Embrace the principles of universal design to ensure people of all ages, sizes, and abilities can conveniently and effectively use your bathroom.
The theory of universal design states that your home should be accessible to all people, regardless of their age, size, or ability. Embrace the principles of universal design and outfit your bathroom with elements that will make moving throughout the space easier for everyone.
Many homes feature a half-bath or powder room on the first floor. But the principles of universal design require outfitting the main level of your home with a full bath to make it easy for people of all ability levels to access the area.
Most doorways range from 30 to 32 inches wide. Opt for a 36-inch-wide doorway to make it easier for people who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices to gain entry into the bathroom.
Make sure your bathroom has at least 5 feet of open floor space. The wide open area will allow people in wheelchairs to a make a 180-degree turn if necessary.
Lighting is an important element of any room in the house. Add adequate lighting in the entry, vanity, and shower areas in your bathroom to illuminate them for all users.
Outfit your bathroom with slip-resistant flooring to ensure people of all ability levels can move seamlessly throughout the space, even when the floor is wet. Small mosaic tiles or larger tiles with wide grout lines provide good traction. Avoid marble, as that is the most slippery when wet.
Expert tip: Opt for a medium- to large-size area rug rather than a flimsy bath mat that can often get kicked around throughout the day.
Most toilets range from 14 to 15 inches tall. Outfit your bathroom with a taller model, such as this 16-inch model, to make it easier for people with limited mobility to take a seat.
Floating vanities not only look great, but they come in handy for universal design, too. With the cabinet mounted directly on the wall, users in wheelchairs can tuck their legs in beneath the unit to gain access to the sink.
When choosing a faucet, it's important to keep in mind how people with limited mobility will use it. A single-lever design can be turned off and on with an open palm or a closed fist, which makes it the perfect addition to a universally designed bathroom.
All bathrooms should come equipped with plenty of storage options. Rather than standard shelving, outfit your bathroom with between-the-studs solutions. Unlike normal shelves, these storage niches don't jut out into the space in front of the wall, which reduces the likelihood that someone will try to grab onto them for stability.
Boost safety and ease of use by installing grab bars in certain areas of your bathroom. Place bars near the toilet and in the shower and bathtub to ensure people with limited mobility have something to grab onto for stabilization.
Walk-in showers make a striking style statement and are an excellent addition to bathrooms designed with universal principles in mind. With no lip marking the entrance to the shower, walk-in models allow people in wheelchairs or who have limited mobility to move in and out of the space with ease.
Outfit your shower with a wide bench to add loads of functionality. On one hand, the bench can serve as a perch for people with limited mobility to sit on while bathing. Or, when not in use as a seat, the bench can be used to store bathing necessities.
Outfit your shower with multiple showerheads to increase both effectiveness and luxury. Installing showerheads at various levels throughout the shower makes it easy for people of all sizes to scrub down. Include a handheld showerhead for people who might need to sit while bathing.
Grasping around for towels is a pain for everyone, but it can be especially taxing for people with limited mobility. Hang towel or robe hooks right next to the shower to ensure they're easily accessible for everyone.