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In nearly two decades of designing homes, the Chambless Hall team and I have had the privilege of working with many homeowners in their sixties or seventies who are either renovating or building their “forever homes.” Due to our knowledge of both design and construction, we’re able to make key changes and incorporate specific features into these homes that will allow them to live in their home for as long as possible.

These changes and features fall under the category of aging-in-place design. Different from accessible design, aging-in-place design sets the stage (often with surprising subtlety) for potential future needs, such as the use of walkers or wheelchairs. While the majority of aging-in-place considerations are focused on kitchens and bathrooms, there are certain elements we always incorporate into other spaces within these homes, as well.

As a designer, I love aging-in-place design. It’s incredibly satisfying to have these solutions in my back pocket for my clients, knowing they may live in their homes for years longer with them in place. Let’s take a look at some of the options available for aging-in-place homes and how we’ve applied them to our clients’ homes.


A luxurious shower designed with aging in place in mind, including grab bars, flush transitions, and a hand-held shower unit.

We designed this luxurious shower with aging in place in mind, including grab bars, flush transitions, and a hand-held shower unit

Not surprisingly, bathrooms are one of the most important areas to consider when it comes to aging-in-place design. Not only do they tend to be heavily used, but they also pose risks of falls and burns, plus they’re almost always too small to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs.

In two bathrooms we recently remodeled, we made sure to eliminate the curb on the shower, creating a flush transition that reduces the risk of tripping and allows for easy access in and out of the shower for walkers or wheelchairs.

We also installed grab bars on at least three walls in keeping with recommended best practices. Grab bars require the use of blocking, which is a structure created inside the walls to ensure their stability and safety. Our architectural drawings specify where to put the blocking during framing to ensure it’s placed accurately.

In both of these bathrooms, one of the three grab bars is actually the slide bar of the hand-held shower unit. To be clear, not every hand-held shower unit can be used this way. We selected this particular one because it is specifically designed to double as a vertical grab bar.

A wet space shower enclosure, like this one by Georgia interior design firm Chambless Hall, that includes the toilet is designed with aging in place in mind, making transitions from wheelchair to shower and to toilet easier and safer.

Here, we created a wet space that includes the shower enclosure. This allows for an easy transition from a wheelchair onto the toilet.

We also opted for a linear drain in these showers. Unlike a standard center drain which has separate slopes coming in from all four sides of the shower floor, a linear drain is placed up against one wall, allowing for the entire shower floor to slope more gradually and at the same angle all the way across, allowing for better balance when showering.

You’ll notice that the second bathroom is laid out a bit differently than the first. This approach eliminates the need for an enclosed toilet room (which most homeowners today prefer to the toilet being out in the open space of the bathroom) which may not have enough space to be wheelchair or walker accessible. The wet space also removes the issue of doors hindering movement with a walker or wheelchair while also providing enough space for safe and easy transferring. Paired with the curbless shower and linear drain, this design provides a much more open and readily accessible space for users with existing or foreseeable mobility challenges.


Aging-in-place design in a kitchen this one by Georgia interior design firm Chambless Hall can mean simple elements like this pot filler that makes cooking easier.

Believe it or not, something as simple as a pot filler can make a huge difference when it comes to aging in place.

In addition to walker and wheelchair accessibility, in kitchens we also think about things like being able to reach the  upper cabinets safely, preventing burns, and in general making food prep and clean up safer and easier  with the physical challenges that can come with aging.

One of the key recommendations I always make is to install a pot filler at the stove. While this can’t completely eliminate the need to carry heavy pots, it does reduce that need by 50%, which for some homeowners can mean the difference between continuing to cook their favorite meals or not.

Although they’re a great addition to aging-in-place kitchen designs, microwave drawers are actually wonderful for children, as well. Because they are installed in the kitchen island or incorporated into the lower cabinets rather than above the stove, they’re not only more accessible for wheelchair users, but they’re also safer for everyone because they reduce the  risk of burns and spills since no one needs to transfer hot items from up high to the counter.

A microwave drawer in a beautiful kitchen like this one by Georgia interior design firm Chambless Hall is a great aging-in-place design element that actually makes cooking safer for everyone in the home.

Some aging-in-place elements, like microwave drawers, actually make life easier and safer for everyone in the home.

When designing any kitchen layout–whether aging-in-place or not–we always increase the amount of space between the perimeter cabinets and the island from the recommended three feet to a full 42-48 inches. This would accommodate most walkers and wheelchairs, allowing for meal prep and enough space for a pass-through (a wheelchair requires 5 feet to turn a complete circle so, as with all walkways and clearances, full accessibility is another matter).

Other spaces

As I mentioned, there are other aspects of the home where aging-in-place design considerations can make a significant impact. While some elements are more obvious such as shower grab bars, many are so subtle, no one but the homeowner ever knows they’re there.

For example, we frequently widen doorways to improve accessibility for walkers or wheelchairs. Occasionally, we also need to widen hallways, particularly in older homes built before the open-concept layout became popular. Taking these measures in a renovation with the future in mind  can make all the difference later but in the meantime, they simply make the home feel more open and inviting.

A large portion of our projects at Chambless Hall are renovations, which means we replace a lot of windows. Regardless of the homeowner’s stage of life, I always recommend they go with casement windows instead of double-hung. Casement windows are designed with hinges on the side and are crank operated so they’re much easier to open and close. Of course, it’s a particularly key consideration for those with reduced strength or dexterity, but traditional double-hung styles can be hard for anyone to operate, especially in hard to reach locations like above the kitchen sink. Bringing in casement windows  just makes life easier for everyone.

For aging-in-place projects, we also change out all door hardware to levers and all cabinet hardware to pulls. It’s not something people think about until and unless they begin having trouble but it actually takes a good bit of hand and forearm strength to be able to grip and turn a doorknob. Levers and pulls eliminate the need for tight gripping altogether but stylistically, they’re a beautiful choice regardless of accessibility needs so they look cohesive in a well-designed home.

A beautiful laundry room by Georgia interior design firm Chambless Hall with aging-in-place design elements like a cabinet made easy to reach with clever framing.

Like this specially-built laundry room cabinet, aging-in-place design elements can make life safer and easier in the future without detracting from the beauty of the design today.

This laundry room is a perfect example of how aging-in-place design elements can be highly effective should the need for them eventually arise yet they can be applied in ways that are completely unobtrusive to the look of the design in the meantime. For homeowners with mobility or balance issues, cabinets above the washer and dryer can be difficult to reach so in this aging-in-place design, we built out the cabinet off the wall by six inches, eliminating the extra reach over the washer and dryer to reach inside. By simply covering up the framing behind the cabinet, we made it an undetectable yet highly accessible accommodation that will make life easier for the homeowners both now and in the future.

I love being able to create homes for our clients that are not only stylish and luxurious but also safe and accessible for them as they age. By making these and other subtle yet impactful changes, we help them to continue living in their homes for longer. What an amazing way to apply our knowledge and expertise to benefit our fantastic clients!

Are you interested in learning how we can help with aging-in-place design considerations for your renovation or new construction project? Reach out to us here !

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All Designs by Chambless Hall Design + Construction

All Photography by CatMax Photo