National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) MN Chapter – 7 Universal Design Ideas Useful for Any Bathroom Remodel

NKBA Modern Bathroom

“Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent.” – Joe Soprano

Baby Boomers, those born in the U.S. between 1946-1964 are the driving factor in how our country is aging. According to a study conducted by AARP, there will be 71.5 million people in the U.S. age 65 and older by the year 2030—20 percent of the population. And of that group, 87 percent want to remain in their homes as they age. This underscores the importance of aging-in-place projects for remodelers and dovetails with an important statistic published in Professional Remodeler Magazine, “Falls account for more accidental deaths among seniors than all other types of accidents combined.”

When thinking of aging-in-place bathroom design, it’s not uncommon to think of those ugly commercial-grade grab bars. Designers have come a long way since then, with stylish and practical aging-in-place design for all ages, including:

  • Thermostatic Valve in Shower

Nobody wants to be scalded with hot water. A thermostatic control valve can cap off how hot the water can get and control water volume, which can save water when you are doing things like shaving or shampooing.

  • Color and Texture Contrast

Whether your eyesight starts to deteriorate or you can’t seem to find your glasses, contrasting colors in a design help you to see the start and stop of different objects such as a bathtub or shower curb against the floor.

  • Lever Handles Vs. Door Knobs

Grip strength can weaken as we age, making it easy to see why doorknobs can be a challenge. Levers are a better option for all ages, making it easier to open doors when your hands are full or your little ones want to get into a room.

Handheld Shower Head

Handhelds are great for people who want to be seated while showering, but also practical for kids beginning to shower—and a convenient way to wash the pets. Add an extra hook by the bench to place the handheld.

Grab Bars

Grab bars are disguised today as towel bars, shampoo shelves, corner soap dishes, and even tissue holders. Check out Invisia and Delta for some favorites.

Bench Seating

Bench seating in the shower allows for the obvious—sitting down while showering, but can also be used as a foot rest while shaving your legs, or as a place for setting your toiletries. Types of shower benches include the built-in bench, fold down bench, and portable bench.

Trench Drains

Eliminating the curb of a shower allows for wheelchair accessibility, while tending to look better. With a trench drain, you can design a curb-less shower, but not all existing bathrooms allow for it. With a big enough shower, you can also eliminate the door, making it so much easier to get in and out.

NKBA professionals understand accessible and universal design. Hiring an NKBA professional for your next project can give you peace of mind that the project will be done right. Find one near you here.

For more information, please visit

By Chelsey Preuss, NKBA member and designer at Crystal Kitchen + Bath



National Kitchen & Bath Association

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