34 posts Page 3 of 4
I like having fresh herbs in the garden, so I'd consider raised beds so that I could do the gardening without as much bending and stretching
Perfectly flat front and back yard would be great. Smooth paths for getting to every nook and cranny, and slab on ground construction so you can roll straight in and out - no steps, and no changes between the height of floorcoverings inside the house. 820mm (minimum) wide doors. Wide hallways - minimum 1200mm wide so you can fit an 820mm door, plus some decent architraves around them. Some consideration given to a few benches and worksurfaces at wheel chair height, especially in the kitchen, laundry, and any utility room where you might spend a lot of time recreating.
Hi Recovering

As an interior designer I often need to consider the ergonomics of clients homes with regard to their individual requirements and the most singular truth is that you cannot fully future proof your home for all possible scenarios. Every one ‘lives their home’ differently and importantly, how you live it today will not likely be the way you live it tomorrow. This is something you have already considered with regard to your own health. Improvements in your own physical capabilities may be just around the corner :D Conversely, we are all getting older and with age comes it’s own individual challenges. While you currently might require adjustments to your home to accommodate a lower position in a chair, what happens if your partner develops an arthritic knee and bending becomes difficult? Accomodating your current needs might significantly disadvantage the person who provides you with the greatest support down the track.

Sometimes a moderate approach gives you the most flexibility. Only you can determine the best design solution for you.

The following are some areas I usually discuss with my ‘mature-er’ clients

Door Openings - In Australia the recommended width for a door opening in a home designed for someone with mobility issues is 900mm. 970mm width doors are std here and most commonly used for this scenario.
Handles and Switches - It might be worth considering lowering door handles, light switches and other electrical controls. Again the recommendation here is 900 – 1100mm above floor level for handles and 1200 for switches. Consider airconditioning controllers, alarm keypads and home automation controllers in this mix. They are all installed by different trades so make sure heights are noted on plans.
Home Automation – It’s a scary term. I liken it to untangling coathangers and the costs can get out of control if you are not clear about what you want. The good news is things are getting much simpler. I would consider looking at a system like Clipsal CBus (I think available in Canada) Once a new home is wired on this system you can add to and change things around how you need. It can provide anything from the simplicity of easy to use push button light switches with LED backlit labels if your vision is poor to being able to control almost anything electrical in your home from an iPad or Iphone depending on your dexterity.
Automated Window Treatments – In Australia you can automate a wall of window treatments from as little at $400 - $500 dollars. Much better than struggling with chains and cords and can link into the cbus system also.
Showers – A walk in shower without any glass screens is a great idea for anyone and you need to have enough room to manoeuvre but be careful not to make the shower ‘enclosure’ too big. The bigger the area the quicker the heat will dissipate from near your body. Showering in a breeze is great if you’re on a tropical island but not so good if it’s the middle of winter. Generally, 1100mm by 1500mm would be a good place to start. A shower design behind a floating wall will give you better accessibility rather than a dead end. A shower rail system with a handheld rose is a great idea but as you are sharing the shower with someone who will shower standing up it would be worth considering two (side by side) shower systems. One can be left at a tall setting and the other lower to save you fiddling with it every day ... if you can reach the controls.
Toilets – A higher toilet pan will make getting on and off much easier generally. These days’ higher pans are available in modern looking suites.
Bathroom fittings – All fittings, towel rails, toilet roll holders and even basins may be used to support your weight from time to time so ensure that they are at least chrome on brass with a two pin fitting and that vanity basins have additional support built under them. Semi recessed basins will allow greater access underneath for a chair.
Cabinetry – Generally drawers are more ergonomic than cupboards as you don’t have to take the weight of what you are retrieving while extending forward into a cupboard. There are lots of runner systems available. My favourite is Blum. Their Tandem Box runners are weight rated so a big drawer of pots and pans (120kg rated) can be opened with your little finger and a soft close function is standard. At a higher cost, but worth a look is the Blum Servo Drive system. No handles, just touch the drawer face and a motor at the back of the unit does the rest of the work for you.

Sorry for long post... I shall stop now.

I hope something in here is of value. Feel free to PM me if you would like me email you any links or anything else. I have plenty to say about tiles, appliances, flooring etc etc ;)

We are very pleased with the soft closing drawers we have installed recently. when you squat down to find things and the balance is not the best. Also handleless is good for those times when you might stagger around and bump into things.
also pleased with having the herbs and spices all lined up in the drawer, B for basil goes over here, and wife goes over there.
TraceyP, that was a fantastically interesting post! Thanks!


OMG December 2011 OMS January 2012 OMS Retreat March 2012 Benign MS Sep 2015
Two Very Mild Relapses since diagnosis. Copaxone May 2013 No new lesions on MRI since diagnosis
Thanks Tracey, that was really interesting.
We are currently about to re-do our bathroom, as we have discovered a rotten floor underneath the shower, so we need to strip back and do a complete new bathroom.

I am quite well at the moment, and plan to continue with the OMS lifestyle to stop any further progression, but I also was trying to have an eye on doing things in the bathroom that may make sense if modifications are needed later, for MS progression or general ageing.

Our ideas have included the walk-in shower screen, all on one level for easy access, but the bathroom guy suggested it be a glass panel, would that be too slippery if there were grab rails on the other walls?

We will also incorporate a hand-held shower as well as a fitted shower head - they come as an all-in-one so that serves both purposes.

I also appreciate the ideas about drawers, fittings being strong,the higher toilet pan and the semi-recessed basin.

About the tiles, in the tile shops I visit, I have asked about their most non-slip tiles. They suggest outdoor tiles, but always warn they will be too hard to keep clean. I was trying to get non-slip tiles all over the floor, as the ones we have now are way too shiny/slippery, even when I didn't have balance issues! Thoughts on tiles?


Diagnosis Apr 2010, Coeliac Nov 2010. Procrastinated a bit. Fully OMS Sept 2011.
Hello Tracey:

Thank you so much for such a detailed reply to my post. You've touched on numerous areas I hadn't considered or known about.

When it comes time to putting all of our criteria down on paper with a builder, which could be happening real soon, I have a feeling I will have more questions and be in touch with you then. I tried to send you a PM but kept getting an error. Hopefully, I'll get that resolved soon.

In the meantime, I can use any additional information you think may benefit me. It's not every day that an interior designer, someone with MS, offers to help and that I am very grateful for.

Again, thank you for your reply filled with useful information.

Have a great day! :-)
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Hi All

Sorry for the tardy reply Janice. Responses below.

Our ideas have included the walk-in shower screen, all on one level for easy access, but the bathroom guy suggested it be a glass panel, would that be too slippery if there were grab rails on the other walls?

I had mentioned in my previous post that a glass-less shower is desirable. This is more to do with cleaning than its slipperyness. Water etches the face of clear glass leaving what many people think is soap or calcium marks. A glassless shower eliminates much of the scrubbing and chemicals. I believe a wet tiled wall and a wet shower screen would both be slippery if grabbed but I suspect that generally people would be less likely to grab the glass screen for fear of it breaking and might therefore be more likely to fall. If there is room, a tiled dividing wall also provides the oportunity to create a recess to hold your shower products out of view. In the picture following there is also a recess on the outside of the side for decor items.


This wall would need to be about 190mm thick to accomodate a 100mm aprox recess. If you don't have the room for a solid wall you might consider a textured glass instead of clear as this will hide a lot of the marking.

About the tiles, in the tile shops I visit, I have asked about their most non-slip tiles. They suggest outdoor tiles, but always warn they will be too hard to keep clean. I was trying to get non-slip tiles all over the floor, as the ones we have now are way too shiny/slippery, even when I didn't have balance issues! Thoughts on tiles?

In Australia tiles are slip rated generally with an 'R' rating. This is the Ramp methon of testing slipperyness. Essential it establish what angle range a tile needs to be at before someonestanding on it with bare wet feet will start to slide. Most tile shops will have products which rate R9 or R10. Again, in Australia, funding is available by way of subsidy to people who, on assessment, have a requirement to refurbish their homes to accomodate disability. To access the funds the refurbishment must comply with the department's specifications. With regard to wet area floor tiling a tile rated R9 or R10 must be used for persons in a wheelchair.

Resistance can be added to a tile by either applying a texure to the surface of the tile or by texturing the body of the tile itself. Any texture which has been applied to the surface of a tile will ultimately wear away and would not be recommended. In order to texturise the body of a tile in a way that would be considered permanent and that would not remove the colour or pattern of the tile a process of vitrification is used. Porcelain is coloured and fired under extreme pressure to create a tile with very low porosity. Pattern is simultaneously pushed into the surface of the tile and the the tile is then flamed to create a rough texture that cannot be worn down with commercial use. This type of tile have no glaze applied, no finishing layer. For this reason and due to the textured, matt finish, they are not as easy to keep looking clean in an internal application. Colour and pattern go a long way to helping with this though. Bathroom dirt is generally light in colour, lint and fluff, shiny pieces of hair, soap scum etc Keeping your tiles a mid range depth of colour and ensuring that there is some movement or pattern through the tile will do wonders. I have a client who has two daughters in motorised wheelchairs. We re-did her bathrooms 4 years ago with this type of floor tile in a muddy moka colour and she has had no problems with it. They did their ensuite in the same tile. They used a glossy white wall tile for contrast.

that information is absolutely fantastic, thanks. I appreciate it so much.

I have actually seen a muddy mocha in very non-slip tiles, and I was thinking of going with white/cream glossy wall tiles!
And a chocolate coloured vanity. (Mmmm, mocha, cream and chocolate - enough to make an OMSarian weep :o )

As to the funding in Australia for modifying bathrooms - I don't think I would qualify as I don't have any actual disability except a slight balance issue. The reason for redoing the bathroom is the leaking shower, - do you think my chances of any funding are zero?

Diagnosis Apr 2010, Coeliac Nov 2010. Procrastinated a bit. Fully OMS Sept 2011.
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