Thursday 18 July 2013

Cool "wetroom" bath remodel in Richmond Heights, MO

Hello All,

Bathrooms are one of the most commonly (and repeatedly) remodeled rooms in the scope of home ownership.  From the standpoint of a Realtor®, the configuration of a bathroom and its components carries as much weight and value as the fixtures and finishing touches. 

Doing a gut remodel on a bathroom and not putting any thought into universal design principles is detrimental to not only the current value of the home, it is damaging to the future marketability of the property. Not to mention, it could be potentially hazardous to the health, well being and quality of life of the home's current and future occupants.  

If you live in a home with two full bathrooms and are embarking on bath remodeling projects, please, please, please, make sure you dedicate one of those baths to a curbless shower.  It is for your own good.  And if you live in a two story home, make sure you put this curbless shower on the first floor....especially if you have a bedroom on the first floor.  You will maximize the value of your home by providing first floor basic living amenities if a person can't do stairs for some reason.  Even if the reason is only temporary.  This person could easily be you or a family member at any given moment.

If you are doing this renovation as part of an investment piece, take into consideration the vast pool of people needing rentals.  Do you plan on only renting to currently able bodied individuals?   Increase your renter pool by making sure your property investment portfolio includes properties that work for walkers and rollers.  If you don't, you are shortchanging yourself in the long run and missing out on potentially long term renters and a steady source of income.

I wanted to share the above photo of a private bath with everyone because it is a great example of what can be done to universally modify--stylishly and simply--within the standard square footage of a bath, in a typical 1930's brick bungalow.

First of all, in order to accommodate a wheelchair user, there must be a clear 60 inch turn radius.  In a residential bathroom setting, one can count the space underneath the sink and in the shower as part of this space.  Keeping in consideration that this particular rehab project was not designed around a wheelchair user, it was put together with  sensibility and  style working with the space instead of against it.  Everything is within easy reach and it provides for much freedom of movement for someone with limited mobility.  With the current design, it would be relatively easy to remove the shower tray and install a trench drain and fully tiled bottom to create a curbless shower. 

Trench drains eliminate the need for a center drain and barrier to the shower space, giving more clearance and ease of access.

Wall hung toilets are also another way to buy a couple inches of clearance, and in a compact space, every little bit helps.  Wall mounted sinks without cabinetry underneath not only provide additional clearance. they also allow for easy access to the plumbing.  Lost storage space can be gained by incoporating small and easily moveable furniture pieces that compliment the rest of the room.  Get creative and shop thrift stores and estate sales for these sorts of things.  It is easy to dress up a basic design with found objects that you can take with you if and when you relocate.

And if you do have to modify your home because of accessibility reasons, make sure you do it in a way that doesn't look like an afterthought.  Think about the project from a property improvement perspective as much as functional necessity and don't leave out the design details.   The key is to blend with the existing backdrop.
Little improvements like this add up to big ways of increasing the practical, economic and market value of the common "bath" room in ways that are beneficial for everyone. 

Special thanks to my good friend DC for allowing me to photograph her beautiful home improvement project.  Very nice work!  I will be back to visit soon with my dear Auntie B!!


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