From the time I was in grade school I was drawing floor plans for my bedroom, for forts in the woods and for future dream houses. In high school, I excelled through 4 years of drafting and architecture classes (I was one of only two girls to make it to the end).
When I go into a less than beautiful home or building, I see all of the possibilities. I recognize this as a great gift and a slight curse; we have lived in more construction zones than I can count because of this!
Our last home in Southern California was the sweetest 1920s historic home. It was in rough shape when we bought it, but it had heart and soul. The downstairs bathroom had a large hole in the floor and a strange asbestos stack leading to nowhere.
When it came to redesigning, I made every effort to create a plan that would be handicap accessible for our niece and for anyone who in the future might have physical limitations.
In spite of the fact that I couldn’t design to the exact specifications of ADA code, because I was limited to the home’s footprint, I was able to design a beautiful shower with a rain bonnet and an adjustable slide bar for a wall mounted shower head. The floor was lowered, so that a flush threshold could be installed, allowing those with mobility issues to have ease of access. I also made sure that there was enough floor space for a portable shower chair.
Although, accessibility was important to me, I didn’t want the room to look utilitarian, which, disappointingly, is the norm.
In order for the sink to be accessible by wheelchair, it needed to have clearance underneath. My solution was to install a stack of drawers on each side and bridge them with the countertop. To soften the open space under the sink, I attached a gathered linen curtain with velcro. That way, the curtain could be removed either for cleaning purposes or if it interfered with accessibility.
The shower’s ceiling tiles are 6″x6″ Calacatta Gold marble, cut from remnant 12’x12″ floor tiles. The stone subways are inexpensive Carrara marble from Lowes and so are the bullnose liners above the basic white porcelain subways.
The shower floor is a marble basketweave mosaic, which is slip resistant. The jamb and threshold are luxurious Calacata Gold, cut from kitchen countertop remnants. The square, polished chrome drain was custom ordered to complement the shower trim kit. The frameless glass door is hinged to swing in and out. It is extra thick and made from Starphire glass.
The door is located on the toilet wall, allowing plenty of space to park a wheel chair next to the toilet. The door is hinged on the wrong side for ADA purposes, but I deliberately did this to hide the toilet from view when the door is left open. If needed later, the door can always be rehung.