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Archive for Universal Design

Dec 31 2014

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Zen Bath Reflects User-Friendly Elements for Both Homeowners


A homeowner with some medical issues wanted a bathroom with a Zen atmosphere – a space to refresh one’s mind, body and soul. Donna Schachne of Schachne Architects and Builders in Davie, Fla., created a space with clean, crisp lines and earthy elements incorporated into the design – two requests she fulfilled with wood materials, natural light, muted and natural colors and movement within the space.

Other requirements included:

-       A deep soaking bathtub adjacent to an open shower for treatment purposes.

-       A smooth transition from the shower to the tub. The designer included a staircase as a guide to the tub, as well as an elongated, trough-type sink counter to make it feel like one complete element.


-       An easy-access walk-in shower to accommodate the owners as they age. The design team cut out the existing concrete slab and incorporated a new sunken slab to accommodate appropriate slopes.

-       A hand-held showerhead for bathing and also for washing down the soaker tub.


-       A full-length mirror and make-up table – an element missing in the couple’s original bathroom.

The use of natural light was important to the homeowners. The design team used a few different tactics to accomplish this goal:

-       A Shoji-type door with translucent glass allows light to travel from one space to the next.

-       The glass transom around the toilet vestibule allows the feeling of continuation of the existing lower ceiling and the continuity of light between the main bathroom area and the toilet vestibule.


-       “Since this was a builder-type home, there was an overly high ceiling in the bathroom,” said Schachne. “We incorporated a suspended wood frame structure with patterned infill panels to allow light from above to filter down, thus keeping a human scale to the space.”


Being true to the environment was also an important goal with the bathroom remodel. According to Schachne, LED lighting was used to keep down the heat loads, as well as American-made plywood (no off gassing), a manmade concrete trough sink, low-flow plumbing fixtures and a duel-flush toilet.


C:UsersKennyDocumentsMorris Bathroom_062313 - PROMO(Recovery


Design Team: Donna Schachne and Ken Dyman, Schachne Architects and Builders

Photographer: Stan Schachne

Bathtub: Kohler

Cabinetry: Custom

Ceiling Panels: 3form

Doors: Woodgrain Doors

Hardware: Emtek

Mirrors: Electric Mirror Company

Plumbing Fixtures: Hansgrohe

Sink: Sonoma

Tile: Daltile

Toilet: Duravit


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Dec 12 2014

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The Most Valuable Things about Designing Baths

Toni Sabatino Style

Toni Sabatino Style

In our K+BB Designers Network LinkedIn Group, Mason Elliott, AKBD, of Unique Kitchen and Bath in Asheville, N.C., asked this question: What is the most valuable piece of information you have learned about designing baths in the last five years? We wanted to share the responses with you.

Molly McCabe, AKBD, CGP, CAPS, Owner/Principal Designer at A Kitchen That Works

To not specify a dual flush toilet inside a water closet that is 36 inches wide (or less); having to reach over the toilet bowl to push the actuator buttons is not a safe configuration for the long term.

David Stimmel, Owner, Senior Designer at Stimmel Consulting Group

I think the most valuable piece of bath information I’ve learned in the past five years is easy. ANYTHING GOES! In the past, we were locked into mundane products and uninspired trends. Now? Trends are global as are products.

There is a perfect faucet for every design and every application. Tubs are in every shape and size, and, if necessary, you can custom fabricate one easily. Would you even have considered custom fabrication of a tub five years ago?

Remember when we thought just having a fireplace was crazy in a bath? Now we do them often and can custom fabricate them with a click of a mouse. The ease at which we can create anything we imagine is truly incredible.

Cathy Osborne, Designer at Auer Kitchens

This is not trend-related, but over many years I have learned to not be afraid have intimate conversations. Not just “Do you want a 2-person shower?” There’s more. Do you both get in and out at the same times? Or is it more like two consecutive showers that overlap? The answer will impact the shape of the space, the valves and the shower doors, since with the latter the water is running continually as bathers hop in and out.

Know the benefits of a bidet and various washlet toilets, and find comfortable words to suggest how they might benefit from one. Be aware – and not afraid to note – that aging can cause “regularity” difficulties and can place high demands on flushing mechanisms. The same problem can also make people smelly. Two fans, maybe?

Regarding separate rooms for toilets: As mentioned, they need storage for toilet paper and feminine products and a small wash-up sink – before they touch that door knob. Tell your customer “Here’s the storage and the sink, and here’s why”.

Not especially intimate, but ask about vision. A person who does not feel “disabled” might still have trouble finding the soap without his contacts and may appreciate smart use of contrasting colors, as well as a hard-wired, lighted magnifying mirror.

Anne-Marie Harvey, AKBD, Kitchen and Bath Design Consultant

A separate water closet provides options, especially in homes with only one or two bathrooms. Many plans show a tub/shower in the room with a toilet, but that defeats the purpose of enabling two people to use facilities (like when they’re getting ready for work in the am) without grossing out or embarrassing one another.

Most homes with this feature have at least two and a half baths, so most likely you can find some privacy. But if you have kids or houseguests, it is possible that all other commodes would be occupied. As much as I love my husband, when I’m drying my hair and putting on my makeup, I have no desire to watch him on the potty. Once you’ve had an enclosed water closet, you will never want to be without one!

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May 11 2011

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New (inclusive design) tricks from an old friend

Last week in Las Vegas I had the wonderful opportunity to spend some quality time with old friends. KBIS was far smaller than in years past. It was possible to “walk the show” in one day with time for lunch and a couple of coffee breaks! In my quest to find product “inspiration” I found myself in the company of folks I have been doing business with for a long time.

Long-term relationships tend to get relaxed and blurry. You stop noticing the details. Who hasn’t experienced waiting three days for a significant person to notice a new haircut? (Are those new glasses?) Vendor relationships are the same.

Rev-A-Shelf is an old friend. I haven’t done a kitchen, bathroom or laundry area in years without specifying their inserts and pullouts. And that was the problem. I had gotten laid-back. I “knew” them.

Life is what you make of it. With my comfortable significant other (who only takes 1.5 days to notice a haircut) and a desk full of deadlines awaiting me at home, I could choose to either be annoyed at this less-than-scintillating trade show—or I can choose find inspiration by looking with new eyes.

Part of Environmentally Responsible Design (my passion) is Inclusive or Universal Design. It is truly Green Design. I challenged my old friends at Rev-A-Shelf to show me what products they felt should be incorporated in an inclusive and responsible design approach. These are some of the things they showed me:

Photo 1 electricassistrev
Electric Assist Trash Unit. Blum’s new Servo Drive technology allows the door to open and close with a touch of a finger, toe or knee. This trash unit comes ready to install from Rev-A-Shelf with Blum’s tandem heavy-duty slides and a dovetailed box to hold the trash receptacle. The cabinet can be opened manually in case of a power outage. The soft close never lets it slam.

• Servo-Drive technology is available from Blum and others separately for use in any door or drawer cabinets. A light touch anywhere on the door or drawer will open or close it. Think of the possibilities not only for “goopy fingers” but arthritic ones as well. It can be programmed to touch to eliminate “dog-tail” openings.

Photo 2 tambouttablerev
Tambour Table extends from the drawer slot of a 24-in. base. It locks to extend and contract, and is Carb 2-compliant for California (and indoor-air-quality-concerned) projects! We know this as convenient extra counter space but it creates the perfect prep area for folks in wheelchairs!

Photo 3 prepared pot drawerrev
New Chrome Accessories for organized and secure drawer storage of pots and lids, dinnerware, canisters, bowels, etc. Drawer inserts have been available for years. These offer a more modern approach without having to buy an entire European kitchen. In general, drawers are more easily reachable by folks in wheelchairs, children and anyone who prefers or needs a more ergonomically friendly storage solution than typical base or wall shelves. These inserts make drawers a flexible, easy and logical storage choice.

All these items are convenient and fun for the fit and fabulous, but they are indispensable for multigenerational and multimobility level households. While I have been in a comfortable haze not seeing them, Rev-A-Shelf (and others) have been busy working on things that are important and inspiring to me! Hmmm, maybe it’s time to take a fresh look at some other relationships…….is that a new haircut?

Thank you Rev-A-Shelf for reminding me that “golden” old friendships can provide the most welcome surprises.

Just a side note: Rev-A-Shelf chose to be one of the sponsors for the kick-off event at KBIS this year. It was a wonderful evening made even more so by spending it with old friends.

Roberta Kravette, AKBD, LEED AP ID+C

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Jul 21 2010

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Una toy kitchen

Industrial designer Job Buenazedacruz has created an innovative toy kitchen called the “Una,” which gives visually impaired children the ability to experience kitchen play.

Children learn by mimicking adults. The Una gives small children the ability to play freely. As a designer I am most impressed with the thoughtful design. The Una allows children to cook, wash and store items with ease.

The induction cooktop has bumpons marking the burner areas. When turned on, the elements glow for the sighted children and cooking sounds come from the speaker. In a real-world kitchen, the bumpons from 3M are added in the field to the induction hobs and raised letters, or Braille symbols are added near the controls.

una toy kitchen

Another one of my favorite features in this play kitchen is the motion-activated faucet. Instead of activating water, the speaker plays water sounds when motion is detected. In today’s kitchen, these motion-activated faucets are preferred because they provide consistent temperatures and reduce the spread of germs and bacteria since they do not need to be touched.

The Una kitchen also features an oven which plays a ticking sound and dings when the food is ready. The bottom of the oven is removable and converts into a grill that a wheelchair-bound child can play with at a table. Other features include open shelves for storage, a secret compartment and a magnetic chalkboard.

I think this is a brilliant toy. It is imaginative and is inspirational in all the functionality and fun a real kitchen should be. My only criticism is the power cord. If a rechargeable battery can’t be used then the Una toy kitchen should be positioned over a floor outlet.

Ann Porter

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