Home Improvement--General/room redesign for elderly


QUESTION: Sorry, Diane, I forgot to attach the floor plan. I hope it's not too much trouble to get the two messages together.

Homeowner sketch and CAD plan
Homeowner sketch and C  
ANSWER: Success, Rubye! Thank you!

I was able to import your plan into my cad software, and I've started working on a plan for you, but I have some preliminary questions:

1. How important is it to have a closet in the room? If so, what size, or how many clothes? Will there be a dresser, too?
2. How important is it to have a lavatory sink in the room?
3. Is it possible to change any of the windows, or the patio door?
4. Is the patio door a standard size with a fixed sidelite?
5. What bed size do you intend to use? Will it be a standard bed, or a hospital bed?
6. Is the ceiling height standard, i.e., around 96" (8 feet)?
7. Is there any plumbing close to the room?
8. How is the room heated?
9. Is there a crawl space under your home, or does this room have a slab floor?
10. Is the access to this room from a hallway? Will the hallway accommodate a wheelchair and the 5' turning radius?

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions! I'm sure that we'll be communicating back and forth until we have something that will help you and your husband. Please, take care.



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

First Floor
First Floor  
QUESTION: Hi, thanks for getting back to me. Sorry it took so long for me to get you a plan you could read. Answers to your questions:
1. To make it into a legitimate bedroom for resale purposes, there does need to be a closet,but it could be small. I would use it for the clothes he wears every day.
2. We do need to have a sink in the bathroom, as that's where he would take care of his daily hygiene needs.
3. We would like to do it without changing the windows, if possible, as that would greatly increase the cost.
4. The patio door has two fixed sidelites of approximately 36" on each side with the moveable door in the middle that slides toward the 108 3/4" window wall opposite the door.
5. Right now he sleeps in a queen sized bed and balks at a twin, although at some point he'll probably have to use a hospital bed.
6. The ceiling height is 8 feet at the lowest side (the side with the 71 1/4" window) rising to about about 12 feet at the highest side (the side with the sliding glass door).
7. The room is above is above the crawl space and beside the kitchen so there would be relatively easy access to water and sewer.
8. We have central heating and airconditioning and there are two floor vents in the room,one at the edge of the sliding glass door that's closest to the 108 3/4" window and one centered in front of the 71 1/4" window. The room gets too cold in the winter and too warm in the summer, so I feel we would have to add more vents to make the room comfortable. My husband is never hot, even in 100 degree temps in the summer, he wears long sleeves, so heating the room would be a priority. Some supplemental heater would have to be added to the bathroom.
9. We have a crawl space and the floor of the room is wood with standard pink rolled insulation in the joists underneath. I wondered if adding additional insulation would make the room more comfortable.
10. The door access to the room is from the front entry of the house. The sliding glass doors goes to a room that now used as a "Carolina Room" which has comfortable seating, so he would use it as an extension of his bedroom. I've put a desk in the corner of that room on the kitchen wall for his use.
I'm sending you a floor plan of the first level of the house so you can see the proximity of the room. The room is now used as my office.
My husband is amazingly mobile for a 96 year old and, with my help, is still going up the stairs to his bedroom and bath. Of course, I don't know how long that's going to last. He's was confined to the upstairs until yesterday since his bout with pneumonia. He uses a walker to get around and goes all over the house with it. Right now he isn't using a wheel chair and will resist it as long as he possibly can.
Right now he stands in a shower with two grab bars and I wash him, but I would feel more comfortable if he had a place to sit, with grab bars that would help him get up from the seat. He's very independent and wants to do as much on his own as he possibly can. His father lived to 101, so he has good genes, but he was in a wheel chair in the last couple of years.
He's 5'11" and weighs 155 pounds so needs nothing oversized.
I would be glad to answer any other questions you have. I really appreciate the time you're spending to help me with this.

Accessible Bathroom-Bedroom
Accessible Bathroom-Be  

Accessible Bathroom-Bedroom Perspective
Accessible Bathroom-Be  
Hello, Rubye.

I've created a plan for you, and have prepared perspectives, so you can see what I've done. Thank you so much for clarifying all the information that was very helpful.

I'm recommending a bathroom that is a "wet room," i.e., all the walls are tiled. This way, it's easier to clean with a corner shower area. Alternatively, you can have a ceiling-mounted shower curtain to enclose the shower area, if you don't want to tile all of the walls. I'm recommending a pocket door, so a swinging door doesn't get in the way of the bathroom or the bedroom. I'm also recommending that the light switch(es) be located on the outside of the new bathroom, for safety (especially if you do decide to create a "wet room").

The shower is 48" x 48". It has a drop-down seat, grab bars, and a personal shower on a slide bar. I recommend shampoo-soap niche(s) that are conveniently located. The toilet also has a grab bar. The lavatory sink is wall-mounted. Depending on where the vent stack for the sink and shower are located, you could have a recessed medicine cabinet above the sink. The nice thing about this configuration is that the sink can be located where it's easy for your husband to stand or sit. The lavatory faucet should have a single lever handle; if possible, you can get one that also has a motion sensor (although there are some limitations on the ability to control the water temperature that manufacturers don't tell you about).

The entire bathroom floor should be tiled with a slip-resistant mosaic tile, no larger than 3", especially if you have a "normal" drain in the shower. An alternative is an in-line drain. The floor has to slope towards the drain, which can be a problem for a contractor to install. The existing floor joists may have to be shaved to accommodate the 1/4" per foot required slope. For accessible bathrooms, we must avoid creating a threshold of any kind that can create a falling hazard.

You will see two five-foot circles on the plan. They represent the turning radius for a wheelchair. This means that the interior dimensions for the new bathroom must be a minimum of 7'-5". There was nowhere in the existing bedroom to place the shower, except in the corner. Unfortunately, it will require framing in one of the sidelites. The good news is that it's easier to frame in a window than it is to install a new window because of the header required for structural support.

I'm sorry to say that there was not sufficient room for a small closet without getting in the way of easy access to the bed and the bathroom. I don't know who told you that a bedroom must have a closet for resale. The major requirement for bedrooms is that they have emergency egress. An idea I'd like to share with you about this is: Remove the door and sidelite to create a doorway between the bedroom and the "Carolina" room. A small closet could be built into the adjacent room. Alternatively, is it possible for your husband's clothes to be kept in a cabinet? I don't know where it would be located, for the same reason as the closet.

Here are some links to linear drains:

Wishing you and your husband the best of health, and happiness.

Warmest regards,

Diane Plesset, CMKBD, C.A.P.S., NCIDQ
D. P. Design (diane@dp-design.com)
"See the Possibilities. Create a Positive Difference."

P.S. I'm VERY UPSET that All Experts has a limit on the number of images I can attach. I have three more images, perspectives of the bathroom that I'd like you to see. Please send another question, or send me an email so I can reply with the other images. Thank you!  

Home Improvement--General

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Diane Plesset


I will answer questions about anything to do with bathroom remodeling: design considerations, safety, function, materials (cabinets, countertops, plumbing fixtures and fittings, lighting/switching, heating and ventilation, tile, stone, concrete, tub and shower enclosures, flooring, etc.), saving water, trends, ROI, and appearance.


25+ years as a bath-kitchen design specialist, hundreds of completed bathroom projects (all styles, all investment ranges). Author of "THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling," co-host of a home improvement program on a local radio station for over three years. Currently hosting "Today's Home" on Lifestyle WebRadio every Sunday afternoon (http://www.todays-home.com).

NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association), NAHB (National Association of Home Builders), PRO (Portland Remodelers' Organization), IDPC (Interior Design Protection Council).

"THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling" (my book, published in 2003), Designers' Illustrated Magazine, Gentry Magazine, Kitchen-Bath Business Magazine, Kitchen-Bath Design News Magazine,Interior Coordinator Magazine (Japan); San Jose Mercury News, San Mateo Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Statesman Journal, Portland Tribune, Oregonian.

Multiple degrees: Bathroom Design, Residential Interior Design, Kitchen Design, and Lighting Design. Regularly attend classes and seminars to maintain current knowledge about codes, trends, sustainability, new products, etc.

Awards and Honors
Awards: Henry Adams Designer of the Year, CoTY, Master Design, Best of the Best, Chrysalis, Excellence (best home in its category), and NABE (best how-to book, 2003). "THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling" received #1 listing in the City of Chicago publication, "Hiring The Pros".

Past/Present Clients
To see photos of completed projects, visit my website: http://www.dp-design.com/portfolio

©2017 About.com. All rights reserved.