Aging in Place: Entryways and Hallways

This is the third story in a series of articles about aging in place issues, from a definition of aging in place to considerations for community as well as inside your home.

In some ways a few older homes can set the standard for aging-in-place design of entryways. For instance, the dogtrot floor plan, which began as a covered connecting hallway between two cabins to aid ventilation in times without air conditioning, was well lit and wide. And when the dogtrot evolved into the large, chandelier-lit entry halls of stately Southern mansions like Tara in “Gone with the Wind,” they become perfect for people who needed plenty of room to maneuver and plenty of light.

In more modern homes, the entry is often much smaller and therefore the 95 percent of people over the age of 75 who want to age in place are planning to make their entries safer and easier to navigate.

With that in mind we’ve listed a few things you can consider when you are updating your entryways and hallways. We’re always trying to keep in mind that safety, access, and maneuvering room are keys to success.

First Step

First, consider hiring a Certified National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS), such as Fazzolari Custom Homes and Renovations. We have studied the solutions for making a home safe for aging in place.

Maneuvering Room

If someone is going to be using a wheelchairs or walker, consider that ADA guidelines specify a minimum clear space of 60 inches in diameter for a wheelchair to make a 180-degree turn and about 36 inches clearance between walls. Your CAPS knows how to make sure your entry will have the space for a wheelchair to turn.

Steps, Ramps, Hand Rails and Thresholds

Here are some considerations from the American with Disabilities Act recommendations for steps, ramps, hand rails and thresholds:

  • Steps and Ramps should be free of clutter;
  • Steps and Ramps should be well lit;
  • Steps and Ramps should be built to be slip-resistant
  • Handrails should extend beyond the top and bottom of stairs;
  • Handrails should be between 34 inches and 38 inches high and 1.5 inches from the wall;
  • Handrails should not roll or swivel in their mounting hardware;
  • Ramps have a maximum slope of 1:12, ask you CAPS to explain;
  • Ramps need a landing at least 60 inches square if the ramp changes direction;
  • Thresholds should not be taller than 1/4 inch.

Doors and Floors

Again, maneuvering room, access, and safety play important parts in door and floor design. Wide doors and slip resistent floors are key.

Door should be:

  • A minimum of 36 inches wide;
  • Outfitted with levered handles instead of round knobs.

Floors should be:

  • Slip resistant;
  • Free of throw rugs;
  • Textured if possible.

Grab bars, Grab bars, and Grab bars

There are never too many grab bars. Any place a person would be changing position from standing or seated, there should be grab bars. In an entry, grab bars should also be located where people would be putting on or taking off wraps and coats. Believe it or not. the decorator in you will be happy to know grab bars come in many finishes.


Entries can have tall ceilings that swallow the light. Make sure you have enough light inside and outside your entry. There is never too much light. You will use every light you’ve put in. Your CAPS can help you figure out where and what types of lights are best for your plan. Also, consider using the rocker-type light switches.

A Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist such as Fazzolari Custom Homes and Renovations understands the needs you have and is trained to help you sort through these decisions and make it easier for you to choose the ones that are right for you. If you are considering options for aging in place in the Vancouver, WA or Portland, OR areas then call Fazzolari Custom Homes and Renovations at 360-571-7027 or fill out our form for a free consultation on aging in place.

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