Bathroom Designs for Aging in Place

Have you found the perfect home in your ideal location and plan to stay long-term?  No more packing your life into boxes and moving?  It is exciting to get settled into a home where you plan to raise a family, see your kids move on as adults, and perhaps age in place.  Just like your family evolves over time, your home design must adapt to fit your stage of life.

A bathroom design is no exception.  If you are planning for aging in place, or just want to make your home more accessible, make sure your next bathroom remodeling project is up to the task.  The bathroom can be one of the trickiest places to navigate when mobility is a concern, and it is a room where you want privacy in a comfortable environment.  There are many ways to alter your bathroom to make it a safe, accessible place, without sacrificing style. 

Here are 10 ways to create an adaptable style that will take you smoothly from one stage of life to the next, and make your home more accessible to everyone.

1.       Doorway: make an easy entrance to the bathroom with a wider than normal doorway.  This will allow ready access for any level of mobility.  Consider a lever handle instead of a doorknob as it is easier on the hand.

2.       Shower vs. tub: opt for a shower over a tub as accessible tubs are hard to come by and can be prohibitively expensive. Large, curbless or open style showers like the one shown below left are very on trend, and are the best option for aging in place.  Consider incorporating multiple showerheads into a bathroom renovation, including a handheld, to make comfortable bathing much easier. 

3.       Take a seat: a built-in shower seat, like the ones pictured above, offers a comfortable place to rest while bathing.  This is a popular, spa-style design element that also provides simple bathing solutions in the future.

4.       Rails and grab bars: add a shower rail to make showering safer and easier, and perhaps grab bars near other key locations like the toilet.  These bars are available in an array of attractive styles and finishes to complement any design, so they do not give an institutional appearance.

5.       Toilet height:  sitting and standing can be more difficult when you age.  A comfort-height toilet sits 2-3” higher than a standard toilet and is designed to make it easier to get on and off the seat.

6.       Slip-resistant: bathrooms are prone to moisture, which can lead to slippery surfaces and unsure footing.  Choose a flooring material that is slip resistant to minimize the risk of accidents, like textured tiles or vinyl.

7.       Lighting: adequate lighting is critical to being able to see clearly and move safely around the bathroom.  Use natural light where possible or sconces around the mirror to reduce glare, instead of relying on overhead lights.  Include night lights or toe kick lights to make it easier to see when getting up during the night.

8.       Sink and vanity: your vanity configuration and sink height make a big difference when designing for accessibility.  Multi-level vanities accommodate people at different heights and even allow for sinks at multiple heights.  Make sure you think about where to place mirrors to suit the people who will be using the bathroom.

9.       Storage: add purpose built storage wherever you need ready access to toiletries and other items, particularly in the shower and vanity.  Make sure the storage is handy, perhaps with pull-out shelves, so you can easily access everything you need.

10.   Keep it simple:  by simplifying your bathroom remodeling style, you make it easier to navigate around the room and reduce the possibility of bumps and bruises.

If you are considering a bathroom renovation, think about the stage of life when you anticipate using this space.  Create an adaptable design by following these 10 tips for designing a bathroom for aging in place.  For more bathroom ideas for aging in place, visit our design gallery here.  Or, contact us today to find out more about accessible bathrooms styles.