The LIFEhouse™ kitchen has a multi-level island and multi-level lighting features.

Does the house you live in work for you and your family?

Are the kitchen and baths designed for the way you live? Do you have rooms for which you pay utilities and property taxes, but rarely use? Do you have adequate space for studying and paying bills, for watching TV or pursuing a hobby? If a family member had surgery or broke a leg, could he get into your home easily, move independently from bedroom to kitchen, use the bathroom without assistance? If your mom came to live with you, could you find a space for her that would be comfortable for you?

If you’re one of those people who love Costco, do you have a place to store all those rolls of paper towels?

And, how about lighting? Does poor lighting in the baths inhibit good grooming? Can the cook read her recipes? Are the stairs safely lit? When one gets out of bed in the middle of the night, is there pathway lighting to the bathroom. When one comes home in the dark, is there adequate lighting to unlock the door or get through the mudroom.

“Better Living Design” is the newest trend in home building and remodeling.

The concept is simple: To create homes and spaces that accommodate more individuals and more life styles for a longer period of time. The design changes are subtle, but dramatic, when it comes to fully enjoying one’s home.

Here are some of the tenets:

An open floor plan. Homes that have flow from room to room or space to space accommodate more people and more activities. It is easier to gather in these spaces, move through them, be creative in their uses. Take a great room. It can accommodate a dining area or an entertainment center, a play space or a game corner. The uses depend upon how the residents of the home live. Contrast this concept with the formal dining room and living room. How many uses are there for these spaces, and who among us can afford 200 square feet of space (or more) for biannual family dinners?

A flexible kitchen. Everyone uses the kitchen – toddlers, school children, mom and dad, seniors, the family cats and dogs. But, how safe is it for these various populations? A well-designed kitchen has easily reachable appliances and cabinet spaces, work spaces at different levels for tasks, safe seating for a two-year-old or an 80-year-old, and even a place for a pet food bowl.

Safe bathrooms. The bath is one of the most dangerous places in the home. A “better-living” bath has no-slip flooring, strategically placed grab bars, good lighting.

Multi-level lighting. Lighting can be for general mood, for specific tasks, for movement. Rooms that offer natural light, overhead lighting, task and pathway lighting make a home warmer and more convenient.

Access. A “better living” house has at least one no-step entry from the outside.

At Newport Cove, our waterfront development on the Chain O’ Lakes, we are able to incorporate Better Living Design into our coastal-style homes. In fact, the National Association of Home Builders awarded our LIFEhouse™ model with the 2012 Best of 50-Plus Housing Award.

We built the LIFEhouse™, a living laboratory of Better Living Design principles, in collaboration with the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDEA CENTER), which is affiliated with the College of Architecture, State University of New York at Buffalo.

To see Better Living Design in action, visit our LIFEhouse™ model, open on weekends or by appointment. If you have the time, take our consumer preference study and pick up a Walmart gift card as our “thank you.”

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