Age-in-Place Design Ideas & Tips | Remodeling Washington, DC
living room with lit fireplace

Preparing Your Home to Age in Place

As a baby boomer, it’s natural for me to be experiencing some of the same issues my clients feel as we age; I can empathize. More so than in the past, I’ve had numerous appointments with baby boomers who want to be proactive about preparing their homes to age in place. How to age in place is a very personal topic, and people differ in their opinions of how to make their homes comfortable to live independently in their older years. Some are ready to install walk-in showers, grab bars, and comfort-height toilets. Others resist and take tiny steps toward preparing to age in place. Here are a few case study examples of baby boomers being proactive in their planning.

Aging-in-Place Design Projects in the Washington, DC Area

Urban and Walkable Home

A 70-year-old purchased a newly remodeled two-floor home with a finished basement but with minimal storage. A detached carriage house features a modest studio-like apartment above a one-car garage. Her thinking is that the apartment offers a great place for live-in home care when the time comes. The separate apartment provides privacy for the care provider as well as the homeowner. Our task is to create an abundance of storage with:

  • Custom built-in cabinets
  • Bookcases
  • Shelving

A wide-ranging variety of custom built-in units (on all floors) will alleviate the lack of storage closets and enhance the aesthetics of the house. And with the help of a smart design team, it will also correct design flaws from the home’s previous rehab.

Townhouse Gem

Being able to phase remodeling work as one ages can also prove beneficial. This client combined two row houses as one to achieve a first-floor master suite and bath. The second kitchen in the extra row house was gutted to make way for a new master bath. A large bedroom with ample closets was created from the former living and dining room. And, although a full-size washer and dryer inhabit the basement level, the client requested plumbing/electric for a future washer and dryer be installed in a first-floor closet. This way, it won’t be necessary to go downstairs to the basement if she does not want to.

Two years later, the client felt it was time to take the next step and install an elevator that would allow her the freedom to go from the basement to the second floor without worrying about the stairs. Her combined row houses had the benefit of a second staircase that could be removed and made it easy to create an elevator shaft linking the three floors. Each of her remodeling projects could be phased, making it easier to age in place.

Examples of Aging-in-Place Design Elements

Here are different examples from past Wentworth projects of age-in-place remodeling elements (some discussed in the projects above):

Custom Breakfast Bar

This custom kitchen breakfast bar utilizes chair height seating instead of bar stools, which is sometimes preferred by older folks.

Drawer with Outlet
Custom Built-Ins

Being organized helps all ages. Custom built-ins not only look attractive but also increase organization and storage. Outlets in kitchen drawers for charging phones and tablets are also convenient.

Age in Place Shower Design

The easy-grip shower door handle acts as grab bar and towel bar when needed. A built-in shower bench is illuminated by a skylight and recessed lighting so it is easy to see.

Aging in Place Shower Design

This curbless shower stall is large enough to accommodate a wheelchair. The built-in shower bench and handheld sprayer with a hose make it convenient. 

Shower Stall for Aging in Place

This shower has three grab bars. These are very common age-in-place design elements and make bathing easy and safe.

Curbless Shower Stall
Shower with Built-In Seating

Both of these shower stalls are curbless, which increases safety in the bathroom. The shower on the right features additional aging-in-place designs: built-in seating and handheld sprayer. 

Want to see more pictures from past Wentworth remodels Washington, DC and the surrounding areas? View our portfolio »

Planning on aging in place staying in your own home or helping a loved one plan for it? Whether you’re ready to start your remodel or just want to talk to a design professional, we would love to hear from you! Contact our award-winning design-build team today.

About Bruce

Wentworth was founded by Bruce Wentworth, AIA, a noted remodeling architect who has worked in the Washington, DC metropolitan area for over twenty years. He has built hundreds of his own designs, ranging from modest bungalows to large-scale luxury residences.


“ We have been very happy not only with the workmanship of our project team including attention to detail when a change in plans is advisable, but also with their consideration for our preferences, our requests, and our schedules, in addition to their attention to leaving the work area tidy and as clean as practicable. Of course work on one's house involves disruption, but they have minimized that in all ways possible. ”

D.S., Chevy Chase, MD