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Bathroom Design: Accessibility (Part II)

 Bathroom remodel in Bryan / College Station, by Stearns Design Build. Very open, and deceivingly big.

Bathroom remodel in Bryan / College Station, by Stearns Design Build. Very open, and deceivingly big.

If you’re really serious about making your bathroom accessible, you can replace or adapt your major bathroom features including your toilet, sink(s), shower, and bathtub.

  • Your toilet should be ADA designed, normally about 16.5 inches high (excluding the seat).
  • At least one sink should have a break in cabinetry underneath it so that a wheel chair can fit below. This sink can also be wall mounted, with storage that would usually be located in a below sink vanity placed elsewhere.
  • Your shower should be curbless to prevent the possibility of tripping and to ensure smooth access for a person in a wheelchair or on crutches. There are lots of sleek shower drains available that help keep your barrier-free shower from flooding your bathroom. If you plan on having a curbless shower, you might consider tiling most of the wall space (& all of the floor space) in the remainder of your bathroom. This will prevent mold or damage to drywall if water splashes these areas.
  • The tub in your accessible bathroom should have a pull down seat, or seat built into the surround. Or, you can select a bathtub with a door that allows you to walk into it instead of climbing over the surround. Bathtub faucets should be near enough to the seat or walk-in entry to be within easy reach while in use.
  • Grab bars should be installed around the toilet, in the shower, and near the tub. These bars can be horizontal, vertical, L-shaped, or diagonal. The variety of options means you can find the perfect fit for your needs and design desires.

For ideas to get you moving towards having an accessible bathroom, refer to Part I of this blog! And don’t forget to explore green materials and design techniques for your bathroom. Your accessible space can be functional, efficient in its water use, beautiful, and long lasting if thought is put into the its design and construction.

Bathroom Design: Accessibility (Part I)

 Bathroom remodel in Bryan / College Station, by Stearns Design Build. We took advantage of the space that was available, and opened it up.

Bathroom remodel in Bryan / College Station, by Stearns Design Build. We took advantage of the space that was available, and opened it up.

Incorporating characteristics into your bathroom that allow for ease of access, no matter your range of mobility, adds longevity and adaptability to your space. This is especially important if you’re approaching the elder years of your life. And even if that isn’t the case, you might still want to make your bathroom accessible in case of a sprained ankle or other unforeseen injury. Whatever your reasons for considering adding ease of access to your bathroom, here are some suggestions to get you started!

  • Start with the actual space of the bathroom. The bathroom should be large enough or at least have a large enough area for maneuverability. This should be a space with a clear five foot radius.
  • The entry into your bathroom is crucial as well. The door should be at least 32 inches wide and should swing outward so that if you slip when inside and can’t get up, someone can get in and help you. If you don’t have space for this kind of swing, a pocket door is also an option!
  • Materials for flooring should be slip resistant and impact resistant. Don’t forget to look at sustainable options with recycled content.
  • Sink faucets should also be easy to operate with either lever handles or a single handle, so that someone with only one available hand or not a lot of strength can use them.
  • Handheld sprayers are good to incorporate in the shower or bathtub areas and should be mounted so that someone at seated or standing height can reach them.

We hope these thoughts are helpful to you and your plans for an accessible bathroom! Be sure to check out our Part 2.

Bathroom Design: Creating Spaciousness

Bathroom Design: Creating Spaciousness

Having a bathroom that’s light and airy can brighten your mornings as you get ready for your day, or sooth your evenings as you relax and rest. Incorporating some of these design elements can do the trick!

  • Mirrors serve an obvious function in your bathroom, but can also help visually expand perceived space. If, for example, the mirror over your sink extends to a ceiling or adjacent perpendicular wall, it can seem to double the size of your bathroom. Mirrors also reflect light. The more natural light in the space, the more cheery & bright it becomes.
  • If possible, have at least one window or skylight in your bathroom. Soft natural light will make your bathroom more peaceful and enjoyable.
  • Depending on the needs of your bathroom (whether it’s completely private or a shared bathroom) design to include half-walls or glass partitions instead of full walls. This really opens up the space. An example of this idea is a seamless glass partition for your shower.
  • Adding creative storage space is a must, and ensures that your bathroom countertops remain uncluttered. This storage space should be functionally located near the sink or shower. It could include built-in nooks or cubbies, or open shelves. These take up less visual and physical space than cabinetry and allow for custom sized spaces to fit shampoo, soap, hand towels, or anything you might need quick access to.
  • Focus on details, just like in your kitchen. It’s the small touches that can liven up the space and add character. These details can shine through in floor tile, wall tile, cabinetry, or fixtures.

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Bathroom Design: Powder Rooms

 Bathroom remodel in Bryan / College Station, by Stearns Design Build.

Bathroom remodel in Bryan / College Station, by Stearns Design Build.

Your powder room is probably the smallest room in your home. As such, it has even more need to be designed with thought and ingenuity! Here are some ways to make your powder room more comfortable and functional.

  • Sometimes the ceiling height in your powder room feels exaggerated and too high because it’s such a small space. To bring the ceiling height down, install a molding at countertop height, sink height, or windowsill height. This brings a more comfortable human scale to the room and also adds a nice depth of detail.
  • The placement of your powder room is essential as you want users of the room to have privacy. Locate the powder room in a convenient spot in your home depending on your needs. Some common locations are near the back door, close to the front entry, or off of the main living areas.
  • Try not to have the powder room door directly in view from living spaces in your home. Also, hide the toilet so that it’s not the first thing you see when you enter the powder room or when the door is left open.
  • Natural light in your powder room can really cheer up the space. If your powder room doesn’t have an exterior wall, a clerestory or high window (above standing eye level) can be utilized to glean light from an adjoining room such as your living area, or other bathroom. When discreetly done, this is a nice addition to the space.
  • Having a mirror in your powder room is not only functional but also helps the room feel larger and full of light. Make sure the mirror is placed at a good height so guests won’t have to strain to use it.
  • Be sure there is ample storage space in your powder room. You’ll need a place for hand towels and extra toilet paper rolls. Storage can be as large as a linen closet or as small as cubbies around your mirror or window—it all depends on your space, your needs, and your style.
  • If your bathroom fixtures need updating, select low flow options as replacements. These will help you conserve water and save money on your water bills.
  • The materials for your powder room should be easy to clean and maintain. Choosing, for example, tile flooring instead of carpeting allows you to quickly mop up. Don’t forget to include green and sustainable materials in your list of choices. Powder rooms are small and therefore might seem insignificant, but they are a great way to begin incorporating green design into your home.

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