The Pink Lady Project

Breaking Barriers with Beauty

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 her parents.

Christie's bathroom wasn't functional, so she found herself bathing in her parent’s master bathroom, which required the adding and removing of large pieces of equipment every time she showered. The makeshift solution required re-staging daily and imposed on the privacy of her parent’s bathroom, and Christie still required caregiver assistance to climb over the curb at the shower entrance.

The goal of the Pink Lady remodel was to create a bathroom that seamlessly integrated features to promote access, safety, dignity, ease of maintenance, and beauty.  The family wanted to avoid the institutional-looking environment often found in public bathroom facilities. Our interior design 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 considered from the perspectives of design, occupational therapy, construction and real estate value. In collaboration with Christie and her parents, Accessibility Design conducted an extensive needs assessment to gain a better understanding of Christie's abilities and the symptoms associated with cerebral palsy. This assessment helped us 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.

Results of the project

By enhancing Christie’s life through home access, the end result helped her gain the dignity she did not have prior to the remodel. The final result dramatically increased her independence without compromising safety, and it reduced her parents' stress and worry. Because Christie's private bathroom meets her needs, the family now enjoys the privacy needed by adults who live together.

Accessibility Design's solution included:

  • Widening the bathroom doorway from 28” to 32” and installing a 180-degree pivot door, which 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.
  • Replacing the vanity with a single sink with knee clearance, allowing Christie to sit and use the sink. A tilt-style mirror can be repositioned as needed by any user.
  • Fitting the existing toilet with a bidet seat, minimizing the need for assistance. Strategically placed grab bars assist Christie in sitting and rising from the toilet.
  • Mounting 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.
  • Installing 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 was added to provide a dry place where Christie could dress after showering.
  • Installing a hand-held shower sprayer (within easy reach of bench) and a separate, standard-height wall shower for use by Christie and other family members. Both showers are controlled by single-lever faucet, with a diverter conveniently located on half-wall at shower entry.
  • Reinforcing 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.
  • 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 pull out 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.
  • Christie’s dad wanted the basket weave floor tile; Christie’s mom wanted the classic black-and-white wall tile; Christie chose the cotton candy pink walls, towels, picture, shower curtain, and zebra accessories. The result is a simply beautiful bathroom.

"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
The Pink Lady ProjectThe Pink Lady Project

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