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The secret to a bathroom fit for the entire family? Universal design.

 

A toddler-friendly door handle. A shower that’s as easy for a pregnant mom to use as it is for a retiree. It’s all possible with universal design. But what is that? Universal design is the idea of installing features that are useful at any age, and especially as you get older, like a combination towel/assist bar or a chair-height toilet. Here's what to consider for your bathroom, where safety and comfort reign supreme.

Note: For obvious reasons, if you have multiple bathrooms but a limited budget, focus on the first-floor bath.

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Walls

 

Decor Assist towel bars, corner shelves and toilet paper holders come in many shapes and finishes, so they're guaranteed to blend seamlessly with your decor. But underneath their elegant exteriors, they're extra tough: They double as assist bars that are designed to provide support if needed.

toilet

Toilet

 

For maximum comfort and safety, the Americans with Disabilities Act recommends a chair-height toilet seat that sits between 17 and 19 inches from the floor. (All Delta toilets meet these standards.) These seats are ideal for pregnant women, folks recovering from an injury or surgery, even tall people—in a nutshell, they put the universal in universal design. 

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Shower

 

A large shower with seating, a footrest and state-of-the-art fixtures is both luxurious and safe. Consider skipping the big bathtub for a curbless shower with either a built-in bench or separate shower seat (choose a teak-topped model for a warm, natural vibe).

The shower area should have at least 3 square feet of space, and the door, if there is one, should swing outwards. A handshower with Temp2O technology makes washing off easier, especially for someone who is sitting down. Plus, there’s the added bonus of always knowing the water temperature so you can be sure it’s safe for your skin—or your child’s. Add storage shelves for shampoo and soap to eliminate the need to bend over. As with any shower, the floor shouldn't be too slippery: Small tiles with plenty of grout lines are ideal.

sink

Sink

 

A single-handle faucet with Touch20.xt technology makes stopping and starting the flow of water effortless—touch it on and touch it off, or go completely hands-free. And rather than the typical vanity cabinet, the sink should have plenty of clearance underneath (pedestal styles work well), which would allow room for a wheelchair. 

Frugal First Home Upgrades