Design and Build Your Home for Aging in Place

Appliances: refrigerators

Your first decision will be whether to purchase a counter depth or a traditional depth refrigerator.  Counter depth are not as deep but you pay for this shallowness in capacity.  Still, it fits better in your kitchen because regular refrigerators are deeper and jut out into the kitchen space.  If you are building a new house, you can frame the wall back to account for this  extra depth. In addition, counter depth refrigerators typically cost more. Another more expensive choice is a “commercial” refrigerator which has the compressor on the top and is “built-in.”  These cost more than $5,000.00 but give more capacity.  They are also taller and wider but not as deep as traditional refrigerators.

The latest trend in refrigerators is a bottom freezer.  These are popular because most of the use of the refrigerator is to the refrigeration rather than the freezer part of your machine.  Placing this part on top precludes the need to bend over and puts food you get to the most time at eye level.

Another innovation are multiple doors and doors inside doors.  These all hinge on different temperature levels throughout the machine for various foods, such as vegetables and meats, which last longer based on temperature settings.

Water and ice in the door seems to remain strong but some machines have an inside water supply.  Some machines also have two ice machines, one in the door and one in the freezer.

Refrigerators are one piece of the appliance industry that seem to have a lot of recent innovations, especially in doors and integration of technology like wireless and cameras.  As an example, Samsung has a machine with internal cameras that you can access from your smart phone to see whether you need milk or eggs. Others have screens the size of the doors as home organizers.

Measuring for kitchen cabinets

At first we wondered why the cabinet company would not just order the cabinets from the plans. We had architect drawn plans and knew the builder would build the house by the plans. Our concern was the lead-time of the cabinets expanded from six to eight weeks and we felt the builder would be ready in half the time. This delay would slow us down. But the cabinet designer said he had to measure before he ordered.

An email confirmed he had been over to the house but had to make some changes. The biggest one was that the upper cabinets had to shrink from 42” to 36” because the eight-foot ceilings were built at 7’ 6” instead of the 8’ denoted on the plans. While we’re not sure why the builder built it lower (we think it was to keep the pitch at a 5/12 pitch) the ceilings were sloping up to a ten foot ridge so the lower wall was not a problem except where the cabinets touched them at the outside wall.

Still, it was a lesson and demonstrated the professionalism of the cabinet designer to stick to his guns and also that things happen in building a house that are unforeseen.

Bath Vanities

Bath vanities

Went shopping for a vanity for my small bath and discovered the market had changed since I was last in the market for a vanity. The shift was that now vanities are considered stand-alone furniture. This means all three sides are now finished, even if one side is pushed against a side wall as is typical i.e. right of vanity is wall, left is toilet, sometimes (wrongly) the tub. Aside from an ackward finish detail on the wall, the price has risen to cover the cost of the vanity.

Two other changes seemed to make sense though. One was a shallow vanity that was about 6” less deep with a sink that over hung the vanity to the typical 20” depth. The advantage here is that the bath, especially a small one, seems less crowded.

The other change was a hung sink with a cabinet below that does not touch the floor. Again, this arrangement reduces the clutter in a bath and exposes more floor space. This also reduces the finish detail of a cabinet against a sidewall. Kohler has a line called Jute that warrants a look.


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