Why First Floor Space for a Bedroom Suite is a Smart Way to Age in Place

    It’s morning. It's time to jump (or very slowly and gently roll) out of bed, open the bedroom door, take a few steps into the kitchen, and get that coffee going. Simple! No stairs to navigate in those first few minutes of wakefulness. 

    That’s one of the many benefits of having a main floor bedroom suite as you age in place. But is it possible in your home (or your children’s home if you are considering an in-law suite)? Maybe there is some first-floor space that could be converted. Or maybe an addition is the way to go, but is there room on your property for a home addition? So many questions!

    As you approach your 80th birthday, you must look at the house differently than when you are 40. The changes you make can create space that will suit your current and anticipated needs for one-level living.

    Should WE Convert Existing Space or Build a Primary Suite Addition?

    Let’s take a closer look at each of these options and see what might make the most sense in your situation.

    Converted Space

    Is there underutilized space on your first floor? There could be a family room/living room you added when the kids were young. This could easily be turned into a bedroom and ensuite bathroom space. The dining room is another possibility, with some room borrowed from a hallway or adjoining room. It might also be worth considering converting a covered porch into a bedroom. 

    The challenge with converting space is that the renovation will be limited to the existing square footage. If you have it to spare, this can be an excellent way to repurpose space for better utility, along with making aging in place more practical. 

    Here’s how it might work. Let's say we have a living room in an older DC area home with dimensions of around 12 feet by 22 feet.

    1. Convert this space into a comfortably sized bedroom with a well-proportioned bathroom.
    2. Use a portion of space for a bedroom, a more simplified bathroom, and a separate den.
    3. If the living room has a fireplace, that would make a nice feature for the new master bedroom.

    Using what you have can be an excellent choice, aesthetically and functionally.


    In the heart of Georgetown, an addition may be complicated by setbacks and other regulations regarding how much of your yard can be built on. However, neighborhoods with larger yards will provide more options to add space. 

    If your home is a center hall colonial, the addition could go right out from the back door of the home. A good design-build firm can help you find the right configuration. 

    The benefit of an addition is that the new space is built to suit your needs, rather than taking what is available and making the best of it. An addition means you will get a custom design for the bedroom and ensuite bathroom you want. For aging-in-place considerations, it would be wise to design the bathroom with future mobility in mind; things like space for a wheelchair to maneuver, a curbless shower for easy access, grab bars, and such.

    Whether investing in an addition or reconfiguring existing space, the objective is to design the best way to make a space work for you and the way you want to live.


    What Should WE Know About Building an In-Law Suite?

    A twist on aging in place is aging in your kids’ place. How do we make this kind of transition one that is positive for everyone involved?

    If parents have reached a point where one or both face limited mobility, that is often a situation in which an in-law suite comes into the conversation. This may involve parents selling their home and investing in the children’s home.

    The in-law suite adds to the overall value of the children’s home. This would work when both parties perceive the mutual benefit of living together and investing in their shared home.

    Auxiliary Dwelling Units or ADUs 

    If space on your property and local ordinances allow, a separate guest cottage (a.k.a. an ADU or auxiliary dwelling unit) can be an excellent solution to providing an in-law suite.  We helped a family convert a free-standing garage into an apartment for parents, with access between the apartment and the main home in the family room/kitchen area. 

    This can be useful in many other family situations as well. We recently completed a project for clients who built a small cottage for family and guests. An ADU can provide many benefits now and in the years to come.


    You’ve Got Options When it Comes to Bedroom Space for Aging in Place

    Thinking about aging is not fun, but the good news is that you have options to remain in a home environment that suits you, where you’ve put down some roots or have family connections. Converting a first-floor room into a bedroom or building a first-floor master suite addition allows you to age in place with a single-level living space even in a two-story home. A design-build partner who understands aging in place will make all the difference in creating the right bedroom suite to fit your needs. 

    To learn more about remodeling to age in place and the design-build process, download our eBook titled "Homeowner's Remodeling Guide To Age In Place With Style, Comfort And Safetyto get an in-depth understanding. If you are considering a home renovation, please feel free to schedule a home renovation discovery session with Gilday today.

    Homeowner's Remodeling Guide To Age In Place With Style, Comfort And Safety


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