Built for life—Buyers look to universal design for forever homes

The owners of two of the country’s most outstanding universal design homes share the stories behind their houses
Victoria and Richard Parsons of Parker, Colorado, wanted to build their forever house. (Photo: Sterling Custom Homes, Inc.)

Victoria and Richard Parsons of Parker, Colorado, wanted to build their forever house. Victoria is an artist, and needed a place where she could create, store and sell her art, with features like an elevator to transport her heavy materials, and a third-floor gallery space to sell her work out of. To be the Parsons’ forever home, that also meant that these features would enable them to age in place. 

[Related: Dignity and design—The aesthetics of aging in place]

“The house is designed for living now,” Victoria told us, but it was designed with features that had the rest of their lives in mind. The elevator, for example, was not initially meant to transport wood and metal for her sculptures upstairs, but for accessing the second and third floors of the home should one of them no longer be able to use the stairs. In their words, building the home was “universal design first, and all the other things came behind.”

Designed for life

Built by Sterling Custom Homes of Castle Rock, with interiors by Comstock Design, the home is modern, warm and contemporary, filled with art and glass.

“We did not want to make it look like an institution,” Victoria said. However, the entire home is designed to allow the couple to remain in place and adapt should health or abilities change in the coming years.

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Handles on all of the drawers and cabinets cater to arthritis. Everything is reinforced to be able to handle the installation of equipment later on—anything from a handle or bar in the shower to the beds in the walls.

The third floor is designed so that it can be converted to accommodate for live-in care. Thresholds are non-existent between rooms, and doorways are wider than standard, to ensure that the entire home is accessible via wheelchair. The kitchen is also widened for wheelchair access, and garages, showers and toilets are designed to be easily rolled into and accessible by someone in a chair.

Help from a friend

The Parsons are both from Ohio originally, and moved to Colorado in 1989, before moving back to Ohio to care for aging parents.

Their parents lived in 50-year-old homes that they couldn’t care for, “but they wanted to be able to stay in their homes, not move into a care facility,” Victoria explained. After this realization, the Parsons visited Victoria’s old friend, Rosemarie Rossetti, which is where a light bulb went off about what they wanted for their own home.

One thought on “Built for life—Buyers look to universal design for forever homes

  • July 8, 2020 at 1:01 am
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