Baby Boomer Retirement Home Design : 10 Reasons

Baby Boomer Retirement Home Design : 10 Reasons

Baby Boomers are a special group of people, born after World War II and into the 1950s, and possibly into the early 1960s.  They have retired or are planning to soon, or want their final Dream Retirement Home to be designed and built in the next few months or years.

10 Reasons for Baby Boomer Retirement Home Design

baby boomer retirement home designWhy would a house designed for Baby Boomers be any different than for anyone else?  10 Reasons for Baby Boomer Retirement Home Design:












1.  FEEL CAPABLE: Baby Boomers still feel young.
2.  MIND: Their minds are alert and capable of everything they were when they were younger.
3.  FINANCIALLY READY: Many of them have planned well and have been successful.
4.  LIFESTYLE IMPROVEMENT: They have been thinking about their dream house.
5.  THEIR TURN: They realize that it is about time that they rewarded themselves for a lifetime of hard work.
6.  AGING ISSUES: Whether admitting it or not, their bodies are aging.
7.  FUTURE  ACCESSIBILITY: They would like to be able to remain in this dream house for the duration (for the rest of the their lives).  This means that this design will need to have features allowing accessibility as the body’s capabilities change.
8.  LEGACY/FAMILY GATHERING PLACE: They would like to pass this dream house along to their sons and daughters so that it will be a place for their family to congregate during the parent’s lives and after.
9.  ENERGY EFFICIENCY: They want a more energy efficient house design.
10.  LOW MAINTENANCE: They want a durable, low-maintenance house design.



Most Baby Boomers feel fine.  When we feel good and our minds are alert, people naturally seek to “feather their nests,” improving their living circumstances.   As Baby Boomers reach retirement age and look around at their existing houses, they tend to reflect on how things could be better.  How it would be nice to have a bigger kitchen, one with a large island that could accommodate several relative and friends on holidays.  And how it would be great to have a home office dedicated for that purpose, with all the built-ins you have wanted for added functionality and a View!  And a host of other things that you can easily see and wish for improvement as you enter your retirement years.












Many Baby Boomers have saved and worked hard all their lives.  You have planned your life well.  You have had ups and downs, but overall, you have managed to put away a nice nest-egg and part of that savings has been dedicated for a new house.  Your retirement house.  You have organized your financial situation to allow for you to have your new retirement house to be properly designed by an architect and built correctly for the duration of your life.  Now is the time to implement what you have so well to accomplish.



You and your significant other have been dreaming about “How nice it would be if …”  It is those “ifs” that your residential architect can help you program, plan and design.  When a residential architect (a real, registered architect) begins a project he or she will typically create and document a Program.  This Program is typically a typed document, in the case of Rand Soellner Architect: an Online electronic document.   It contains a description of your wishes and preferences for your retirement house, and perhaps digital photos of your land and other features that you are considering.  The point is that your architect will document all of your desired lifestyle enhancements into a coherent, organized document call a Program.  This will be the bible for the architect as he creates your design.  It all begins with You and what you want.  Your wishes and functional and other desires are described and become part of the Programming.  The way Rand Soellner works, is to have the electronic Program open, onscreen, while designing the site plan and floor plans in another window of his large high resolution monitor.  In this manner, Your desired Lifestyle Improvements become the guide for the actual design. 












Your lifestyle improved wishes then become built into your design, for your builder to construct and for you to enjoy when you move into your new retirement dream house.



baby boomer retirement home designYou have nearly always helped others.   Your sons and daughters, whom you may have put through school and helped map out a path through life.  Your brother or sister who needed some help with important situations and whom you assisted.  Your parents, who needed help relocating into accommodations that could better help them as they aged.  Your business associates and others whom you selflessly helped.  Charities, churches and other good causes.  Okay, now how about you?  Aren’t you entitled to enjoy some of the fruits of your own lifelong labors?  Isn’t it Your Turn now?  Now that you are approaching retirement, can’t you have something special?  Your retirement dream house?  A place in which you will enjoy every day of the rest of your life?  Yes.  It is now your turn.  As it is for many Baby Boomers.



Whether any of us want to admit it or not, we are all us getting older.  And all of us Baby Boomers are aging.  That is part of the nature of being human. 












One could wish and hope that some day, medical science will have created WalMart Medical stores, in which you could go to and for a modest fee, have your parts revitalized or replaced with newly created ones that will hold you for another 100 years or more.  Until that Golden Age, we have to deal with our growing infirmities and develop methods to still function for as long as we can.


One of the issues that develops as we age is our mobility and the likelihood of a fall and how debilitating that can be.  Many of us have witnessed an older loved one and how, once they have had a bad fall and broken a hip, for instance, that this can be the beginning of the end for them.  Or, due to other aging complications, older people (or anyone for that matter) can find themselves in a wheelchair or using a walker, either during a healing process or for the rest of your days.


Here’s the issue: most people, while they are normally ambulatory, may not realize that most houses have NOT BEEN DESIGNED TO ACCOMMODATE OTHER MEANS OF MOVEMENT THAN MAINSTREAM PEDESTRIAN WALKING.  Yes, it is true.  Building Codes do Not require most housing to provide for any means of movement other than normal walking.  Other than the front, main entrance/egress door of a house, which must be at least 3′ wide, none of the other doors have to adhere to this dimension, for a Single Family Residence, Detached.  What’s the big deal?  Think you could functionally live in a house Not specially designed for movement in a wheelchair or walker?  Try it.  You will be amazed at what you discover.  For instance, that 4″ step up from the garage (which is not required by most codes) will be like the Grand Canyon to someone in a wheelchair.  And if you are thinking: “Oh, I can just rock back in my wheelchair and get the front wheels up on the higher surface, then move forward, then…”  Yeah?  What then?  If you don’t end of giving yourself a concussion (or outright skull fracture) when your wheelchair falls backward, slamming your head and back on the hard concrete of the garage floor, you will be trapped, unable to do anything when the rear wheels contact the step up.  You will not be in a position to lift up the chair, even if you had the arm strength.  Same thing approaching the entrance to your Master Bathroom shower.  Take a good look at the threshold.  It is likely raised up off the floor by 4″ or so.


What to do?  Baby Boomers should engage an architect well-experienced in the design of houses for retirement years.  Like Rand Soellner, AIA.  He understands all of these situations and knows how to have other means to transition from one space into another, that an 80 year old frail person could negotiate, much less a hale and hearty 60 year old.  Your architect knows how to build these things into the fabric and structure of your house, and in such a way that no one notices.  These improvements in functionality are not obvious and do Not look institutional (for example: the hidden blocking for grab bars is built into the walls and hidden by the finishes, so that If you ever want to add them you can, later for a negligible cost).


Also, an architect planning someone’s Forever House knows that the doorways should be wider than most homes.  Do you know that many “residential designers” (unlicensed people who are not required to have any education and no licensure whatsoever) still are indicating 2′ wide doors leading to bathrooms and other spaces in the houses they design?  That spells major trouble for you, if you happen to be living in one of them and take a fall or have another circumstance that results in you having to use a wheelchair or walker temporarily or for the duration of your life.  You will not be able to get through the doors.  Let’s say that again: YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO GET THROUGH THE DOORS.  What’s that mean?  You will have to move out of that house, sell it or otherwise remove it from your responsibility and obtain other accommodations.  Your brain is alert.  You feel fine.  You just have to use the wheelchair or walker.  Do you really want to end up in one of those dreaded “Facilities for the Elderly?”  No way!  Yet, you may have no other choice!  Good grief.  What to do?


baby boomers retirement home design
The doorway opening to this Rand Soellner designed retirement home Master Shower is 3’+ wide. Looking carefully down at the floor at the entrance: there is No Threshold. The tile floor inside the shower slopes down and in to the floor drain. (C) Copyright 2007-2012 Rand Soellner, All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Well, if you have planned well, you may have engaged a residential architect, a licensed, real architect, whom you have had the foresight to engage to design your retirement home.  And you architect has planned well for you.  He has made the doorways in this retirement house wider than normal, everywhere possible, especially in the Master Bedroom and Master Bathroom.  If you ever do end up in a wheelchair or using a walker, you really want to have doorways of 2′-10″ minimum in width, and 3′ if possible.  Even if you have to split the doors in the doorways and make it a pair of smaller doors, that combined result in the wider width to accommodate movement through the doorways of your possible wheelchair or walker.


And, your residential architect will know how to minimize or eliminate threshold vertical offsets that impede movement of a wheelchair.  Rand Soellner has planned for this so well, that all of his new houses do Not have any raised threshold at his master showers.  And wherever his clients allow him, he makes the master shower large enough for a wheelchair to turn around.  This takes structural planning; you can’t really do this to an existing structure, without significant trouble and great cost and it may not even be possible.  If planned into the structure of the house, your architect can accomplish this for a nominal increase in construction cost.  This is one of the main reasons that many aging people have to leave their beloved houses and be relocated to an “Old Folks Home.”  Don’t let this happen to you.  Can you imagine the heartache of an intelligent person, who just happens to be older, being placed in such a circumstance?  To you?  And yet it happens every day to people whom have not planned well enough to have their retirement house designed by an architect familiar with such issues and techniques.  Preserve your dignity, functionality and enjoyment of life by having your house properly designed for the eventualities of older age.



While you are alive and hopefully after you pass away, you have this idea that you want to create such a special retirement home for yourself that your relatives and other loved ones will want to congregate there to celebrate special occasions like graduations, holidays, reunions, and just enjoy life and the proximity of other loved ones sharing special times together.   Many Baby Boomers feel the same way.


One of the most significant differences that such a retirement residential design must factor in is the added number of people sitting in a given room, at a certain table or counter.  What does this mean?  Well, look at your present dining table.  How many people can comfortably sit there at one time?  4? 6? 8 to 10?  And how many people do you imagine that you will need there if your grown kids and their kids will be joining you there at the same time for meals together?  Try 12 to 20+, depending on your family’s people count.   And how about the space required around the table and chairs, so that people sitting there can move their chairs back and stand, then walk around the table?  Here’s a clue: much more than a foot or so.  Try about 3′-6″ (minimal) to 5′ (comfortable).  Add that to the size of the dining table and you have a need for a much larger dining space than you probably have right now.  Starting to see the implications for such a Legacy Estate house?


How about the Kitchen Buffet island?  Where you imagine up to 6 friends and relatives sitting while you prepare meals?  Figure at least 2’+ per person x 6 = 12′ long (or how ever many people you have in mind).  The 4′ to 6′ you have now won’t work.  And how about your new Kitchen?  Let’s just think about the aisles right now.  How wide are yours in your present Kitchen?  3′ to 4′ ? Well, open some of the drawers and doors in your cabinets.  Leave them open.  Now open the refrigerator doors and the dishwasher door and oven and microwave doors.  Now imagine, with all of those doors and drawers still open, 3 to 5 people in your existing kitchen moving through that.  That would probably be impossible, right?  Why?  Because you presently do Not have enough width between your counters.  You are likely going to need anywhere from 4′-6″ to 6′ of space between your kitchen counters in your new Legacy Estate home, if you really want to have more than one person in the kitchen at one time, doing functional activities there, without bumping into each other and into open drawers and doors and appliances.  Does it sound like Rand Soellner has done this before?  It is what he does, and why he knows, through trial and error, what works and what does not.   Click here to contact him —> Contact us.


There are many more issues to discuss, ranging from how best to position, arrange and size and furnish guest bedrooms, guest bathrooms, powder rooms, family rooms, living rooms, outdoor living rooms, conversation areas, laundry-pantry rooms, storage, drink/juice bars, libraries, bunk rooms, parking areas, foyers and many other items.  Contact Rand Soellner Architect to further discuss your Legacy House needs by clicking here —> Rand Soellner Home Architects to see for moreinformation.



Your architect needs to know how to design Above and Beyond current minimum code, in order to prepare you for continually escalating energy costs.  Rand Soellner Architect knows how to do this economically and effectively.  Here is one link about this subject to click on –> Energy Efficiency .  Here’s another to click on –> Energy Efficient Home Architects .  These issues are especially important for Baby Boomer retirement home designs.  Why?  Because they have to be efficient for the rest of your life.



Let’s face it, who wants to have to climb ladders, replace roofing, trim boards, siding, beams, air-conditioning, wallboard, decking, insulation, counters, finishes, windows, pavement and all the other things that might need maintenance or replacement on your house during your lifetime?  You are looking forward to spending your time more enjoyably, not having to fix your retirement house, right?  Well, no building is maintenance free (not even the pyramids — just look at them now).  However, it would be nice to have the maintenance reduced to a level that makes it less frequent.  A knowledgeable house architect can help you with that objectives.   There are wall sidings that looks like clapboard or pine siding, but are actually made of cement and other elements that, according to the manufacturers should last your lifetime and longer.  There are better air-conditioning equipment manufacturers with extended warrantees that should not require replacement for many years.  There are better roof shingles that should last for many years longer than others.  And there is special knowledge that experienced house architects like Rand Soellner have that allows all of these items to function more cleanly with less problems than others.  Click here for more information about Low Maintenance House design –> Low Maintenance House Design .

And here’s a special focused online article about how Rand Soellner designs in special, low-cost features to naturally help keep your roof clean automatically –> Keeping your roof looking new .

And while we are on the subject, how about cleaner indoor air?  Click here for additional information on this –> Indoor Air Quality in Homes .

If you are ready to start the design on your retirement house project, consider giving Rand Soellner Architect a call at 828-269-9046 or e-mail at:  .   Start planning now.



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