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Aging In Place Design for Interior Designers: Grow Your Business

Interior designer
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Aging in Place design refers to the practice of creating a living space that meets the unique needs of people as they age.

This design approach aims to enable older adults to live in their own homes safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.

The ultimate goal is to increase the quality of life for older adults, allowing them to maintain their independence for as long as possible.

Baby boomers have changed the face of the U.S. population for more than 70 years and continue to do so as more enter their senior years, a demographic shift often referred to as a “gray tsunami.

Census Bureau

There are a few key principles that guide Aging in Place design:

1. Accessibility: Homes are designed or remodeled to be wheelchair-accessible, with wide doorways and hallways, lever-style door handles, non-slip flooring, and open floor plans. Kitchens and bathrooms might feature lowered countertops or multi-level countertops and walk-in showers for easy access.

2. Usability: Usability considers how easy it is for an older adult to use different parts of the home. This could include installing pull-out shelves in kitchen cabinets, creating curbless showers, and using rocker light switches which are easier to operate than traditional ones.

3. Safety: Safety measures such as improved lighting, grab bars in bathrooms, and anti-slip flooring materials are installed to help prevent accidents. Alarm systems and emergency response systems can also be included.

4. Comfort and Aesthetics: The design should not only serve functional needs but also aesthetic preferences. The goal is to create a space that feels welcoming and familiar, where one can enjoy their later years.

5. Adaptability: Designs should allow for future modifications if the need arises. This might involve installing blocking behind bathroom walls for future grab bars or planning for the possibility of a future elevator installation.

How Can I Learn This Skill Set?

The Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) certification program is administered by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in collaboration with Lowes Home Improvement.

The program provides comprehensive, practical, market-specific knowledge about working with older and maturing adults to remodel their homes for aging-in-place.

The CAPS certification program educates professionals on the technical, business management, and customer service skills essential to competing in the fastest-growing segment of the residential remodeling industry: home modifications for aging-in-place. 

Involvement in the program involves taking three courses:

  1. Marketing and Communication Strategies for Aging and Accessibility (CAPS I)
  2. Design Concepts Solutions for Livable Homes and Aging In Place (CAPS II)
  3. Details and Solutions for Livable Homes and Aging In Place.

A candidate must pass an examination for all 3 courses to earn the CAPS designation.

There are several ways an interior designer can benefit from having this certification:

1. Expertise and Credibility:

Earning a CAPS certification provides an interior designer with a significant amount of specialized knowledge about designing for aging-in-place. This designation can add to a designer’s credibility, showing potential clients and collaborators that the designer is an expert in this growing field.

2. Increased Business Opportunities:

As the population ages, there is a growing demand for professionals with expertise in designing homes for aging-in-place. A CAPS certification can open up a whole new market of potential clients who are seeking to modify their homes to better suit their needs as they age.

3. Trust and Confidence:

Having a CAPS certification shows clients that the designer is committed to understanding and addressing their unique needs. This can build trust and confidence among clients, leading to more business referrals.

4. Stay Ahead of Competition:

Given the rising interest in aging-in-place design, being a certified professional in this niche could give an interior designer a competitive edge. It sets them apart as a specialist, not just a general interior designer.

5. Professional Growth:

The process of gaining a CAPS certification provides an excellent opportunity for professional growth and learning. Designers will gain a deeper understanding of the unique needs and considerations involved in designing for older adults, which can benefit their practice overall.

Aging in Place design considers not only physical needs but also psychological and social needs. For example, spaces may be designed to facilitate social interaction, which is essential for mental health.

Overall, it is a holistic approach to residential design that can greatly improve the quality of life for seniors.

Aging In Place Design and Its Need in the Current Market:

Aging in Place is a concept that refers to making modifications to a home to allow residents to live there safely and comfortably as they age.

This often involves remodeling or retrofitting a home to be more accessible and safe, accommodating the potential physical limitations of its occupants.

Aging in Place design considers factors such as mobility, ease of use, safety, and comfort.

The need for Aging in Place design in the current market is largely driven by demographic shifts.

As the baby boomer generation ages, there is an increasing number of seniors who want to remain in their homes as long as possible.

According to the AARP, nearly 90% of people over age 65 want to stay in their home for as long as they can.

This trend, coupled with an increasing focus on healthy and active aging, has created significant demand for home modifications that support aging in place.

Aging in Place Design’s Significance in Adding Value to an Interior Design Business

1. Expanded Client Base: Aging in Place design allows an interior design business to serve a broader range of clients, particularly the growing demographic of older adults. It also opens up opportunities to work with younger clients who are planning for their future needs or caring for aging parents.

2. Market Differentiation: Specializing in Aging in Place design can help an interior design business stand out in a crowded market. It demonstrates a commitment to inclusivity and a depth of expertise that can be a strong selling point.

3. Increased Revenue: Aging in Place projects often involve comprehensive redesigns and renovations, which can be larger in scope and budget than typical design projects. Additionally, clients who are investing in their homes for the long term may be willing to pay more for high-quality, thoughtful design that will serve them for years to come.

4. Long-Term Client Relationships: When you help clients design a home they can live in for the rest of their lives, you’re likely to forge a strong, long-term relationship. These clients may return for future modifications or recommend your services to friends and family.

5. Contribution to Social Good: Lastly, by offering Aging in Place design, businesses can contribute to a social good. They help individuals maintain their independence and quality of life, reduce the burden on caretakers, and potentially delay or eliminate the need for institutional care. This aspect can enhance a business’s reputation and provide personal fulfillment for the designers involved.

The Importance of Aging in Place Design in Modern Interior Design

The integration of Aging in Place design principles is becoming increasingly relevant in modern interior design for several reasons:

1. Demographic Shift: With the aging of the baby boomer generation, the proportion of older adults in the population is increasing. As these individuals age, their needs and preferences change. Designing homes that are accessible, safe, and comfortable for seniors is becoming an important part of modern interior design.

2. Universal Design: Aging in Place design aligns with the principles of universal design, a design approach that seeks to make spaces usable by all people to the greatest extent possible, regardless of age or ability. This includes designing spaces that can be navigated by people with mobility issues, those using wheelchairs, or people with visual or cognitive impairments.

3. Sustainability: Aging in Place design is also connected to sustainability in design. Making a home adaptable over the long term is a more sustainable approach, as it reduces the need for major renovations or moving to a different home as the homeowner’s needs change.

The Need for Such Design from a Client Perspective

From a client’s perspective, there are several reasons why Aging in Place design is beneficial:

1. Comfort and Familiarity: Most people prefer to stay in the comfort of their own home as they age, surrounded by familiar settings and close to their community and social networks.

2. Safety and Accessibility: As people age, their physical abilities may decline, making certain household tasks difficult or hazardous. Aging in Place design addresses these issues, making the home safer and more accessible.

3. Cost-Effective: Aging in Place can be more cost-effective in the long run compared to alternatives such as assisted living or nursing homes. By planning for aging in advance, individuals can spread out the costs of home modifications over time, making it more affordable.

4. Independence and Dignity: Aging in Place design allows individuals to maintain their independence and age with dignity. It enables them to continue their everyday routines and lifestyle, even as their physical abilities change.

5. Flexibility: Lastly, Aging in Place design is not just for older people. The principles of accessibility, safety, and ease of use benefit people of all ages and abilities, including those recovering from an injury, families with young children, or individuals with a temporary or permanent disability.

Overview of how Color Choices can Influence Aging In Place Design

Color choices play a significant role in Aging in Place design, affecting not only the aesthetics of a space but also the safety, comfort, and overall livability for older adults.

As people age, their vision can change, making it more difficult to perceive color contrasts.

Consequently, choosing the right color palette can significantly enhance visibility, orientation, and the ability to discern different spaces and objects within a home. 

Practical Examples of Color Selection for Different Spaces

1. Living Room: The living room should evoke a sense of warmth and tranquility. Earthy tones like beige, light brown, or muted greens are excellent choices. Brighter colors can be used for accents, like throw pillows or rugs, to offer contrast and visual interest.

2. Kitchen: In the kitchen, where tasks require precision, contrasting colors can be useful. For instance, if you have light-colored countertops, opt for dark-colored cabinets and vice versa. This helps delineate the space clearly.

3. Bathroom: For the bathroom, lighter shades are often preferred as they reflect light better, aiding visibility. Contrasting color bands along critical areas like the edge of the bathtub or the countertop can help prevent accidents.

4. Bedroom: Cooler, calming colors like soft blues, greens, or lavenders are beneficial in bedrooms as they promote relaxation and restful sleep. Although you should avoid pastels as they are not friendly colors for the aging eye.

Tips for Choosing Appropriate Colors for Aging In Place Design

1. Contrast is Key: It’s crucial to use contrasting colors for critical elements, such as door handles, light switches, and stair edges, to make them more visible.

2. Warm Lighting: Opt for warmer lighting whenever possible as it enhances colors better than cool lighting. This makes the environment visually comfortable and less straining to the eyes.

3. Avoid Glossy Finishes: Glossy finishes can cause glare, which might be difficult for aging eyes. Opt for matte finishes instead.

4. Test Colors in Different Lighting: Colors can look different under varying lighting conditions. Make sure to test your color choices under different types of lighting—natural, artificial, day, and night.

5. Consult with Clients: Always take into consideration the preferences and specific needs of your clients. Some people might have certain visual impairments or medical conditions like Parkinson’s disease or Muscular Sclerosis that require special color considerations.

By understanding the nuances of color selection in Aging in Place design, you can create a space that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also safe and comfortable for aging adults.

The Benefits of Certification for Your Business

1. Specialization: Earning a CAPS certification allows you to specialize in a rapidly growing niche of the interior design market, opening up opportunities for new projects and clients.

2. Competitive Edge: The knowledge and skills gained through the certification process can provide a competitive advantage, especially in a market where the demand for aging-in-place services is increasing.

3. Enhanced Credibility: The CAPS designation signals to prospective clients and other professionals that you have received advanced training and education in this specialized area of design. This can enhance your reputation and credibility in the industry.

4. Increased Revenue: As mentioned earlier, Aging in Place projects often involve more extensive modifications and renovations, which can translate into larger project budgets and increased revenue for your business.

5. Continuing Education: The certification program offers an opportunity for professional development and continuous learning, allowing you to stay updated with the latest trends and innovations in the field.

Ways in which CAPS Certification Sets Your Business Apart from the Competition

1. Demonstrated Expertise: Having a CAPS certification showcases your expertise and commitment to serving the needs of older adults. It sets you apart from general designers who may lack this specialized training and knowledge.

2. Unique Selling Proposition: It provides a unique selling proposition that you can leverage in your marketing efforts, helping your business stand out in a crowded marketplace.

3. Client Trust and Confidence: The CAPS certification builds trust among clients, as they can be confident in your ability to design spaces that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing, specifically catering to their age-related needs.

4. Network Expansion: The certification also gives you access to a network of other professionals who have also earned this designation, opening up opportunities for collaboration, referral partnerships, and further learning.

5. Future-Proofing Your Business: By offering Aging in Place design services, your business will be well-positioned to serve the growing market of seniors and those planning for their future needs, ensuring the relevance and sustainability of your business in the long term.

How CAPS Certification Builds Trust in Your Brand

1. Demonstration of Expertise: Earning a CAPS certification demonstrates that you have the knowledge and skills to address the unique needs of individuals seeking to age in place. This shows clients that you take your profession seriously and are dedicated to staying informed about best practices in the field.

2. Commitment to Quality: The certification also illustrates a commitment to delivering high-quality, tailored services. This can give clients confidence that their project will be handled with the utmost professionalism and attention to detail.

3. Credibility: The CAPS designation is recognized by industry professionals and potential clients alike, adding a layer of credibility to your brand. It signals that your services have met a certain standard, reassuring clients about the quality of your work.

How to Growth of Your Skill Set Through Certification

1. Expanded Knowledge: The CAPS certification program provides comprehensive education on the principles of Aging in Place design. This includes practical information on accessibility, safety, functionality, and aesthetics, broadening your skill set and deepening your understanding of design.

2. Problem-Solving Skills: The program also helps develop problem-solving skills, equipping you with the ability to address the unique challenges that may arise when designing for older adults or individuals with disabilities.

3. Awareness of Trends and Innovations: Keeping up with the certification requirements ensures that you stay abreast of the latest trends and innovations in the industry. This can keep your design approach fresh and relevant.

How Certification Can Lead to Business Expansion and Enhanced Competitiveness

1. Market Differentiation: Having a CAPS certification allows your business to differentiate itself in the market. It provides a unique selling point that can attract clients looking for experts in Aging in Place design.

2. Expanded Client Base: The certification opens up a new demographic of potential clients, helping to expand your business reach. As the population ages, the demand for Aging in Place design services is likely to grow, providing numerous opportunities for business expansion.

3. Competitive Advantage: The specialized knowledge and skills gained through the CAPS program can give your business a competitive edge. With this certification, you can offer services that not all competitors may provide.

4. Increased Revenue: As mentioned earlier, Aging in Place projects often involve more extensive modifications and renovations, which can result in larger project budgets and potentially increased revenue for your business.

A CAPS Certification Is a Smart Business Decision for Interior Designers

Throughout this article, we have discussed the growing importance of Aging in Place design in the modern interior design industry.

With the increasing demand for home modifications that support comfortable and safe aging, the Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) certification offered by the National Association of

Home Builders has become a key qualification for interior designers looking to specialize in this niche. 

We’ve explored the impact of color selection in Aging in Place design, the process and benefits of gaining a CAPS certification, and how this certification can provide a competitive edge and enhance your brand.

We’ve also discussed the immense value it brings to clients looking for solutions that help them maintain their independence and quality of life.

As interior designers, your goal is to create environments that are not only beautiful but also functional and considerate of our clients’ unique needs.

Earning a CAPS certification provides the necessary tools and knowledge to excel in this endeavor, particularly when working with older adults or those planning for their future needs.

The demand for Aging in Place design is only expected to grow in the coming years with 10,000 people turning 65 every day until the year 2030.

By pursuing a CAPS certification now, you can position your business to capitalize on this trend early, offering a highly sought-after service that will set you apart in the market and potentially lead to increased business opportunities and revenue.

I appreciate your time and interest in exploring the value of Aging in Place design and the benefits of becoming a Certified Aging in Place Specialist.

I encourage you to take this step in enhancing your business’s value, skill set, and market competitiveness.

Remember, by investing in your professional growth and diversifying your services, you’re not only strengthening your business but also making a meaningful difference in the lives of your clients.

I hope you found this article informative and inspiring, and we look forward to engaging with you further. If you are interested in earning a CAPS certification call me at 352-281-6681 or email me at I would love to connect.

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