Set in a 100-year-old villa in rural Fielding, this bathroom makeover was part of a larger home renovation.
WORDS Clare Chapman
With its sleek lines and cool contemporary styling, you wouldn’t realise at first glance that this is a room designed for accessibility. To be fair, you probably wouldn’t notice on close inspection that it was an accessible bathroom either. But that’s the beauty of this room; it’s simple and functional without the normal visual cues of a space designed for wheelchair use.
Set in a 100-year-old villa in rural Fielding, this bathroom makeover was part of a larger renovation of the whole house, but it is this room that was particularly special for homeowner David.
The project came about under sad circumstances as his late mother’s health worsened. She was wheelchair-bound and needed a bathroom that could be used with carers. “There was some urgency with this project so it was all done as quickly as possible to make David’s mother comfortable,” Refresh renovation specialist Wayne Gordon said.
The house has been in the family for years. David is the youngest of three siblings and now lives in the house alone. Not much work had been done on the house over the years, but it is deep in sentimental value as the former family home. His father was a bricklayer and built the fireplace, archways and details throughout the villa that still remain.
As the rest of the house and second bathroom is still in various stages of renovation, the completed bathroom is being used as the home’s only bathroom, and it is well appreciated.
For David, who worked hard to ensure the room would be something his mother would enjoy, the end result was well worth all the work. “Originally what we had was an old separate toilet and then a room with a bath and vanity in it,” he says. “The major thing for us when we started this room was that aesthetics were to be as important as functionality.”
And that is exactly what was achieved. After David nailed down exactly what would be required in terms of accessibility for his mother and carers, the design choices started. “We worked out what we wanted it to look like and had really valuable input from Wayne.”
His mother also had a lot of input into the design choices and the first decision made was the flooring – vinyl was decided on as the best material for functionality. The rest of the choices were made from the ground up.
“Having a constraint can be seen as a negative, but in this case it was really positive and valuable,” David says. “There are so many choices with bathrooms. With limited colour options to work with due to the flooring being decided first, and the fact that this bathroom had to serve a purpose for wheelchair access, it could have been a negative in terms of design. But the end result was that we were able to create something that could still do that and also have a room that is truly pleasurable for anyone to use.”
Wayne says there were various elements that tied this renovation together: space and light were key, as were the functional aspects and the desire for it to be a simple yet beautiful room.
The partition wall between the separate toilet and main bathroom was knocked out and the bath removed to create a larger more harmonious space. And from the moment you enter the room through the oversize cavity slider door, harmony is evident. Sensor lights turn on as you walk in; when you place your hands in front of the St Michel wall-hung vanity, water falls from the faucet at the perfect temperature – 45 degrees to be exact. It’s run from a Rinnai Infinity bathroom controller that allows the water to remain at a constant temperature. The vanity itself was hung at a height so a wheelchair could easily slide underneath it.
The Dorf Slide Rail shower with a rainhead was added as a luxury item, and it has its own special detailing in the LED lighting within the showerhead, which is controlled by the waterflow and adds another interesting dimension to the experience of the room.
The BTW toilet, while still functional as a normal one, was designed to have a commode chair wheeled over the top of it.
“A lot of accessible bathroom options look like hospital amenities. The choices the clients made in this case were different and the outcome is a real success. It’s a beautiful, light room with a contemporary feel,” Wayne says.
Light was a crucial factor in the overall design and a skylight was added, as well as an oversized window that partially overlaps the shower – a particularly unique feature of this space that has been transformed from two dark and tired rooms into a light and airy space that, while functional, has a distinct hint of luxury.
Do you have plans to renovate your bathroom? Check out Accessible Bathroom Renovation Ideas.
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