Virgil is quoted as saying, “The greatest wealth is health,” and with so many Americans living well longer, the interior design industry is seeing a real increase in requests for master bathrooms that will allow for aging in place.
These spaces are not utilitarian or spare, they are carefully designed for function and beauty. “Luxury baths include both functional and emotional elements, with the former involving high levels of craftsmanship and customization and the latter focusing on comfort and beauty at every level.” NKBA Luxury Bath Report 2022
No one knows this better than Shawn Rawlins, owner of Abe’s Discount Plumbing, in Modesto. “Key elements of a bathroom designed for aging in place include “0” threshold showers, grab bars that are disguised as towel bars or toilet tissue holders and bidet toilets. These elements make the bathroom safe and functional.”
“0” Threshold showers, or “roll-in showers” provide easy access to the shower area by functioning without a traditional shower threshold. This is achieved by either dropping the framing in the shower (if you have a raised foundation) or excavating foundation concrete, lowering the shower area and re-pouring a new slab for the shower floor. Often, these types of showers have linear drains. Linear drains span the width of the shower to catch water runoff at a precise pitch either at the front or the back of the shower. Shawn likes Infinity Drains, “They have a program that allows you to have a drain made for the precise dimension of the width of your shower, either tile-in or with a decorative grate.” This is an important feature as the ability to catch and carry water away from the built environment is key for the integrity of the room.
One of the most frustrating things about designing an aging in place bathroom is that once installed, grab bars make the room feel cold and sterile. Not so any longer, says Shawn. “Delta is a very approachable price point and they make good looking grab bars to match some of their suites of trim styles.” In the project photographed for this story, we used Delta grab bars to beautiful effect. They act as towel bars and as a toilet tissue holder.
Bidet toilets are also more and more popular for use in aging in place bathrooms. UTI’s are more common as one ages and can lead to serious illness including kidney infections and sepsis. To avoid UTI’s cleanliness and dryness are key (Mayo Clinic 2022). Most bidet toilets can clean and dry each area thoroughly, helping to prevent the spread of bacteria from one area to another, and helping to discourage skin rash and irritation. Toto is best known for their bidet toilets, but other brands are entering the market at a more approachable pricepoint with comparable features. Trone is a toilet I discovered at the 2020 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Orlando, FL. Their toilets offer separate washing and drying features, a heated seat, deodorizers, a night light and auto clean functions for less than half the price of a Toto bidet toilet.
Other luxury elements you may want to incorporate into your bathroom include heated floors,custom storage for prescriptions and hygiene products, additional natural light, and grooming features like a vanity with a hot styling tool pull out. “People just want to stay in their homes as long as humanly possible. It’s comfortable…their own. A beautiful, thoughtfully designed bathroom that can accommodate a multitude of needs can make that possible,” shares Shawn. For more information about great products to make your forever bathroom perfect for your needs, please call Shawn at (209)521-8600 to schedule your private plumbing consultation.
Photography by Mark Verschelden. Design by Wendy Glaister and Stephanie Poulsen of Wendy Glaister Interiors. Plumbing trims from Abe’s discount plumbing. Tile from Bedrosians. Cabinetry by VPM Cabinets.