K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Jul 03 2017

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A Design for Everyone

Photo Courtesy of Bestbath

Trends often come and go, but one necessity in the design world is here to stay. Aging parents are moving back in with families with small children, veterans are returning from war, and the Baby Boomer population is growing older. To address this hot topic, KBB hosted the webinar “Making Bathroom Design Work for Multi-Generational Living,” sponsored by Bestbath.

The Q&A at the end of the discussion covered common questions designers have and ways they can encourage clients who would benefit from universal design elements to include them in their baths. These questions were addressed by Julie Schuster of New York City.-based Julie Schuster Design Studio and Barb Mueller, president of Designs Anew Houston LLC.


Is universal design a positive when it comes to resale value?
It is certainly a positive when it comes to multi-generational use. All of these things that you put into a bathroom don’t have to be obvious, but buyers can realize how comfortable, easy and safe elements like a comfort-height toilet and grab bars are without knowing they are universal design elements.

What height is considered to be a low-threshold shower height?
Three inches is the highest. If you can get away with it though, a completely cureless shower is the best.

How do you keep water from escaping a curbless shower?
Use something like the Schluter system, which actually brings the water-proofing membrane outside of the shower. It won’t affect the area outside of the shower. Plus, be sure to still use shower curtains and doors.

What should the minimum tub deck width be?
There isn’t a real standard, but we would say six to eight inches. The very thin decks that are sculpturally beautiful are not exactly feasible for a universally designed bath.

Should there be more contrasting colors in the bath so different areas are easier to see?
Yes, for example, there can be tile around the shower so the homeowner can tell where the shower starts. The client should be able to discern where one thing starts and another stops, like if the countertop is a different color than the cabinetry, someone with failing eyesight can more easily find drawers and sinks.

Is a universally designed bathroom more expensive?
If you’re gutting a bathroom, a universal bathroom is not dramatically more expensive at all. The cost of products like grab bars and different pulls make little small difference in the price.

Other takeaways include:

-A huge portion of the U.S. population is considered morbidly obese. When designing for a larger person, be sure to create more space and include thoughtful elements like a bench in the shower.

-There are several ways to warm up a bathroom for an elderly family member. Heated floors and towel warmers are some options.

-Have the bathroom door swing outward rather than in. That way, if someone inside falls, a family member is able to notice and reach them quickly. 

What are your thoughts on universal design? Let us know on our Facebook page and on Twitter @KBBconnect.

This entry was posted on Monday, July 3rd, 2017 at 2:00 PM and is filed under Aging in Place, Bath Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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