When planning a home renovation it is wise to prepare for the future and incorporate accessible design features which will allow you to live in your home for as long as possible.

Accessibility Features for the Bathroom

During a bathroom renovation, if you’re not yet ready to add grab bars, consider reinforcing the walls behind the tiles with plywood. This will give you a sturdy base to screw into when you’re ready to add the grab bars. Remember, these grab bars will have to hold your weight. You will require this type of reinforcement on the walls in the shower area, as well as near the toilet.

Showers work best as you age. Stepping in and out of a tub may no longer be an option. If you’re converting a tub to a shower, do a curb-less shower and a linear drain. Stepping up over a curb can be difficult and if you have a walker you can roll right into the shower. Don’t forget to add a bench which makes washing that much easier.

Make sure the bathroom floor tile has lots of grip by using a mosaic with lots of grout lines or a non-slip tile. Polished stone is not a good idea as it is very slippery.

Widened Doorway Entrances

Widened doorway entrances are essential when using a walker or wheelchair. I suggest opting for 30” or 36” openings which will provide the much needed extra space. Also, wider bathroom door entrances will better accommodate a personal support worker, if needed in the future.

One Floor Living

As you age you may no longer have the ability to walk up stairs. Therefore, plan a renovation that creates “life all on one floor”. The main level of your home should include the kitchen and laundry room, a bedroom and bathroom, and a space for entertaining. It doesn’t matter if you have a dedicated laundry room or a stacked unit in a closet, avoiding stairs makes a difference.

There are many things to think about when accessibility renovating for the future. Hiring a Design Professional to assist with the planning and ensure you get it right, will be about 10% of the over-all cost. It‘s definitely worth it to get the advice of a Design Professional before you swing a hammer!

Glen Peloso, Principal of Grafus Design Co., has been providing design inspiration for over a decade. A well respected name in the design world; Peloso has appeared as television design expert on Restaurant Makeover, Take This House and Sell It and the Marilyn Denis Show.

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