“Putting First Things First As We Age In Place”

The interior areas of a home such as the kitchen and bath cannot be enjoyed unless access to the home is achieved through a safe and effective entrance, 

Whether it’s a discussion of aging in place or just evaluating a home to purchase, most people find that the kitchen and the bathroom are the two areas of the home that garner their attention. Obviously, there are several rooms in a home, but none seem to receive the interest and the focus of the kitchen and the bath – some find the kitchen the most important room, and some the bath. Either way, these are the two most prominent areas of any home.

The kitchen and the bath have more fixtures, cabinets, activities, and the potential for injuries of any room in the home. We tend to spend a lot of time collectively in these two areas of the home. As such, people devote their attention to them when it comes time for decorating, accessorizing, or renovating the space. Even to the exclusion of other areas of the home, these two rooms win out.

Builders put a lot of energy into designing exciting kitchens and baths and putting in features that appeal to would-be buyers of their homes. Contractors are engaged to make these two rooms more exciting for people. Stagers take existing homes and make these two areas as appealing as possible. Makeover shows on TV focus on one or the other – or both – of these rooms, People list these two rooms as the areas where they need to see a significant improvement over what they have at present in order to definitely remain living where they are (aging in place) or to contemplate a move to that property (relocating). Rental apartments are the same.

With all of the interest in having a kitchen and bathroom that are visually appealing and contemporary in design, people are willing to accept a  potentially large budget ready to take their existing kitchen or bath area and convert it to something spectacular to have them to feel that this is now the space they can live in permanently,

We accept that the kitchen and bath areas are quite important and that they lead the list of where people place their importance and interest level in a home – their own, places they visit, or ones they might be considering for a potential move.

But, let’s put first things first. We understand that people want to have a great kitchen and bath – ones that are visually appealing, accessible, pleasant to be in, and spacious enough to use easily. However, if the occupants of the home plus anyone else who comes to visit or help them (first responders, neighbors, repair people, service or maintenance personnel, or delivery and setup specialists) cannot approach and enter their home easily, safely, and effectively, the nice kitchen and bath becomes much less impressive.

To enter someone’s home, the approach has to be reasonable with level, continuous, solid surface walkways. There can’t be any obstacles to stepping or walking. If there are steps, consider how easy it is for the occupants to use them successfully and make any accommodations that might be required (adding railing or curbs, installing additional landings, reducing the number of steps in favor of inclined walkways, and lighting the area so that it is safe to use at all hours and in all weather conditions).

If there is a landing, stoop, or porch at the entry, make sure that it is large enough for people to wait to gain entry into the home and not have to get out of the way of a door opening toward them. A covering of some type is ideal to keep precipitation from falling on them as they wait – whether they are opening the door because they live there or they are visiting and waiting to gain access.

Finally, the entry door itself must be accessible. It doesn’t matter what is waiting for the occupants of the home or their guests and visitors if getting through the front door to be able to experience what lies on the inside is not easy. There should be no barriers to entry – in terms of grabbing the door hardware, opening the door itself, and then in moving through the doorway opening to the inside of the dwelling.

The area between the street and the front door may not be as pretty, as glitzy, or as interesting as creating an outstanding and enjoyable experience in the kitchen and bathroom areas of the home, but without that arrival experience, the inside suffers. It is of little consequence to the occupants or visitors. We need to focus on first things first – the safe approach and entry into the home, Then we can look into addressing and going all-out in the kitchen and bathroom areas.

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