This paper explores the interrelationship between space, control and identity as seen through the eyes of older people living in a range of “home situations”. The housing circumstances of the elderly are becoming critical for a number of interrelated reasons: firstly the proportion and absolute numbers of older people are increasing as people live longer; secondly many older people have only modest financial resources which restricts their choices, including housing; thirdly, state resources for the care and housing of the elderly are also limited; and finally social trends suggest that a high proportion of the population will continue to find it difficult to care for aged relatives in their homes because of small family sizes and geographically dispersed family structures. Therefore increasing numbers of older people are forced to seek different housing circumstances as their physical mobility and health deteriorate over time. Our homes play a fundamental role in helping to structure and manage our lives. The design, quality and standard of the home environment are critical factors in determining how we live and also how we are regarded within society. Given the weaker socio-economic position of older people and their likelihood of spending greater time within the home, the dwelling environment is a particularly significant place for them, and arguably may be of greater importance to them than other age groups (Rowles, 1973). At the same time housing in later life may be constructed as movement along a continuum with independent housing at one end with institutionalised care at the other. This path is characterised by physical moves often to smaller spaces which may be judged “more suitable” for older people. Various surveys indicate that many older people would prefer to remain in their own home (Gilroy, 2002) while some anecdotal evidence reveals some older people (with economic means) extending their space in later life.Based on reviews of literature and a small-scale qualitative study, including in-depth interviews with older people in a range of housing situations in northern England we will examine the key factors which impinge on the quality of life of older people. We will draw on a number of theoretical frameworks, including the concept of space as part of a command and control agenda placed on older people through ageist constructions of older lives as narrower lives. We will also draw on role theory (Hooyman and Kiyak, 1996) to examine the loss of role (usually the role of worker) on retirement and the way older people are encouraged to fill the void with other roles including volunteer (often disparaged by professionals), tourist (available only to the better off) and grand parent. Earlier studies of older people in sheltered housing suggest that the care of grand children in the grandparental home may be jeopardized by lack of space. This in turn may reduce the roles offered to older people and damage the delicate balance of equity and reciprocity in family relationships.We plan to interview and document the housing histories and current space use of no more than 12 individuals. These will be selected using snowball sampling, drawing initially on older people linked to organisations and networks, whose active engagement with the research will be encouraged (Peace, 1999; Gilroy, 2003). Interviews will be tape recorded. The housing situations to be studied range from the completely independent, to being entirely dependent and include: people living independently in their family home; people still living in the family home following changes of space use and behaviour patterns (e.g. living on the ground floor); older people who have made physical changes to the environment (e.g. building downstairs bathroom; introduction of ramps); people living largely independently in sheltered accommodation; older people in residential care; and finally those in nursing homes. Each of these examples will illustrate the various coping mechanisms used and the analysis will explore how changes in the size, configuration and status of the different dwelling situations impact on the self-image, identity and social roles of the older people concerned. The paper will discuss how a positive sense of self in later life may be related to the qualities of housing space and the degree of control or success of coping strategies used.