Courtesy of Kohler
This barrier-free bathroom, designed and created by Cynthia Leibrock and Mary Beth Rampolla, features various grab bars and an open shower without a threshold.
What is universal design?
The term “universal design” comes from its all-ages, all-abilities approach to space planning. Universal design principles aim to make your life easier and safer. Do not make the mistake of thinking that universal design is only for those with disabilities.
How can universal design help in the bathroom?
There are plenty of opportunities for accidents in the bathroom; in fact, the National Safety Council estimates that nearly 300,000 people are injured in the bathroom every year. Universal design features can help make your bathroom a safer and more functional place, whether it’s a bathroom for one or a community space that is used by children and parents. For those with disabilities, universal design and NKBA access standards guidelines taken from the Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities code can create a bathroom with ample room to maneuver while placing fixtures at appropriate heights.
Can universal design be stylish?
Yes. In fact, universal design specialists such as Mary Jo Peterson, author of Universal Kitchen and Bathroom Planning: Design that Adapts to People, make sure that style does not take a backseat to functionality when it comes to incorporating universal design.
“One of the basics rules of universal design is if it doesn’t look good, it won’t work,” said Peterson, a certified kitchen and bath designer and president of Mary Jo Peterson, Inc.—a firm that is widely recognized for its work in universal design.
Today many major manufacturers have developed lines of universal design products that can match the décor of most bathrooms. “Many new universal design products look more like luxury and comfort items instead of assisted design,” says Peterson.
Can you incorporate universal design without doing a full remodel?
Yes, even if you are not redesigning your bathroom, you can purchase certain safety products that will make the tub, shower and toilet safer and easier to use for people of various ages. Many of these products are easy to install and can be purchased at affordable prices.