Bathroom Renovation Ideas
Something for Everyone
Mobility needs discreetly highlighted in bathroom design
By Chelsie Butler
The primary needs for the main bathroom in a home in Melbourne, Australia, were to accommodate the clients’ young son’s special needs and limited mobility and to feature a design that would be suitable for the entire family, as well as guests.
Bubbles Bathrooms – a trendsetter in Australian bathroom design – was commissioned to design this space, which required a shower space large enough for assisted showering, as well as a freestanding bathtub and seating area.
Before the design could start, the original space needed to be gutted.
“This was necessary firstly for compliance to the new building codes in Australia,” said Owen Barnes, principal designer with the Melbourne-based firm, “and secondly to properly prepare the space structurally for the modifications planned. It was completely stripped, and the space started fresh with just the physical room size, window and door locations left to dictate the design.”
Recommendations and Implementations
Barnes and his team paid close to recommendations from the son’s physiotherapist when designing the new bathroom in relation to flow and accessibility. “The layout of the fixtures and fittings was also carefully planned to ensure the caretakers’ ability to move with ease within the space,” he added.
According to Barnes, it was also important to the client that the new design be suitable for someone with mobility limitations without appearing to be a space obviously designed as such.
“We considered the clients’ needs and came up with alternative, yet functional solutions,” he said. “No grab rails are currently required.”
Pedestal basins were installed so that a wheelchair could easily fit underneath them, and reinforcements were built into the wall as a consideration for future grab rails. Bench height and possible future wheelchair access to the vanity were also considered and applied.
The bulky, out-of-place window was restyled with clear glass to take advantage of the private garden space outside, and a large, freestanding, composite stone bathtub creates impact upon entry. Bathtub faucets are deliberately positioned for the caretakers to provide assisted bathing, as is the “perching space” attached to the vanity.
Darker porcelain tiles were used on the wall behind the tub to contrast with the lighter walls and add depth to the room, and building code-compliant, 12-volt, Edison-style task lighting was used for the vanity. Sustainable design elements were also considered and include water-saving toilets, faucets and shower heads and energy-efficient LED lighting.
“Australia has strict compliance regulations for saving water because we live in such a dry environment,” said Barnes. “Our drinking water is also some of the purest in the world, so we use special brass inside the faucets to make sure it doesn’t get contaminated.”
According to Barnes, a lot of designers miss the mark on the layout and flow of a bathroom.
“We are constantly seeing designers not properly evaluating and taking seriously the adequate flow in bathrooms for movement, safety and accessibility,” he added.
One concern with layout is positioning showers too close to an entry point, which Barnes says will cause the tracking of water and “wet” the floor in front of the door. Another issue is the location of the toilet, as from a visual perspective there should not be a direct view of the toilet from a doorway, whenever possible. Barnes says changing the position of a door swing or using a modesty screen often achieves this.
Sources: K+BB Magazine October 2013 edition
Designer: Owen Barnes of Bubbles Bathrooms, Melbourne, Australia; Bathtub and sink: Victoria + Albert; Faucets: Astra Walker and Parisi; Photographer: Paul West; Toilet: Parisi; Vanity: Caesarstone and Laminex
Water hammer can be quite annoying. It is the sound in a steam or water pipe caused by the pressurized air moving around inside or forced to stop suddenly. You may notice it as one loud bang when you shut off the tap quickly, or as a series of bangs or hammering sounds when a water closet is filled and shuts off slowly. This problem commonly occurs in older homes often after renovating and changing standard taps to mixers because mixers have sudden water shut off.
3 main reasons why this occurs
1. Older homes used non-plastic pipes
2. Pipes were often laid directly on the ground
3. Water pipes were often not properly secured.
Solution: If you have access under your house securing the pipes will resolve this however you generally need to not only affix the pipes where the water hammer is occurring but often need to reclip the entire water system because clipping at one spot may move the hammering to another location.
If your house develops water hammers after renovation this is considered a pre existing defect. Water hammer arresters are available in the market however they need to be installed in both hot and cold water supply lines from every tap. This may be costly and it is not guaranteed to work.