MidCentury Modern "ADA Accessible" Guest HouseTransitional Bathroom, Los Angeles
Jim Bartsch Photography
What Houzz contributors are saying:
Benches are particularly useful for older homeowners, those with elderly guests and those who plan to age in place, but they can really work for anyone. Folding benches, especially, can work for those who want the feature to be low-profile.“Accessible design always makes sense, can be well hidden and [is] beautiful,” Barbara Grushow of Barbara Grushow Designs says. “Most of the time when I bring it up, clients hurriedly dismiss the notion…. There is a lack of awareness of how easily it can be incorporated and systems can be put in place for a later time — and a genuine fear of it. People think, ‘I won’t ever need that,’ or don’t want to think about the reality if it might be needed one day.”In this case, Grushow, who has a special interest in accessible design, got this small teak bench and its corresponding hardware on Houzz and paired it with a curbless entry, wider doorways, a wall-mounted sink and other details that would work for the home’s older occupants.Even if homeowners are relatively young, a simple bench like this one can be smart to add for other reasons, Grushow says. “Imagine a pregnant woman, or a person after knee surgery or a sprained ankle. Grab bars and shower benches are amazingly helpful, useful and a great safety measure in those types of instances as well, let alone for an elderly person or someone who is permanently disabled,” she says. “We all have days where a bench, and if you are lucky enough to have a hand shower, would be a very nice way to relax and bathe.”
2. What Accessibility Concerns Need to Be Addressed?As a certified aging-in-place specialist, Kiriu speaks with groups and works with clients to ensure homeowners recognize and remedy any potential home hazards or challenges for aging residents, whether it’s for their own safety or the safety of a live-in relative. When adding an in-law suite, he says, homeowners should be thinking through everything from including reinforced walls and grab bars like these in the shower to choosing mood-boosting paint colors. And it’s easiest to make these adjustments early on in the process, even if a parent doesn’t currently have mobility or cognitive problems.“You want to do it when you first do any type of construction,” he says. “When the walls are open it’s much easier to put in blocking between the studs than it is tearing everything up.” Following the principles of universal design — which Kiriu says he’s seeing more in his work — will also help incorporate pieces and structures that everyone can use now and in the future.
2. Bathroom benches. You don’t have to be beyond retirement to appreciate a bench in your washroom, whether in your shower or at your sink. It permits you to go through your typical routine safely and comfortably. There are many ways to include such a fixture without making it seem as though it’s intended to address a disability. Whether you choose a wall-hung bench that can fold up in tight spaces or a built-in bench, the same principles apply in a wet environment: proper waterproofing and using moisture-resistant materials like teak, cedar or plastic.