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Recently Marjorie and Karen Ognibene from Ko&Co spoke at the Qld State Library about the increasing need to create homes that can adapt to all life stages and the simple things families can do to their living spaces to be child friendly or accommodate the elderly.

With a new ageing population of “young-old” people who are fit and healthy with less need for specialised aged care housing, alongside the high costs associated with downsizing means we need to provide more agile designs that can adapt to suit changing needs. Homes that are being built or renovated for young families may evolve to accommodate empty nesters, couples or singles. This should mean designing for evolution, having areas pre zoned to become future granny flats, or homes that can easily be retrofitted or subdivided and create two dwellings that could benefit older people by providing a secondary income stream or a space for a carer.

Ageing in Place

Flush transitions between inside and outside make for less trip hazards. A lift to the left of the image allows the occupants to easily transport their groceries from the garage (3 stories down) plus it is slightly oversized, a decision to future proof for a wheel chair if required / more attractive resale as it is accessible to everyone.

Large open plan bathrooms with ample natural light enables a beautiful, light filled bathroom now plus space to manoeuver a wheel chair / pram in the future. A seat at the end of the bath was also used to allow occupants to sit in the shower, or sit and edge into the bath rather than stepping in. These features combined with reinforced bathroom walls for grab rails or additional towel rails allow this bathroom to accomodate different needs down the track.

Flush transition from inside to outside paired with large doorways were used to reduce trip hazards and future proof for walkers / prams etc.

By following the Liveable Housing Guidelines for any renovation or new build you will be well placed to affordably and beautifully add ‘assisted living’ elements to your home when required. Marjorie spoke about how the ideas in these guidelines were used for the renovation at her parent’s house.


All the bathroom walls were reinforced to accommodate future grabrails, steps/transitions were designed to use a Raven threshold in the future if there are mobility issues. Doorway sizes enhanced to allow easy access for walkers/wheelchair. The house was designed to enable a secure the middle level accessible from the street with it’s own kitchenette to allow for a future carer or a rentable space for additional income.

Designing thresholds to use off the shelf, easily removable ramps enables a low cost, low stress transition to walkers and doesn’t affect resale.

Karen explained the Liveable Housing Guidelines in more detail and examined through case study the following key features of the report:

Dwelling entrance / access 

Step free, wide door, roof over 

Internal doors & corridor widths
Minimum 1000mm (silver) to 1200mm (platinum)

Size, flush entry, provision for grab rails

Adequate clearances forward of pan, provision for future installation of grab rails

Bathroom walls
Reinforced for grab rails

Circulation, slip resistant and continuous flooring


Circulation, slip resistant and continuous flooring, task lighting


Straight run, handrails one or both sides

Ground floor bedroom

Living room

Door handles & tapware


Switches & powerpoints

Types and location

Window sills

Flooring selection

Slip resistant & flush

Secure accessible middle level allows for the clients to rent the space for additional income or a space for a future carer.

Future proofing is a minimal cost upfront during any renovation or new build project. Here we provided the clients with drawings showing how future grab rails would work and providing information to the builder to ensure adequate reinforcement in the bathroom walls was provided. This means down the track if there are mobility concerns or injuries the upgrade to make the bathroom more useable is minor.

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