Universal Design Master Bath Redo
Reworking a cramped master bath for accessibility allows everyone room to move
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."
The hulking corner tub and vanity cabinet were among the master bath's obstacles.
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.
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
A walk-in closet and a giant corner tub left little room for a wheelchair to maneuver.
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.