It is true that younger people may buy older homes to refinish and restore, but often older homes are just indicative of older home owners. Older homes, and the floor styles popular at the time, were not built to reflect the needs of an aging population. Deciding how to redesign and update an older building is an issue that needs to be examined if you plan to remain in the family home.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to tour several manufactured homes when I was house hunting with a friend. I was impressed with the open design. I thought at the time that the design would be perfect for people with accessibility needs. The open floor plan made the homes seem larger than the square footage allowance would indicate. Manufacture homes, of course, are not the only houses to feature this roomy design. An article by Melissa Rayworth (The Sunday Herald: September 18, 2011) pointed out that many homes built within the last decade have adopted for open floor plans, but as you are well aware, many older homes did not.
For example: when we bought our house, the theory was that the more rooms the better. They were advertized on the basis of how many rooms, especially bedrooms and bathrooms the house contained. The designers didn’t care that the bathrooms were the size of postage stamps or that the bedrooms were so small that you couldn’t walk around the bed.
How do you remodel an older home so that it will be readily accessible if you need a walker or wheelchair? Small rooms with sharp right angle door jams cut down on maneuverability. You would have to be quite skilled to back up a wheel chair or do a complete turn about with a walker in a tight corridor or room.
It is pretty obvious that larger rooms and open spaces would be better for you. If you truly want to stay in your family home it may mean knocking down a few walls.
Minimizing the number of walls will make your house seem larger, allow for easier traffic flow, and allow you to utilize and display the larger furniture that is so popular these days. King and Queen sized beds, chunky recliners and couches with recliner options are much larger and take up more space than the older furniture styles. The author of the article in the Herald emphasized that demolishing a wall is a little more complicated than just taking a crowbar and taking a few big whacks. Wiring, plumbing, heat ducts and the like might be hidden behind those walls, not to mention that you need to know which walls will need to be replaced with other support structures need a certain amount of skill. A certified contractor and perhaps even an interior designer will be need if you want to do the job right. The whole process may be a bigger job than you had anticipated, but this one way to increase your living space and make your home a safer and more accessible place to live.