September 25, 2013

Accessible Home: Planning

Recently, we have been gearing up for some home improvement projects.  While being surprisingly handicap accessible for a 100 year-old home, our old gal needs a little bit of tweaking to be ideal for Buddy B.  The two top projects are: (1) Bertrand's first floor bathroom and (2) wheelchair ramps.

Bertrand has been using the potty at school every single day for over 3 weeks!  This magnificent milestone has accelerated our need to remodel his first floor bathroom.  And, the wheelchair ramps are simply overdue.

Now I will admit, accessible design is becoming a bit of a soapbox topic for me.  Why does so much of it have to be so ugly? So institutional?!  People with disabilities are just like any other human being--they can appreciate beauty.  In fact, I'd say Bertrand deserves it.

For over a year now, I have been researching, examining, asking nosy questions, and thinking about accessible design non-stop.  My conclusion is that beautiful accessible design is possible! BUT it takes more planning and thought than is typically given to these sorts of things.

For the bathroom, I don't believe that attractive accessible design will necessarily cost anymore than typical bathroom design.  However, I am finding that attractive, durable, well-integrated wheelchair ramps may cost a pretty penny--especially with the weather conditions we have in Utah.  So, out of necessity, the ramps will be coupled with a landscape overhaul.

While we are still in the planning stage, I ask you, my knowledgable and wonderful blog readers: what are your thoughts on accessible design?  Are there any resources you'd recommend?  Thank you.  :)

PS - For the curious, here are my pinterest boards for the bathroom and the landscape/ramps.


  1. I've been following for a while and can finally chime in! Check out for some accessible design ideas that are gorgeous and functional. Gail Zahtz runs the site; I follow her on twitter and she's great and living here in the US. I think she'll be a great resource for you.

    1. Thank you! I've spent the last 30+ minutes reading that site. It is great! I just registered and followed Gail on twitter. :) Very awesome.

  2. I have no useful advice to offer about resources, but I wanted to say that I really liked the brick-walk look in your Pinterest pictures -- several of our neighbours have similar walks sloping up to their houses, although they use them for lawnmowers and similar things, not wheelchairs, so I imagine they took a little less planning. They look very nice, though, especially with wildflowers in the grass borders. The bathrooms all look thoroughly enviable, so my only suggestion there would be to get the towel heater! (I may just get one for A. for Christmas :)).

    I do remember a wooden wheelchair ramp at one house I lived in in college, it had vines growing up the slats and looked quite nice, but I'm not sure that that was actually supposed to be happening; it probably wasn't very good for the wood. I don't think it was tested during the time I was there, except for a couple of occasions when people used it to bring their luggage into the house on carts.

    1. You'll be happy to know that yes, we are definitely doing the towel heater. :) Our house is so old that we have radiators instead of central air. As a result, we need a radiator in the bathroom, so a hydronic towel heater would serve double duty. We are also leaning toward electric heating mats under the tile floor as a secondary heating source. At this point, I am fairly confident that the bathroom will turn out great. :)

      On the other hand, the ramps and landscape design are aging me prematurely. :-P