Universal Design – Products for All

As I discussed in my last post Universal Design is about designing spaces to be more useable for people with a diversity of abilities. In selecting products for a Universal Design space one looks for items that meet this definition while also being easy and intuitive to use. Many products that have been around for a long time may also be consistent with Universal Design. Single handle faucets and scald-guard showers are two examples. Others, like the toilets I discussed in my previous post, have adapted over time to be more useful.  Here are some more ideas.

Quick Drain Threshold

We often get requests for shower drains that are styled like the trench drains one sees around pools or parking lots. It’s a sleek look but until recently there was no good way to adapt these for residential use. That has changed. Proline Quick Drains has recently introduced their collection of lineal drains for residential use. These are available in a variety of grid patterns and standard sizes and can be configured for a variety of floor finishes.  Custom sizes are also available. This lineal drain system allow you to locate the drain at the threshold or rear of the shower, eliminating the need for a curb thus making it barrier free. It’s also great for a smooth, linear design and creates a space that is easy to clean and maintain. We have recently begun stocking Quick Drain in our main warehouse.

Toto Washlet and Control Panel

Bidet seats like the Toto Washlet are really great products that have yet to gain widespread acceptance in the US. Just to clarify, bidet seats are devices that replace the standard seat and include one or more of the following: front and rear washing, deodorizing, heated seat and dryer function. I often get an initial reaction of “why would anyone want that?” but once one becomes more familiar with this product the benefits are clear. Bidet seats offer an increased level of personal hygiene and cleanliness. Many models offer a remote control that can be mounted on the wall within easy reach of the user. This can be a huge benefit for anyone with issues concerning mobility or balance. It also reduces paper use. The heated seat is a nice feature, especially in cold weather. We have bidet seats installed in our public bathrooms here giving our customers the opportunity to try it for themselves.

Jaclo Decorative Grab Bar

Rohl 36 Grab Bar Handshower Set

Grab bars are familiar to many people as institutional looking products that some people must use. In fact grab bars are a good idea for many of us; anyone can slip in the tub or shower. But grab bars are so “institutional” looking, right? Sure, but many companies, Ginger, Jaclo, CSI and Alno (to name just a few) now offer grab bars in really attractive styles and finishes. These can be decorative additions while providing that extra bit of safety. In addition some companies like Rohl and Alsons have now incorporated the grab bar function into their hand shower bars making those dual uses. I think this is a real plus for a multi-user bathroom offering both a support and a child-proof bar.

The hand shower mounted on a bar might be the ultimate Universal Design product. These were originally designed for families using one shower, the idea being that it could be placed low for children and higher up for adults. Today most hand shower work every bit as well as fixed heads so there is no compromise on performance.

M7-H Baci Halo Lighted Mirror


Lighted makeup mirrors are another product that may not typically be associated with Universal Design but which I believe make sense. These were once considered a luxury but for people with impaired vision or aging eyes these mirrors can be a real help. People with vision problems can once again attend to personal grooming by themselves without the fear of missing something because they cannot see as well .

Or you may have a situation where existing lighting is poor and a lighted mirror is a quick fix. These mirrors can be purchased in a wide range of price , finish and configuration and most models offer both hard wire and plug-in styles.

If you have questions or would like more information please feel free to call Nancy, Jason or Kate 707-558-1900 or use the contact form above.

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