KBB - January 2015 - (Page 34)
A Perfect Blend of
Safety and Aesthetics
Today's accessible bathrooms don't have to look uninviting and institutional
There is a widely held misconception pervading all generations that
safety features in bathrooms lack aesthetic appeal and appear institutional. Many people have an almost visceral reaction to the thought
of installing safety products such as grab bars because they perceive
them to be solely designated for "old people" and are often in denial
about aging themselves. However, it is possible to create a bathroom
that is functional, safe and aesthetically pleasing with the principles
and goals of universal design. The objective is to design spaces that
are beautiful and comfortable, as well as less hazardous - no matter the
size, ability or age of the users.
Many clients desire a cool, trendy bathroom with the latest styles and
ﬁnishes. Others want a spa look and feel, but they also need ample storage and to stay within their budget. Develop ideas and designs to fulﬁll
your clients' requirements while deciding which universal design features
to incorporate so their bathrooms will be secure, efﬁcient and striking. Utilize words and phrases that would appeal to your clients, such as "spa
shower" and "light and airy." Educate them about universal design and
how it will beneﬁt them, and explain that even guests will be able to function well in the room, no matter their abilities or disabilities.
If a client has had hip, knee or foot surgery - or just wants to age in
their home independently - universal design features and products offer many great advantages. Unfortunately, many people ﬁnd out too late
how much incorporating those beforehand could have helped.
Natural and Aged Appeal
Of the universal design principles and goals - which were formulated
by Ron Mace and Ed Steinfeld, among others - several address safety:
* Flexibility in use
* Ease of use
* Minimizing hazards
* Requiring low physical effort
* Size and space for approach and use
Flexibility in use deals with the range of different users. Bathrooms
can have vanities with kneeholes that provide legroom for seated or
standing users. Design the bath so a right- or left-handed person can
use any vanity or single-mount faucet. A single-lever faucet on the side to
avoid reaching across the sink is especially helpful for a short person or
someone who has had a stroke and is limited to the use of only one side
of the body. Hanging vanities can be hung at any height.
With simple and easy-to-use features, everybody can use the space.
Storage functions best at point-of-use, exactly where it is needed and
accessible. A pullout or bank of drawers makes it easier to reach stored
items. Replacing a linen closet with a tall cabinet with pullouts gives added storage space that is easily accessible. A pullout step in the toe kick
of the vanity makes it easier for smaller children to reach the sink faucet
without climbing on the toilet or on top of the vanity.
Install eye-level lighting next to the vanity mirror, as overhead lighting
can cast stark shadows onto the face. In the shower, position a bench
with a handheld showerhead with its own controls within easy reach for
the elderly, persons recuperating or those with traumatic injuries to easily
transfer from a wheelchair.
Minimizing hazards, such as
slipping perils, is essential because
the primary objective should be
making the client's bathroom safe.
Good lighting aids in seeing what
one is doing, lessening chances of
falling and injury.
* Tubs and showers are areas
where a majority of accidents
happen. Tubs should have a wide
enough rim on which to sit and lift
the legs over and into them. The
wide rim also makes it easier to
Figure 1. An example of a tub
transfer from a mobility aid.
with potential fall hazards
* Look at some shapes of today's trendy freestanding tubs. Any person might struggle to lift a leg
high enough over the lip without losing their balance or catching a toe
and falling. The sliver of a rim gives no space to sit and pivot. These tubs
are sleek, but are they safe? Another risk concern is positioning a tub on
a platform with steps leading up. This tub area is potentially hazardous,
especially when wet (Figure 1).
* In the shower, a grab bar is helpful for a bench user or a standing
user to reach if dizzy or falling. Grab bars are often thought of as only for
the elderly or inﬁrm, but anyone can slip and fall. Nowadays you can
ﬁnd many that are attractive and functional at the same time. Decorative
grab bars ﬁt in seamlessly with the other plumbing and can double as
towel bars, soap dishes or toilet paper holders, as well as complement
* Removing the trip hazard at the shower threshold aids a wheelchair
or walker user - or even an elder worrying about entering the shower.
January 2015 / www.kbbonline.com / The Ofﬁcial Sponsor of KBIS www.kbis.com
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of KBB - January 2015
Show Director’s Note
People & Places
Before and After
KBIS 2015 and Design & Construction Week
The Glamorous Life
New Lines, New Look
KBB - January 2015