Remodeling your home can be a representation of a commitment to staying there for several years or even decades.

A question we’re often presented with when helping customers design their new kitchen or bathroom is, “Will this design be outdated quickly?” It’s natural to want to ensure you won’t regret tomorrow the decisions you are making today. While this is true for design, it’s also true for your space’s functionality. It’s important to consider the needs of you and your family as time goes on.

Seniors in particular are living and staying active longer. According to the United States of Aging Survey, nine out of ten seniors plan to continue living in their homes for the next five to ten years. This goal becomes more attainable when your home meets your changing needs.

If aging in place is something that’s on your mind, our experienced design specialists are happy to assist. During our Personalized Design experience, they will hear your concerns and discuss your goals with you, taking them into consideration as they design your perfect space. Your assigned specialist will also meet with you in your home so they can observe how you use the space and note what changes would be most beneficial to your lifestyle.

Here are a few factors to consider when remodeling your bathroom for aging in place.

The Shower & Tub

Safety & convenience are two words at the front of the mind when discussing how to design a bathroom for older adults. Slips and falls in the shower or tub can be life-threatening, but there are safety measures that can be taken during the design process to help lessen these risks.

Installing Grab Bars

Grab bars are a particularly important feature. They help maintain balance for maneuvering in and out of the tub and shower, which is especially helpful if the surfaces are wet. Grab bars typically need to support 250-300 lbs, so it may be necessary to add bracing in the walls. If you are remodeling your bathroom, adding that bracing in anticipation of wanting grab bars one day would be excellent foresight. Textured grab bars increase safety even more as they are easier to grab and hold onto.

Including Slip Resistant Surfaces

Another way to prevent falls is to have a slip resistant floor coating on the floor of the tub or shower. Taking this measure on the bathroom’s entire floor could be appropriate for future planning as well. Smooth tile with slippery wet spots is an accident waiting to happen. There are tile options that have a rougher surface. Laminate is also a good solution, as it’s less slick than some tile.

Having Shower Seating

You will also want to think about adding seating to your shower. Sitting in the shower is more secure than standing and may be easier and less painful for those with arthritis or other ailments in comparison to standing. Seats can be either installed as part of the design, or mobile seats work well also.

Choosing the Right Shower Head

While the shower head may not immediately come to mind as a part of the bathroom design for aging in place, it plays a big role. As your needs change, having a removable and adjustable shower head will be beneficial. It will help you move the water to fit your needs and ensure cleanliness. 

Considering a Curbless Shower

Safely getting in and out of the shower is key, as we mentioned previously. To make it as simple as possible, a possible solution could be updating your shower to be curbless. This means that the shower doesn’t have a threshold, or curb. This seamless design is beautiful and functional. It allows you to walk or roll right into the shower without needing to overcome any unevenness on the floor.

Converting Your Tub to a Shower

If your home doesn’t have a shower – only a tub – it may be necessary to convert it. Our partner, Bath Fitter of Pittsburgh, can transform your tub into a spacious shower in as little as one day. You can learn more about these tub to shower conversions on their website.

Designing a Vanity for Aging in Place 

Your vanity can also be designed with an aging household in mind. For example, including open space underneath the vanity can give enough clearance for a wheelchair. The countertop and sink could also be lowered to make them more easily accessible. Keep in mind, though, that the countertop should be narrow enough so that someone sitting can reach the back of it. This will make it easier to reach anything that may fall to the back, or for cleaning. Having a mirror that tilts back is also a great design for aging in place. If the mirror is flexible, whoever is standing or sitting will be able to adjust it to see themselves clearly. Another consideration to make is to eliminate sharp edges in order to decrease risk for injury. The vanity design could be taken a step further to place contrasting color on edges so that the distinction is easier to make for aging eyes. Finally, ample and thoughtful storage will make the bathroom functional for age. Consider cabinetry that places medicine easily within reach. Storage that’s placed closer to the ground may also be beneficial, as it could be accessed while sitting.

Considering Your Sink

The sink faucet is another feature that can help you transition in your home. Having a faucet with a lever handle makes it easier to turn the water on and off, even if grasping with your hands is difficult. Anti-scald measures can also be installed to ensure the water is always the right temperature and never gets dangerously hot.

Having an Accessible Location

While considering your bathroom’s design, the space also needs to be looked at in the greater context of your home to maximize its accessibility. Having a full bath on the first floor is ideal, eliminating the need to conquer steps throughout the day. Looking at the width of the entryway to the room is important too. If the door is wide, someone with a wheelchair or walker may comfortably access the space. The same can be said for the dimensions within the bathroom. Having a room that’s open with plenty of space to turn around and maneuver will be most comfortable. You may be unsure how your space can be adapted in these ways, but our design specialists and their expertise in bathroom remodeling will help you get there.

Ensuring Proper Lighting

Having sufficient lighting in your bathroom is critical to safety. You and your space will benefit from having a combination of lighting types, including task and ambient lighting. Task lighting will brighten up the areas in which you groom or take medication, while ambient lighting can help you achieve a certain mood in your space. These types of considerations will all be factored in during the Personalized Design experience.

Considering Your Toilet

The toilet is another area where special considerations can be made to increase the comfortability of aging in place in your home. Like with getting in and out of the tub, lifting oneself up or down to sit on the toilet can be strenuous. Installing a new toilet that has a higher up seat can help decrease that stress. It can also be important to have a toilet paper roll that is easy to change. Our designers will ensure it can be replaced with one hand, and that it can be reached from sitting.

With a space that’s well-designed around your current and upcoming needs, you’ll be able to age in place comfortably. Visit one of our three conveniently-located Kitchen & Bath Design Centers in the Pittsburgh area, or request a free consultation with us to get started. When working with us, you’ll experience our exclusive Personalized Design experience, which consists of three phases that will ensure the end result will be the space of your dreams.

If you have further questions about the bathroom remodeling process, check out our answers to our eleven most commonly asked ones. Or if you’re curious to learn more about the lighting in  your bathroom, we discuss that further in How to Personalize the Lighting in Your Bathroom. 


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