Wednesday 9 March 2022

How to Design an Accessible Bathroom

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Families are wonderfully resilient. Muddling along as best they can, no matter what happens. Parents get used to adapting to change and coping with new challenges every day.

Sometimes however, it makes sense to take a step back and instigate proper changes that make daily life much easier. And for many people an accessible bathroom makes a world of difference. But what makes a bathroom accessible and how do you design one? Well, every situation is a bit different, but here’s what to factor in when designing a stylish and accessible bathroom space.

Don’t be afraid to move it

Firstly, it’s important to factor in the cost of a whole new bathroom. Because a few small tweaks are unlikely to give you a satisfactory result. And before you start ripping out your current bathroom, ask yourself whether it’s the right space to put an accessible bathroom in the first place?

Sometimes you’re simply trying to fit a square peg in a round hole by sticking with the current location. Many bathrooms are on the wrong floor or just don’t have enough floorspace to be practical. Especially if you’re hoping to fit in both a bath and walk-in shower for ease. So, don’t be afraid to think outside the box, or in this case, room.

Plan it out properly

Once you’ve worked out the right location for the bathroom, you can move onto the planning stage. And wherever you decide to place it, your accessible bathroom needs to include some basic features.

The first of these is an adequate doorway. It may need to be wider than a standard doorway, and you need to consider how easy it is to open and close the door. Next, you’ll need to think about the floorspace and layout. You’ll need to work out how easy it is to move a wheelchair around, or for a parent to move a child around between facilities. Positioning the toilet near the door is great for emergencies, but will it get in the way of reaching the shower or sink?

For each area of the bathroom, you may need to leave extra space for grab rails and supports. And you’ll need to consider what height sinks and toilets need to be to make them accessible and practical to use.

If you’re having a shower enclosure, think about keeping the base or floor level with the rest of the bathroom floor and make sure it’s roomy enough. A sliding shower door may be easier to open and takes up less space than a conventional hinged door. Including a seat could improve the comfort. And a fully adjustable and flexible shower headset is likely to make things much easier.

Make it homely and stylish

Although there are lots of functional things you must have in an accessible bathroom, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t look nice. It’s your home after all and everyone wants a space they can enjoy and feel comfortable in. So, you don’t want it to look clinical.

For example, floating sinks are very practical for wheelchair users, but they’re wonderfully modern too. And taps with handles that easily flip up and down to work them, come in lots of fashionable finishes such as copper and matt black. Think about coordinating hand and grab rails with your taps for aesthetic appeal. Once only available in white, other options are now widely on sale. And if you can only find them in one colour, consider respraying them yourself.

Built-in storage is ideal for keeping the bathroom clutter-free and making it easier to move around. So, this is another area you can work your design magic, creating attractive alcoves with chic storage boxes or baskets.

Wet room tiles can be practical with non-slip textures and still have a luxury feel. Stone, terrazzo and wood effect tiles are just some of the examples with high anti-slip ratings you can consider.

If you’re not fully tiling your bathroom, then you may fancy brightening the space with bold paint or wallpaper. This is an easy way to make functional white suites and tiles feel less clinical and more homely.

Whatever the reason for making adaptions it is important to remember that the work you do should work for you and so whilst its great to take inspirations from other designs be sure to double check that the adaptions you make are making the bathroom space 100% accessible. 

Have you ever made any adaptions to your bathroom to make it more accessible for you or someone you live with? If you have any tips to share I would love to hear them in the comments below. 


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