3 Essential Tips For Age-In-Place Bathroom Design

March 9, 2023

Creating an age-in-place bathroom design is essential for homeowners designing a custom home that they plan to remain in as they get older or for multigenerational families. To ensure a safe and comfortable space that will stand the test of time, understanding how to approach universal bathroom design is key. Here are some of the most important elements of creating an effective age-in-place bathroom design for your custom home to ensure that it remains both beautiful and functional well into the future:

1. Incorporate Accessible Features

Although people of all ages can benefit from extra safety features in a room known for having wet, slippery surfaces, accessible home features are particularly beneficial for aging individuals or anyone who uses mobility aids. Grab bars and shower seats provide extra support and safety in the bathroom, for example, while lever handles on doors and sinks are easier to operate than twisting knobs.

8 Accessible Features For Universal Bathroom Design

There are many ways to make a home design more accessible. Virtually every aspect of the bathroom design can be customized to provide a more enjoyable experience for older homeowners. These are some of the biggest accessible features for age-in-place bathroom design:

1. Grab Bars

Installing grab bars near toilets and showers is a great way to prevent slips and falls when using these areas. The best places to install grab bars are usually beside the toilet or inside the bathtub/shower enclosure.

Make sure you use strong mounting hardware so your grab bar won’t come loose over time. ADA guidelines are a good place to start when deciding the right height and placement for your needs.

2. Lever Handles

Lever handles on doors make it much easier for seniors with weak grip strength or limited range of motion in their hands and arms to open them without twisting knobs. Similarly, lever handles for fixtures such as sinks, showers, and tubs should be chosen with ease of use in mind. You might even choose options such as touch-control faucets or other smart home technology for your bathroom for the ultimate in convenience.

3. Curbless Showers

When designing an age-in-place bathroom, a curbless shower provides both a sleek design and greater accessibility for those with mobility issues, making it easier and safer to enter and exit the shower without having to step over a threshold. Not only does this eliminate a potential tripping hazard, a curbless or roll-in shower easily accommodates wheelchairs.

There are pros and cons of curbless showers, but it’s hard for potential drawbacks to outweigh the benefits. In addition to being more accessible than traditional showers with thresholds, curbless showers can also look much better, aesthetically speaking. They offer a seamless transition from flooring material into the shower area, which creates an open, modern look that can add value and appeal to your home’s design aesthetic.

4. Adjustable-Height and Handheld Showerheads

While you’re designing the shower, be sure to include an adjustable-height showerhead, and consider adding a second handheld showerhead. These are generally more comfortable to use when in a seated position. While you’re at it, consider water-conserving plumbing upgrades that benefit homeowners of all ages.

5. Shower Seats

Shower seats can take many forms, from standalone chairs to seats that fold down from the wall to built-in benches. Some models are adjustable in height, so you can find one that fits your needs perfectly. For those who experience difficulty in maintaining an upright posture for extended periods due to mobility concerns or pain caused by arthritis and other conditions, a shower seat can be of great assistance.

6. Higher Toilets

Simply put, higher toilets are more comfortable for many people, particularly older adults. ADA-compliant toilets are several inches taller than a standard model. In addition, when designing your custom bathroom’s layout, consider ensuring that there’s enough space for a wheelchair to roll into position alongside it for a seat transfer.

However, if you’re designing a custom multigenerational home, be aware that small children can have a harder time using taller toilets. You’ll likely want both taller and standard toilets available in the home.

7. Height of Vanities, Cabinets, and Counters

The first thing you should consider when installing custom bathroom countertops and cabinets is the height. As people get older, reaching higher to upper shelves and cabinets and stooping to reach lower surfaces tends to become more uncomfortable, so it’s important to choose a counter height that’s comfortable and easy to use. You can also extend the mirror to make it more accessible, which is one of the many bathroom mirror ideas available.

This is especially important when for a small bathroom. While the typical advice for maximizing space in small rooms is to utilize vertical space, that becomes less of an option when using universal design.

8. Walk-In Tubs

Walk-in tubs are an excellent option for age-in-place bathrooms, providing a safe and comfortable bathing experience. Walk-in tubs feature a door in the side to allow the user to enter and exit without having to step over a high edge.

There are several types of bathtubs to consider, but the low threshold of walk-in tubs makes it easier for anyone using a wheelchair or other mobility device to access the bathtub safely without assistance from another person.

Walk-in tubs come equipped with several safety features designed to make bathing easier and safer. These include non-slip surfaces, grab bars, handrails, adjustable seats, built-in shower heads, footrests, and more. Many also have air jets and hydrotherapy applications, which can help soothe tired muscles while providing gentle massage therapy.

2. Choose the Right Flooring

When it comes to flooring, it’s important to look for materials that are slip-resistant and provide good traction to help prevent falls. There are several flooring options to consider for your custom home.

For universal bathroom design, textured non-slip tile options are ideal, and they come in a wide spectrum of colors, sizes, and materials. Textured porcelain and ceramic tiles are classic, highly durable, and easy to maintain. Natural stone is a beautiful high-end finishing touch for a luxurious bathroom retreat.

Vinyl plank flooring is a top basement flooring option that has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its affordability, water resistance in rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens, and ease of installation. If you’re in love with a certain tile with less slip resistance, you may be able to apply an anti-slip coating product to keep the look and get the same benefits.

To add some softness, choose bathroom rugs with non-slip backings. In addition, be sure to place non-slip mats in fixtures such as tubs if they’re not already present.

3. Optimize Lighting

Lighting is an important factor in any home, and when you’re designing a custom home, you can have the perfect setup from the beginning rather than needing an extensive retrofit.

Choose bright fixtures that are easy to reach and operate. If the bathroom has multiple entrances, put a switch or button beside each so you never have to walk across the room in the dark. Dimmers allow you to set mood lighting without losing the option to keep the space well-lit.

Don’t forget about night lights; some switches have illumination options to help you easily locate them in the dark, and night lights near the floorboards can help reduce tripping hazards on a late-night bathroom visit.

Creating a Custom Bathroom That Will Last a Lifetime

Age-in-place bathroom design, and aging-in-place home design overall, is an important consideration when you’re building a custom home. By planning ahead now, you can create a safe and comfortable environment that will accommodate any changing needs as you or your loved ones grow older. With thoughtful design, it’s possible to make a custom age-in-place bathroom that meets both the practical and aesthetic requirements of today’s modern homes.

Choosing the right custom home builder to make your vision a reality not only ensures that every detail will be addressed with the quality you can trust, but also that you have an experienced second set of eyes to ensure that your design will give you satisfaction for years to come. When you’re ready to build your forever home, contact Custom Home Group at 717-284-4090. We’ll help bring your dream home to life!