Over the years I have watched a new Corporate Housing Renter Trend: Seniors as a user of corporate housing have grown in number. Recently I was consulting with a senior couple who realized the only reason they still owned their big house was to accommodate holiday visits from their kids.This couple decided to sell their big home and just rent a corporate house for a month during the holidays to host their extended family. Not only were they able to eliminate house maintenance they could also choose a new city every year as a fun holiday tradition.
We all have heard about Snow Birds or those seniors who travel south for the winter. My family is from Toronto Canada and they have been spending the winters in Florida for the last 100 years. Some family members own real estate and others take a 3 month corporate rental to accommodate their stay. Other Seniors rent corporate housing to visit new grand babies and not have to live in the home with their kids allowing for a more peaceful and extended visit. Some Seniors utilize corporate housing while they renovate and upgrade their own homes and sometimes Seniors just love a good adventure and want to experience a new city through corporate housing rather than just being a tourist in a vacation rental.
Here are some great tips to think about when upgrading a rental to accommodate a Senior tenant – Kimberly.
Senior-Friendly and Stylish Rental “Renovations”
In the rental market, it’s important to keep your clientele in mind when designing and decorating your spaces. Of course, you can’t always know who will serve as your next tenant, so casting a wide net to suit all manner of clientele is best when selecting the décor and accent pieces for your place.
But just because you may need to cater to an older or special needs crowd at some point doesn’t mean you can’t have something just as fashionable as you would otherwise. Stated differently, you can have something that is senior-friendly and stylish all at the same time!
Although these “renovations” are not intended to replace adherence to applicable building codes or ADA requirements, here are some simple home furniture changes you can make to your rental property to ensure your place is ready to accommodate all manner of handi-capable tenants without sacrificing that all important aspect of aesthetic appeal.
Replace Door and Cabinet Hardware
As we age, manipulating things with our hands becomes more difficult. This is especially important to remember when selecting door knobs and hardware for kitchen and bathroom cabinets.
In general, eliminate knobs and pulls that require twisting, turning or grasping and enclosing within one’s palm.
A dummy lever like this one is not only stylish, but it’s also extremely functional in that it has an elongated and ergonomically designed handle that provides enough surface area to grab and someone need only push or pull to open or close the door.
Incorporate More Lighting
Brightly lit spaces are not only essential for safety, but by adding more light to a room, overall functioning becomes easier. For example, reading a book or magazine and even interacting with others is less tedious when older guests do not have to strain their eyes.
Lamps with pulls are easier to operate than those with knobs to twist or push. Additionally, pulls that hang below the lampshade are more accessible than those that require someone to reach up and under the shade to find.
Rearrange Shelves and Storage Spaces
Carefully thought out closet storage is key when you rent your property to elderly guests or those with disabilities.
Keep things that are used on a regular basis like blankets and towels easily accessible. It can be difficult for someone with arthritis or back problems to reach over their head and pull down items or to bend over and kneel down, so whenever possible, keep shelved items between hip height and eye level.
At the same time, moving items around or removing and replacing things in order to dig out something from the back of the shelf is difficult — if not downright impossible — for someone who cannot bend down. Avoid layering and stacking things in shelves, but if you must, try to have necessary items pushed to the front.
For guests in wheelchairs, keep the same organizational techniques in mind, but make sure items are easily within reach from a sitting position.
No matter the material making up your flooring, there should always be clear paths and walkways. From hardwoods to tile, cluttered floors are the enemy of anyone who may lack quick maneuverability or super-sharp eyesight. Those in wheelchairs may not be able to go around things on the floor, so a good practice is to keep things up and off the floor whenever possible.
Additionally, incorporating protective pads and mats on hard and slippery surfaces like tile floors in kitchens and bathrooms is essential, especially where water is present.
- Avoid area rugs with edges that lift or curl as they present a tripping hazard.
- Always use rugs and mats with non-slip backings or place them atop rug pads to serve the same purpose.
Solid Surfaces Ensure Firm Footing
Two final issues involve balance and physical strength, and because they are so closely related, they can be addressed through many of the same solutions.
- Replace ottomans and footstools that have wheels with those that will not slide around on the floor.
- Swap out squishy sofas and pillow-top mattresses with those providing a more firm surface to aid with getting in and out of a prone or sitting position.
- Upholstered arm chairs with rounded edges are ideal for comfort when sitting and make standing back up easier.
- Along those lines, make sure that beds are not too high and chairs are not too low.
- Install grab bars next to the bed and throughout the bathroom (near the toilet, inside shower, etc.).
What are some of the senior and special needs-friendly home furniture solutions you plan to incorporate into your rental property?
Since 2000, Chris Long has been a Home Depot store associate in the Chicago area. Chris is also a contributor on furniture decor for Home Depot’s Home Decorators.com website. His home decor interests range from providing advice on end and coffee tables, as well as bookcases and computer desks.