Shower remodeling can be a pain. There are so many decisions to make and the cost of mistakes can be high. Here’s just a few decisions you’ll have to wrap your head around:
What type of shower base (or floor pan) is best?
Should you tile the walls or use a shower wall panel system?
Where is the best location for the drain? What is the optimal spot to put the shower valve to turn on the water?
Should you DIY all, some or contract out this project?
Since shower remodeling is not your ‘day job’ (and it’s a project you may do every 10 to 20 years) it can be tough to get it right the first time. How do you make sure you don’t make errors which haunt you down the road?
One way to make sure you’re on the right path is to read these top 5 shower remodeling mistakes and the strategies to not repeat them on your job. I’ve seen them way too frequently and don’t want you to fall into the same trap.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to “age in place.” I want to keep moving. Be active, vibrant – no matter what my age is. If you’re unfamiliar with the term aging in place it refers to someone who wants to stay in their home as long as possible (usually this is an “older” person – and I don’t want to include myself in this category).
When I think of the term “age in place” it feels like some dude getting old in one place. Aging… kind of like a stone. That is not my plan – even though I’m 57 with more than a few gray hairs. I’m looking to be active and enjoy my kids (and somewhere down the road – although not too soon – the grandkids). I plan to continue to beat my 22- year-old son in 5K races (my competitive streak still runs strong). I’m looking to have fun – laugh more and be serious less. More wackiness is a good thing in my book.
I want my home to work for Rose (my wife) and I today, and live well for us tomorrow. I know I could “end up” in an assisted living or even nursing care facility (and there could be a time where this is the best place for me to live).
Still I don’t want to age in place. I want to thrive in the place of MY choosing! I want to not only “control” (whatever that means) my destiny, but enjoy a home which is sleeker, cooler, better thought out – and fun to live in. Yes – I guess I want it all (ha! ha!).
The challenge becomes as an almost empty nester, and baby boomer (or just call me a dude who is 57 but can look 37 after my $9.99 bottle of hair coloring), how can I design my home (and master suite area) to work for Rose and me for a long time?
In this article I’ll look at 5 simple strategies to design a master suite area to go beyond aging in place to thriving in place. At the end of the article I’d love to hear your thoughts (and ideas) on how to thrive in place.
Lynda and Tom – a super nice couple in their 50’s living in the Columbus Ohio burbs (can you say O-H-I-O – yes I’m a OSU Buckeye fan) – came into my showroom with their floor plan for a bathroom remodeling project. They want to make the bathroom larger and have a double bowl vanity top. They are going to increase the size of the window for improved natural light. They plan to move the tub from one side of the room to another to improve the layout. They came to see us to look at grout free tub wall panel options.
They told me they decided on a bathtub again because (as everyone knows) you have to have at least one tub in the home (all realtors and many family members backed up the need for at least one tub). Given this “commonly held truth” they planned to keep the tub in the newly remodeled 1st floor bathroom.
As a nationwide supplier of shower and tub wall panels (and local Cleveland bathroom remodeler) who has worked with countless tub to shower conversions I can’t even think of one time I’ve worked with someone on changing a shower into a tub. “Why the heck is that?” Why are people overwhelmingly getting rid of bathtubs and dusty useless “soaking tubs” home builders insisted on putting in homes in the late 90’s and early 2000’s? Do you really have to have a tub in a home for resale? Conversely, should you even give a hoot about resale?
In this article, I’m going to do two things. First, I’ll give you 4 good reasons a shower is a better option than a tub. Second, I’ll offer up 7 practical advantages of a shower over a tub. At the end of the article I’d love to hear your arguments and if you think I’m a bit nuts (yes – even my wife, kids and fellow co-workers would say I resemble this remark from time to time!).
The aging problem has hit your Mom and Dad’s doorstep
Mom’s mobility and balance isn’t what it used to be (when she fell last year it created quite a scare for you and your brother Michael). Dad’s knees are so bad from his years of hard work at the plant, going up the stairs to their master bedroom has become a project. You and your brother can see the handwriting on the wall (even if Dad cannot). The family home they raised you both in is becoming a big safety hazard for Mom and Dad. You’re starting to do what all responsible brothers and sisters do today. The “behind-the-scenes” research and family meeting process has begun.
You’re debating if Mom and Dad should move in with you or Michael’s family and modify your home to fit their needs (perhaps giving them your first-floor master bedroom and you move upstairs). You know the bathroom with it’s 5” high tile shower curb is just one of the challenges you’ll have to eliminate IF you can get them to move in with you.
You’re also discussing if Mom and Dad would benefit from a move to an assisted living facility. At a cost $3,500/month you have no idea not only how they’re going to pay for this, but Dad will put up such a major fuss you can’t imagine this happening. Staying in their existing home is an accident waiting to happen. Something has got to give….and soon!
The decision is made for Mom and Dad to move in with you. Let the home modification process begin!
After way too many family meetings Mom and Dad have finally agreed to move in with you, your husband Bill and 2 kids (it’s not exactly how you planned your home living situation would evolve – but family has to come first). You, Bill needed got to do and know your existing bathroom “ain’t gonna cut it!” The custom tile shower with the 5” step over curb to get in is not happening with Mom and Dad’s mobility challenges. You’ve decided a ramped roll in shower is the answer… but is it really the best solution?
A ramped roll in shower has its drawbacks
While it’s not my goal to be the guy who rains on your parade and home modification game-plan, there are 5 negatives of installing a ramped roll in shower (it can be a good option – but it may not be the best option) you should be aware of before buying products for the bathroom remodel. Also, there are 2 little-known alternatives you should consider before making your final choice. Read below so you don’t waste money on the wrong selection for your parent’s current needs and your future needs.
You might have heard the saying “when life throws you lemons, make lemonade.” Sometimes a challenge can happen in our lives which not only affects us physically, but also emotionally. The key is to fight through life’s “lemons” (challenges) and to make some “lemonade” (personal victories).
An excellent example of making some “lemonade” is the story of Karen Lee Gast who suffered a stroke in November 2014. Not only was her physical mobility reduced (she now uses the assistance of a wheelchair) but she endured the mental challenge of seeing her independence reduced as a result of the stroke. Simple daily tasks (like showering on her own) – were no longer simple….and required the assistance of her daughter Julie (Morgan) who is of constant support to Karen.
While Karen is grateful for her daughter’s help (although Karen says she can be a wee-bit overprotective at times!) she wanted to regain more independence in her home and control over her life. This desire for independence led Karen to do an extensive bathroom remodeling in her home in Akron Ohio. Let’s take a look at why this remodel was necessary.
The old bathroom
After Karen’s stroke the existing master bathroom just didn’t work. Here were some of the problems with the old space:
The doorway was too small to comfortably roll the wheelchair in.
There were no grab bars to safely transfer from the chair into the shower.
The old stand up 3’ x 3’ fiberglass shower with a framed metal pivoting door was way too small and difficult to get into.
With these challenges Karen was not only not able to use the master bathroom (which is conveniently located right off her bedroom). She had to use a smaller bathroom in the home and could only shower on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays when her daughter Julie could come over to help her. This showering process in this old bathroom took one hour of each of their time. The bottom line was there was no way to make the convenient master bathroom an accessible space without extensive modifications and a full remodel.
In the article below learn 3 critical steps which transformed Karen’s bathroom into an accessible, low maintenance, safe and stylish room she can use without being dependent on others. This now allows her and Julie to do other things (or just spend quality Mom and daughter time together).
I’m sure you’ve heard terms like kid-proofing, soundproofing, and waterproofing but you might be asking what the heck is “future-proofing” and why do I need to do it for my bathroom? When I had a recent conversation with the Operations Manager of Cleveland Design and Remodeling he said to me, “Mike – the key to a bathroom remodel which is built not only to last, but to work for its owners in the long run, is to future-proof the space.” I wasn’t 100% sure what John meant by “future-proofing” so I looked it up. Here’s the Wikipedia definition.
Futureproofing is the process of anticipating the future and developing methods of minimizing the effects and shocks and stresses of future events.
OK – you might say – while I’d like to anticipate the future most of us would admit we’re no Nostradamus and we don’t work for the Psychic Friends Hotline either! So how can you and I anticipate the future (and the “shocks” which come from it) to design a bathroom today we don’t have to re-remodel (is that even a word?) tomorrow? The key according to John is to focus on 2 ideas:
1) Learn to use specific construction techniques and products to win the battle vs. the elements (things like water penetration, air infiltration and home movement)
2) Either learn how to reverse the effects of aging (not sure we’re up to tackling the steps to do this) or use ideas to design a bathroom which allows you to stay in your home as you get older.
Let’s take a look at these two areas in more detail below.
When I told my potential customer Anne I was a “Certified Aging in Place Specialist” (this is an earned certification through the National Association of Home Builders to learn techniques and products to help people stay in their homes longer) she said to me, “Who the heck (I’ve changed the word here to keep it clean) wants to age in place? What do I look like some kind of rock?” I had to laugh and completely agree with Anne. She went on to say, “Mike I want a stylish bathroom which not only works for me today…..but for a good many tomorrows as well!”
I could not have said it better. Whether the aging process causes your abilities (the ability to move, ability to see and ability to sense) to not be what they used to be or a family member has had a challenging life event which has impacted them – everyone should be able to enjoy a luxury bathroom (assuming their budget allows).
The practical question is, how do you make this happen? What product and design considerations are important? In the article below I’ll give you 5 essential tips to get rid of common bathroom product and design barriers so you can get the luxury bathroom you deserve.
When most people think about a one level (curbless) shower the words which come to mind are – Grandma, wheelchair, roll in, walker and handicapped. While a curbless shower certainly can be a need for grandma in a wheelchair or a person with mobility challenges to safely enjoy their shower, it’s about much more than that. From my experience a one level shower can be cool, contemporary, stylish all while providing a functional design which will work for life. Let’s take a look at 7 myths about one level showers and bust them wide open.
Gabi Karpowicz was faced with a challenge – how to redesign her master bathroom (located in the Hilliard suburb of ColumbusOhio) to add style, make it easier to safely care for her mother in law and increase the total functionality of the space. Learn below how Gabi and her husband Joe (along with Columbus Glass Block division of Innovate Building Solutions) used 7 different space and product selection strategies to elevate the functionality, design and style of this master bathroom without having to totally redo the space.
If you worry about your Mom or Dad’s safety getting in and out of their tub or shower you’re not alone (being a 54 year old I can certainly relate to this challenge now with my Mom and in laws). Thanks to modern medicine it’s nice to know they’re likely to live longer – but it doesn’t mean the rooms in their homes or condominiums are designed for their current (and future) physical capabilities.
Roll in showers can be an excellent (and actually stylish) way to provide a safe and luxurious space to keep them in their homes. In the article below learn 5 practical tips to get the most function and style out of a roll in shower design.