By Rita Wilkins
The Downsizing Designer

Face it, renovations of any kind costs a lot of money, so if you are investing in a remodel, why not design it so that it works for everyone and that it’s ageless?

What I mean by that is…

  • If you incorporate universal design principles in your bathroom renovation, you can make it comfortable, safe, and accessible for everyone in your family regardless of age or ability. By planning for potential future needs (wheelchairs, walkers), as well as your current needs.

And the good news is that with such a great array of products and finishes today, it is easier than ever to create a bathroom that is not only beautiful but also functional and safe.

There are three terms that you’ve probably heard of:

  • Universal design
  • Accessible design
  • Aging in place

All three terms have similar goals: to make your bathroom easy to navigate, safe, and efficient for all regardless of age or ability.

Integrating universal design principles in to your design is smart, because in addition to providing for your current and future needs, it also adds to your home value.


8 Universal Design Elements to Add to Your Bathroom Remodel

1. Curb less or barrier-free showers

  • Have little or no transition/curb entering into the shower.
  • Allows those with physical limitations to enter and exit easily (i.e., walker).
  • A linear drain allows water to drain properly.
  • A shower seat inside the shower provides comfort and stability.

2. Comfort height toilets or wall hanging toilets

  • 19 inches off the finish floor makes it easier to get up and down.

3. Grab bars

This may sound clinical, but you’d be surprised at the beautiful selections that are now available. Even if you don’t think you want or need grab bars now, I suggest you prepare with proper blocking/bracing inside of the walls for future installation.

  • Assist with balance as you get up, lower yourself into the shower or onto the toilet.
  • Grab bars can also function as towel bars.

4. Slip resistant flooring

  • Texture creates friction and helps to prevent slips, making it safer for walking.

5. Storage

  • Reachable if sitting in a wheelchair at 32 inches off the finish floor.
  • Open shelving with baskets or drawer storage is a possible option.


6. Wall mounted sinks and vanities

  • Mount 32 inches off of the finish floor to allow wheelchair access to roll under.
  • Barrier to be placed around the plumbing to protect from hot pipes.

7. Faucets and fixtures

  • Levers are easier than knobs.
  • Sink faucets: automatic or touch-activated sink faucets.
  • Shower: handheld shower with bar to raise and lower from sitting to standing position for reachability.
  • Anti-scald temperature volume control.

8. Wider entry doors and entry way into bathroom

  • Hallway minimum: 36 inches.
  • Door minimum: 32 inches.
  • Door swings to outside not in.


It is possible to seamlessly incorporate universal design to make your bathroom functional, safe, and beautiful that will meet the needs of all family members regardless the age or ability.

If remodeling, why not future-proof your bath while you’re at it? It just makes sense.

I hope that these tips on universal design help you in making your bathroom ageless.

If you want to learn more about bath design, go to my website and download the FREE

Step by Step Guide to Designing your Dream Bathroom.

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