A.E.Churba, author, Aging in Place, Interior Design

Universal design and home improvement for the long-term does not have to be expensive

Serious seniors
Seniors contemplate what to do with their income tax refund

Universal design and home improvement for the long-term does not have to be expensive.  If you received or are receiving a refund on your tax return, one great way to spend that money is to complete some simple home improvement with an eye toward the future.  Most small projects that make a big impact are actually somewhat economical to carry out.  By investing a little money toward improving your home, you can really increase your home’s apparent value as you look forward to your active retirement.  Consider some of these improvements when looking to invest your refund or home improvement dollars.

  • Paint:  Apply a fresh coat of paint to the walls. Think about investing in Low VOC or no VOC paint (VOC is the smelly stuff in paint that is actually harmful to breathe in).  Strip off that dated wallpaper and replace with a fresh new paint color.  Keep in mind that very shiny (high gloss paint) can cause glare and is hard on the eyes.  Do not resort to flat either though because it is often harder to clean and marks easily. Consider a Satin or Eggshell finish.  Also, keep in mind that as we age, we need more light to see and if you choose a dark color, it will absorb light making it seem darker.
  • Yard work:  Consider low maintenance landscaping and raised beds. Gardens and flowers are great mood boosters but is hard on the knees.  If looking at adding flowers, consider a raised flowerbed for easier access.  Xeric landscaping is a great way to create a low maintenance yard.
  • Replace bathroom fixtures.  Accessible bathroom and kitchen fixtures are a great investment for not only now but in the long-term too.  Consider installing comfort height toilets and installing D-shaped cabinet and drawer handles.  Replacing the handles will naturally give the bathroom or kitchen a more updated look and make it easier to open and close the drawers and handles.
  • Replace the kitchen counter tops.  Replacing kitchen counter tops and work surfaces is pricey but can add value and less maintenance.  Consider installing quartz counter tops or laminate depending on your preferences.  If you worry about resale, the direction to take would be the quartz counter top because it adds value and there is no maintenance involved.  If you are looking more for ease of maintenance and lower price investment look at having laminate counter tops installed.  There are fabulous patterns that look like granite if you gravitate to that look.  Consider a contrasting counter top color from your cabinets and flooring to help with depth perception.  Choose to round the corners on all the counter tops to reduce impact injuries.
  • Invest in your closet: there are many systems that installable to help with accessibility to your clothing and help with organization at the same time.  There are items like the Pull Down Closet Rod that brings the closet rod right to you.  The unit uses hydraulic action and has an accessible handle, which you use to pull the rod down.  There is a weight capacity for it so research it first.  One more option: rearrange the structure of the closet.  Lower the rod to a suitable height or use a closet system with various height clothes rods and storage choices.
  • Install cabinet organizers: install pull-out shelves and organizers for accessible storage. This way you will be able to reach your items easier.

A great way to spend your tax refund is to reinvest it in your home and provide for your long-term safety and low maintenance.  Investing a little money toward improving functionality your home by investing in even one or two of these suggestions can really increase your home’s apparent value as you look forward to your active retirement.  Thank you for reading and please feel free to comment.


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