Designing a Bathroom for the Elderly with Safety and Style

Feb 25, 2015 by

95 years old, my grandmother opens my eyes to understanding the will to live, the faith to fight, and the hope to persevere.  Battling Alzheimer’s and strokes, she has bright days, where her spirit shines fiercely through her eyes, her mobility returns, and her mannerisms twinkle with the vivaciousness of her youth.   Then there are the days where she struggles with remembering how to swallow and using the restroom.  Seeing my strong grandmother – once found a play kitchen at a Goodwill in the Bay Area and then lugged it down herself via Greyhound bus to bring to me in Los Angeles – shake with trepidation with each step in the bathroom that she might fall again, opens my eyes to how imperative design is in the bathroom for quality of life.

The bathroom can be considered one of the most dangerous rooms in your house. According to a 2008 study by the CDC, there were approximately 234,094 nonfatal injuries in the United States that occurred in the bathroom area, and the majority were senior citizens.  However, no age group is immune to injury.

Rethink the Tub

stylish white walk in bath tub and shower bathroom design

via Design Style Home

One of the prime culprits in bathroom injuries is the bathtub.  Even I myself have fallen backwards out of one!  Because most bathtubs are made or acrylic and/or fiberglass, their surfaces are prime for slipping – not to mention that most feature curved and sloped contour lines. Those two factors—when combined—create a hazardous situation for anybody, especially those that are unbalanced.

Safer tubs have anti-slip floors and seats and built-in grab bars.   Walk-in tubs are much safer than traditional tubs because they eliminate the real danger of slipping every time you enter or exit.  We wish our grandmother’s senior living home had a walk-in tub!   Why don’t all senior living facilities have walk-in tubs?!  Isn’t that common sense?

Alas, in lieu of a walk-in tub, an alternative option would be to modify the existing tub by placing non-slick mats on the floor, as well as installing grab bars to prevent falls.

A Well-Lit Space

Vintage Chandelier Lighting Bathroom Design

via JPS Interactive

While installing a new tub or shower can fairly expensive, there are other ways to reduce the risk of bathroom injury that are relatively inexpensive and easy to do as well. One such way is to simply make sure your bathroom is adequately illuminated, both during the day, and more importantly, at night.   The more clearly you can see, the more easily you can stay safe from sharp corners, puddle of waters, and other natural dangers inherent in the bathroom environment.  A motion-activated night light has deterred many a midnight injury.

table lamp in bathroom design

Via Deb McBride Designs


Get creative with lighting!  You don’t need to hire a general contractor and rewire.  Add a slim table lamp next to the sink or use a free standing floor lamp in a safe corner.

Risky “Business”


It is the toilet that presents most difficulty for my grandmother in the bathroom, though now switching to a higher toilet has helped.   Due to her limited mobility, she also uses a toilet seat extender to raise the existing height of the toilet seat to a more comfortable and safer level for her.

She has also benefited significantly from the installation of grab bars. A grab bar positioned on the wall directly next to the toilet provides increased support and stability when sitting down and getting up from the toilet.

In times of difficulty is when we see the human spirit triumph.  What once we took for granted – an act as simple as using the restroom and bathing – becomes a challenge, but shows us that we can still live with dignity daily, as long as we are surrounded by love and faith.

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5 Mid-Century Paint Ads for Huetastic Inspiration

Jul 25, 2012 by

Now that we are a bit more settled in Los Angeles, we are contemplating painting some of the rooms in our home.  Despite all of the vintage furniture pieces I have liberally painted, I have very little experience painting actual walls.  Where’s a gal with a vintage soul to start?  Vintage paint colours, but of course!  Vintage inspired paint hues are enjoying a tremendous revival, but what better way to find inspiration than the original ads and paint swatches?

I love the cheerful hues in this 1956 Benjamin Moore paint ad (found via, although I am positively sure it would be impossible for me to look as graceful as the lady on the left painting the chair.  Or maybe if I buy myself some Benjamin Moore paint, I could look so ladylike!  The subliminal advertising is working on me…

How fabulous (slight pun intended) is this house and advertisement from the 1950s?  I would have never independently picked yellow trim and red roof, but it is the perfectly daring combination for a mid-century modern home.

Speaking of wall colors, here is an advertisement where the toilet seat complements the bathroom wallpaper.  Why didn’t I think of this before?  Joking aside, the combinations are quite sweet and cheerful.

If you are planning or have recently painted your home, please let me know what colors you picked.  I’d love to hear and see photos too!

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Vintage Clawfoot Bathtubs in Every Color of the Rainbow

Jun 1, 2011 by

Every fabulous bathroom needs its own clawfoot bathtub!  If you are feeling daring for your bathroom suites and cloakroom suites, then a pop of color on your tub may suit your fancy perfectly.  Enjoy the rainbow of vintage clawfoot bathtubs I have assembled and enjoy bathing in full technicolor!

This home in the Pacific Palisades by Jackson Paige Interiors exudes style with its red clawfoot tub in the master suite.  Oh la la!

Who knew that orange could look so charming on a clawfoot?  This particular hue seen in Marie Claire Maison is cheerful yet sophisticated.

This yellow clawfoot bathtub coupled with the ruffled shower curtain win the award for most charming bathing ensemble, seen via DesignSponge!

I love the apothecary feel of this vintage inspired bathroom from Marie Claire Italy.  Is it just me, or are many of these tubs on hardwood floors?  I wonder if I could ever feel so courageous with my flooring!

Flea market style meets the French countryside in this lovely bathroom photographed by William P. Steele.

This is but a bathroom that would make Prince proud, via Desire to Inspire!

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House Tour: A Restored 1800s French-Creole Cottage

Mar 16, 2011 by

House Tour: A Restored 1800s French-Creole Cottage

On the edge of Lake Martin in Louisiana exists a French-Creole cottage that takes you back in time, when the sounds you hear are water lapping and crickets chirping, without a note of urban hum. Maison Madeleine is a true work of restored art, a 1800s cottage that was moved and lovingly restored in its current place. Let’s allow the photos to tell the story, shall we?

Against the beautiful earthen walls, which were originally made of mud and Spanish moss, the entire porch exudes a gorgeous patina. If any home had a patina, it would be this one!

While the dining room may look original, it is a new add-on with impeccable attention paid to nostalgic detail, including a baking oven, a potager, and a cookpot over the fireplace.

In the original kitchen hearth, a French masonry stove utilizes charcoal to simmer. Le Creuset anyone?

The slightly exposed brick gives the wall such a warm, vibrant feel.

Inside this 18th-century-inspired outbuilding made of salvaged wood is the well pump. Who would have known?

The best part is that Maison Madeline can be yours – for a few nights – as it is currently being operated as a bed and breakfast!

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3 Gorgeous DIY Faux Fireplaces

Jan 3, 2011 by

Continuing along the inspiration of fireplaces, what should the poor souls (myself included) who don’t have a fireplace do to add interest in our homes?  Build one, but of course!  Here are 3 DIY faux fireplace ideas that can liven up your home with whimsy and warmth.

I love the textural feeling of this faux fireplace, whose DIY is available viavia Apartment Therapy.

If you find a perfect vintage mantle, all you need is chalkboard paint to creatively evoke fire (via OhDeeDoh).

I’m not only seriously in love with the card catalog, but the DIY stacked fireplace mantle adds such interest to this room.  The best part is that you can get DIY instructions via a Small Notebook.

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4 Repurposed Wood Flooring Alternatives

Jun 8, 2010 by

After waiting for years on the sidelines for the real estate market to correct, I now have house hunting on the mind!   Where will the hubby, baby and I be house hunting for our first home?  Our beloved Hawaii, where we previously called home and where we will be raising Jet…starting at the end of this month!

We are looking for a fixer-upper to restore, but considering the major extent of termite-damage many of the older homes incur in Hawaii, this is not an easy task.  That’s why we are also considering building a sustainable, green home off the grid — a “poetic home” that incorporates as many repurposed and vintage building materials as possible, of course!  I hope you will join me on the journey!

For either option, being thousands of miles away from the Mainland means being very resourceful and creative.  I’ve been looking at flooring options, and here are four repurposed flooring materials that make a beautiful and creative alternative to wood.

McKay‘s Whiskey Barrel Flooring turns your floor into an entire conversation piece.

Submitted to the sadly defunct Domino’s Cheap Tricks section, this floor is made from old wood crates.  I think this would be a gorgeous option for kitchen floors!

German flooring company Parador‘s laminate flooring is inspired by salvaged fruit and wine crates.

Gallery West‘s repurposed gym flooring is fun, hardy, and gives gym glass a whole new meaning.

What do you think of these repurposed flooring choices?  Have you seen other fun alternatives?

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