Last year’s Statistics Canada census showed that multigenerational households have increased by 37.5% since 2001. The National Post article examines the various facets of this trend. Regardless of whether your own transition is for cultural or financial reasons, you have to account for that reality as you design your home. The challenge is finding the middle ground between all the different generational needs in the family.
The best place to start is the bathroom. It’s the most commonly used room for both the young and the old. Because of its wet conditions though, it’s also the room with the most risk of accidents occurring. So with safety and convenience in mind, let’s take a look at how you can design a universal bathroom that’s user-friendly for the whole family.
In Part 1, we’ll focus on general universal bathroom concepts. Remember though as you read this to think about whether these ideas are applicable to your family and the house you live in. You may also have other ideas that’ll work better. You’re the expert on your own household after all. Let’s get started:
Layout and environment
As you plan the layout of the bathroom, make sure there’s always at least 36” of space around the vanity, toilet, and shower. This allows for easy wheelchair access in case that’s needed one day.
You also want to design a bathroom environment that’s relaxing for the adults and inviting for the kids. One easy way to balance that is to create a light colour scheme. Ask what everyone’s top three favourite colours for the bathroom are and pick the lightest shade of the common favourite.
Finally, make sure the door handle to the bathroom is operated by a lever rather than a knob. Lever door handles are much easier to open and close.
Everyone also has different lighting preferences. To accommodate everyone, include a dimmer switch in the bathroom to make it easy for people to adjust the lights to their liking when they enter. Also, consider plugging in night lights at the floor level for safety in the middle of the night.
Non-slip flooring in a wet bathroom is essential for everyone’s safety – especially for seniors and kids. Whatever flooring you choose, make sure it has a rough or textured surface finish. As an extra precaution, install in-floor heating so that water evaporates quicker from the floor.
Extra storage space in the bathroom is always nice for large households. When you add kids to the mix, it’s all the more necessary. You can build extra storage space either with open shelves, hanging cabinets, an oversized vanity, or even a small closet. This will give you room to hold bathroom essentials, clean towels, and children’s bathtub toys.
With so many people sharing the bathroom, it’s also a good idea to put in a towel heating rack. Wet towels will dry faster, which is great when there’s bound to be several wet towels every day. It also helps the elderly to warm up faster after a shower since their blood circulation is slower than the younger people in the family.
This sets you up with the overall design of the bathroom. For the next part, we’ll look more into the specific details of other areas in your bathroom.