Imagine a bathroom that’s as accommodating for a 6-year old as it is for an 80-year old. This is the basic premise of universal design. The principles of universal design help professionals, such as architects and designers, plan spaces so that they’re accessible and easy for any person to use – no matter their mobility or age level. In the bathroom, this means considering aspects such as the floorplan, types of bathroom fixtures, the height of the sink and toilet, and more.
When you include universal design principles in your next bathroom renovation, it’s a smart move – both for your lifestyle now and as you age. Given that 76% of Americans over 50 say that they’d like to remain in their current residence, it’s safe to say that many people would like the option to stay in their home as they get into retirement. However, practical concerns like being unable to safely use the bathroom can force people to move out of their homes. Using universal design in the bathroom can help you stay in your home longer by making it safe and accessible.
Universal design can also help you in your home right now. For example, these design principles ensure that you can use your bathroom even you’re temporarily limited in mobility from an injury. Furthermore, universal design features in the bathroom, such as grab bars and non-slip floors, can even make it safer for children as well.
So, what are some specific aspects of universal design for bathrooms?
Convenient for bathing little ones and older folks alike, a handheld showerhead can also make it possible to shower while seated. A popular choice is a handheld showerhead that can also be mounted on the wall to serve as a normal showerhead when you’d like. This way, you have the best of both worlds. Alternatively, you can install one at a lower height as an alternative to your regular fixed-mounted showerhead.
A higher toilet can make sitting down and getting up from the toilet easier as you age. It’s also easier for wheelchair users when the toilet sits a bit higher. The ideal height for your universal design toilet is 16 to 18 inches high. If you have young children in the house, you can add a simple step stool for ease of use.
Consider opting for a floating vanity so that wheelchair users can slide their legs right under the sink. Stylish and attractive, floating vanities are wall-mounted which do not extend to the floor. The extra space underneath is useful for storing items like stools or toys for the kids.
Consider adding some safety features to your home’s bathroom. For example, you can install slip-resistant flooring to prevent slips and falls. Smaller tile works well for this purpose, or you can install specially designed flooring that doesn’t get slippery even when wet. You can also use a large non-slip carpet or mat that covers a large area of the floor.
Other common safety features include grab bars and motion-detector night lights. Grab bars should be placed around the toilet and bath or shower area. Motion-detector night lights can help ensure visibility issues don’t cause an accident and can plug right into any outlet.
With universal design, you can have a functional, beautiful bathroom that can be used comfortably now, as your family grows and into your later years.