2012 Chrysalis Award Winner Best Residential Universal Design

2012 Chrysalis Award

MN/Twin Cities Builders Assoc. 2012 Remodelers of Merit Award

Bathrooms under 150 Square Feet

Kierstead Residence

“The Pink Lady” - Breaking Barriers with Beauty

Independence for people with all levels of abilities will become main stream. Accessibility Design has stood behind this statement since we opened our door 20 years ago. Now with our most recent award winner, “The Pink Lady”, we recognize how close we are.

Christie is a 21-year-old woman with cerebral palsy who uses a walker to ambulate due to minimal strength in her lower extremities.  She lives with her parents in the family home where she grew up. As she became an adult, she and her parents knew she was fully capable of greater independence, but the structural environment limited her ability and increased her reliance on assistance from her parents.

As a result of her bathroom not being functional, Christie found herself bathing in her parent’s master bathroom which required a process of adding and removing large pieces of equipment each time she showered.  The makeshift, temporary solution required re-staging daily, imposed on the privacy of her parent’s bathroom and still required caregiver assistance to climb over the curb at the shower entrance.

The goal of this remodel was to create a bathroom that seamlessly integrated features into the design that promoted access, safety, dignity, ease of maintenance and beauty.  The family wanted to avoid an institutional-looking environment often found in public bathroom facilities.  Interior design principles drew inspiration from Christie’s love of zebras, the color pink and “all things girl” and seamlessly combined them with accessibility sensitive installations.

Each access solution was explored from the perspective of design, occupational therapy, construction and real estate value.  In collaboration with Christie and her parents, an extensive needs assessment was conducted to gain a better understanding of her abilities and the symptoms associated with cerebral palsy to better anticipate needs that go beyond safety, function and aesthetics.

In the end, Christie was provided with a beautiful space integrated with all the practical features needed to use it safely, independently and with dignity.  The final cost of the project was $34,256.00.

Accessibility Design's solution included:

The overall challenge was to reconfigure the bathroom to meet Christie’s needs without changing the footprint of the existing space.  Considerations included accessible fixtures with ample storage space, a water friendly environment with slip resistant surfaces and great design flair.

  • Widened doorway from 28” to 32” and installed 180 degree pivot door. The door is designed to swing into the bathroom. In the event of an emergency where the doorway is blocked, the velcro’d doorstop can simply be removed and the door can swing into the hallway.
  • Replaced the vanity with a single sink with knee clearance below allowing her to sit and use the sink. A tilt-style mirror can be repositioned as needed by any user.
  • Fitted existing toilet with bidet seat minimizing the need for assistance. Strategically placed grab bars assist Christie in sitting and rising from the toilet.
  • Careful planning was taken when designing the storage niche next to the toilet providing convenient point-of-use access to extra toiletry items and the toilet tissue dispenser.
  • The many shallow drawers give Christie the ability to pullout drawers and easily see items.  The cabinet door above drawers gives Christie’s mom a place to store items.
  • The changing bench drawer is easily accessed as laundry “hamper” under the dry bench seat for discarded clothing while the two shelves above it give Christie’s mom a place to store more extras.
  • Mounted subfloor between joists to provide depth for sloping shower floor without any barrier, threshold or lip.  Custom-fitted grab bars and shower choices complete the area.
  • Installed a heat source beneath the tile on the floor and benches to prevent spasms resulting from cold surfaces.  One bench was constructed to sit on while showering and a second bench to provide a dry place for Christie to transfer after showering in order to dress.
  • Hand-held shower sprayer within easy reach of bench; separate standard height wall shower for use by Christie as well as other family members; both showers controlled by single lever faucet with diverter conveniently located on half-wall at shower entry.
  • Reinforced walls in the shower and toilet areas for secure installation of custom placed grab bars.  Built in seating provides foot support to prevent tumbling forward while shaving.
  • Christie’s Dad wanted the basket weave floor tile: Christie’s mom wanted the classic black and white wall tile; Christie made her own with the cotton candy pink walls, towels, picture, shower curtain and zebra accessories. The result is a simply beautiful bathroom.

Results of the project

By enhancing Christie’s life through home access, the end result helped her regain the dignity she did not have prior to the remodel. The final result increased her independence dramatically, without compromising safety, and reduced the stress and worry felt by her parents. With a private bathroom customized to meet her needs, the family has restored privacy needed to foster cohesiveness of adults living together, while maintaining their individual privacy.

A Milestone has been made…accessible bathrooms CAN be beautiful! You’ve cracked the playing field wide open “Pink Lady”. Not only are you intensely functional and filled with access features, you are attractive enough to be judged on your beauty… and take home the prize.

~Jane Hampton

Minneapolis, MN 55426 USA 952.925.0301

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