Posted on | January 15, 2015 | 1 Comment
Once purely functional, today’s master bathrooms serve as a place of beauty, respite and relaxation. They can also offer something those of previous generations never did – aging in place designs that help make it possible and pleasurable to stay in one’s home long-term. Ned Eldridge, owner of Ned Eldridge Residential Renovation in High Point, has been remodeling homes for decades, and he has seen the shift in demand and priorities in master bathrooms first hand. North Carolina Design spoke with Ned and his operations manager, James Critz, to hear more about these changes, and to learn how they balance elements of universal design with the quality, beauty and client satisfaction that the company is known for.
Images Courtesy of Ned Eldridge Residential Renovation ©
Incorporating universal design, it turns out, is partly a matter of real estate. “Inventory of new construction is a lot lower than it was a few years ago,” notes James. “The majority of our clients are looking to stay in their current homes, as opposed to buying new. They need long-term solutions that will allow them to have full access to their space as their needs change. And with today’s universal design advances, they can live in their home forever.”
Master baths have come a long way in the last couple of decades. “I would say that about 70 percent of our clients have homes that have been untouched since the 80′s early 90′s,” says James. “The differences between master bathrooms then and now have to do with access and style. Back then, everyone wanted to have a tub, and builders would often compromise the design to add one.
“Today, as long as you have an operable tub somewhere else, it’s not so important to have a tub in the master bath, so there is a much better flow and a much more efficient use of space.” Ned notes that homeowners today tend to prefer large showers over tubs. “Large showers are luxurious, and they look toward longevity, as they leave clearance for a walker and in-home care,” he explains.
There are numerous ways that Ned and James work to make a master bath ideal for those with current or future mobility issues. “Curbless, level-entry showers provide wheelchair access, and shower seats allow for comfortable bathing,” explains Ned. “Wide door widths, and appropriate flow patterns and spacing allow those with disabilities to transition easily to different areas of the bathroom. And elevators or chair lifts ensure that master baths on the second floor will always be easily accessible.”
Aesthetics are often a concern when it comes to universal design. “A lot of people imagine that it will look cold and industrial,” James concedes. “But we can create a design that will still appeal to multiple people. There are decorative handicap grip bars with a lot of aesthetic appeal. Plus, there are product options that blend right in and work well for people of any ability, like hand-held shower heads, or toilets that sit an inch higher than standard toilets.”
Ned has been in the remodeling business for 38 years, and he is excited about the changes he has seen. “In the past, the master bath in particular was purely utilitarian. Homeowners didn’t use nice products, because nobody saw them. It’s so nice to go into a mundane bathroom, gut it, and walk out leaving a beautiful, luxurious space with amenities that make life a whole lot more pleasurable.”
“There was a lack of design in the past,” James adds. “Some of that was due to the products that were available at the time. We’re not limited at all anymore. We can really do just about anything in order to help our clients achieve their dreams for their space. It’s very exciting, and very rewarding.”