Welcome to the Kleber & Associates blog! Here’s the latest on Universal Bathroom Design

Universal and accessible bathroom design is here to stay – a reality remodelers and new home construction companies are embracing with gusto! For those who aren’t familiar with universal design, think of it as “forward-thinking” design that encompasses accessibility, flexibility and sensitivity to the spatial needs of everyone regardless of age or functionality. Touch, feel, lighting, texture, sight and navigation play a prominent role in universal design because we rely on our senses more as we age. If our vision blurs, touch becomes critical–influencing other design details such as fixture handle shape. That’s what universal design is all about – realistically planning for the future and making our bathrooms work for people of all ages, shapes, sizes and abilities.
Think about this – each day at least 10,000 Americans will turn 65 for the next 19 years, according to the trends research group, Trends Sphere.  In addition, the average tenure for U.S. homeowners staying in a primary residence is the highest on record, at 37 years. This means we’re adding a lot of aging adults to the population who are staying in their current residence for the long haul. As remodelers and new home construction companies now know, accommodating universal design strategies is not only preferred, but will become necessary for safe living at home day to day; and to meet long-term needs, as well.
So where exactly should you start when meeting with clients who require universal design features?  Here’s where I think we need to “flip the formula” that typically starts with shower and other fixture selection.  My contention is the vanity is where you start. Why the vanity? In today’s bathroom design, a bathroom isn’t the old sealed off room that was used solely for personal hygiene. Bathrooms today are a continuation of the home’s overall décor – especially in universal design. Just as you would position a living room with the perfect couch or coffee table, the vanity is the central “anchor” that sets the stage for the feel, touch and texture of the bathroom.
Consider Ronbow, for example. Ronbow offers more than a dozen vanity design styles that can be configured to meet height requirements and virtually any basin/faucet configuration an aging or forward-thinking homeowner would need.  Vanities are also versatile, components can be swapped out without losing the original design and look the homeowner is searching for.
I highly recommend you visit the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s website and learn more about universal design. It’s the future of the marketplace and a style that blends decor while addressing the very real accessibility issues baby boomers will face as they head into their golden years. Vanities should receive special consideration when you begin your universal design practice–get that component right and the rest falls into place.

Kleber & Associates is an Atlanta-based integrated marketing communications agency serving the home and building products industry for 25 years. Visit the Kleber & Associates website for the latest news and information about marketing for home and building products for consumers, architects, builders, remodelers, designers and manufacturers. Through our marketing, advertising, public relations and digital marketing expertise — we build better brands that build a better home.