enhancing the appearance of a space and quite often the accessibility, safety, comfort, and convenience of an area – classic criteria of a successful remodeling project.
When we have the opportunity to be involved in working with someone who is thinking of undertaking a simple remodeling effort such as the ones just mentioned – or even more than one of them – by consulting with them, advising them, or being retained to do all or part of the work, we have a real opportunity to add an aging-in-place focus.
Aging in place design takes into account a long-term project life and sustainability. In other words, we should encourage people (whether we do the work or they do it) to be using paint, flooring, trim, switches, interior doors, and other components that provide extended lifetimes and last for several years without deteriorating or needing to be replaced.
Of course, people are free to change their minds about what they want in wall or appliance colors, finishes, furnishings, and flooring styles. Still, until those items are changed, replaced, or modified because of changing personal tastes, they should still be providing quality surface and appearance for the foreseeable future.
Aging in place considerations don’t have to wait until people reach a certain age. They can be a part of remodeling (regardless of how simple or complex it might be) at any stage of life to create solutions that will offer long-term satisfaction and serviceability for the owners or renters who are making the changes themselves or having them done by professionals.