Safety First, Bathroom upgrades that make sense for everyone in the family
From the moment you are born… you start aging. This indisputable fact makes ‘aging in place’ design, otherwise known as universal design, important for everyone.
Universal design is designing for the present as well as the future needs of homeowners, people of all ages and abilities. It may not be an imminent concern but implementing living-in-place design will ensure your home is adaptable for the future, which includes accessibility and improved liveability for you and your guests. The ultimate goal is to make the space convenient, safe and functional for all who enter.
At My Design Studio, we are very passionate about Universal design. In a series of upcoming articles in RENO & DECOR, we will be looking at all the elements that will help you to consider implementing universal design in your next renovation. Since this is the bathroom issue, we thought we would start with this all-important space.
Did you know that the bathroom is the most hazardous and accident prone room in your home?
More than 65 per cent of emergency room visits are due to bathroom falls. That’s a high percentage. Falls happen frequently due to wet floors and the limited space within which to manoeuvre. Whether you have mobility challenges or not, know that even a temporary injury presents a problem with all the bending and lifting required to access the tub, shower and toilet.
Improve Functionality And Mobility
Here are the top design elements when planning an accessible for all bathroom without sacrificing style. Let’s begin with creating wider entry doorways and openings. A minimum of 36″ is recommended.
Plan your new design to allow adequate open space to comfortably move around in and easily access all fixtures: sink, shower and toilet.
It is important to choose high contrasting colour finishes for the transition of floor spaces. This helps identify space limitations and will help prevent tripping. For example, do not choose a white bathroom floor, white curb and white shower. Use a white shower step with a darker contrasting floor so you can see where you are stepping.
By adding a curbless walk-in shower, you eliminate the step over. This gives you an elevated design, and provides safety and convenience.Today these showers are the ideal design standard for everyone.
With the rise of mounted cabinetry, toilets, shower seats and grab bars in the bathroom, it is important to include plywood blocking reinforcement behind all the walls. Of course, the installation of grab bars is an essential component of universally designed homes. These aren’t the sterile type of grab bars we are used to seeing in hospitals, rather they are part of 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.
Non-slip floors are one of the most important things to address in the shower to prevent falls. When selecting your tile, check for the tile-slip rating. As a general rule, choose textured tiles, as they are more slip-resistant.
Install anti-scald mixing valves to maintain a safe water temperature and volume as this will prevent burns when there are water pressure changes.
Install shower controls where they are the most convenient and accessible for you and/or a caregiver. Shower controls can be placed anywhere, even outside your shower stall. Or, get shower-smart and install a device where you can start your shower remotely using your cell phone. These products also feature user-memory for pre-set temperatures. Installing an additional hand-held showerhead on a slide bar, near the shower seat, will make controlling the temperature and showering easier in general.
Select bathroom fixtures and accessories for ease of use, considering which ones require minimal effort. For example, we recommend a touchless faucet on a sensor with a pre-set temperature and a convenient automatic shut-off function.
Plan for a combination of ample layers and natural lighting during the design process. Increasing the amount of light can prevent falls and provides overall safety by letting you see the details that escape us when it comes to performing everyday tasks, like cleaning.
Install layered lighting with LED lights; they are long-lasting, conserve energy and improve safety. The addition of a skylight is advisable as it provides a great deal of natural light, especially if there is no other natural light source.
Finally, install dimmable switches for ambient lighting to control the intensity and glare
Create Better Access
Design cabinetry to accommodate pull-out or slide-out full-extension drawers. Remember to add accessible shelving or niches in the cabinets or in the walls, this way you can place regularly used items at the front for easy access.
The key takeaway when incorporating universal design is to improve the functionality by creating spaces that work for everyone’s needs now, and in the future. All these recommendations will enhance your bathroom and help ensure it’s a safe space, 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.
We are certified in universal design and are avidly recommending and executing projects of this nature. We will be discussing the benefits of incorporating living-in-place design in every room of the home in upcoming issues, so stay tuned. In the meantime, stay safe and stylish.
Over the course of Yasmine’s 15-year career, she has developed, My Design Studio, the top independent decor centre servicing the residential construction industry in Southern Ontario. As a CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist) designer, Yasmine comes full circle on her passion for beautiful and sustainable design, by also adding design for living in place. my-designstudio.com