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Mobility with Style

Aging In Place, Pittsfield Township, Michigan

An Ann Arbor-area couple, advancing in age, loved the beautiful tiling and fixtures in their home’s cozy bathroom, but recognized that modifications would be needed to allow them to get around more easily within this fairly tight space. HSA, specialists in “Aging in Place”, made the bathroom remodel work precisely to the couple’s mobility improving needs. And, best of all, this was done without sacrificing the room’s fine aesthetics.

Project Details:

HSA’s challenge: to replace the increasingly hard to negotiate bathtub (top) with an easy-access walk-in shower (bottom left) while retaining the couple’s treasured tile work on the surrounding walls. What made this particularly difficult: That style of tile is no longer made. Hence, HSA needed to carefully remove the existing tile and refit it, as well and as completely as possible, to the new shower configuration. Mission accomplished! Only some judicious use of another style of tiling along the lower strip of the shower walls was required.

Form fits function as a fold-down seat (bottom right) and vertical and angled assist bars let the couple sit and stand within the shower easily and safely. Yet style is served too. In the switch from the tub to the shower, HSA retained the lovely stained-glass window within the wall’s tiles.

A basic change, but an important one: HSA switched the bathroom’s door from in-swing to out-swing. This has helped to maximize the room’s available space. The couple can now enter, leave, and move around the bathroom more easily when using canes or walkers.

The bathroom’s new comfort-height toilet (main photo on the page, to the left), from Kohler, has a quiet-close seat. Torsion springs let the seat close slowly and without slamming, with just a tap from the user.

Previously the bathroom’s sink featured a granite bowl and countertop, with gold fixtures, on a vanity-style base. HSA replaced this with a pedestal sink – a Kohler product matched in design to the new comfort-height toilet. This has opened up the space below the sink, providing easier access for the husband’s walker. Matching the floor’s existing tiling was a key to making the newly open space feel right. Also, the new sink’s brushed nickel fixtures have lent a more contemporary look and feel to the room.

Eliminating the sink’s vanity meant that storage for the couple’s toiletries and medicines would need to be created elsewhere in the bathroom. Here is where HSA was especially innovative. On the wall opposite the sink, a Diamond wall cabinet was installed to go through the wall (left), so only the cabinet’s doors show in the bathroom. The cabinet itself extends into the bedroom on the wall’s other side. There the cabinet sits atop floor-standing cabinets (right) providing more useful storage space within the bedroom itself. These attractive cabinets are from Diamond, one of North America’s leading cabinetry manufacturers. First Design Cabinetry, HSA’s sister company, is the approved dealer for Diamond cabinets in the Saline, Michigan area.