Simple Steps Toward Universal Design in Bathrooms

Universal design means being inclusive when you design and build rooms—if you design for yourself, it will only work for you.

Image courtesy Alexander lau

When we installed the five-piece shower unit in the Model Remodel, Bestbath sent two people to talk us through it: Greg Wells, marketing director, and Marcus Cook, regional sales manager.

They were both very helpful and a lot of fun to spend the day with. Marcus has installed about a jillion of these units, so he answered all of Ben’s questions about prepping, installing, and finishing before and during the prepping, installing, and finishing.

As it turns out, Greg is working on an eBook about Universal Design for Bestbath. Universal Design is a main design concept in the Model Remodel’s bathrooom, laundry, and kitchen. Our slice focuses on the practical aspects: ‘What is practical to do right now—that will meet today’s needs—that won’t create hurdles tomorrow?’

Greg agreed to let me adapt some of his eBook to a Model Remodel blog post. Here is a short list adapted from his main text about designing spaces to be inclusive rather than exclusive:

Barrier-free showers

One of the most dangerous actions in the bathroom for people with limited mobility is stepping over a tub or other obstacle. This can be especially bothersome for children and seniors. Designing a shower to be barrier-free is safer for all people who use the shower.

Planning ahead can look good, too. More people are choosing barrier-free showers for their sleek modern look.

Five foot clearance circle

People in wheelchairs need space to maneuver and move around. A 5-foot diameter circle gives enough room for a 180-degree turn. Planning ahead now will sure make this easier if ever needed. Plus, it makes the bathroom larger, a feature more homeowners today want.

Wide shower doors

It makes sense to use a three-foot door into a bathroom and it makes sense to do the same into the shower. Using a wide door makes it easier for people of all abilities to access the shower.

By the way, if that earlier-mentioned three-foot entrance door is a pocket door, it will never swing toward someone.

Handheld showerhead

A handheld showerhead is vital for people with limited movement. A typical 60-inch hose allows the shower head to be used while seated, and it can also make cleaning the shower easier. Ideally, the handheld showerhead will be mounted to a vertical pole making its stationary height adjustable to the user.

Grab bars

Grab bars can prevent slips and falls. People of all shapes, sizes, ages, and abilities appreciate a sturdy bar to grab when stepping into and out of a sloped wet area with wet feet.

It is easy to find a style to suit many decors, and they can double as towel bars.

Shower seat

Useful for all ages, shower seats can be used for propping up a foot while shaving or washing, storage for lotions and potions, and for sitting.

It’s nice to select a shower seat that can fold away when not needed.

Easy-to-reach accessories

A lot of injuries occur when stretching to reach the soap or shampoo. Placing shelves, niches, and accessories at the correct heights and distances reduces reaching for slippery stuff.


More to explore:

Hands on Info at ProTradeCraft:

●For a more in depth look at some of these items, see my article on ProTradeCraft.

●For more about installing Bestbath shower surrounds, see their videos on ProTradeCraft.


Design Info on the Interwebs:

Bobrick's UD and ADA  Planning Guide

Universal Design Living Laboratory

Universal Design: Wikipedia


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