Of all the buzzwords that are associated with the 55-plus lifestyle, “storage” has to be near the forefront. As avid consumers, we accumulate “things.” Over time, these things get put away and are forgotten. Eventually, this can become unmanageable. So when the retiring homeowner wants to downsize, they find that this is easier said than done. The simple solution would be to donate or throw out what we don’t need, but the reality is that many homeowners aren’t willing to part with a lot of priceless items of personal significance.
So while 55-plus buyers want a more manageable home size, they don’t want to downsize on storage space. The basement is a great place to store items used sparingly, but what do you do in markets without basements? The attic might be a good alternative, but who wants to get on rickety pull‐down stairs to access it? Consider a permanent stair to the attic, making it a “Florida basement.” Adding spray foam insulation to the attic will not only make trips there more tolerable, but also help with preservation. If this is out of your budget, adding a radiant barrier to the roof is the next best thing.
Back inside the house, it's best to think about day‐to‐day storage solutions. This buyer has accumulated quite a wardrobe at this point. Garments alone can require copious storage, but there also are a lot of shoes. Expansive walk-in closets are a must, and separate walk-in closets are even better for the sake of keeping the peace in the household.
Moving to the kitchen, adults over 55 tend to start having fun with their cooking and accessorizing their kitchens. But with the new pastime comes additional appliances. Where do you store that giant lobster pot, the bread machine, or pasta maker? Television has highlighted the importance of presentation, so these homeowners might have flatware and china for every occasion. And who can forget the wine? They have to have a place to display and store the both the wine and the proper wine glasses. Are you getting the picture yet? The 55-plus buyer needs a lot of storage in and around the kitchen. I like a power pantry (extra‐large pantry) with an adjacent "messy kitchen"—a small anti‐room next to the pantry that can house the small kitchen appliances out of sight.
As this buyer prepares for retirement, they have more leisure activities. For many, it’s golf or tennis; others get involved with kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding. This is a time to try out new hobbies. With each activity comes a need for additional storage. Some items will be fine stored in the garage as long as you can still use it to park the cars. Adding an extra couple of feet in the garage is a big help. For items that can remain indoors, a dedicated “hobby” closet is appreciated. If your hobby is travel, for example, a suitcase closet is ideal.
I’ve often heard it said that the 55-plus buyer needs fewer but larger rooms. That’s only half the picture. They need fewer rooms but more storage to keep their open floor plans showcase ready. Downsizing after retirement is a challenge. Helping buyers figure out storage solutions is a thoughtful way to capture their loyalty.