Baby Boomers to Drive Home Design Over the Next Decade

February 26, 2019

By 2030, the number of people who are 65 and older will be larger than the number of people under the age of 18, for the first time in the nation’s history, according to recent U.S. Population Survey projections. The year 2030 is when the last of the baby boomer generation will turn 65. After that, one in every five Americans will be of traditional retirement age.

The aging population will reshape interior design over the next decade, according to the American Society of Interior Designers’ 2019 Outlook and State of Interior Design report, released last week.

The “traditional family household model is being replaced by more fluid, variable configurations based on lifestyle and social identity,” according to the ASID Outlook report. Single-occupant housing, shared housing, same-sex households, and single-parent households are all becoming more standard.

Here are a few characteristics worth considering with the aging population:

Accommodating aging in place: A growing trend of remodeling homes to accommodate older adults will likely continue, whether they are moving into a family member’s home or making their own home work as they age. Some of this may be tech-oriented design, such as supportive “smart home” additions for senior wellness with beds, flooring, lighting, window panes, toilets, and more. "Designers need to keep up with the changes and anticipate how new technologies may alter the design paradigm in the future,” according to the ASID Outlook report. There are five aging-in-place remodeling projects that have seen some of the largest growth from 2013 to 2017: Added lighting, such as task lighting; curbless showers; grab bars; nonslip floors; and wider doorways, according to a 2017 remodelers survey from the National Association of Home Builders.

Growth of shared homes: Older adults—particularly women 60 or older—comprise the largest demographic of Airbnb hosts (about 45 percent), according to a 2016 Airbnb study, endorsed by AARP. On average, hosts 65 and older earned $8,350 in supplemental income annually for a single property, as of April 2016. They may be using home sharing to supplement income or offset other expenses, the ASID report notes.

Saying the term “age in place”: Using the words “age in place” to describe renovations for the aging population may not be as enticing to baby boomers as the term “thriving in place,” suggests a separate 2016 report from Home Advisors. “‘Aging in place’ is a misnomer,” according to the report. “Whether we’re 25, 45, 65, or 85, our homes aren’t for aging. They’re for thriving. From pancake breakfasts with our kids and Sunday brunches with our friends to holidays with family, movie nights with our spouses and curling up with a good book, our homes are where we do the things we love to do, with the people we love to do them with,” according to the report. “Looking at aging in place through a new lens that acknowledges how we live–not just how long we live–will usher in a new generation of home-improvement projects that benefit the young, the young at heart, and everyone in between.”

ASID 2019 Outlook and State of Interior Design,” The American Society of Interior Designers (2019) and “This Demographic Will Drive Interior Design and Trends in Coming Years,” (Feb. 25, 2019)