Elegance Personified
Elegance Personified

Instead of downsizing as many empty nesters do after the children leave home, a couple who were long-time Bergen County residents decided to build a home that would accommodate not only their needs as they grow older, but also be a welcoming, comfortable place for their ever-expanding family to enjoy. It would be a home that would cater to both the needs of their aging parents and visits from their numerous grandchildren who ranged in age from toddlers to teenagers.

They built a palatial 20-room, 15,000-square-foot, center-hall Colonial with six bedrooms and seven baths on two acres in Alpine, designed by architects Roland Scharpfspitz & Associates. Rona J. Spiegel of Lifestyle Interior Designs, LTD, designed the elegant interiors utilizing the principles of universal design, a concept that is fast becoming an integral part of modern design philosophy. Ms. Spiegel explains that “universal design recognizes the need for barrier-free living spaces, providing easy mobility, access and independence for people of all ages.”

Using an open floor plan with wider hallways and doorways, her carefully thought-out design eliminated anything that could form a barrier. Larger bathrooms were built with grab bars, counter-height vanities, lever faucets and anti-scald plumbing. Using a basic tenet of universal design, which is to design things from the outset that support easy access, lever-style door handles were used throughout the residence, and each and every drawer and shelf pulls out for easy access.

For the toddlers, there are two playrooms, a nursery, and lots of storage for playpens, strollers and toys. Between the arts-and-crafts studio and the arcade room, there is plenty to keep the most restless teenager happily occupied. Everyone enjoys the 18-seat movie theater, pool, cabana and double-sized great room. As would be expected in a house committed to making life as easy as possible, “smart home” technology in every room can control everything from heat and air, to security, lighting, entertainment, home theater and even the drapes via computer screen.

In this grand, lavishly appointed residence perfect for a large, growing family, the added luxury of an easy-access, barrier-free lifestyle is invisible to most people but offers independence to everyone.

Originally published in the December 2009 issue of ASPIRE Magazine