Houzz Survey Shows Aging in Place a Top Priority

The annual Houzz & Home survey is the largest survey of residential remodeling, building and decorating activity published.  The 2015 study includes more than 260,000 respondents worldwide, providing insights into the home improvement activity of the more than 30 million monthly unique users of the Houzz site and mobile apps. We always take a look at the survey to glean insights that might of use to our clients. This year, we were struck that aging in place made it to the list of top concerns -- although, not surprisingly, by respondents who are over 60.

Over half (56 percent percent) of 60+ households plan to stay in their homes indefinitely, with many renovating their homes for this purpose. Of the 60+ households renovating their kitchens, 60 percent are improving accessibility. Similarly, 69 percent of the 60+ homeowners renovating their bathroom are updating with aging in mind, including installing raised toilets (38 percent) and grab bars (26 percent).

As more people become aware that aging in place renovations can be both beautiful and functional, we are seeing increased interest in planning ahead to incorporate aging in place approaches well before they are a necessity. (Check out our Aging-in-Place Guide if you would like to find out more)

Our northeast region apparently leads the country in aging in place renovations in the kitchen. Here's an interesting graphic showing the most popular changes:


 As we've seen in our own business, bathrooms are another priority location for aging in place modifications.


So, what about the rest of the house? While one in three older homeowners remodeled non-kitchen or bath spaces, only 28% made upgrades with aging in place in mind. The most common modifications include:

  • Reconfiguring layout (16%)
  • Installing easy-to-reach storage (12%)
  • Making room location changes (9%)
  • Removing trip hazards (8%)
We tend to consider such changes in all renovations -- whether specifically for aging in place or not -- so we are guessing that some homeowners may not really think of functional alterations such as these as falling in the aging in place category.

The full report covers many topics that go beyond aging in place.It is available at http://info.houzz.com/HH2015.html

Please contact us if you are considering a renovation and would like to explore working with us !

Tags: aging in place, Houzz survey

Spotlight on Recent Bathroom Renovations

This has been a big season for bathroom renovations. We just received Eric Roth's photos of two projects that we recently completed in Somerville. Both of these space-efficient baths feature a zero threshold shower -- key when accessibility and aging-in-place is a consideration, but beautiful for any bath.

Boston bathroom renovation with zero threshold shower

Morse 11 14 bath 3

Meanwhile, we were delighted that one of our other bathroom projects was recently featured in an ad in New England Home.  We joined forces with Barbara Hirsch of Elza B Design to renovate her bathroom. We were thrilled that she won a Designers Shine Award from Designer Bath and the bathroom was featured in this ad in New England Home! Congratulations, Barbara!

Morse Constructions bathroom featured in Designer Bath ad

See More Bathroom Photos

If you have any questions about bathroom renovations or the bathrooms featured, please send us a comment or give us a call at .

Tags: aging in place, bathroom remodeling, bathroom design

Small Space Renovation: Living Large in a Small Space

Even renovation professionals live in homes that are sometimes less than perfect. Paul and Karen Morse, founders of Morse Constructions, treasured their Cambridge home, despite a first floor that didn’t make the most of the available space.

Paul and Karen are deeply involved in their community and had no desire to ever move. After decades helping clients to renovate homes so they could “stay put,” Paul and Karen knew that the time had come to become their own client.

Paul and Karen Morse

The traditional first floor plan and furnishings in their Victorian home were no longer working for the Morses. Paul and Karen identified a long list of ambitious goals for the space, including:

  • Create serene, uncluttered, open space

  • Create flexible spaces to serve multiple purposes at any time without a great deal of work

  • Create spaces ideal for entertaining

  • Support aging-in-place with special features and a floor plan that could be easily adapted to accommodate one floor living

  • Improve the energy efficiency and comfort

  • Re-use as much as possible to minimize waste

  • Flood spaces with natural light

  • Create a highly functional entryway that serves multiple purposes and minimizes clutter

Morse Constructions collaborated with Barbara Hirsch of Elza B. Design to make sure that the floor plan and furnishings worked together to create the peaceful, unencumbered, flexible, open spaces that were central to Paul’s and Karen’s vision.



Morse Constructions Before Floor Plan


Morse Constructions After Floor Plan

Working within the existing footprint, the team first looked at the floor plan to create the flexible, open spaces that Paul and Karen wanted. Small changes delivered big results. A large beam replaced a bearing center wall to open up the space. The entry way wall was extended just a foot, yet that small extension made the entry way feel much larger while providing definition to the adjacent room. A light color scheme was chosen to maintain the airiness and serenity of the first floor. Pops of color from furnishings such as the Turkish rug in this photo were used to enliven the spaces.

Morse Constructions living room renovation 1 resized 600

Worn out oak flooring and the kitchen’s cork floor were replaced with maple throughout the first floor. The uniform flooring, combined with the lack of thresholds, creates a seamless look that makes the space feel larger.

Streamlined Runtal radiators replaced six, old, covered cast iron radiators. The new Runtals free up visual – and actual – space while delivering much more energy efficient heat.

Morse Constructions living room renovation resized 600

“We regularly entertain and have different sized groups of family and friends. Comfort is key, whether it is just the two of us, a small group, or 40 people,” explains Karen.  Furnishings were selected to enhance the flexibility of the space. For example, the low bookcase in the photo below is comprised of two units on castors that may be easily reconfigured and moved around.

Morse Constructions Boston area living room remodel resized 600

Similarly, the sectional in the photo below serves multiple uses. It provides intimate seating around the gas fireplace in the configuration shown here, or it may be separated and turned around for extra seating when a group is enjoying movies or slide shows on the nearby TV. The swivel chair provides a comfortable perch for conversations with the cook in the kitchen, or as part of the seating cluster around the fireplace.

Morse fireplace renovation resized 600

Paul and Karen enjoy having friends over to watch movies or slide shows from recent travels, but they did not want the TV to be a focal point. The team’s solution was to mount a flat screen TV on a wall platform that extends and swivels for optimal viewing positions, yet rests flat against the wall when not in use.

Morse Constructions TV room remodel resized 600

Morse Constructions dining room remodel

The dining room features a distinctive, handcrafted table that is extraordinarily durable. When not in use for entertaining or family dinners, the dining room becomes a project space. The tea cart holding the flowers in this photo provides additional serving capabilities without adding visual weight to the room.






The Morses loved the layout of their existing kitchen. They made the most of what was already there by painting the existing cabinetry with white high-gloss finish, updating hardware and ceiling light/fan. The light-filled space offers both a peninsula and an island for guests to gather around to talk with Karen as she prepares meals for the many social events that she and Paul host.


Cambridge MA Kitchen Remodel resized 600

Desk space in the kitchen makes the space a multi-functional work center. The lower counter provides convenient work space for a seated cook.

Morse Constructions kitchen renovation resized 600

Morse Constructions entry way remodelThe small entryway packs multiple functions into a small footprint. The exterior door opens out to free up useable space for an efficient storage unit. As part of the Morse’s aging-in-place considerations, a sunken entry rug prevents trips, while unobtrusively trapping moisture and dirt.














 The adjacent bench is the perfect location for removing shoes or setting down mail and packages. It matches the nearby dining room table to provide visual continuity.

Morse Constructions interior renovation

Paul and Karen couldn’t be happier with their “new” home. Their vision for the space was realized and they now have the comfort of knowing that they will be able to age in place. Should they have health or mobility issues in the future, the half bath may easily be expanded to a full bath and the dining area may be converted to a bedroom to permit first floor living.

For ideas about how you may make the most of your space, please contact us!  



Tags: small space design, Boston renovation, aging in place, remodeling project photos, Morse Constructions

Aging-in-Place Renovations (and Morse) Featured in Boston Globe

Aging in Place article Boston GlobeAging-in-Place is a topic that is very important to us. We renovate with aging-in-place in mind, Paul is a NAHB Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) and a member of the National Aging-in-Place Council, and Paul and Karen Morse recently renovated their own home so they can stay put as they age. Paul has testified at the Massachusetts State House on visitability and aging-in-place issues and we recently wrote a guide to aging-in-place renovations. So when Boston Globe correspondent Jay Fitzgerald contacted Paul for an article about aging-in-place renovations, he was more than happy to share his thoughts.

Jay's article -- entitled "Aging in YOUR Place" -- was published in the April 13, 2013 Boston Sunday Globe. The article features photos of Paul and Karen's own home, as well as extensive comments from Paul. We'd love to know what you think of the article. You can read it on the Boston Globe website here.

If you have any comments or questions, please post them on the blog or email Paul.

Tags: aging in place, Morse Constructions News, Paul Morse, Boston Globe

Boston Baby Boomer Housing Preferences

This is going to a short post for the July 4th holiday week!

We just wanted to share a wonderful article by Sally Abrahms that appeared in the June 30, Globe June 30 2013 cover2013 Boston Globe Magazine. The article looks at the way Baby Boomers are choosing to live as they get older. The central theme of the piece is that the Baby Boomer generation is charting a new path for aging. Instead of clinging to a family home in the suburbs, this generation wants to age surrounded by people of all ages, either by aging-in-place in a vibrant community, living in a multi-generational household, or even living with roommates or in communal housing.

Paul was pleased to speak with Sally about renovations so homeowners may age in place, but he went on to discuss the importance of community as well.

Sally incorporated Paul's comments into her article. Please take a moment to read it here. The article is quite lengthy. You will find Paul's comments on the second and third page of the online version.

Happy July 4th! Please contact us if you have any questions or would like to discuss your renovation plans.



Tags: Boston renovation, aging in place, accessibility

Our Latest Ebook: Aging-in-Place Renovations

Aging-in-Place and visitability renovation issues have been a hot topic in our office recently. I testified at the State House in early May about visitability, we became members of the National Aging in Place Council, and we wrote an ebook about renovating to age-in-place.

Why the emphasis on aging-in-place? We certainly design and build renovations for homeowners of all ages. No matter the age of the homeowner, we feel it simply makes good sense to plan for potential future issues when renovating a home. Even if you don’t intend to grow old in your house, a major renovation is the ideal time to make your home as welcoming as possible to visitors and guests of all ages and mobility.

aging-in-place renovation ebookWhat is aging-in-place and visitability? Why should you consider such issues if you are still young? What are key aging-in-place renovation elements?

I hope you will consider reading our free ebook on Renovating to Age-in-Place to find out more. You can download it at the link below.

Please email me or call us at if you have any questions or would like to discuss a possible project.

Download Renovating to Age-in-Place

Tags: aging in place, visitability, renovation guides, renovation ebooks, Boston remodeling

Visitability for Boston Homeowners

by Paul Morse

On May 7, I had the honor to testify at the Massachusetts State House on behalf of Senate Bill S. 601 called the "Thanksgiving Bill". The bill calls for the creation of a commission to study the viability of adding "visitability" design criteria to all new one and two family homes. Here are some links to documents if you want to find out more:

Paul Morse Testimony

Thanksgiving Bill Fact Sheet

Text of Senate Bill S.601

Visitability is a hot topic in home design, construction and renovation. As the name suggests, visitability is about the ability of all people -- regardless of age or disability -- to visit and enjoy a home without having to make modifications. Visitability dovetails with aging in place. If a home is visitable, it also will seamlessly support the changing mobility of an owner as he or she ages.

Visitability is an international movement focused on integrating basic accessibility features in all new homes, but why stop at new homes? Visitability benefits all homeowners by enhancing:

  • Flexibility
    The home accommodates changing needs as the owner ages or encounters health issues

  • Hospitality
    All friends and family may easily visit the home

  • Marketability
    All potential buyers could live in the home without making modifications

At Morse Constructions, we always consider visitability issues, particularly with whole house renovations.

There are some non-negotiable features in visitable homes, including:

  • At least one zero-step entrance

  • Passage doors that are at least 32" wide

  • At least a half bath/powder room on the main floor

While the basic guidelines are strict, they do not impede beautiful, imaginative design at all. For examples of visitable design, scroll through this idea book from Houzz (click on a caption to read the full article on the Houzz website):

Contact us to find out more about visitability in Boston area homes or to discuss your project.

Tags: Boston renovation, aging in place, accessibility, visitability, Massachusetts Senate Bill S.601, MA Thanksgiving Bill