One of the imperatives to designing homes for a 55+ buyer is light! As we age, the lens of our eyes thickens and can get cloudy. This results in diminished eye sight with obvious and not-so-obvious side effects.
The first symptom of diminishing eye sight is your arms get shorter, or so it seems. The aging eye’s ability to focus up close is the first noticeable symptom. Small print becomes harder to read and eventually “readers” (magnifying glasses) are needed. (Avoid small print on your brochures so your buyers won’t have to wear their “granny” glasses.)
In addition, the amount of light passing through the lens diminishes as well. This is more gradual and less noticeable. While the drop in light may not be as apparent to the aging adult as their ability to focus up close, the effects cannot be ignored. By age 60, six times as much light is needed compared to a 20 year old. To make matters worse, as we age, sleep is often disrupted to empty bladders. Talk about a double whammy! They have to get up more in the middle of the night and it’s harder to see. (Sorry honey, I just stepped on our cat!)
That is why lighting is so important to this buyer profile – both natural and artificial. So bring on the lights and add the windows! Strategic placement of windows is vital. Starting at the front door, add a transom above the door to bring light into the foyer without compromising privacy or security.
The view from the foyer should be towards natural light and windows. Interior spaces can borrow light from adjacent rooms. For example, a well-placed window that lines up with a door will allow light to spill into the adjacent hallway or room.
In the master bath, it is wise to add a makeup vanity area. But keep in mind, if the mirror is 2’ away, it is useless for this task. Instead most find they need a lit magnifying mirror to apply makeup, so don’t forget the outlet for this! If the vanity area is on an outside wall, you could even place a window behind the makeup mirror for more light.
As for artificial lighting, there are three categories: Task Lighting, Ambient Lighting, and Way-Find Lighting. Task lights can include recessed can lights in the kitchen. Under and over cabinet lights are a great way to add ambient lighting. Toe-kick lighting under the bath cabinets brings way-finding lighting to the bathroom and lighted switches can be helpful as well. And if the toilet is in a separate room, add a simple night light. You can even install toilets with night lights built in! Another crucial way-find lighting location is hall lights to the entry from the garage.
While thoughtful lighting isn't always at the forefront of a home buyer's mind - they will certainly notice a lack thereof. Brighten up a home's potential and demonstrate to these home buyers what they've been missing!