Top design tips for an accessible bathroom

Is your bathroom looking a little long in the tooth? Is it not quite as easy to use as it once was?

These days, there are more things to think about than just what new faucets and tiles you should buy.

You will want to ensure that your bathroom will serve you and your familys’ future needs. Whether these needs are temporary or permanent, you will be glad you implemented the following changes.

Top bathroom design tips

  1. Accessible bathroom on the main level of your home. This will ensure that all your friends and family can come and visit, regardless of their age and abilities. TIP: If you have more than one floor you should have a second accessible bathroom near the bedrooms.
  2. Door width of 32in/81cm (min). As an alternative the door could open out from the bathroom, or you could replace a swing door with a sliding door (similar to a barn door). They look great and don’t take up as much room. Doors should have lever-style handles on them throughout your home.
  3. Clear floor space (circle) of 60in/1.5m. This will allow somebody in a wheelchair to maneuver comfortably. TIP: if you install a wall-mounted sink and toilet you can gain several extra inches of valuable floor space.
  4. Grab bars. Install a few grab bars in handy locations now like beside the toilet and in the shower for family and visitor safety. You can add more as the need arises. TIP: look for stylish grab bars that double as towel rails, toilet paper and soap holders.
  5. Roll-under sink. This means there is open space underneath to sit at in a chair or wheelchair. TIP: a sink which is set into a cabinet or countertop is the sturdiest and allows you to choose the best countertop width for that space. If you have the room, an ideal solution would be to have 2 sinks at different heights.
  6. Single-lever faucets with thermostatic mixer. This mixer will help safely control the water temperature and prevent scalding. The single lever will make it easy to achieve your perfect water temperature with one hand.
  7. Appropriate mirror height over the sink. Mirrors that reach down to the countertop work well for tall and short people. Adjustable mirrors are available but large fixed wall mirrors also help to enlarge the space. TIP: for a designer look, think about unusual placements and treatments using mirrors, such as in corners and floor to ceiling installations.
  8. Curb-less shower. Make sure your accessible shower has no curb/or lip to step over and is a minimum size of 36in/91cm by 36in/91cm.  TIP: Remember to include a non-slip shower floor and a seat.
  9. Adjustable-height showerhead (with single-lever faucet). A hand-held shower head can be raised or lowered on a fixed vertical bar. Include a thermostatic mixer for safety.
  10. Comfort height toilet. This taller toilet is great for tall people and those with bad knees and backs. Adjacent to the toilet, include at least one transfer area with grab bars.
  11. Bright general lighting. Put all of your lights on dimmers for maximum flexibility. TIP: Lights mounted on either side of the vanity mirror do not cast shadows.  Including a form of night lighting will increase safety and convenience for those midnight bathroom trips.
  12. D-handle style hardware for cabinet doors and drawers. Avoid knobs as they can be difficult to grasp.
  13. Storage. Include both open and closed storage. Locate storage within the ideal reach zone of 15-48in/38-123cm, above the floor. That way everybody can find what they need easily.

Do you want an even more fabulous bathroom?

Take your bathroom to the next level

  • Increase the turning circle to 71cm/1.8m to enable the use of power wheelchairs and scooters. This extra space will add a real feeling of grandeur to the bathroom.
  • A built-in shower bench is always useful. Or perhaps a flip-up shower seat. A couple of  built in shower niches staggered between the heights of 15-48in/38-123cm, would be a welcome feature.
  • Add a bath if you have the space. Separate from the shower it would have wide edges to sit on while transferring, or for parents or caregivers to use. You could also consider a walk-in bath.


Plan well to ensure a comfortable future

Taking your time now to plan a new bathroom will ensure you get exactly what you want.You can test-drive products and take advantage of any sales. Consulting with an interior designer will help you get the best design possible for your budget.

Don’t wait until an emergency arises and you are forced to make some quick changes to your bathroom. That is a recipe for spending too much money and making uninformed bad decisions.

Traditionally bathroom renovations or additions have a high return on investment and with accessible design at the core of your new bathroom, you will also be investing in yourself and your future needs.

Read about the top 15 ways to use accessible design in your kitchen.

Read about accessible entrances.