Aging in place design, also known as universal design, is designing for your present and future needs. It’s inclusive design for people of all ages and abilities. The ultimate goal of universal design is to create a convenient, safe and functional space for all. Here are some tips on how to design a universally accessible bathroom.

Tips on How to Design a Universally Accessible Bathroom

Improve Functionality and Mobility

  • Firstly, create wide entry doorways and openings. A minimum of 36″ is recommended.
  • Secondly, plan adequate open space to comfortably move around your bathroom. Ensure there’s enough space to easily access the sink, shower and toilet.
  • Thirdly, it’s important to choose high contrasting colour finishes for the transition of floor spaces. This helps identify space limitations and prevent tripping. For example, don’t choose a white bathroom floor, white curb and white shower. Also, by adding a curbless walk-in shower, you eliminate the step-over. This provides safety and gives you an elevated design aesthetic. Curbless walk-in showers are the ideal design standard for everyone.
  • Fourthly, it’s important to include plywood blocking reinforcement behind all bathroom walls. This reinforcement is necessary for mounted cabinetry, toilets, shower seats and grab bars. Of course, the installation of grab bars is an essential component of universally designed homes. Not the sterile type of grab bars we’re used to seeing in hospitals. Rather, an attractive collection which includes, the toilet paper holder, soap holder and towel bars. These products are available in a multitude of finishes and styles, from modern-contemporary to traditional farm house.

Establish Solid Ground

Bathroom falls happen frequently due to wet floors. Therefore, to help prevent falls in the bathroom, non-slip floors are essential. When selecting tile, check for the tile-slip rating. As a general rule, choose textured tiles. They’re more slip-resistant.

Ensure Safe Water Temperature

Install anti-scald mixing valves to maintain a safe water temperature and volume. This will prevent burns when water pressure changes.

Take Control in Your Universally Accessible Bathroom

Install convenient, accessible shower controls. They can be placed anywhere, even outside of the shower stall. Install an additional hand-held showerhead on a slide bar near the shower seat. This will make controlling the temperature and showering easier in general. Plus, get shower-smart by installing a device where you can start your shower remotely using your cell phone. These products also feature user-memory for pre-set temperatures.

Get Hands-Free Fixtures

Select bathroom fixtures and accessories for ease of use. For example, we recommend a touchless faucet on a sensor with a pre-set temperature and a convenient automatic shut-off function.

Improve Illumination

During the design process, plan for a combination of ample lighting layers, including natural lighting. Good lighting is essential for daily tasks and cleaning. Moreover, it will help prevent falls and increase overall safety.

Use LED lights. They’re long-lasting, conserve energy and improve safety. Also, install dimmable switches for ambient lighting to control the intensity and glare. Consider adding a skylight. Especially if there is no other natural light source. Skylights provide a great deal of natural light.

A Universally Accessible Bathroom Has Accessible Cabinetry

Design bathroom cabinetry to accommodate pull-out or slide-out full-extension drawers. Also, add accessible shelving or niches in cabinets or walls.

Again, the key purpose of universal design is to create spaces that work for everyone. When you design a universally accessible bathroom, keep the above recommendations in mind. They will enhance your bathroom and help ensure it’s a safe space for all, without sacrificing style.

If you want to incorporate living-in-place design into your next renovation, look for designers and contractors who have experience in the area and be sure to ask for references.

By Yasmine Goodwin, Certified Aging in Place Specialist and owner of My Design Studio | Produced by RENO & DECOR

Launched in 1990, RENO & DECOR is Canada’s Home Idea Book, inspiring readers with the latest in tips and trends for their decorating and renovating.

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