“Bigger is better” has been the mantra for new homes in the United States for more than three decades. Home buyers have been enthusiastic about showing off what they can afford, but this trend is set to die down sooner rather than later for a number of reasons.

As more baby boomers, often empty-nesters, near retirement age, they usually begin to shop for a smaller home that allows them to handle maintenance and other details more easily. For this reason, developers are starting to build more active adult communities that cater to the needs of retirees. By 2018, industry professionals feel that the average size of a new home will peak at 2,400 square feet, holding steady for many years to come. But just because the size of homes levels off does not mean that designs are going to do the same. New home buyers want a modern look with the many luxury features that are on the market today. Although they are looking to downsize, they still want to live in luxury.

Folks in this group usually have a lifestyle independent of children. They want free time for recreational pursuits like golf, traveling, and hobbies, or just reading and taking it easy. Due to health care and medical advances, boomers are a vibrant bunch. Many choose to continue working into their 70s and beyond. Others continue volunteering in a myriad of useful ways, redefining the essence of senior Americans.

Smaller spaces will incorporate fresh designs to accommodate older residents. For example, one out of three senior adults fall each year. One quarter of the falls result in serious injury requiring admission to a nursing home. Falls are the sixth leading cause of death for seniors 70 and beyond.

Basic steps for boomers planning their new home:

1. Locate at least one bedroom and bath on the main floor.

2. Avoid throw rugs.

3. Good lighting everywhere for good visibility and safety.

4. Install grab bars in bathroom and shower

5. Use carpeting on floor surfaces rather than hard surface materials.

6. Select soft-cornered and upholstered pieces rather hardwood arms for

7. Avoid sharp glass surfaces.

8. Use good color and value contrast from flooring to walls.
Poor vision can create difficulty distinguishing changing planes.

9. Keep floor surface on one level for easy use of canes, walkers and

10. Remove door from bedroom to bath so toilet is clearly visible.

11. Consider acoustical wallcoverings; noise can interfere with hearing aides.

12. Provide a compact kitchen.

13. Some modular kitchen units comply with standards set by the Americans
with Disabilities Act.

14. Built-in cabinets maximize storage space.