Active Adult Design | Best Lighting Practices for Kitchen + Bath
Most American adults age 50 years and older desire to stay in their current home and maintain an independent and active lifestyle. The “snow bird’ phenomenon is less common for retirees than one may think. It’s only natural for active adults to want to continue living in a neighborhood and community where they have put down roots and feel happy and comfortable.
Seniors and active adults often face physical challenges that can make it almost impossible to continue living in the same house without some degree of change. Luckily, with the right design decisions and products, active adults can continue to live comfortably in a favorite home without having to physically move houses.
Photo courtesy of Beazer Homes featuring Fresnel pendants
When illuminating any room, it’s very important to incorporate layers of light for even illumination. Dark spots require individuals to adjust their eyes from light to dark in rooms that aren’t evenly lit. Older eyes take longer to adjust to changes in light levels. Because kitchen and bath areas are considered “high risk” areas for accidents, the lighting plan in these rooms is more important than ever.
Project completed by Mary DeWalt Design Group
Project completed by Stephen Alexander Homes | StephenAlexanderHomes.com
Use can or surface mounted fixtures that light with a decent spread. 3000K is recommended with a 1000 lumen output. Cover bare lamps with lenses, shades diffusers or etched glass to help control glare.
Energy Savings Tip! In a single story home, recessed can lights can penetrate the attic, which leaks unwanted heat into the home. A fixture that connects to the junction box immediately impacts energy savings and HVAC load. The surface-mounted P8022 light offers an easy clip-in installation system that saves time for electricians and promotes energy savings for homeowners.
Image courtesy of Richmond American Homes
Undercabinet lighting brings light to where it’s needed on counter spaces. Even illumination prevents dark spots, which can lead to accidents in the kitchen, especially in areas that individuals will be working with knives and sharp objects. Consider decorative lighting – such as directional pendants that point the light down to the counter. Be careful of puck lights that can bounce glare down and back up into the eye, particularly with shiny countertops.
The Fresnel pendants look great and spread beautiful light without an exposed source.
Shown: Academy sconces
As with the kitchen, 3000K is an ideal color temperature for bathroom areas. Brighter, glare free lighting over toilets and wet areas are key. Even illumination that prevents dark areas from forming is crucial – especially in an accident-prone area where floors may get wet. The bathroom needs plenty of ambient light.
Photo courtesy of Stephen Alexander Homes | StephenAlexanderHomes.com
Lighting should be on either side of the mirror, and not over the mirror. Light sources coming from above cast shadows over the face, which can cause challenges for women applying make-up and men shaving. Fixtures should be mounted at eye level – around 5 feet, 7 inches. If using a double sink vanity, use two mirrors and three sconces.
Poor lighting can be a safety hazard for any age group, but specifically for active adults. The goal of a well-designed space for senior living is to minimize shadows and maximize functionality. Remember, a 60-year-old needs at least twice as much light as the average 30-year-old to perform the same seeing task with equal speed and accuracy.
As a rule of thumb, a layered lighting design is of critical importance. Error on the side of too much light that can be easily adjusted to meet the needs of each active adult living situation.