Universal Design

1st Place Winner
Curb Appeal Renovations, Fort Worth, Texas

After being severely injured at work in 2000, one of the homeowners was confined to a wheelchair. The existing layout of the home prevented him from accessing and using the existing bathroom. After the construction was approved by the Workers’ Compensation carrier in August 2003, the homeowners ran into another snap when it took six more months before a medical provider approved the work.

The challenge Curb Appeal faced was remodeling a bathroom that allowed access to the shower, commode and sink, while looking stylish and modern. “Ever mindful of rising property taxes, and the possibility that they may be forced to move in the future, our homeowners wanted to make sure that the bathroom was tasteful and welcoming and did not appear “handicapped to a future homeowner.” An additional request was made to make the sinks and vanities higher than usual since they both were over 6-ft. tall. With the new bathroom design, the homeowner could wheel himself under the vanity, over to the commode or into the shower.

In order to provide barrier-free access to the shower, the floor had to be jack-hammered to eliminate the curb leading into the shower itself. Further work was required to relocate the toilet as it had been in a spot where the new shower was to be located. The location of the new toilet was situated in such a way that a commode chair could be rolled over it, while still appearing aesthetically pleasing.

Other universal-design-friendly applications included an anti-scald shower; shampoo and soap boxes were built into the wall at a lower height; grab bars were installed; and the door leading into the bathroom and closet are double doors to make them easier to navigate around. Curb Appeal also installed the countertops at two levels — accommodating both the home owners. The barrier-free countertop was installed so the custom wheelchair could still be wheeled under without the homeowner burning his hands. The plumbing was installed with protective covering so his legs would be not burned by the hot water.

“Our homeowners were thrilled that we accomplished everything on their wish list, starting with the husband’s ability to shower at home for the first time in over two years and to making their home an inviting and luxurious space.”