Spacious. Luxurious. Exquisite attention to detail. Handicap accessible - that's not the first adjective that jumps to mind with Karen Roche's home, but it's the crucial one. Roche designed this sprawling brick Chillicothe home after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and her husband, Ed, was diagnosed with cancer. The couple was still living in Las Vegas, where they had retired, but they decided to move back to Illinois to be close to her family.
Spacious. Luxurious. Exquisite attention to detail. Handicap accessible - that's not the first adjective that jumps to mind with Karen Roche's home, but it's the crucial one.
Roche designed this sprawling brick Chillicothe home after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and her husband, Ed, was diagnosed with cancer. The couple was still living in Las Vegas, where they had retired, but they decided to move back to Illinois to be close to her family.
"Ed died two months after we moved in," says Roche, who shares the home with her three dogs, Lizzie, Pepper and Sammy.
Roche's home, a perfect example of the new trend called universal design, is one of several homes on this year's Christmas on 6th Street, a holiday home tour hosted by the First United Church of Chillicothe. Her home will be decorated for the holidays by Picket Fence of Chillicothe.
Universal design goes by many names: Barrier-free design; accessible design; even assistive technology. It's everything from wide hallways that can accommodate wheelchairs or scooters to easy-open doors with lever handles to counters with varying heights. And it's growing in popularity with baby boomers who want to age in place and live at home as long as possible.
As Roche has done it, it's subtle.
"I designed most of the home from the home we had in Las Vegas. This is my third home so I knew what to tweak."
Her sprawling ranch in Sycamore Hills, one of Chillicothe's newer subdivisions, has additional examples of universal design including: cabinets with pull-out shelves, ramps to the garage and main patio, and tile and laminate instead of carpet, which is easier to clean and use a wheelchair on.
She also installed automatic windows that open with the push of a button, a whole-house intercom system, computerized lights and an automatic doggie door.
"You can turn off all the lights in the house from the bed," said Roche, adding she can also turn on all the lights from her special keychain as she drives into the subdivision. "This is a smart house - to a certain extent."
The lighting is also programmed so she can push one button and light, for example, all the hallways.
The Roches spared no expense in creating this dream retirement home. Indeed, Roche found most of the things she wanted - custom cabinets, a special jet-powered shower from Canada, black granite with bits of mirror imbedded in it for her dressing table - while in Las Vegas.
Imported Italian tile in a warm golden hue that matches the walls is the backdrop for Roche's collection of eclectic yet comfortable furnishings. From her plush, pale yellow brocade sofa, Roche cozies up to her large, brick fireplace, which is open to the sunroom on the other side.
The sunroom, with three walls of oversize windows, faces west and has entrances to Roche's two private gardens - a larger, sunken brick patio for family and guests includes a corner waterfall while the smaller patio is just off the master bedroom suite.
"If I have the windows open, I can hear the waterfall. That's my most favorite thing," says Roche.
The tiled sunroom also includes a massive therapeutic spa, which is outfitted "with special jets to get every part of your body, even your feet and neck."
Meanwhile, Roche's gourmet kitchen has custom maple cabinets that blend in with her overall neutral color scheme. The granite island includes a cooktop steamer, grill and griddle with an exhaust fan that raises up from the countertop with the push of a button. A separate five-burner gas stove from Wolf is also built into the granite island.
Two Fisher & Paykel dishwashers, one on each side of the sink, slide out like drawers and blend in with the cabinetry. Actually, everything is built-in - the double ovens, microwave and warming drawer and oversize stainless steel refrigerator - giving the kitchen a sleek look.
"This really is more kitchen than I need, but we have all the family holidays here," Roche says.
Though the home is 3,000 square feet, it only has two bedrooms. The large master suite has French doors that open to a private patio, and a walk-in closet that is as large as a small office. It, too, has built-in cabinetry.
The bathroom off the master has a deep "bubble" tub big enough for two that includes special lights you can change to fit your mood, as well as a shower that doubles as a steam room. The maple vanity fills an entire wall and is topped with striking black granite with bits of real mirror.
Both her bedroom and bath are the same creamy vanilla color found throughout the house.
"I just love this color. We had it in our Las Vegas home so I had Sherwin Williams in Las Vegas send samples to Sherwin Williams here. I'm going to have this same color when I move again."
Jennifer Davis can be reached at (309) 686-3249 or email@example.com.