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Friday, December 17, 2010

The Gingerbread Man's Bathroom Renovations Revealed

Toilet- We provided the Gingerbread Man with a candy comfort height toilet. A comfort height toilet is higher than your average toilet making it more accessible for the Gingerbread Man and easier on his injured leg.

Vanity- For the vanity area, we gave Mr. and Mrs. Gingerbread Man his and hers sinks and mirrors. Each sink has roll under accessibility should either of them need a wheelchair in the future.  We also provided them with several storage drawers so their gum drops and candy canes can be properly stored and off of the countertop and floor.  The mirrors are lit from overhead for better visibility.

Shower- Mr. and Mrs. Gingerbread Man prefer showers to baths, so we removed their existing coffee mug tub and installed an accessible zero threshold shower. 

Shower Bench- We added a shower bench to assist when needed. This "sweet" bench by Great Grabz is mold and slip resistant and easy to clean. The textured licorice top provides a soft cushion for added comfort. We've also added a hand held shower that can reach to the shower bench so they can bathe while seated if needed.

Grab Bar- Great Grabz also provided a grab bar for the shower area from their delicious confections line. It's unique Wave design provides both safety and style for the Gingerbread's shower.

Now Mr. and Mrs. Gingerbread can begin the new year knowing that their bathroom is safer and will accommodate them for years to come.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mr. Gingerbread Man's Home Assessment

Gingerbread Man’s Home Assessment

It is important to do a home assessment before any bathroom remodel to make sure we are meeting all our client’s present and future needs. Asking questions and listening is the first step to any successful project.

 Bathroom Entry 
  • Is bathroom door handle easy to turn?
  • Is entry to bathroom wide enough to roll-in to?
  • Are there any barriers to entry?
  • Is there adequate space to move around the bathroom?
  • Is the bathroom floor free from tripping hazards? 
  • Are the floors easy to clean?
  • Is there non-slip tile on the floor?
  • Is the floor very cold?
  • Is the shower or tub slippery?
  • Does shower have a walk-in entry?
  • Is there adequate drainage in the shower?
  • Are counters at a comfortable height and depth for everyone that using the bathroom?
  • Are counters free from clutter?
  • Does counter top allow for seating?
  • Are counters easy to clean?
  • Do you have too much glare off the counter tops?
  • Do you bath or shower?
  • Is tub easy to get in and out of?
  • How do you get in and out?
  • Is tub easy to clean?
  • Does tub drain effectively?
  • Is there a grab bar on or near tub to assist with entry and exit?
  • Is shower easy to get in and out of?
  • Is there a handheld shower head?
  • Is water valve easy to turn on?
  • Do you have to get wet when you turn the water on?
  • Do you ever have problems with getting scalded by the hot water?
  • Is there enough room to safely maneuver in the shower?
  • Do you have a light in the shower?
  • Are there grab bars in and out of the shower for entry and exit?
  • Is there a shower seat or bench needed?
  • Are towels accessible outside of the shower
  • Where do you keep your towels when you shower? 
  • Are shower tiles easy to clean?
  • Does the bathroom stay humid long after you shower?
  • Do you ever smell mold in the bathroom?
  • Do you have adequate lighting at the sink?
  • Are cords secured and out of the way?
  • Are electrical outlets accessible?
  • Are there enough outlets to safely plug in blow dryers, etc.?

    CLICK HERE to print out your own bathroom safety checklist.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Meet the Remodeler

Gingerbread Man has been a friend of the family since I was a child. When he called last week and said that he had injured his leg, I was more than happy to offer my remodeling services to help make his home safer and more accessible for his recovery and for the future.

As a Certified Aging in Place Specialists, I have worked on many homes needing remodeling due to accessibility issues. Even though Mr. Gingerbread Man is expected to make a full recovery, this incident opened his eyes to how limiting his home really is... particularly his bathroom. He is now looking to remodel his master bath so that it will be both beautiful and functional for the whole Gingerbread Family for years to come.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

An Accessbile Home for the Gingerbread Man

Holidays are a time of gathering and sharing, but this also the time that so many accidents occur. Unfortunately, over the Thanksgiving holiday Gingerbread Man suffered a terrible accident while at his vacation home in Naples, Florida.


We have offered to remodel his home to make it completely accessible in time for Christmas. Be sure to check our blog and follow us on twitter for updates on the progress of this project and the carefully chosen universal design features and products.

We would love to hear your ideas on how to make Mr. Gingerbread Man’s home safer.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

#8 of the Beloit College’s list of the mindset of incoming college class of 2014, is:

With increasing numbers of ramps, Braille signs, and handicapped parking spaces, the world has always been trying harder to accommodate people with disabilities.

Which makes me think of how much progress we have made with the creation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 20 years ago. I can’t help but to think of the mindset of students for the class of 2034.  

  • They will likely know homes that are universally designed. 
  • Multi-generational housing will be the norm. 
  • Grab bars are likely a common item in all bathrooms.

What do you hope for the mindset of the class of 2034?

Monday, August 9, 2010

5 Ways to Make Your Bathroom Accessible for Under $40

Here are 5 easy changes that you can do to make your bathroom more accessible - all under $40!

1. Add no slip bath mats - No slip bath mats help prevent falls both in and out of the shower. Falls can be lead to serious injury sometimes even resulting in death. Did you know... more than 10,000 people over the age of 65 die from fall related injuries annually?

2. Change existing door knobs into lever door handles. Round door knobs require finger strength and rotational dexterity to operate. Lever door handles can be opened with the arm or hand with less effort.

Watch this video for step-by-step instructions on how to install a lever door handle:

How to Remove & Replace/Install a Door Lever -- powered by

3. Install Rocker Light Switch- Unlike toggle light switches, rocker switches are easier to operate and can be turned on or off with the arm or elbow.

4. Remove Clutter- Using shower caddies, above the toilet shelving, drawer dividers, robe and towel hooks and behind the door hangers are great for keeping items off of the floor in and out of the shower. Keeping a hamper in the bathroom also helps keep laundry from piling up on the floor.

5. Install a handheld shower head- Handheld shower heads are great for bathing whether you are in a seated or standing position. They are also great for bathing children or pets, to help minimize stress on the back.

Here is a video on how to install a handheld shower head:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Accessible Whole Wheat Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Accessible Whole Wheat Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 3/4 cup rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup  whole wheat flour
2/3 cup wheat bran (or germ)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup natural cane sugar or light brown sugar
1 cup firmly packed Muscovado or dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
10 oz semi-sweet chocolate bar, chopped and shaved into chunks and splinters

  • Preheat the built in oven placed 30" from the floor to 350 degrees F with racks placed in the middle. 
  • Line two baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper and set aside.
  • On a pull-out mid level work table and combine the oats, flour, wheat bran, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl found in the kitchen pull down shelves. Set aside.

  • Using pop up mixer shelf cream the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar,found in the Super Susan cabinet, for 3+ minutes, scraping down sides a few times along the way.

  • Add the dry mixture, and stir until everything barely comes together. Then stir in the chocolate, from the pull out pantry, until it is evenly distributed throughout the dough.
  • With a soft grip ice cream scoop, make uniform dough balls and arrange each cookie at least 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. 
  • For extra crisp cookies, bake until deeply golden brown on the bottom for 15 minutes. Using a durable oven mitt, like OXO grey silicone oven mitt, to turn the pan once 2/3 of the way through baking.

  • For chewier cookies bake for less time. Cool on rack.
  • Makes about 2 dozen large cookies.
  • After baking sheet has cooled, place all dirty dishes into a raised dishwasher for cleaning.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Are your Grab Bar Selections Decorative, Design Neutral or Devoid of Design?

In the past, many hospitality designers and architects paid little attention to their ADA bathroom accessory selections. These selections were not a part of the decorative package, but were merely a utilitarian afterthought.

Grab Bars and shower seats have been excluded from the carefully planned and orchestrated interior bathroom selections. This methodology allowed the specifiers to select the same old reliable products that have always been used, but had the end result of taking away from the look of the finished bathroom.

How many beautiful bathrooms have you seen that have standard stainless steel grab bars?

How did it make you feel?

With shrinking material budgets and more demanding guest requirements, this is no longer a design choice that any design professional can afford to make. Designers now have the option to choose from many of the great decorative grab bars on the market.

There are bars that add flair and the unexpected to bathroom design like the Great Grabz Wave bar.

A grab bar can also be used as a towel bar, allowing for both function and added safety.

The concept of Design Neutral is to make no statement with your design. (this is not the same as being devoid of design) To be Design Neutral in your grab bar selection, try specifying the a Great Grabz Splash bar powder coated in a custom color of your choice to blend in with the shower stone.

Whatever your design style, be sure your guests are Wow'd that you paid as much attention to their safety and comfort as you did for the color of the walls.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Right-Sizing Your Home

Last week I received a copy of Right-Sizing Your Home: How to Make Your House Fit Your Lifestyle by Gale C. Steves. The first thing that caught my eye was the beautiful photography and exceptional layout of the book.  If nothing else, this book is a great resource for those looking for design ideas.

Each chapter focuses on a function in the home: Where you cook, eat, relax, etc. and helps readers assess their individual style and approach to each. Steves then walks the reader through the process of creating a living space that is the “right size” for their lifestyle.

Right-Sizing Your Home has a ton of wonderful ideas, including many Universal Design products. This book covers everything for someone looking to remodel their home.   

Buy your copy here:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bathroom Safety Checklist


__ Grab bars should be placed both in and out of the shower to prevent falls anywhere in the bathroom

__ Apply non-slip grip to shower or tub floor
__ Shower seat or bench for a safer way to shave legs or wash feet

__ Handheld shower head
__ Curbless shower entry
__ Lever handles
__ Anti-scald faucets on sink, bathtub and shower

Toilet Area
__ Grab bars next to toilet
__ Supportive toilet paper holder

__ Toilet seats 17” – 19” off the floor for older persons
__ Toilet seats less than 17” for children

Vanity Area
__ Countertops with rounded edges
__ Easy glide drawers that close automatically
__ Bright non-glare lighting
__ Eliminate clutter

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Does your grab bar selection compromise your bathroom design?

From mints on the pillow to complementary bathrobes- great hotels know that it’s the details that make a guest's stay memorable.

Even grab bars, which were once installed only to meet ADA code, are being given a second thought when it comes to bathroom design for both ADA and non-ADA hotel rooms.

“There is no excuse for ugly utilitarian grab bars and other universal design elements either. Sophisticated alternatives abound as baby boomers grow older and the spa-as-sanctuary trend expands,” says Jeffrey Ornstein, CEO of J/Brice Design International.

Great Grabz, the leader in decorative grab bars, is seeing this trend among luxury hotels. They’ve recently partnered with Disney® and Marriott® in providing them with grab bars for all of their guest bathrooms- keeping their guests safe without compromising the bathroom design.

“Institutional grab bars are now a thing of the past as guests demand both safety and style,” says Great Grabz President, Abbie Sladick. "We carry a variety of grab bars at various price levels to meet the needs of the hospitality, commercial and residential markets."

For more information on Great Grabz you can visit them online at: 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

6 Tips for Grab Bar Placement

6 Tips for Grab Bar Placement
Customers say to us all the time "I know I need a grab bar, but have no idea where it should go." Here are  6 tips for grab bar placement for you or your client's home.

1-      Grab Bar Height- There is no standard height requirement for residential installation of grab bars, and everyone's needs are different, but as a rule of thumb, in ADA compliant bathrooms, grab bars are installed 33"-36" off the finished floor. The recommended height for children is 17"-28".

If your bathroom will be used for family members and guests who may be of different heights and abilities, the Great Grabz Wave bar is the perfect solution. The Wave sweeps up 3" to cover more area making it comfortable and secure for everyone.
2-      Grab Bar Length- Grab bars should cover as much of the shower wall as possible. If you have a large shower, we suggest a bar for each wall to ensure safety.  
3-      Outside of the shower or tub- Having a small grab bar placed vertically outside of the shower or tub entry is great for assistance stepping to and from a wet surface. Great Grabz's 10" grab bar is ideal for this application.
 4-      Tub Deck- Soaking tubs are all the rage in bathroom design. However, trouble can come quickly if someone is unable to exit the tub. We suggest installing a grab bar on the wall behind the tub and/or a small grab bar on the tub deck.  Be sure the grab bar is in a place where a foot cannot trip on it while entering or exiting a tub.

 5-      Towel bars with strength- Let's face it, when you are about to fall you'll grab on to anything close by - including a towel bar. Why not make towel bars safer by replacing them with grab bars? 

6-      Toilet paper holder-  For those who have a hard time getting up from a seated position, Great Grabz's 10" grab bar can also be used as a toilet paper holder, while still maintaining its strength of supporting 250lbs of force. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Spa Shower for 2

As a bathroom designer, I learn a great deal about my clients and their showering habits. Many Baby Boomers find that they finally have time to pamper themselves and their spouse for the first time in their married life. Shower and bathing together is one of life's simple pleasures.

Here are a few quick measures to ensure great shower design and performance:

* The minimum width for any shower is 36" and the length should be at least 60" for 2 people.
* Installing 2 shower heads on separate diverters, one wall mounted and one handheld allows for enhanced showering and easy cleaning.
* Shower arms should be set at 84" off the finished floor to accommodate taller bathers.
* Handheld shower head installed on a slide bar allows for flexible showering styles.
* The optimum distance from most body sprays is 30".
* Shower ceilings should not exceed 8 feet in cooler climates.
* Glass enclosures should be a minimum of 3" above the shower head.
* Shower seats and benches should be 18" off floor and at least 14" deep.
* Grab bars should be placed in areas where bathers are stepping in and out of the shower as well as where they are likely to transfer weight on to one leg. (Washing feet, shaving legs etc.)

It is important to ask questions and find out who and how people will be using the shower. A great design can greatly enhance the spa feel of any bathroom.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Benefits of Aging In Place for your Community

I live in Naples, Florida where we are blessed to have a large elderly population. Some in our society may think this is a shortcoming in the community, but it is one of our greatest assets. This issue is explored by the Partners for Livable Communities and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging in their Aging in Place Initiative. “With sizeable amounts of free time and disposable money, a majority of older Americans act as economic generators, philanthropists and volunteers in a community.”

The area prospers when our senior community is able live safely and independently in their residences and get out of their homes to do things in the area. This is one of the reasons why the Sunbelt is such an attractive location for year round residences. There are few days of being snow or ice bound. Shops, restaurants, libraries and parks are utilized when much of the working and school age population are engaged and there is excess capacity. Our community would loose on many levels if seniors are not able to stay be engaged in volunteerism, philanthropy and recreation. Visit the library on any afternoon and to see seniors generously giving their time to teach adults to read and speak English as a second language, and to tell stories to pre-school children.
photo source

“The main purpose of having older Americans age in place is to make them feel comfortable in their surroundings. If the elderly cannot enjoy their latter years due to service, accessibility and program constraints, communities must reevaluate their priorities.” It is our responsibility to develop homes that can be lived in for a lifetime, communities that are welcoming and accessible and public areas that are universally designed to be enjoyed by our diverse and rich population."


Friday, January 29, 2010

Things to consider for Aging In Place design

** Today's guest blogger:
Abbie Sladick, CGR, a certified Aging in Place Specialist by the National Association of Homebuilders and expert in Universal Design, has consulted on many articles and publications. She is a member of the advisory council for the National Kitchen and Bath Association and has also sat on the American Society of Interior Designer’s (ASID) National Council on Aging in Place and Universal Design. She was recently recognized by Qualified Remodeler Magazine as a Top 500 Remodeler, and has received the Master Design Award for Universal Design. Sladick also founded and oversees two companies: Abbie Joan Enterprises, a remodeling firm specializing in interior remodeling projects, and Great Grabz,, a designers and manufacturer of decorative grab bars and safety fixtures.
This past weekend, I took a ride to visit my aunt and uncle who live about 2 hours away. They have just moved from a story townhouse with the master on the first floor to a 3 bedroom apartment. This has been a year of tremendous physical and emotional stress for them. The move could not have come at a better time.
My uncle is 85 and is a bipedal amputee from diabetes. He loves an active life and exercises, but moving from standing to sitting is becoming more difficult. My aunt is 78 and is having many issues that are slowing her down and creating balance problems. She has always been a take charge person and truly resents these physical changes.
They made the decision to move this fall. Luckily they sold there home in 2 weeks. They decided to rent vs. purchase to limit monthly expenses and allow them to be more flexible in the upcoming years. It is a very good time to rent in Boca Raton, Florida.
When they purchased their home 16 years ago, they thought that it would be their last residence. The townhouse had all of the Aging in Place and accessibility modifications that we could think of. There were ramps at the entrances, well placed grab bars, a roll in shower, and many kitchen modifications to make life easier. This fall they decided this was not enough. Simple physical tasks became overwhelming and they put the house on the market.
The tasks that became overwhelming are everyday activities that we might take for granted.
  • Getting things out of the car and maneuvering their cart in the standard 2 car garage.
  • Carrying the laundry across the house from the utility room to the bedroom.
  • Rolling the garbage and recycling up the short drive.
  • There larger home required constant maintenance and this created added stress.
The move to a smaller apartment with a common parking garage and elevator eliminated many of these problems. Maintenance is always one call away and there is a garbage shoot at the door. It may be farther to walk from the car to the front door, but a cart is always handy for carrying and balance.
This visit opened my eyes to the fact that we can make many great home modification suggestions, but ensuring that money is spent on the right residence is very important. Living in a stressful physical and financial situation can limit people’s ability to stay independent.
They now have a few new Great Grabz grab bars in their bathroom and they are living a much more comfortable and secure life. They are entertaining friends, becoming more social in the building and needing less assistance from family. It was a great Aging in Place decision – Just a new place.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Principles of Universal Design

The beginning of a New Year is always a good time to look back on what we have accomplished of the past 365 days, review the basics and make exciting plans for the year ahead. The University of North Carolina's Center for Universal Design has published a very easy to reference chart of 7 principles. Take a few minutes to review them … dream big...and change the world one room at a time.
The design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.

1: Principle One: Equitable Use

The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities
supermarket doors
  • Provide the same means of use for all users: identical whenever possible;
    equivalent when not.
  • Avoid segregating or stigmatizing any users.
  • Provisions for privacy, security, and safety should be equally available to all users.
  • Make the design appealing to all users.

2: Principle Two: Flexibility in Use

The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
large grip scissors
  • Provide choice in methods of use.
  • Accommodate right- or left-handed access and use.
  • Facilitate the user's accuracy and precision.
  • Provide adaptability to the user's pace.

3: Principle Three: simple and intuitive

Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
furniture instructions
  • Eliminate unnecessary complexity.
  • Be consistent with user expectations and intuition.
  • Accommodate a wide range of literacy and language skills.
  • Arrange information consistent with its importance.
  • Provide effective prompting and feedback during and after task completion.

4: Principle Four: Perceptible Information

The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.
    round thermostat
  • Use different modes (pictorial, verbal, tactile) for redundant presentation of essential information.
  • Provide adequate contrast between essential information and its surroundings.
  • Maximize "legibility" of essential information.
  • Differentiate elements in ways that can be described (i.e., make it easy to give instructions or directions).
  • Provide compatibility with a variety of techniques or devices used by people with sensory limitations.

5: Principle Five: Tolerance for Error

The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
computer undo function
  • Arrange elements to minimize hazards and errors: most used elements, most accessible; hazardous elements eliminated, isolated, or shielded.
  • Provide warnings of hazards and errors.
  • Provide fail safe features.
  • Discourage unconscious action in tasks that require vigilance.

6: Principle Six: Low Physical Effort

The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.
    door handle
  • Allow user to maintain a neutral body position.
  • Use reasonable operating forces.
  • Minimize repetitive actions.
  • Minimize sustained physical effort

7: Principle Seven: Size and Space for Approach and Use

Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user's body size, posture, or mobility.
    subway gate
  • Provide a clear line of sight to important elements for any seated or standing user.
  • Make reach to all components comfortable for any seated or standing user.
  • Accommodate variations in hand and grip size.
  • Provide adequate space for the use of assistive devices or personal assistance.
Please note:
These Principles of Universal Design:
  • address only universally usable design, while the practice of design involves more than consideration for usability. Designers must also incorporate other considerations such as economic, engineering, cultural, gender, and environmental concerns in their design processes.
  • offer designers guidance to better integrate features that meet the needs of as many users as possible. All Guidelines may not be relevant to all designs.

      Version 2.0 4/1/97 Compiled by advocates of universal design, listed in alphabetical order: Bettye Rose Connell, Mike Jones, Ron Mace, Jim Mueller, Abir Mullick, Elaine Ostroff, Jon Sanford, Ed Steinfeld, Molly Story, & Gregg Vanderheiden
There are also the Universal Design, Principles & Guidelines available through Trace Research and Development Center. On their website you will find additional references and information about Universal Design.
Copyright © 1997 NC
State University, The Center for Universal Design. “The Principles of Universal Design were conceived and developed by The Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University. Use or application of the Principles in any form by an individual or organization is separate and distinct from the Principles and does not constitute or imply acceptance or endorsement by The
Center for Universal Design of the use or application.”

Friday, January 8, 2010

Universal Design in a Can

Here is a FUN and universally designed product.

“Batter Blaster“ is pancake and waffle mix in a pressurized can for quick and easy breakfasts. The product is the brain child of Sean O’Connor. It was introduced in 2005 and has sold over 5 million cans. This fun- to- use product is great for the youngest to the oldest breakfast lover, whether they have full abilities or may have limited physical abilities.
You may be thinking ………this product is ridiculous…… but it brings out a great point about where our society should be going in Universal Design.
Products should have to have a Positive Emotional Appeal.
  • Fun
  • Beautiful
  • Great to touch
  • Engaging
Many of the solutions available in the past have been institutional in feel and have evoked negative emotional reaction. With the number of Baby Boomers growing by the day, it is now the time to introduce products that empower, enable and appeal.
Have a great day!
Hana Hammer

How Green is Green?

Are you thinking about “Going Green” for the New Year? Like any New Year’s Resolution, it is hard to keep if you plan to do it all at once.

Where do you begin? If you are one of the thousands of home owners in the US planning a bathroom remodel in 2010 you have found a great place to start.

Begin by asking yourself a few questions. Do materials ultimately determine what shade of green a bath will be or does the water usage in the bathroom once it is in use by the home owner determine how green the space is? I believe that the answer is a personal one. Green is in the eye of the beholder.

Here are some ways that a bathroom can be green:

  • Conservation of water usage - by using a Low Flow Shower Heads you save up to 30% on your water usage without sacrificing a great shower

  • Materials from local sources minimizes your carbon footprint. If you are lucky enough to live in an area with a Cabinetry Company you can use regionally grown woods by local trades people.
  • On-demand water heaters have been in use worldwide for years. They are a great way to save space, save water and energy.
  • Anti-Microbial coatings in areas where water can deposit is a effective way of preventing the spread of germs in the bathroom.

The discussion of green often promotes more questions than answers, but it offers the bath designer and the homeowner an incredible opportunity to explore options and come up with an amazing end result. New products are introduced daily giving us more design opportunities and tools to be greener than ever before.

Happy New Year!

Hana Hammer