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Safe and Accessible
The ultimate clutter-free bathroom goes beyond ample cabinet space and a clean countertop: It's a single, seamless surface that's free of raised edges and stumbling blocks, especially around the shower. In fact, the so-called step-less shower (other terms include walk-in, floor-level, barrier-free and wet room) is not only a hot trend in contemporary design, but also a very practical idea with long-term benefits as we age.
Stepless showers are a good choice for bathroom renovations that... include accessibility improvements. Consider adding a bench for sitting down, as not everyone is able to stand up as they age; a hand-held shower head that's accessible without reaching up is also an excellent idea.Continue to 2 of 6 below.
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Step-less showers — with or without doors — visually enhance the size of a small bathroom and are a practical solution for people of every life stage and ability. And there's another advantage: when the shower and main bathroom area are a single continuous run of floor tiles, it's much easier to keep the whole room tidy.
Another trick for enhancing the space in a small bathroom is to use transparent glass walls. As in this example from Leanne McKeachie Design, via Houzz, a shower with... glass walls opens up the room. Without the interruption from a solid wall, the whole bathroom looks seamless and spacious.
Which brings up the question that's likely to be on your mind: If there's nothing to contain the water, how do you keep the bathroom from flooding?Continue to 3 of 6 below.
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Where Does All That Water Go?
Karen Braitmayer has certainly experienced more than her share of soaked bathrooms. As a lifetime wheelchair user who is also a registered architect, Braitmayer has tried scores of step-less showers — primarily in hotels — that flooded the bathroom, despite extra-long curtains and carefully positioned shower heads.
When it was time to remodel her own bathroom, Braithmayer finally hit upon a solution: a shower with a linear drain, installed in a floor constructed to slope away from the shower... opening. "To my great relief, it works like a charm, without a full enclosure to block my access to the shower seat."
While a sloping floor is certainly an effective solution for water drainage, it needn't be the major project Braithmayer describes. Quartz by ACO, a leading manufacturer of linear shower drains, claims that their products are highly effective without complicated floor slopes or major re-tiling.
If you're still worried, though, a small ledge can help keep water away from the rest of the bathroom. It won't be a "true" stepless shower, but it will be close enough to keep all the visual effects intact.Continue to 4 of 6 below.
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Keep the Toilet Off the Floor
Another way to make sure that the water in a wet room stays where it belongs is to install a wall-hung toilet, which don't send waste through the floor's waterproofing system, says Bud Dietrich, AIA, a Tampa Bay, FL-based architect. "You can also place a wall-hung toilet in a higher position, which makes getting on and off it much easier," says Dietrich. And let's not forget how easy they are to clean around.
For more information about what toilet types exist, and their... benefits, visit our Ultimate Toilet Buying Guide.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Flat-Out Fantastic Style
There's no denying that European bath designers possess a keen eye for aesthetics. Taking the trendy concept of merged living spaces to its highest level, the German company Kalewei has come up with an edgy solution: a shower drain that disappears into the wall. There's no more hole in the floor to disrupt its smooth, enameled expanse. Instead, water flows into a concealed gutter through a discreet opening in the wall.
This is the ultimate minimalist shower: no door, no side walls, just a... defined area on the floor. Barrier-free showers are actually the most accessible.Continue to 6 of 6 below.
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Go Completely Barrier-Free
The ideal kind of stepless shower is a completely barrier-free one, as in this example from Badeloft GmbH, via Houzz. There are no obstacles on either side of the shower, making it easy to move in and out. If you have enough space, consider building a shower on this model, rather than a glass-walled shower with a door.
For extra accessibility, add a hand bar, a bench, and and a hand-held shower head that can be grabbed at waist height.