Friday, December 30, 2011

Universally Designed Bathroom

One of the primary reasons why we are building a home rather than taking advantage of one of the real estate bargains flooding the market is that we wanted a home where I could "age in place." Since I live with a brain injury, I am keenly aware that I can't take my health for granted. In addition to building around my current needs for sound proofing, trip-proof flooring and extra light, we also considered universal design elements on the entire first floor. In a broad stroke, this includes things like wide hallways, 36" doors, levers and pulls instead of knobs, rockers instead of switches, etc. But a big consideration was having a master suite on the first floor and  the second floor. 

For the time being, we'll be upstairs, next to our toddler son. When family and friends visit, they have a full suite to enjoy. As our parents age, we want our house to be a welcoming place for them. If something happens to me (or, God forbid, Niels or our son), having this suite ready is one less thing to worry about during that stressful time.

The bedroom and closet are ample, but it's really the bathroom where universal design comes to play. We had our vanity custom made because we wanted it open under the sink, but with drawers and storage easily accessible. We're really happy with how it's looking so far:

In order keep the clearance we needed under the sink, we opted for a vessel sink. We aren't fans in general of vessel sinks because they can be a bear to keep clean, but we settled on this square vessel sink from Kraus. We liked the shape (no curves for gunk to get caught under) and the fact that the faucet fits on the fixture, not behind it or on the wall. 
The faucet we're planning to use is the Delta Touch 2.0 hands free faucet. Especially since my mom has arthritis, anything hands free is an extra help.

Most standard ADA bathrooms include a wheel-in shower. Since we don't need a wheelchair ready shower at this point, we chose the low entry Sterling surround with removable bench. A fixed bench can be more of a hazard, so this bench will better meet our needs. I know I would have loved this shower set up after my last surgery. From a practical stand point, we love the storage niches and wish we would have put this in our shower as well.

Lastly, we wanted to install a few grab bars that went along with our "more modern than nursing home" aesthetic. The Moen At Home collection fits the bill by making dual purpose grab bars::

Toilet Paper Holder/Grab  Bar
Towel Holder/Grab Bar

Shower Shelf/Grab Bar
The only other consideration we made with the layout is that we allowed lots of space for a chair to maneuver, so the finished room may look a little sparse compared to other suites, but the function fits the form.

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