Bungalow Bathroom Gains New Accessibility
avigating a poorly designed bathroom is a nuisance for anyone. But if you’re in a wheelchair, trying to use a poorly designed bathroom that was never intended for a person with a disability can mean an incredibly diminished — and dangerous — lifestyle. That’s what former satellite engineer John Dreher, whose progressing multiple sclerosis will soon have him transitioning into a wheelchair full-time, and his wife, Kay, were facing with their Berkeley, California, bungalow bathroom.
AFTER: The couple worked with designer Alisa Hofmann to tear out the old bathroom and bring more functionality to the 7-foot by 10-foot space. Because the bathroom is sandwiched between two bedrooms, she couldn’t make the space any bigger, which prevented her from following many of the Americans With Disabilities Act standards, like having 3 feet of clearance in every direction.
Getting to the toilet is a tight squeeze, but Hofmann and John worked together during construction to make sure his wheelchair had plenty of space to make it to the sink and toilet without compromising the width of the new shower.
Hofmann put the drain under the doors so the water drips directly off the doors into the drain, preventing puddling outside the shower. And being extra cautious of a too-slippery environment, she chose tile with a slightly rough surface and more grout lines for better traction. The floors have radiant heat, even in the shower. There’s also a heater in the exhaust fan above to keep the shower warm when John needs to turn off the water and lather up.
Sink: Duravit; countertop: Caesarstone in Nougat
A control panel on the wall allows John to flush and operate the toilet and bidet so he doesn’t have to turn around and reach back. “The bidet and panel control have made a huge improvement on his lifestyle,” she says. “It gives him sanitation and cleanliness, and he’s not in pain to do it.”