How to Design an Accessible Bathroom without Sacrificing Style

For many households, an accessible bathroom becomes necessary at some point. The elderly and family members with mobility issues all deserve the ability to use the bathroom with dignity. The first thing to be kept in mind while designing an accessible bathroom is its' function. However, that doesn't mean you should avoid thinking about how it looks. The visual aesthetic is a big part of how we process life, so having a nice-looking bathroom will undoubtedly add to it. With that in mind, here are some tips on how to make your accessible bathroom look picture-perfect.

Bathtubs are out, and showers are in

Having a bathtub has its' own perks. You can fill it up and have a relaxing bubble bath or use it to soak and wash different things. However, they are not very accessible to anyone with mobility issues, as they require the person to be very stable on their legs to get in or out. This is the reason why many wheelchair users and older people often need extra support when using a bathtub. They can also take up a significant amount of space. This can make a small bathroom seem even smaller and cluttered, which is not a good look.

Luckily, there is an almost universal solution to this. Exchanging your bathtub for a walk-in shower is bound to benefit you and your family in multiple ways. Firstly, walk-in showers don't have an entry barrier, meaning anyone can use them without help. You may put an anti-slip mat on the floor to make them even safer. They also look very modern and aesthetically pleasing. Transparent walls make the bathroom space look bigger and brighter, and that's always a plus.

A light beige bathroom with a glass shower
Caption: Showers are often a much safer option than bathtubs

Make sure there's enough space for free movement

Apart from making the bathroom elements accessible, it is also very important to make the whole bathroom easy to navigate. This is especially important for wheelchair users, as they need a wider space to be able to move freely. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) suggests that every accessible bathroom should have a free circular floor space of at least 60 inches in diameter. Having a few extra square feet can be handy if you have elderly family members. This way, they are far less likely to trip and fall down and potentially hurt themselves. Of course, the visual aspects of a larger space are a lovely addition. A larger bathroom is bound to look neater and more modern, especially if it’s decorated nicely.

Consider alternative storage solutions for skin care and hygiene products

Hygiene products can cause a lot of clutter, mainly if more people use the same bathroom. This is a problem for two reasons. First, it can be unsafe as the clutter decreases mobility when moving through the bathroom. This can be a serious problem for wheelchair users who use the bathroom. Secondly, having all the products sitting out in the open can make the bathroom look unappealing. This is why including appropriate shelving and storage space when designing an accessible bathroom is a must.

To keep the bathroom clutter-free, the shelving should be big enough to store all your products. Also, you should install it at a height appropriate for wheelchair users. If you're designing a new bathroom because you're moving to Washington, DC and already have some shelving you'd like to transfer to your new home, a team of experts can help you do that. However, you may decide to freshen things up a bit and get new storage units. You're almost guaranteed to find whatever material or set-up you have in mind. If not, you can always have your shelving custom-made. To make sure you pick out the best option for your needs, consider consulting with the professionals. Getting an experienced team of home modification consultants specializing in making the spaces accessible and safe to help you is your best bet here.

simple bathroom shelves

Caption: When working on designing an accessible bathroom, make sure you have enough space to store all of your bathroom essentials

Think about the sink!

Bathroom sinks are often overlooked during the remodel, unrightfully so. Making a wise choice there can bring the whole room together. When accessibility is the primary goal, you want a sink that's easy to reach and fairly wide. Ordinary, non-accessible sinks can sometimes be mounted too high for wheelchair users to reach while sitting down. This can make everyday activities such as brushing teeth challenging or impossible. On the other hand, standard accessible sinks can be mounted up to 34 inches from the floor. This height will ensure that wheelchair users can easily get their wheelchair underneath the sink and safely practice self-hygiene activities. You can also get an adjustable height sink, although those are bound to cost you more.

Adjusting your sink to your household needs doesn't mean you have to give up the good looks. Nowadays, there are many shapes and materials you can choose from to fit your bathroom the best. Whether you like stone or ceramics, you'll find a sink that serves the purpose and fits your taste. However, you'll probably need help installing whatever type of sink you choose. That's where a team of home modification consultants comes in. Hiring professionals that have special certifications, such as a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS), is the best way to ensure that your sink is installed safely. Their reliability and experience when it comes to accessible design are crucial for getting the job done the right way.

A white ceramic bathroom sink with stainless steel faucet

Caption: Make sure that the bathroom sink is easy to reach and handle

Spruce up the grab bars

One of the absolute necessities when designing an accessible bathroom is including the grab bars. They have multiple purposes, and are very important for making the bathroom safe. The bars are usually put in the shower or beside the toilet bowl, making them quite prominent. This is why you’d probably want to make them look nice and match the overall vibe of your bathroom.

The main way you can adjust the appearance of your grab bars is by choosing their color and material. The most commonly used material for grab bars is stainless steel. It’s a very durable material that doesn’t rust or corrode in wet environments such as a bathroom. You can pick out the finishing color that fits your bathroom the best, as they come in chrome, brass, bronze, white, and a few other colors. Stainless steel grab bars are by far the safest option on the market, and we strongly recommend installing them over any other option. Speaking with an accessible design professional will allow you to pick out the ones that are the best fit for your household.


Designing an accessible bathroom can be challenging and often requires help from specialists. While some modifications are fairly simple and straightforward, others can take up a bit more time and energy. Either way that doesn’t mean that the looks of your accessible bathroom need to fall into the background. With the right guidance, you can get your bathroom to look like a magazine photo while still serving its initial purpose.