For most of us, our home is our life investment. Not only is it the largest financial purchase we will make in our lifetime, but it’s also the most meaningful emotional investment. Some families begin with a starter home, and then graduate to a larger residence as children join the family or as the financial picture matures.

Other families will adapt their existing home, childproofing against any hazards to curious toddlers and expanding to make extra room, features for play, and other unique touches as the family’s needs evolve. Later in life, empty nesters reevaluate their space as the children move out and begin their lives on their own. The focus often shifts toward making the house into a more adult-centric space, converting kids’ rooms into a media room, hobby area, or a home office. But regardless of life’s twists and changes—or perhaps because of them—home is where our roots and our hearts dwell. It’s our place in the world, our happiness, our security, our pride, and be it ever so humble—or grand, whichever the case may be—parting with a home because it no longer fits our needs is a difficult and often painful decision, especially when you love your neighborhood and other facets of life there that you’ve grown accustomed to over the years.

One sentiment that is extremely important to most all adults is the ability to spend their golden years at home. According to a 2010 AARP study , 89% of householders over the age of 45 wish to age in place. Ironically, however, The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports some interesting statistics about remodeling for age-in-place accommodations: While 20% of the remodeling market is made up of those age 65 and older, 68% of homeowners wait until an age-related disability emerges to pursue remodeling. Perhaps that’s due to a desire to avoid the feel of the home becoming an infirmary of sorts, and if that is the reason, then good news awaits. When those needs become a reality, it doesn’t have to mean that your sense of style takes a back seat to practicality. There are multiple avenues of home beautification and modifications, and the watchful eye of an interior designer can help you balance the need for beauty and safety.

The NAHB says that the most popular “age-in-place” features include wider doorways and hallways that can accommodate wheelchairs, stepless entries and showers, and shower seating. Builders have begun to incorporate these features, known as “universal design,” when building new homes so that activities such as cooking, climbing stairs, bathing, and other daily tasks are made easier with attention geared toward a broader overall condition of safety and ease. In addition to the practical considerations, however, builders also strive to ensure that the features feel more like amenities than nursing home elements. The premise of universal design is that all environments should be constructed to be accessible to all people, no matter what age, size, or degree of physical ability and that the elements be seamless in the scope of the home’s design. Ultimately, this forward-thinking trend should help seniors and those with disabilities conserve substantially in terms of financial resources, especially later in life or in light of a disability, when funds tend to be the most critical.


However, if you have been in your home for 40 years, and it’s time to modify, consider the options that could put a shine on needed updates. Creative carpentry can make a number of functional applications look attractive, as can the dynamic and tasteful use of color. Another popular and unique means of beautifying and perhaps camouflaging delicate areas is faux finishing. Faux finishing can create a look, whether extravagant or simply distinctive, on a modest budget. Using paint, glaze, and other materials, a skilled painting team can create the appearance of stone, denim, leather, as well as finely detailed textures such as silk and linen using such techniques.

Rather than abandoning your lifelong home, consider the ways you could settle deeper into it. In addition to the modifications needed to assist with safety and daily living, an overall facelift to replace dated wallpaper and other elements that have become drab and uninspiring can help you enjoy the safety and comfort of your home while still exuding your personal style and enjoying the warmth of your home sweet home.

About the Author:

Molly Hilton is the owner of Renaissance Painters in Toronto and has devoted more than 30 years to home renovation, painting, and custom home building. Her unique design concepts bring homes to life with colours and unique pieces that are artfully placed to draw attention to the most powerful and distinctive features of a home.