We're back after a very busy summer filled with interesting projects. In the coming weeks I'll share some of the design challenges we faced in the hope they will motivate readers to share their own projects, questions and solutions.
My favorite project of the summer was done for Baby Boomers who live in an upscale oceanfront condo in S. Florida. Although they had recently redone their master bath, one of the spouses had since suffered a disability and bathroom modifications were needed so the bathroom would remain functional and attractive for both. Given that they had already spent quite a bit of money on the first renovation, they hoped to keep the accessibility modifications to a minimum.
1. The biggest obstacle to functionality was the curb at the shower entrance. The disabled spouse accessed the shower via a wheelchair, and while able to stand and pivot onto a shower seat, walking was difficult and the 5" shower curb made it extremely difficult to navigate.
Our preference when adapting a shower for accessibility is to remove the curb and level the shower and bathroom floors so there is a smooth transition between both. We pitch the floor and adjust the shower drainage to include trench drains at either the shower entrance or back wall to catch any water from "leaking" onto the bathroom floor. In this case however, while the pitch was good, the shower floor was actually 1/4" higher than the bathroom floor. Our client wanted a simple, inexpensive solution so that that the shower floor would not need to be dug out, re-plumbed and re-poured to match the level of the bathroom floor.
2. The disabled spouse was using a free standing shower chair which was in the way when their partner used the shower
3.There were inadequate grab bars in the shower to aid the disabled spouse in standing once seated in the shower
4.The lowboy toilet necessitated the need for a toilet commode which both spouses disliked.
5.The entrance door to the master bedroom/bath suite was 30 " wide and was a tight turn for the wheelchair when coming into the master suite hallway. As a consequence, the walls and door trim were getting pretty beat up.
BEFORE – EXISTING BATHROOM
5” shower curb, narrow glass door entry, free standing shower chair
Lowboy toilet with commode; grab bars placement ineffective for client
Narrow doorway created tight access for wheelchair
1. Shower entrance – the 5” curb and glass doors and panels were removed so that non-slip stone tile matching the existing marble was installed as a sloped threshold.
2. A built in shower seat extending across the back of the shower was built to eliminate need for a free standing shower chair.
3. All the glass, doors and panels were removed. The ½ wall between the vanity and shower was built up so that we could install a grab bar at an appropriate height for the client’s use on the interior shower wall.
AFTER – RENOVATED BATHROOM
Curb-less entry shower, 36” frameless shower door,
built in granite shower seat, additional grab bars
The old toilet, commode and grab bars were removed and replaced with a Kohler Cimarron series, comfort height toilet and new grab bars on either side of the toilet better located for the client.
There was no room to open up the doorway given the configuration of the rest of the condo. We were able however, to gain an additional 2” in the doorway by installing swing away hinges and cutting a pocket in the wall for the door handle so that the door would lie flat against the hallway wall.