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Aging in Place

The Greater Palm Springs Area is a retirement destination. At Cabinets of the Desert we want to help  our Clients to enjoy their retirement life longer, more fully and in style by suggesting the subtle incorporation of “aging in place” design features into their remodel project.

The typical American home is designed for able-bodied young adults. But as the baby boom generation ages, boomers are looking for ways to make the typical home accommodate their changing bodies. They want this done as invisibly as possible and without loss of the style and comfort they currently enjoy. Many designers and remodeling contractors are responding to the challenge and Cabinets of the Desert will play its part.

This response is rooted in the Universal Design movement, also called “design for all” or “inclusive design,” where the concept is to make homes and furnishings function well for almost everyone, regardless of age, size, shape, or ability. So our senior population now has reason and the resources to comfortably and safely stay in their own home rather than go into Assisted Living or a nursing home.

A well designed remodel provides for ‘aging in place’ in elegance and style and there is a large array of design ideas, design standards, resources and manufactured items from which remodeler and client can draw. We have listed many of them below and in doing so note that ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance and Universal Design Standards, while having,
different purposes, both make useful contributions to the cause of aging in place remodeling.

The features we have listed below are organized for reference and to help our clients think through their own requirements. Every feature is by no means all applicable in every case. Rather these are menu items and food for thought for people considering an aging in place remodel.


  • Adapt lower floor of home for possible one level living
  • Easy garage or parking access
  • At least one entry is without steps
  • Door peep hole at a low height
  • Doorways 36″ wide with off-set hinges on doors
  • Pocket Doors
  • Automatic Door Operators
  • Levered door handles instead of knobs
  • Easy to open or lock patio doors and screens
  • Lower window sills especially for windows on the street
  • Shelf outside the front door (to place packages while searching for keys)
  • Wheelchair ramps
  • Wheelchair lifts
  • Stairway power chair lifts
  • Pullout shelf installation
  • Wheelchair accessible sink installation
  • Roll-in showers and walk-in tubs
  • Railings
  • Patient Lifts
  • Stair Lifts
  • Cabinet and Appliance Lifts
  • Elevators
  • Tub Lifts
  • Pool and Spa Lifts


  • Additional Lighting Installed to Remove Dark Areas and Help Illuminate Transitions or Steps
  • Illuminated Switches
  • Increased incandescent general and specific task lighting
  • Increase natural light (windows, skylights, solar tubes)
  • Automated lighting (motion sensors)
  • Adjustable controls on light switches
  • Luminous switches in bedrooms, baths and hallways


  • Electrical outlets at 18 inches instead of 12
  • Light switches at 42″ instead of 48
  • Strobe light or vibrator-assisted smoke and burglar alarms
  • Additional outlets at front of cabinets
  • Larger panels (or sub-panels) to accommodate new appliances, medical devices, lifts, etc.
  • Back-up generator power for medical devices


  • Anti-scald devices (the skin of the elderly is less sensitive to heat and can be inadvertently scalded)
  • Foot pedal operated faucets


  • Programmable thermostats for heating and cooling
  • Ceiling fans w/ remotes


  • Hardwood or tile flooring
  • Non skid flooring
  • Anti-slip coatings
  • Backer pads to prevent rugs sliding
  • Step highlighting
  • Low-pile commercial carpet glued directly to the floor


  • Contrast colors between floor and walls
  • Color borders around floor and counter-top edges
  • Matte finish paint, flooring and counter-tops
  • Non-glare glass on art work


  • Internet based caregiver cameras to view what is happening in the house from any computer
  • Door cameras to see who is at the door from any computer or on closed-circuit television
  • Trip/fall alarms
  • Medication reminders
  • Emergency response system (installed or wearable)
  • Kitchen cabinets with pullout shelves and Lazy Susans
  • Easy to grasp cabinet knobs or pulls
  • Task lighting under counters
  • Adjustable upper shelves and pull out lower shelves
  • Variety in height of kitchen counters with some as low as 30 inches
  • Color or pattern borders at counter edges
  • Roll-out shelves
  • Cabinet doors that retract to leave knee space for people in wheelchairs
  • A counter that slides out from under the oven
  • Kitchen-floor edging in a contrasting color to help orient people with limited eyesight

Kitchen Cabinets

  • ADA compliant cabinets (higher toekicks, lower countertops, etc.)
  • Roll-out shelving
  • Cabinet lifts
  • Glass front upper cabinets for visibility
  • Plenty of storage within the so-called “optimal reach” zone (the space between 20 and 44 inches above the floor and 20 inches from the body)
  • Use of drawers rather than cupboards where possible.

Kitchen Appliances

  • ADA compliant appliances
  • Easy to reach controls
  • Dishwasher elevated for greater accessibility
  • Cooktop controls in front
  • Side by side refrigerator
  • Gas sensor near gas cooking, water heater and gas furnace
  • Adjustable height sink

Kitchen Sinks and Faucets

  • Single handle control
  • Reduced depth sinks (for wheelchair access)
  • Easy-to-reach disposal switch
  • Lever faucets and faucet mixers with anti-scald valvesContemporary Italian Influences – Bathroom Shower
  • Temperature controlled shower and tub fixtures
  • Stall shower with a low threshold and shower seat
  • Grab bars at back and sides of shower, tub and toilet or wall reinforcement for later installation
  • Bathrooms with turn around and transfer space for walker or wheelchair (36″ by 36″)
  • Higher bathroom counters
  • Telephone jack
  • Walk-in tub
  • Barrier-free showers (low or no threshold)

Toilets and Accessories

  • Automatic-Flushing Devices
  • Consider seating options
  • Lifts
  • Taller toilets rather than institutional toilet extenders
  • Bidet or “washlet” (a toilet seat bidet by Toto)

Sink and Shower Faucets

  • Anti-scald devices
  • Automated (motion sensing) sink faucets
  • Wheelchair accessible sinks and vanities
  • Easy-use shower heads
  • Shower hoses
  • Multiple showerhead systems (“Shower Tower” by Kohler)

It may be that you are thinking of aging in place for yourselves or have an elderly family member to care for. We at Cabinets of the Desert offer these aging in place suggestions for your consideration and discussion with your general contractor or interior designer/architect.