7150 Artisan Woods, Grand Rapids, MI

This new single family home, situated on a 1- 1/2 acre wooded lot was designed for a single, retired college professor. At 75 years of age when she commissioned the work, the client wanted a “last, best house” that satisfied her desire for a beautiful home which reflected her taste, travel experiences, and interests, while also planning for the needs of her advanced old age. This required full integration of accessible design principles combined with a simple and compact plan for economical operation and easy housekeeping.

Modestly sized (2546 excluding the garage), the house is divided between two floors. The walk-out lower level (approx. 930 sq. ft.) is designed to accommodate visiting family (the owner has four adult children, all with families of their own), or a future live-in aide. The main floor is 1613 sq. ft and is organized around a central courtyard. The owner’s everyday requirements are met by the spaces on this floor which include a front entry, powder room, living and dining room, eat-in kitchen, master bedroom with master bath, dressing room and laundry, mud room entry, home office and a “work room” which the owner uses as a place to pursue craft and gardening projects. Adjoining the house is a deck that permits two separate sitting/dining areas and allows access to the surrounding grounds. It is punctuated with a screened-in “teahouse”.

The owner’s affinity for Japanese art and architecture was the inspiration for the Japanese courtyard/garden which is ringed by an “ungaro”: an elevated walkway, bordering the garden, and is sheltered by the deep overhanging eaves. Other features include a wall of shoji screens separating the master bedroom from the main house, a “tokonoma” niche, and a cedar soaking tub which is positioned for a view onto the courtyard.

Special casework and cabinetry was designed for the master bath and kitchen to allow accessibility and many other features were included to more sympathetically accommodate an older person’s abilities. Among these are wall hung toilets and bath/powder room countertops positioned for wheelchair use, barrier free master shower, low height kitchen wall cabinets, step lighting at the interior stairs, extra wide doorways and accessible thresholds throughout.

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