ProSource | 9/17/2015 | Project Tips
According to the 2015 Kitchen & Bath Style Report, issued by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), accessible kitchens and accessible, no-threshold showers are two of the top design trends.
With more Americans hoping to age in their own homes, referred to as aging in place or accessible living, designing for increased access and safety has become a popular remodeling request.
A key factor for accessibility is increased space. For example, doorways need to be at least 36” wide to enable a wheelchair to pass through. However, the typical bathroom doorway is only 30” wide with doors that swing inward, which could make it difficult for wheelchair to maneuver. Redesigning a room for accessibility begins at the entrance to the room.
Accessible rooms require more open space, because once in a room, it’s important for a person in a wheelchair or walker to be able to move around the room. For this reason, an open space of at least 60” by 60” is necessary to allow a wheelchair to turn around.
Also, if someone in a wheelchair needs to pass behind a seating area (at a dining table, for example), the traffic area needs to be at least 60” deep.
Countertop, table and sink heights should also allow for wheelchair access. They should be between 28” and 34” high, and 19” deep, to accommodate different types of chairs (including wheelchairs). Sinks should be supported from the back and/or sides, to allow space for knees underneath.
Where access is a concern, another important consideration is the height of light switches and electrical sockets. According to aging in place guidelines, these controls should be between 15” and 44” above the floor, to be within reach of anyone, whether standing or sitting.
When designing for accessibility, floorcoverings should be slip-resistant to provide a more surefooted surface for wheelchairs, canes and walkers. The thresholds, meaning the strips or moldings that join different types of flooring or cover doorway floors, should be as low and seamless and possible.
The same “no threshold” rule is also part of the accessible living design approach to bathroom showers. This helps to remove any obstacles for wheelchair entrance.
Like the bathroom doorway, a shower entrance should be 36” wide to accommodate a wheelchair, and the stall itself should be at least 48” square. A built-in shower seat and grab bar make taking a shower easier, even for those without limited mobility.
Grab bars are also essential accessibility accessories for tubs. And don’t forget a handheld showerhead, mounted where it can be reached by someone in a seated position.
One more area of the bathroom where accessibility is important is the toilet. Again, grab bars can make this a safer area. Also, the toilet itself can be more accessible. Options are available with higher bowls, to make it easier for people with disabilities to get up and sit down.
By planning your remodeling project with accessible living guidelines in mind, you can make your home a place that you and your family can enjoy for many years.
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