November 2014
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Dear <<First Name>>,

Some universal design features just make good sense. Once you bring them into your home, you'll wonder how you ever lived without them. Check out these tips for designing safe bathrooms and bedrooms:

David H. Adams, President
Design Builders and Remodeling, Inc. • 203.431.9104
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"The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible."

- Arthur C. Clarke

Universal Design 12 Tips for Designing Safe Bathrooms and Bedrooms

Homes can present barriers or become hazardous not only for older adults but also for those with temporary mobility impairments such as a teen who injures a leg in football practice or a person recovering from surgery. If you are planning to update or remodel a bathroom or bedroom, consider these "Universal Design" tips to improve access and safety in your home.

The subtle Universal Design features in this master bath include a dam-free walk-in shower that is beneficial because there are no tripping hazards. The slip-resistant tile floor is pitched to the drain so water stays out of the main bathroom floor. The vanity has a toe kick recess and lever handle faucets. Lighting has been designed to optimize vision.

12 Tips for Designing Safe Bathrooms

Grab bars help to prevent the user from slipping and also assist the user to move more easily without help from others. The outside grab bar in this photo can be used to get in and out of the tub and also used as a support for the user to reach in to turn the water on.

1. Install a no-threshold walk-in shower or low-threshold water dam shower with minimum dimensions of 5-by-3 feet. Use slip-resistant flooring in the shower and within the bathroom.

2. Add a built-in shower seat.

3. Place grab bars in the shower, tub and near the toilet.

4. Install several showerheads, including a hand-held adjustable height showerhead with easy to operate controls.

5. Widen the doorway to 36 inches in the bathroom entrance.

6. If possible, allow for maneuvering space. Ideally, allocate space to accommodate a 60-inch turning radius.
This bathroom includes many Universal Design elements such as grab bars, a wall mount sink, a chair-height toilet, a single handle faucet and easy to clean products such as the one piece sink.
7. Replace twist handle faucets with lever handle, anti-scald faucets.

8. Consider installing a pedestal sink or wall mount sink. Not only are they attractive, but also the sink is accessible to those in your home who may use a walker, wheelchair or crutches.

9. If you are installing a vanity, mount the sink bowl close to the edge for easier use and select cabinetry with easy-glide drawers that close automatically. Use a cabinet with a “toe kick” to help users maintain their balance when using the sink.

10. Toilets should be centered 18 inches from any sidewall, tub or cabinet and the seat should be 18-to-19 inches off the floor for older persons, lower for children. Consider taller “comfort height” toilets for adults.

11. Replace round doorknobs with lever handle knobs.

12. Install lighting to provide good illumination for vision when using the shower, tub, sink and toilet. Also, add a night light for safety.

Tips for Designing Safe Bedrooms

Many bathrooms are part of a master bedroom suite or located just outside the bedroom. To make your bedroom space more accommodating and safe, consider these Universal Design elements:

  • Assure that there is a level threshold in doorways to prevent tripping.

  • Add a night light.

  • Install additional electrical outlets to accommodate technology or future medical equipment.

  • Fit closets with multi-level clothing rods or multi-level pullout drawers and shelving. Don't use bi-fold doors on closets because they can be difficult to open and close.
The television show "This Old House" has an interesting "how-to" video on Choosing Universal-Design Bath Fixtures. Also, AARP offers a home accessibility checklist for bathrooms.
This upscale master bathroom includes a shower with a wide barrier-free entry, a shower seat, slip-resistant tile flooring and an adjustable and fully removable handheld showerhead.
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Choosing the Right Toilet 


Niagara's Conservation Stealth toilet
The majority of homes in the US have gravity-assist toilets, which are the type most generally available. When water is released from the tank, the force of gravity causes it to quickly spill down into the bowl, creating a siphonic action that carries the waste away.
In 1994, the government mandated that all new toilets must use 1.6 gallons of water per flush (GPF), as opposed to the previous standard of 3.5 gallons. To quickly meet this goal, toilet manufacturers decreased the size of their water tanks, but no other design changes were incorporated that would help dispose of waste with significantly less water. Many people had bad experiences with that first generation of low-flow toilets. Frustrated homeowners would often need to flush two or three times when they used the toilet, which completely eliminated any water savings. This situation sent manufacturers scrambling to build a better low-flow, gravity-assist toilet.

Here are some of the current options:
  • Pressure-assist These toilets use a pressurized air system to force the water into the bowl with greater power than gravity alone affords. Therefore, less water is required to thoroughly flush the contents. Pressure-assist toilets can operate with just 1 GPF, but a downside is that they tend to be a bit noisier and can involve more maintenance than other types.
  • High-efficiency Many gravity-assist toilets have had adjustments made to their design to maximize performance and boost water savings. The size of the flapper valves and trapways have been increased, and the trapways are glazed to reduce friction. Single-flush high-efficiency toilets are now available that can flush waste with 1.28 GPF or less.
  • Dual-flush Another option is a dual-flush toilet that allows you choose a .8 GPF option for flushing liquid waste and a 1.6 GPF option for flushing solid waste. Some dual-flush toilets, such as Niagara Conservation's Stealth UHET, use even less.
Kohler's Nightlight toilet seat
As toilets have been redesigned, manufacturers have also been designing a variety of accessories that make your toilet more comfortable and user friendly.
  • Kohler recently introduced a toilet seat with an LED nightlight that glows softly in the dark, safely guiding you to the bathroom during the night.
  • Kohler also has added a touchless flush option to several of its toilet models. Just hold your hand over the tank sensor to activate the flush. Kohler has a touchless flush kit that fits most toilets.
    TOTO's Washlet
  • TOTO's washlet adds bidet functionality to a toilet. It includes five cleansing spray settings, adjustable water and seat temperatures, warm-air dryer, deodorizing system, and soft close seat. 

And finally, if you wish for a truly extraordinary experience, there are some high-tech, state-of-the-art toilets that include all the bells and whistles:  

  • TOTO's Neorest and Kohler's Numi toilets are both high-efficiency, dual-flush toilets that offer motion-activated cover and seat, auto flush, bidet functionality with warm water, wireless remote-control operation, air dryer, heated seat, deodorizer, a nightlight, and music. You'll never want to leave.
TOTO's Neorest toilet



904 Ethan Allen Highway
Ridgefield, CT 06877

tel: 203.431.9104
fax: 203.431.5798
tel: 203.431.9104
fax: 203.431.5798

Visit our Website

tel: 203.438.7747
fax: 203.431.5798

Visit our Website
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203.431.9104 | 904 Ethan Allen Highway | Ridgefield, CT 06877

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