Wheelchair Accessible

Wheelchair Accessible at Molehill: The Master Bathroom

molehill_masterbath.jpg

Planning a bathroom with wheelchair accessibility in mind is anything but easy, normal, or standard. Everything, and I mean everything, is up for re-negotiations along the entire design and construction process proving that you don't know what you don't know. In the case of this Master Bathroom at our Mole Hill project everything that could have been, wasn't going to be. Dealing a with a condominium, the first thing that every homeowner needs to understand is that 98% of the time it is near impossible to relocate the drain for the tub/shower. For 1% of homeowners it's because they are lucky and have a wood-frame that can be re-engineered with ease. The other 1% of the time is it because there is a substantial budget in place to X-Ray the slab, re-engineer the concrete slab, re-pour the slab and adjust the re-bar... need I go on? Managing client's expectations on these matters can be a challenge because television shows do a terrible job of explaining these finer things. As a result, the suitable location for the new roll-in shower was, well, where the soaker alcove tub was.

molehill_masterbath
molehill_masterbath

The grooming centre is always an area of contention, but with small space living and limitations to the three walls that form the space it proves to be a lot of borrowed space from every single planning centre. There are some height adjustments here and there, for example the lighting fixtures are lowered so that the user can view themselves in the mirror. Other additions include more storage for medications and toileting supplies - think 4 times the amount of space than what is typically needed.

molehill_bathroom_sink
molehill_bathroom_sink

The Shower Centre was quite the pain to plan - and the City Inspector certainly did not make this any easier with insisting that all the blocking for the grab bars be WOOD and then concrete board and water proofing and a five-stage inspection process and seriously are you kidding me? I don't know what the world's most handsome mayor is thinking hiring these sub-educated inspectors.

So after replacing the swing door with a pocket door, adding a rain shower head, shower niche, grab bars, elongated toilet, knee space under the lavatory sink - I think that this design is actually pretty smashingly good, if you ask me. There are a lot of details to address along the way and with this particular project I threw out everything I thought I knew about bathroom planning.

molehill_bathroom_shower
molehill_bathroom_shower

The whole point of planning a space like this bathroom is to change the life of the client. There are a lot of people and problems along the way that will seem like the designer is being prevented from doing such a job - but then they have never met the likes of me before.

Ah, lovely deflection membrane. Check out the 1/3 offset!
Ah, lovely deflection membrane. Check out the 1/3 offset!
The floor looks like THIS! Not bad for a 2 month wait.
The floor looks like THIS! Not bad for a 2 month wait.
A shot from the other bathroom, and yes, this is the correct height for a vessel-mount lavatory sink. Always think of the top edge of the bowl at the countertop height - NOT HIGHER.
A shot from the other bathroom, and yes, this is the correct height for a vessel-mount lavatory sink. Always think of the top edge of the bowl at the countertop height - NOT HIGHER.

Wheelchair Accessible at MoleHill: The Cooking & Storage Centre

molehill_kitchenrangewall.jpg

While I'm out with family in Manitoba, progress continues over at our Mole Hill project. True to fashion, small space planning for a wheelchair accessible client doesn't stop and continues through the construction process. The cooking and storage centre is no exception. Just a few weeks ago we discovered that the planned location for the vent-hood was not going to happen because there is this huge 6" cast-iron pipe directly behind where I planned to exhaust. Normally, in a single-family home, this wouldn't be so much of a concern, but with a strata condominium we never know what we will find in the walls. Obviously this project is no exception.

molehill_kitchenrangewall
molehill_kitchenrangewall

After we adjusted the kitchen slightly, I was able to keep the plan with a few small modifications to the cabinetry and layout. I always say that design is not about the visual, it's about negotiation and it's unfortunate that we lost the chimney-style vent-hood but I think the overall function will work out better for this client (less dusting in areas they can not reach.)

The wall-ovens were carefully planned and measured against the physical requirements of the client. With the middle of the wall oven being just at 44", it allows the oven door to pull open so that the client can physically reach the rack of the oven with an oven mitt. The choice of a 24" wide oven instead of a 30" wide oven was both for space planning and for point-of-use, volume, and frequency of baking. The landing zones to the left and the right provide quick placement of hot items to prevent scalding and ease the functional use.

The microwave was placed BELOW the wall oven because it would be out of the reach of the client if it were to be placed above. This way they can reach down and up, rather than up and down with possible spills. My only complaint about microwaves is that they STILL only swing on the left and not on the right. I know a drawer microwave solution may first appear to be a better option, but with a wheelchair in the way, range of reach highly considered, and then the location of the landing zones, a drawer would actually be a hinderance.

You'll note that there is the crazy/weird run of cabinets to the right of the wall-ovens. The client loves to craft and with a adequately placed receptacle in combination with the cabinets 9" above the floor (for the foot rests of the chair) I'm sure we will see hand-made Christmas cards this year.

To visualize the colours, the purple-naturalistic wallpaper will appear on the inset of the dining room, flanked with hits of purple paint, and the base cabinets will be a blue/grey with wall cabinets in a sharp white. Counter surfaces are, of course, Cambria Bellingham. Here's the material board as a reminder:

Material Board - Baker
Material Board - Baker

Over to the progress shots:

The front entry has been widened, with yet another structural/mechanical surprise behind the walls. Lighting switches needed to be relocated.
The front entry has been widened, with yet another structural/mechanical surprise behind the walls. Lighting switches needed to be relocated.
That glorious sink wall with all the bells and whistles - obviously yet to be added, but removing the partition will mean NO CORNERS!
That glorious sink wall with all the bells and whistles - obviously yet to be added, but removing the partition will mean NO CORNERS!
The amazing roll-in shower/wet room. That drain (and the toilet) wasn't moved a single inch because of the concrete slab and space planning the bathroom with the existing was challenging but it will work out brilliantly for the client.
The amazing roll-in shower/wet room. That drain (and the toilet) wasn't moved a single inch because of the concrete slab and space planning the bathroom with the existing was challenging but it will work out brilliantly for the client.