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Designing a Beautiful Retirement

Are you on the home stretch?  Almost ready to leave the world of long office hours and fatigue for a life of golf, hobbies, and travel?  As you approach the long awaited reward of retirement, you may start to think not just about what you will do but where you will do it.  Often times the home in which a couple has raised children is not as accommodating to retired life.  At Studio Boise, we have often been approached to either remodel a home in order to provide spaces more suitable to the golden years or to design a new custom home that incorporates everything you have been working for all these years.  We would like to share with you now a pattern of spaces that we generally need to address or add to the perfect retirement home design.

Entry Stair







1) Stairs:  They will only get steeper, longer, and more annoying as time goes on.  When building new, it is easy to simply build a one story home and avoid stairs altogether which is a great idea if you have a large plot of land.  However, many couples wish to retire in the home where they made a lifetime of memories with their family and friends, and often times, this home has a second floor.  Many other couples want to stay in a well developed neighborhood with beautiful walks and amenities within walking distance.  Often times such lots are small and need to be built up in order to accommodate extra space for guest suites and rooms for noisy (but adorable) grandchildren.  Even if you are one of the many couples in years far beyond retirement and are still more than capable of trotting up and down stairs to access the master suite every day, we like to work out a backup floor plan design for a life that could be sustained on the ground level if needed.

Bedroom 4






2) Master Suite Options: When designing a new custom home plan for your retirement, it is always a good idea to keep the master suite on the ground floor.  However, if you are happy with a second floor master suite now, it is a good idea to remodel or add a ground floor bedroom that can become a master suite if occasion requires.  When planing out this space, keep in mind your daily routine.  Do you use any exercise equipment before breakfast? Do you watch television while you work out or as you fall asleep?  Maybe you have a list of dozens of books that you finally will have time to read and would like built in bookshelves.  Do you like to read in bed with a night lite or would you prefer to walk down the hall to a sunlit library?  Answering these questions will start to shape your master suite as well as other areas of your new home.

Mayes Big Laundry






3) His and Her Spaces:  Most couples entering retirement are not used to spending 24 hours a day, 7 days a week side by side.  While this is a dream come true for many people, my experience designing has taught me that all retired couples need a little time to dive uninterrupted into their own worlds.  The best solution is to have his and hers hobby rooms.  Creating these spaces can be as simple as turning two of your children’s rooms into a craft room and a fly-fishing room, or an art studio and a wood-working shop.  It’s nice to have a room that can be messy and chaotic and never annoy your significant other.  If you are building new, these spaces can become beautiful “out buildings.”  You can stroll from your kitchen past a garden of Black-Eyed Susans to a glass encased art studio or a garage filled with classic cars.

greenhouse studio






4) Grandchildren Fun:  When I was young, I lived about 15 minutes away from a college town in California where my grandmother still lives.  I have the most tender, nostalgic memories of her home.  My siblings and I loved her closet under the stairs where toys were kept and her long brick hearth where we put on little dance performances.  Of course, kids will find and latch onto a space in your home no matter its design, but how fun it is to have a space made just for your grandchildren, a space they will remember in their little hearts forever.  If you are moving your master suite to a downstairs location, maybe the upstairs bedroom can become a long bunk room, or a noisy play room.  Putting small doors underneath stairs or any other kid sized openings is so much fun for little squirts.


greenhouse pic






5) Outdoor Activities:  As a working parent, you have probably had to sacrifice a lot of the recreational activities that you used to love.  With retirement, you are able to jump back into golf, fishing, boating, art, reading, etc.  With more time to practice sports, comes more equipment.  Having your mud room redesigned with places for tennis rackets and fishing rods or golf clubs will make it easier for you to keep track of all of your new equipment.  Having access to the outdoors is important too.  Not only might you enjoy installing a racket ball court or a cutting garden, but having more windows that bring in the right quality of light will help to draw you outdoors which is healthy for every phase of life.

Mayes Mud Room Option 2 both sides






6) Low Maintenance:  Lastly, as a residential designer, I like to keep the materials used to construct your home last as long as you hope to live in the home.  There is a balance here of course; natural materials usually require more regular maintenance, but you don’t want to live in a plastic house with plastic floors and plastic windows.  It is helpful design a new home in such a way that gutters are not needed, roofing will last longer than 15 years, and siding will not rot away.  Designing your home to fit your needs and DIY level of enthusiasm is important.

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