For every 5,000 square foot home or larger that is designed and for every multi-million dollar home that is created, how many modestly-sized and valued homes need a makeover to serve the needs of their owners rather than compete for plaques and trophies?
Showcasing our design abilities and being rewarded for it at various annual design competitions is great. It’s how we tell the public that we have been recognized for our creativity and design authority. However, there is a huge segment of the market that potentially is being overlooked and underserved. That is the lower end – those built a half-century ago or more and typically valued at $200,000 or less, depending on where they are located.
Our challenge as aging in place specialists is helping the people living in modest homes with limited budgets to do what needs to happen to create safe, comfortable, and convenient living spaces for them that allow them to come and go and move about freely and independently in those homes. These designs won’t win any awards as aesthetic showpieces, but they can be exactly with the owners need to maintain their quality of life and to continue living in their homes as they age.
We won’t be looking to create total makeovers or to demonstrate our flair for style, patterns, colors, and finishes. In fact, we may only do a limited number of improvements – one or two may be all that the budget supports and at the same time addresses their most pressing needs.
We will concentrate on an area of the home that needs attention – the entrance, flooring, lighting, the kitchen, hallway, bathroom, or a combination of these by limit our involvement to addressing their mobility and sensory needs using their existing floor plan, demonstrated needs, and budget as the parameters to create an effective design.
Our design might not win an award – except from our clients as being exactly what they needed – but we are approaching the renovation as a needs-based effort rather than what others will think of our work when it is completed. We only have to satisfy the client and not a review committee or the general public. We just need to create a heart-warming design – one that meets or exceeds what our clients envisioned as a need they had in their home. When we do that, they will be happy – and safer in their space – and will be happy that we fulfilled our commitment to them. This type of a project is not intended to be an award-seeking one but rather a client-centric one that focused simply on meeting their needs as they were expressed and as we interpreted them.
We have large opportunities – depending on our business model – to serve the entire range of needs and price points. Serving seniors with limited budgets require a tremendous amount of creativity to achieve results that work for them and stay within their budgets. We can still use solutions that might work in higher-end applications, We just have to scale them back or find less expensive ways to do them that are still functional for our clients.
It’s great to be recognized for our work in creating effective and attractive solutions for our clients. The question is who do we want to be the one providing the recognition – the industry, our peers, the general public, or the client for whom the work is done? This is not a mutually exclusive list where only one of these can be the one we are appealing to, but it does give a range of approaches.