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Design for Ease in Use: After

Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

No matter the size, a bathroom is useless if it's inaccessible. That's what Lena

and Ted Swanson found when they bought their 1980s home, in Walterboro, South Carolina, shortly after Ted was diagnosed with ALS, a degenerative neuromuscular disease. Knowing that they'd need to rethink the space to make it easier for Ted to navigate as the years progressed, the couple sought the help of Charleston designer Sandra Gaylord. With Ted's needs in mind, Gaylord gutted the space—including a massive walk-in closet—to set the stage for an open floor plan that would accommodate a shower chair and attendants. The centerpiece: a spacious, curbless shower with four wall-mount sprays, long grab bars, a rainhead, and an adjustable-height hand shower, plus openings at both ends for easy comings and goings. With its expanse of clerestory windows and crisp white and blue walls, the room feels warm, not sterile. "We spend a lot of time in there, so we love the windows," says Lena. "It's so nice to be able to look out and see the sky."

Bath Full of Obstacles: Before

The hulking corner tub and vanity cabinet were among the master bath's obstacles.

Clerestory Windows for Plenty of Light

Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Clerestory windows in the shower let in plenty of natural light without sacrificing privacy or requiring cumbersome blinds or curtains. Two large glass panels on the interior shower wall filter light all the way through the room.

Handheld shower: Grohe

Shower fixtures: Moluf's Supply

Contractor: Classic Construction of Summerville, Summerville, SC; 843-817-1721

Bath to Bedroom Lift System

Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

A ceiling track guides Ted's lift system, which runs from the bath into the bedroom.

Overhead track: All in One Accessibility

Sinks: Kohler

Sconces and faucets: Restoration Hardware

Shower Temperature Controls

Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

High-tech shower controls store water-temperature preferences for comfort and safety.

Shower controls, rainhead, and grab bars: Moen

Unobtrusive Built-In Storage

Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Folding doors tuck into the built-in so that they don't block the walkway.

Cabinets: Dave's Custom Cabinets, Charleston, SC; 843-608-4828

Granite countertops: Stone Horse Imports

Toilet: TOTO

Floor Tiles With a Good Grip

Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Large, rectangular floor tiles are wheel-friendly; smaller border tiles and irregular shapes in the shower have plenty of grout for extra grip. Folding doors tuck into the built-in so that they don't block the walkway.

Tile: Walker Zanger

Floor Plan Before: Wheelchair Unfriendly

Floor plan by Ian Worpole

A walk-in closet and a giant corner tub left little room for a wheelchair to maneuver.

Floor Plan After: Layout for Easy Maneuvering

Floor plan by Ian Worpole

Swapping the large closet for two smaller ones, plus a built-in cabinet, freed floor space to create an easily navigable open layout.

1. Replaced the old shower with a wide roll-through space that leaves enough room for attendants.

2. Added a shallow closet that puts everything within reach without obstructing valuable floor space.

3. Built in cabinets and drawers for most-used equipment.

4. Created two vanities, the larger of which has knee-to-toe clearance for wheelchair access, plus large counters to keep essentials close at hand.

5. Widened the entry to 42 inches and kept the door off for maximum accessibility.