Bathrooms can represent such a barrier to the handicapped. Short toilets, zero safety bars, slippery surfaces, doors that are not manageable, tiny spaces, and cluttered spaces can lead to serious falls, injuries and stress. And there’s no getting around the need to use the bathroom or to shower. I had tried to come up with a solution for safe bathing with little peace from fear of falling. I’ve purchased every shower chair concept out there and even installed a tiny ramp into the master bathroom shower. It still felt like I was taking my life into my own hands every time I transferred in, dragging a leg while trying to balance on wet tile.

Universal design has fascinated me for some time because if everything was designed from the beginning with everyone in mind, what a beautiful and inclusive world this would be. While most of us think we will be 80 when it becomes a concern, that is  not the case. Anyone can sprain an ankle or struggle with some illness at any point in life. When those moments come along, that is when we realize how important accessibility can be.

We have a beautiful master bathroom. A beautiful bathroom that I could not use. Estimates to make it accessible were insane. Simple changes ranged from $38,000 to $56,000. I had given up on making any changes at the moment when I received a call back from one of the contractors telling me that they would upgrade the bathroom as part of a community project. At first I was in disbelief. I could not fathom how or why this had happened, but I just looked up and said Thank You. Quality home remodeling helped us design a super open shower where I could simply transfer onto a bench to shower. They also worked with me to design a sink and counter that I could pull up to with ease. And the best part? We incorporated universal design concepts where it looks gorgeous and not medical.

Here is a picture of the master bathroom before. Needless to say, while beautiful, I struggled to get into the mini toilet room safely and I could not reach the sink. The shower ramp made things dangerous when water became part of the equation. I fought with the double door entrance into the bathroom because they would either block the shower or grab onto my chair.

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We took everything out and opened up the space. Wider spaces are so much easier to navigate.

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Then an open shower was built. That way I can easily transfer to a bench. The really important parts to the shower layout are safety bars and shower control locations. I can easily reach the controls without getting hit by freezing water.

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Then we made sink frames where there is space underneath so that I can pull under to use the sinks. We went with 34.5″ height for the counters.

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And finally it all came together!

Toilet space: open with bars for an easy transfer. The toilet is ADA height so there is no drop when  transferring.

Bath: I put in a tub where there is simply more space in the bathroom. Most tubs for handicapped are Beyond expensive and have lips where the door closes which would not help me.

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Shower: Notice the controls are easily accessible. I can reach them without risking a fall and I can keep the hand held spray  away from me until the water heats up. Also I can divert the water to the overhead shower head easily. Safety bars are around the shower. The bench is a depth of 15″ and the height allows for easy transfer.

 

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Sinks:  The faucets are ADA compliant so I can easily flick them on and control temps. The space under the sink is priceless. It brings me so much joy to be able to easily brush my teeth and wash my face without dripping everywhere. At 34.5 ” it’s a height where I can easily reach the sink and faucets.

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We designed a universally designed bathroom that is beautiful and not medical. Anyone will enjoy using it and everyone can! Imagine that.