Brass and gold hardware and fixtures are back in! I know that brass brings back horrible memories of the 80’s. The bright, shiny brass finishes of that era really made us all grow tired of the finish. Today’s brass is different. The “now” metal is a brushed, matte finished version. There are still bright, shiny versions available, but now they’re being paired with deep, rich colors like navy blue and smoky grays. Playing cool colors against the warmer metals dresses up any space. Like the preppy look of brass buttons on a classic navy blue blazer.
You can find the new golds and brasses at any price point. Delta has a few lines that come in “champagne bronze” and Kohler, which is a higher end retail brand, has the modern “Purist” line, which is available in “vibrant moderne brushed gold”, which happens to be my personal favorite. In the high market not accessible through larger retailers, Watermark, Rohl, and Newport Brass offer shinier versions of gold and brass. Watermark, based in Brooklyn, has 4 brass finishes and one polished gold finish. Rohl’s “Inca Brass” is a more classic shiny brass, but the faucets come in contemporary shapes and styles, which breathes new life into the classic. Like Watermark, Newport Brass, offers 4 different brass finishes in various sheens and patinas, and a “French Gold” finish that has a matte champagne look.
Are you feeling this new trend? Or are you feeling like your having a brass flashback? Do you think you’ll be trying out the brass look in your bathroom anytime soon?
Tuck-in, this is going to be a long and uncomfortable post, but I promise it will be worth your time!
Did you know?
Tile flooring can last a lifetime.
Most of todays cabinets can last up to 50 years.
The average cost of a full bathroom remodel is $16,000.
The average lifespan is 79 years.
When it comes to aging most baby boomers (85%) want to live in their own homes rather than an assisted living or a nursing home.
The one-year risk of mortality for people aged 65 years or older after a hip fracture is about 50%, and increases with age.
Okay, that last one was a tad morbid, but were talking about aging in place today, so no aging topic (within reason) is taboo. My point is, these are ALL things you should think about when you remodel your bathroom.
Beyond slipping and falling on wet tile, I bet you’ve never thought about how a bathroom remodeling project could pose a danger as you age. On the flip side, I bet you didn’t know that good design could enhance your life as you age, instead of endangering it. I’d also wager that if you’re under 50 you’ve never given ANY thought AT ALL to the intersection of bathroom remodeling and aging, but you should. As I mentioned above, bathroom remodeling projects are pricey and the materials used in remodeling projects, like tile and cabinets, are meant to last a long time. If you spend the time and money to remodel your bathroom at 40, you really should be thinking about the room will work for you when you are 70 or 80 because it could last that long. Many people plan to live in their own homes as they age past 65-70 years old. Remodeling projects are time consuming and costly. Not many people want to take on that kind of time and financial commitment in retirement.
Remodeling a bathroom can create opportunities for making aging in your home easier, and if designed appropriately, remodeling your bathroom can actually improve your quality of life and reduce your risk for injury as you age. A well designed bathroom that has been planned with aging concepts in mind will allow you to adapt the space over time. Which, in turn, will allow you to live in your house longer.
I know what you’re thinking, “That’s nice, but I don’t want my bathroom to look like a nursing home, I’m only 55”. I’ve got great news, it doesn’t have to. You can have a beautiful, aging friendly space. Or you may be thinking, “I’m only 45, I don’t want to think about what I’ll need when I’m 80.” Well, see that last fact? That one is the one that scares me. I’m only 41, but I think about how fast the last 20 years have passed me by. Sixty-five will be a reality before I have time to stop and wonder where the time went. So, I think about what my bathroom is going to look like at 65 and beyond all the time and it’s going to be safe and beautiful! AND… lucky you, I’m going to share some of those ideas with you!
Since I mentioned it first, let’s talk about the best way to reduce the risk of falls. Selecting appropriate flooring is the first step. When selecting flooring, if you want a larger square tile or a plank tile choose a porcelain tile with a flatter finish. However, a higher grout-to-tile ratio will provide more a textured surface and improve slip resistance. A major concern for some of the clients with whom I’ve worked is keeping all that grout clean. The good news is that there are new grout products on the market, like Bostik’s QuartzLock urethane grout, which resist mildew and reduce the cleaning work. Great news if you want a smaller tile, but less work.
Oh! The dreaded grab bar! No one like to think about grab bars. The very words conjure images of frailty and feebleness. The need to be assisted to stand. And inevitably the image is accompanied by the image of the stainless steel type that don the walls of hospital rooms and nursing homes. But here’s the thing, grab bars can be attractive. Most manufacturers of bathroom hardware, like Delta and Kohler, make very attractive grab bars that look like towel bars and toilet paper dispensers. If you’re really not ready for grab bars, during a remodel you can still prep your walls for grab bars, by blocking the wall. Blocking is the application of plywood between the studs so that the hardware for a future grab bar has an anchor. If the wall is not appropriately blocked, the future grab bar can be easily pulled from the wall if enough weight is applied, essentially making it a safety hazard.
This is what most of us envision when grab bars come to mind…
They can also be this…
Which look more like towel bars than grab bars.
Shower seat 101. This is NOT a shower seat…
and this is…
You need at least a 15”x15” square that is approximately 18” in height to be a shower seat. That can be a wall mounted seat or a built in seat. Certainly, a shower seat can be in the corner and have a triangle shape, but there must be a 15” square within the triangle, meaning the two short sides of the triangle must be at least 30”. Anything smaller is a safety hazard and is simply a shelf. You also need at least a 30”x30” square of remaining floor space in shower with a built in shower seat. Which leads to our final topic…
Clear floor space
Life brings many unexpected surprises as we age, wonderful things like grandkids and retirement and travel, but it can also bring knee surgeries and arthritis and even the temporary need for an assistive device. That’s healthcare speak for walkers and crutches and wheelchairs. I know! I know! I’ve again broached a subject no one wants to talk about. You’re imagining a person fumbling around in a bathroom. Again, it doesn’t have to look like that. Imaging moving around nimbly in a space without barriers. If you have enough clear floor space, you’ll be able to navigate your bathroom with ninja-like agility!
To create clear floor space you need to remove any floor-level barriers. The NKBA recommends a “turn radius” of 60”, but it can be hard to find that in a small space. Ideally and at minimum, you will need an entry that is 32” or wider, a 36” path from the entry into the bathroom and in front of the toilet and vanity, and a curb-less entry into the shower. This will create enough space to back in or out of the room without barriers (see below). You may never need this much space, but it can’t hurt to plan for it.
Those are some basic tips on creating an aging friendly space that is attractive without looking “clinical”. If your interested in this topic and you want to learn more about barrier free kitchen and bath design, check out the National Kitchen and Bath (NKBA) guidelines. Do you think these are ideas you might incorporate into your bathroom remodeling project?
I also bet you’re wondering how much this costs. I’ll cover that in the next long post. Stay tuned!
I am so excited to share with you all a project I recently completed. This “project share” will also be the start of a series on bathroom remodels. Each week, I’m going to share information on bathroom remodeling. I’m going to help you understand the costs of remodeling and the benefits of using a designer versus going to a showroom or a big box retailer. I’ll also be doing some mini-posts on current trends in bathroom design.
Now, onto the project!
The clients are in the early to mid-60’s and were very concerned with designing with aging in mind. In interior design, this is called “aging in place”. Like most people, they wanted to avoid a “clinical” look. They were interested in a traditional look that would be in keeping with the 1950’s cottage style of their home. The client was interested in a muted blue, gray, and green palette.
The clients had replaced the original vanity with a temporary vanity unit because the original vanity was in poor shape. They wanted to replace the vanity with a pedestal sink and add either wall or tall cabinets for storage. The bathroom is approximately 5′ x 7′ and expanding the size was not possible due to structural issues. The clients desired a walk-in or curbless shower, which would give them ample barrier free floor space for turning in a wheelchair or walker, if needed in the future, which also meant we needed a 32″ door opening, at minimum. They also wanted grab bars in the shower and and a secondary source for heat – either through heated floors or a heat lamp – and they were concerned about their ability to keep the tile clean. And, like most clients, they wanted to keep costs as low as possible!
The final design was beautiful! The clients absolutely love the look and functionality of the bathroom. The shower is completely barrier free and with the wider pocket-style door they will be able to maneuver a walker or wheelchair, if the need arises. The flooring is finished in marble-look, skid-resistant porcelain tile. The shower surround is in a white subway-style tile with a 50% offset for a traditional look. The original tile was blue with a white band, which was typical of the homes built in that period. I wanted to give a little nod to the period, so I added a complimentary blue mosaic tile band. The wall color is Tradewind by Sherwin Williams and the clients loved it so much that they also used it in their bedroom. The fixtures and grab bars were all in a polished nickle or chrome finish and do not look “clinical”. I added cabinets above the sink and toilet for storage. I opted for the wall cabinets because a Tall cabinet would have created a floor level barrier and would have eliminated some of the available floor space. Check out the after photos below. What do you think? Leave me a comment below.
My next post will be a mini-post on tile trends, but I’ll follow that up my talking about aging gracefully in your bathroom. Would you like to get my blog delivered right to your in-box? Just click here and fill in the contact sheet (an indicate “blog only” in the free text field).