this old house tv project essex after exterior
Photo: Kevin O'Connor

A Redo for Aging in Place

When John and Julie Corcoran began casting about for a place near their home, in Essex, Massachusetts, for Julie's parents to live, they didn't have to look very far: A 1935 cottage on a wooded lot nearby happened to be available. But the 1,800-square-foot house, which became the current TOH TV project, needed more than just a run-of-the-mill remodel. Though Julie's parents are in good health, the Corcorans want them to be able to stay in the home as they grow older. So TOH general contractor Tom Silva teamed up with architect Sally DeGan, designer Keith Musinski, and the rest of the crew to build aging-in-place accommodations into the renovation. While the design stops short of supporting fully independent living for someone in a wheelchair, "the house can easily work for people with limited mobility and other age-related health challenges," says DeGan. Just as important, it feels comfortable and welcoming instead of cold and clinical. Read on to learn how the pros made the cottage accessible while preserving its coziness, quirks, and charms.

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