Making Aging Elegant

It’s funny that we think of 40 as the new 20 and navy blue as the new black, yet no one wants to talk about grab bars… #AmIright? But seriously, the one truth is that no one is getting younger, we are only going to age like fine wine so why not have fun with it.  These days we are meeting clients who want to mature in their own house, not in “homes,” and we want to give them that peace of mind, independence, and the financial security that comes with it.

As faculty at Northern Virginia Community College, I teach introduction to interior design as well as kitchen and bath design. It’s always so funny to me the “wide eyes” I get or “deer in headlights” look when I talk about aging in place or my CAPS Certification (I am a Certified Aging in Place Specialist). I tell my class we host seminars all the time about beautiful kitchen and bathrooms to packed houses and how to live through remodeling, yet we could never fill a seminar on aging in place. And why is that? I like to tell folks getting older doesn’t have to mean grab bars and limited mobility, but the opportunity to design and shape your future, to keep the holidays at your house, maintain your sense of control, and enjoy life to the fullest.

Case in point – we have one client (a favorite of the Case family) and she is not afraid of color (Exhibit A her Pink Kitchen). Not too long after we completed this high glamour kitchen, it was only a matter of time until we circled back to the bathroom. Not only is this homeowner not afraid of color (or pattern for that matter), she is also not afraid to age elegantly and in place and she asked the Case Team for Help and sound advice.

The 2nd floor hall bathroom just needed some TLC when we arrived. While it already had grab bars to assist at the toilet, it had a lip or threshold at the bath entry which was becoming more difficult, along with the tub, to navigate daily.

Our team was able to recommend a more seamless entry from the hallway into the tiled bathroom and a widened doorway as well. We also suggested a more practical walk in tub for bathing. This walk in tub by American Standard is perfect for a bathing or shower application. (We just took the curtain down for photography purposes).


If you are wondering how our amazing homeowner travels the stairs, it’s easy. She had a chair lift put in several years ago which makes getting around effortless. We elevated the vanity height to comfort level (so less bending at the hips) and the large mirrors help bounce and spread the light better in the space. (Did you know that folks 65 and older need over 10x as much light?).

We selected an elegant quartz surface as the counter for the vanity for the “sparkle” it provides which compliments the crystal cabinetry hardware and vanity lighting.  Our homeowner does a lot of entertaining and hosting and this bathroom is part of the perfect on suite for her guests of all ages and abilities.

Where am I going with all this… Once we see past the function (we know aging isn’t the most comfortable to talk about, like money) we can appreciate the form and beauty in the design. We can pick vibrant paint colors, resilient tile, and beautiful plumbing fixtures. We can design cabinets that suit our use. We can select a beautiful crystal sconce to provide light. What I am saying is we can make aging elegant!

Curious? Just give me a shout! I would be happy to share my ideas with you along with tax credits and cost saving measures to consider.

– Allie Mann, Designer – Senior Interiors Specialist

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