Aging-In-Place Part 2: Misconceptions About Aesthetics

Aging-In-Place Part 2: Misconceptions About Aesthetics

It’s been awhile since we’ve written about Aging-In-Place, but as promised, we bring Part 2 to this series focusing on aesthetic misconceptions about this type of design. (Read Part 1 here). As a reminder, you can hear more about Aging-In-Place Design on the on the WSVA Early Mornings podcast where Charles recently joined Beth Bland of Valley Program for Aging Services (VPAS) to talk about Aging in Place.

In the podcast, Beth addresses the common belief that Aging-In-Place modifications/aging friendly design can’t be beautiful or aesthetically pleasing. Unfortunately, this is a common misconception that prevents people from adding these modifications to their homes. We want to break that stereotype. You can make a beautiful house that is also accessible to people with a wide variety of abilities.

This misconception stems both from misinformation and often, a confusion of the terms “ADA compliant design” and Aging-In-Place design.” Here’s a recap from Part 1 in case you missed it.
ADA compliant design vs. Aging-In-Place modifications Recap:

Often ADA design and Aging in Place modifications overlap, but Aging in Place is centered around customizing spaces for you and your abilities. It expands beyond simply meeting the bare minimum requirements of basic building codes to creating something unique and beautiful for your day to day life. This sort of design can be added to your existing home or built into a new one.

Not only is Aging in Place customized around each individual’s physical design needs, but the entire process can be customized around your needs and might include financial, location, and relational considerations.

Beth asks, What things can you do to make aging-in-place modifications in a home look pretty?

Many designs are becoming popular that also happen to be aging friendly. In showers, you can take a tub out and put in a roll-in shower. In the interview, Charles says that he now puts no-step showers into most new houses because “they’re just gorgeous… people love them.” Example pictures below.

Hilltop house roll-in shower

A roll-in shower from #HilltopHouse.

Hilltop house bath and roll-in shower



Bathrooms are particularly important for modifications because water and soap can lead to slip and fall related accidents. For those with balance and mobility challenges, a towel bar that functions also as a grab bar can be installed. (One example here). Sinks can have open space beneath them to allow wheelchairs to slide underneath and give more access to the faucet. A curved front of a sink not only makes a sink more accessible for wheelchairs but gives easier reach for everyone because the sink follows the natural curve of our bodies.

This Modern Home has a beautiful sitting area in their restroom at the vanity (right).

View this custom home portfolio here.

sitting area in the bathroom by the vanity

Detached Garages

Detached garage at Penn Laird
Another example is to have a detached garage (left) that’s connected to the house by a breezeway. This distance from your house keeps chemicals and fumes out that come from your car and things that are often stored in a garage. Air quality is important to everyone, and you can be even more sensitive to poor air quality as you age. A breezeway creates visual interest to a house design and gives space for creative landscaping options. (See left for a beautiful example).


In the kitchen, you can also have a roll-under cabinets, islands, or bars. The space underneath functions dually for stationary chairs and wheelchairs. Counter tops of varying heights make it more accessible for kids, wheelchairs, and any height! Examples of a roll-under island design below. 
roll-under kitchen island
Aging-In-Place modifications can be an expression of your creative style. For example, this home has a unique pull-out spice drawer that’s hidden in it’s design and allows for easy access without overhead reach (pictured left).
Roll-under kitchen island

Grand Doorways and Beyond


These modifications are often a common part of design that you may not even notice unless you were paying attention or it was helping with your specific need. One such example is bigger doorways that allow wheelchairs and every size person to easily get through. Imagine too that you’re carrying a large platter of food for dinner or moving a couch into your home. A wider doorway like the one pictured below accommodates these kinds of common activities too. Aging-In-Place is for everyone.

sliding barn door interior
front doorway

For more information on making a home aging friendly, see these links to a few professionals and experts that are right here in the Valley:

You can listen to the full episode mentioned in the post here: Issues in Aging with Beth Bland of VPAS and Charles Hendricks of The Gaines Group talk about Aging in Place. It’s a short 25 minutes that is definitely worth a listen. #DesignMatters
How the space feels changes everything! #interiordesign

How the space feels changes everything! #interiordesign

We are seeing many more commercial clients exploring #interiordesign to make their customer experience even better these days. This often starts with a space update. How the space “feels” changes everything! The colors, textures, light, furniture, and flooring all tell a story about your business. It has become so challenging to attract customers and even employees to your business and this is another tool you can implement. Give us a call if you want to explore an update that will better tell your businesses story.

This #interiordesign renovation for Weiler Orthodontics was done a few years ago to better convey the personality of the business, make clients feel welcome, and to make the space easier to work in for the employees. We have seen their business evolve with this new look at take on such a fun personality and dominate their field locally.

Kitchen Countertops

Kitchen Countertops

Whether you are trying to tackle a kitchen renovation or building your dream house, the selection process can be daunting. Our interior designer, Maggie, has provided a breakdown of the 7 most common kitchen countertop options available to help make that process a little less overwhelming.

For some time, granite has not only been the leading choice in countertops but is also the first to mind for many with its natural beauty to define any space. Coming in nearly 3,000 different color variations, there is sure to be a style to appeal to everyone – but maybe not to everyone’s budget. While the cost for granite has come down in recent years as the demand increased and more engineered options became available, it is still considered a very expensive material due to the fact it is a natural material and its labor costs.

Granite Pros and Cons

Soapstone is sometimes put into the granite category because it is another natural stone, but it really should be seen as an alternative for all its other wonderful characteristics. Coming in a traditionally dark, even color that can vary from gray, green, blue, and black with a satin finish that accents both historic and modern homes beautifully. It has been growing in popularity because of its flexibility.

Soapstone Pros and Cons

This natural stone is considered more temperamental than its counterparts granite and soapstone due to its porousness and fragility. Once it is scratched or stained, the repairs are difficult. If used in the right locations, such as a baking island, marble can really elevate a kitchen’s luxurious feel.

Marble Pros and Cons

The countertops are usually about 93% quartz particles mixed with resins to create the slabs we are familiar with. Due to this, it can mimic the dramatic veining and other natural occurrences that are loved in marble and granite while also being nonporous and scratch, stain, and heat resistant. The latest trends have included integrated quartz sinks and blending recycled glass particles into the resins.

Quartz Pros and Cons

Solid Surface
Solid Surface is a completely manmade option made from a blend of acrylic particles and resins pressed together into sheets. The appearance can be a deterrent for some because of the lack of elegant veining the natural options provide, but for those that do not mind speckles, they can browse the wide array of colors and patterns solid surface has to offer. Now considered one of the mid-tier options for the countertop solutions expense-wise, solid surface can look great in all kitchens.

Solid Surface Pros and Cons


Also in the manmade category, we have laminates which are plastic-coated synthetics that are easy to clean laminated to a piece of particleboard (MDF). The great thing about the laminate option is that there are literally thousands of colors, patterns, and styles to pick from now that there is a resurgence in demand for the product. It can be found in pre-formed segments that are ready to use or can be custom fabricated. 

Laminates Pros and Cons

Wood or Butcher Block

Coming in several different varieties that provide a warm and cozy connection back to nature, wood countertops can be fairly expensive and potentially problematic from bacteria build-up if not properly maintained. They are relatively easy to clean but must be oiled and sealed regularly. It is another great option as an accent counter such as on an island or used with rustic or farmhouse-themed kitchens. 

Wood Pros and Cons
Dairy Queen – Charter Colony

Dairy Queen – Charter Colony

Charter Colony Dairy Queen may be the most unique DQ in the commonwealth. This family-owned business strives to offer their guests comfort while they are enjoying comfort food. It is a must-visit when you are in Midlothian not only for some excellent soft-serve but also to sit by the fireplace, hang out on the patio, or just enjoy the two-story-tall dining room overlooked by our country’s founding fathers. This particular location is inspired by pop art and bright color schemes, and features gorgeous light fixtures making this ice cream shop even more unique.

When it comes to chain design you might think I have seen one so I have seen them all but the small details instilled within the Charter Colony location set it apart from the rest. The Warhol-inspired theme of the restaurant creates a fun, lighthearted atmosphere for the whole family to enjoy. Aside from just being visually pleasing, this location is also a great place to hang out with friends and family! This location also offers the opportunity to bring Dairy Queen to your home with the takeaway fridge!

If you are in the Midlothian area take the time to treat yourself to some ice cream and chicken tenders at this one-of-a-kind Dairy Queen location!

How Natural Light Benefits your Home and Wallet

How Natural Light Benefits your Home and Wallet

Nearly every living thing relies on the energy from the sun, and humans are no different, we need sunlight just as much as the succulents on our windowsills. Natural light provides vitamin D – making us calmer, and more productive as a result. By allowing us to feel closer to nature through biophilic design humans can feel happier and healthier as well. Aside from benefiting the human body, sunlight can also benefit your wallet.

Natural light can eliminate the need for artificial light in the home, saving homeowners money on monthly electricity bills. Along with not needing to use artificial lights during the day, we can also rely on natural light to heat our homes during cooler seasons. Saving money on your home is great, but making money on your home is even better. Natural lighting can actually increase the value of your home, opening your windows allows sunlight to fill your whole room and in return gives the appearance of a much larger space. An article by The Ohio State University breaks down different ways light is being harnessed in the home!

An excellent example of a home that utilizes this science is the Keezletown Farmhouse. This home was designed to capture all the coziness that comes with owning a family farm, and in doing so focused on getting the perfect from the comfort of the living room.

Art & Community

Art & Community

Whether we notice it or not, art will always have a seat at the table in every community. Art has been used as not only a form of self-expression but a form of communication that can convey more than words ever could. When speaking about art in the context of community it isn’t just paintings, drawings, or even photography – it can be found in the design of our homes, the ingredients of our food, and even the fabric of our clothes. Art also brings us together, whether it be at a gallery or sitting at the kitchen table staring at doodles on the fridge, it always finds a way of drawing us in.

These elements are all similar to those in our community, but not exact – we are united yet we are individuals. We can find the same way of thinking in the way spaces are designed. Every home we create is unique, while there might be elements that are common for the surrounding area, each plan is designed for the specific family that will be living there. While homes are mostly stagnant we understand that the inhabitants definitely aren’t, we design with your future goals, hopes, and aspirations in mind so we can create a space that encourages your plans for the future.

An example of this is a home we designed (built by Beck Builders) for a family that understands the value of children playing and exploring. They requested to create spaces their kids could hide and open floor plans for plenty of family space, ultimately we were asked to create a home where their children could enjoy childhood to the fullest. This resulted in creating a unique hidden room behind a bookcase, along with plenty of other secret hiding spots and passages.

Old town Harrisonburg Custom Home

These custom creative details not only allow us to design beautiful homes, but allow us to create spaces that encourage playfulness, growth, and memories for families. A custom design is one that facilitates the life you want to live. Your priorities, beliefs, and focus all come into the design to shape space or place. A house is the most complicated machine you will ever own, so this customization is critical to living fully. A custom design is more than just selecting colors or finishes, it is a process to understand you and your family and reflecting that in design. We infuse fun, creativity, tranquility, comfort, energy efficiency, durability, function all into the design solution. If you are looking for a custom home solution, reach out to us for a conversation, we would love to help.