Universal Bathroom Design
August 24, 2011
With a large number of baby boomers now entering their 50’s and 60’s, and X-Gens following right behind them, construction of universal design bathrooms is proliferating in the home remodeling industry. A universal design bathroom integrates the principles of this type of design, an architectural style that engineers a living area suitable for all levels of human development, with special attention to the later years, a time when mobility and perceptual competence may become an issue.
Components of a Universal Bathroom Design
Items found in such a bathroom include:
• walk-in bathtubs
• slide-in baths
• walk-in bathtubs with power seats
• slip-free tiles instead of carpets or rugs
• grab/pull-up bars
• anti-scald water control
Everything in a universal design bathroom allows someone to feel less limited, more independent and more secure when taking care of personal hygiene. In addition, accommodation for right and left-handed people provides further comfort and a sense of self-sufficiency.
Seven principles of universal design are implemented when remodeling a bathroom in this manner. These principles are:
• Equitable Use
• Flexibility in Use
• Simple and Intuitive Use
• Perceptible Information
• Tolerance for Error
• Low Physical Effort
• Size and Space for Approach and Use
As a contemporary blueprint incorporating environmental and ergonomic psychology, universal design intends to present a room arrangement in which anyone from a five year old to a 90 year old can utilize the fixtures in a facilitated and safe manner. However, this does not mean one of these “utilitarian” bathrooms has to be wholly functional and aesthetically displeasing. Attractive design ideas can easily be assimilated into the structural aspects of the bathroom, providing a pleasant visual experience as well.
Since older people tend to suffer from vision difficulties such as macular degeneration or cataracts, using colorful yet contrasting colors can help those who cannot see well enough to distinguish edges from other edges, or judge the amount of distance from the tub to the sink. You can inexpensively outfit a universal design bathroom with colors that contrast–red and black, blue and yellow, violet and pink. Replace colorless light switchplates with brighter ones that stand out against the wall color. Use this same idea for towels and washcloths as well.
Instead of round door handles that arthritic hands find difficult to grasp and turn, use levers that are easily pushed without the necessity of a firm grip. In addition, knob faucets are replaceable with levers that only need a gentle push to turn on the water.
Universal design bathtubs are available in a variety of styles, all of which provide effortless access as well as health benefits. Full walk-in bathtubs allow people to fully immerse their body in warm water, which can help eliminate insomnia; reduce muscle aches; increase circulation and alleviate asthma or sinus problems.
Installing grab bars in applicable areas of the bathroom is also another feature that is used by all age groups. In addition, these bars do not have to be made of metal but are now constructed of colorful, hard plastic which adds that important element of contrast for the visually impaired, as well as enhancing the beauty of the room.