The first issue with our bathroom is that it’s a typically tiny British bathroom, just enough floor space for the bath, boiler, sink and loo. No more room and no opportunity to make it bigger unless we take a bedroom and competely overhaul all the pipework. So – we are a little stuck with it.
However, we’ve made what we can of the space (I wrote about it some while ago here) and we’re still using it in this way. This means it is wheelchair accessible for us for the time being.
We have boards across the bath (still the ugly white plastic, I can’t seem to find anything in a different colour) and for now it works fine, Mr Wheel Chic Home has a place to sit to shower and shave and clean his teeth and it’s worked out to be a safe and useful (not to mention cheap!) option for us. This is my bathroom currently. I live with the towels rolled like that all the time – honest(!)
However a girl can dream, right?! So I’ve put together some of my design favourite options to help when we eventually want to convert to a wet room – proof that you can have great design and accessibility. In future blog posts I’ll go into more detail on these different sections, this post is more of an introduction and we’ll get further into it over a series of posts. If you want a little more inspiration on accessible bathrooms, take a look at my Pinterest page but in the meantime, let’s take a look at the top areas to consider when making an accessible bathroom:
1 – Seating Options
For many disabled or elderly people, the ability to sit down when showering is really important. There are lots of different options out there, from folding chairs, bath wheelchairs, to stools, benches and integrated seating.
One of the most seamless options is an integrated bench, built into the wetroom and tiled in the same tile as the walls or the floor so it blends into the background. This is a really nice option for everyone, not only does it allow someone elderly or disabled to sit down, it allows a nice seat or foothold for shaving your legs or cleaning your feet!
This option isn’t for everyone as someone with limited sight might struggle to see the bench and with the wrong type of tile it could be slippery, so it’s important to get the right type of tile and to have grab rails close by. Here are some examples of beautiful showers with integrated bench seating (the showers themselves may not be step free but its about the seating!)
This one is a lovely small bathroom (consistent with British sizes) and I wanted to share shower cubicle which could allow a small wheelchair to enter and for someone to transfer to the seat. It’s missing a grab rail or two but I wanted to share or for the bench – I love the mosaic tile and the clean lines here.
The next seating option is to use teak or other wood which once treated properly is incredibly good around water, is likely to be less slippy than some other options, and looks pretty too. You can get wooden benches that fold from the wall, or perhaps use teak as the top level for the built in bench. The lovely thing about wood is that it gives a normally stark room some warmth and colour.
This example from Carla Aston shows a lovely moveable bench. In reality you would have it pushed against a wall to stop it from moving and you may want to consider screwing it to the floor, but this gives you a hard wearing option that just looks great –
Photo Credit: Carla Aston
After choosing a seating option we need to think about the flooring – in the photo above both designs appear to incorporate tiles – the most common floor in a bathroom space, but there are other options:
2 – Non-Slip Flooring
Flooring in the wetroom is incredibly important. Mr Wheel Chic Home slips and falls very easily. We currently have tiles which look great but as he has testified before, they are hard to fall onto!
So, what other options can you have – I think there are two nice alternatives that could work. First up being rubber and the second, vinyl. For flooring within the wet shower area these may not work, you need to speak to an expert to determine best options there. But outside of the wettest shower area these are really great options.
Rubber flooring doesn’t have to be ugly commercial grade stuff, there are some really fun designs and colours to choose from. It’s warm underfoot, can take underfloor heating, is soft for any falls and most importantly is among the best for being non-slip. Here’s a beautiful example of a rubber floor. It’s not an accessible bathroom although the size is very useful, but I want to show off the floor with it’s interesting design here:
Photo Credit: Harvey Maria
Vinyl flooring has come on in leaps and bounds over the past few years and we’d never dare call it Lino (like we had growing up) but in effect it’s a very similar thing. Some of photo realistic designs are fantastic and you can get anything to match your scheme. The Interior Editor Blog recently did a great post on Vinyl and I think I have decided this is going to be our next flooring in the hall and kitchen. It’s a good inexpensive option. It’s also soft underfoot and some of them have a very good non-slip rating. Be sure to check with the shop as to the level of rating before you buy.
You can choose wood or tile effect plus so much more, there really are endless options. For me the wood effect again gives the bathroom a little warmth and cosiness in an otherwise sharp edged tiled room. Here’s an example of some wood effect vinyl from Carpetright – the setting in this photo is obviously not a bathroom! But I wanted to share the warmth, colour and design. It is suitable in a bathroom and I think it would look great!
Photo Credit: Carpetright
From the experience and number of falls in our house, the vinyl or rubber options are the win and we’ll definitely be using one or the other when we refurbish.
3 – Wheelchair Accessible Sinks
This is probably one of the most frustrating things we find in accessible or disabled hotel rooms, that the bathroom is fully accessible but the sink isn’t. It’s either too high, too low so the wheels can’t slide underneath, fitted in a vanity, or you can’t see the mirror when seated, which isn’t useful if you need to shave or sort your hair in the mirror.
In my current bathroom ours is fitted in a vanity but as it’s next to the bath Mr WCH can sit on the bath board to shave and clean his teeth. Ideally we’d have one that he can wheel under. There are some lovely options available if you do your research. Let me share a couple of my favourites with you:
This one from Living House (who do stunning disabled bathrooms) have this gorgeous sink. It would be hung at the height that you need and it’s a little shallow but this does allow the legs to get under. The beauty of this is that it has integrated grab rails. Look at them, they could probably hold a hand towel if need be but they are clean, invisible and unobtrusive and will allow you to stand up if you want to. It’s such a lovely object! You can wave your hands under the tap to start the water which is good if you have issues with gripping a tap.
Photo Credit: Living House
This sink is more of a traditional shape but again has the easy ability to get the wheels under it if it’s mounted at the right height. The integrated towel rail is also a useful feature. This one is from the Bath Store and I like the simple shape of it.
Photo Credit: Bath Store
I’ll be starting a series on the blog soon with more detail on these and other areas to consider, but wanted to give you my top ideas to get you going. What other areas do we need to consider for an accessible bathroom?
Disclaimer: Of course please make sure that any work you do in the bathroom is done by a qualified professional and that all fixtures and fittings are done to the highest standard.
*This is not a sponsored post of any brand or business, I’m sharing my research in the hope it helps and inspires!