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Multi-Generational Bathroom Design

(image via MTI Baths)

In preparation for an upcoming webinar with Kitchen and Bath Business Magazine, I considered a number of questions with respect to multi-generational (or universal) bathroom design that I’d like to share with you today:

What does CLIPP stand for and what does it mean?

CLIPP stands for Certified Living In Place Professional. CLIPP professionals are certified to plan and create homes that are “accessible, comfortable, and safe” for anyone and everyone, no matter what their special needs might be.

Why multi-generational bath design?

Multi-generational bath design is a strong, current design trend when it comes to both remodeling and new home building. It is intended to address the varying needs of ALL people, regardless of height, age and mobility. This trend has been catalyzed by a number of factors:

– Family members are living longer and develop special needs (and according to AARP 87% of Americans 65 and older say that they intend to remain in their homes indefinitely)

– International travel is becoming less expensive and hence more accessible allowing family members from multiple generations to come together more frequently

– The current work culture climate requires adults to work more frequently resulting in an increased need to accommodate for children and childcare

Why focus specifically on the bathroom?

While multi-generational design certainly has value in all parts of the home, it is particularly beneficial in the bathroom since:

– 80% of falls occur in the home (AARP recently increased this number from 60%)

– The bathroom is one of the most common areas for in-home accidents

– Baths and showers are often used by multiple family members, across several generations, whose needs vary greatly

What are the key elements of multi-generational bathroom design?

(image via MTA Baths)

– Anti-Slip flooring materials: textured and rough finished surfaces in tile and stone are naturally slip-resistant, look beautiful and are a great option. Another option, from Porcelanosa, is the Nanoker Technology, an anti-slip design solution which relies on microscopic roughness as opposed to a finish that can be cleaned effectively over time.

– Low or no threshold showers: Curbless showers look sleek and accommodate all ages. Dual grab bars should be placed at the entrance to showers and at a comfortable distance from the shower head. Fold down shower seats are adjustable and increases usable interior space when folded up. Handled shower wands with an adjustable grab bar mount are particularly safe. Check out for some great ideas!

– Clearance: Where space allows, aim for a 36” clearance from sink to toilet to shower.

– Wall mount sinks: Dual sinks at different levels accommodate family members of multiple ages and heights, including those in wheelchairs.

– Tilting mirrors: Useful for children and wheelchair-bound family members.

What are the key elements of multi-generational design more generally?

Functional design is good design! Some additional elements include:

– Automatic touchless faucets assist those who can’t reach back fully

– Levered door handles with a return are easier to grip than knobs

– Wall mounted or elevated toilet seats accommodate those with mobility issues

– Dimmer switches allow for customizable lighting depending on visibility

– Night lights placed low to the floor facilitate safety in low light conditions

– Door swings should either swing out or recess into a wall (where possible) to allow for ease of access in case of a slip or fall

– Contrasting colors and surfaces allow those with vision issues to function more safely

Light colored interior drawers and cabinetry allow for more comfortable use

Not all design elements will be of equal importance. They should be applied on a case-by-case basis, unique to the needs of the family inhabiting the space. As always, the best multi-generational design creates safe, accessible spaces for everyone!

(Images via MTI Baths)

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