This is the first post of its kind and there will hopefully be more accessible blog posts coming soon. I’m aware that this won’t be for everyone but I will be bringing a life update pretty soon. So please stick around for those.
We bought our bungalow, knowing that we had to do a lot of work to the bathroom in order to suit Andy’s needs. It felt a little wrong as it was furnished so well and everything looked brand new, but we ripped it apart anyway. Thankfully we had a builder who knew exactly what he was doing as he had done specialised bathrooms like this before. He also knew me far too well, to the point that when I went into the tile shop and picked out my favourite, the assistant said that he guessed that for me already! Unfortunately those particular tiles were crazy expensive and I didn’t go for them. I let him make most of the decisions on what toilet, shower head etc. to get and he just checked in with me about it. This made it a little easier for me as my time was taken up with Andy being in hospital, trying to find employees to work with him and having a bunch of difficult meetings with the trust.
I actually knew what I wanted and that was a big deal. I generally like a lot of styles when it comes to home interiors, which tends to make decision making ridiculously difficult. But I did my research and I knew exactly what floor I wanted in our bathroom. Maybe it had nothing to do with the fact that I was a young female on my own, but no one seemed to take me seriously when I went looking for floors, even when I was fed up and ready to spend whatever it took to have a decision made. I was fed up because everyone seemed to tell me no. No, that isn’t suitable for a powered wheelchair but I don’t feel like helping you figure out what is! The only person who gave me a solution was one that I really didn’t like!!
From the start I was set on the fact that I did not want our bathroom to look in any way disabled. It is the only one we have in the house and that just wasn’t going to happen if I had anything to do with it.
Here’s what I learned:
- Pretty vinyl and wheelchairs don’t work
- Appropriate options available reminded me of the hospital
- Tiles really are an option, you just need to know what you’re looking for
After numerous tile shops, I eventually found a really great sales assistant in McCalls tiles in Carryduff. She took me seriously which was the first bonus but she also helped me find exactly what I was looking for and finally, I made a decision. (The fact that she was also a woman may or may not have had anything to do with it, I’ll let you decide that yourself).
Here is what we went for:
These tiles are R9, which is the non-slip grade of the tile. I was informed that to make the bathroom safe for a wheelchair, it needed to be R10. Not all tiles are labelled in this way and I could not find R10 tiles that looked nice and surely if anyone was going to slip, it would be me so I’ll take that risk. Choosing R9 tiles and making them into a mosaic pattern around the shower automatically meant that there was more friction between tiles so I was winning. Floor tiles sorted.
For the wall I wanted mainly white (which was exactly what we pulled off the original bathroom walls) but with something to break it up a bit. After sadly avoiding the amazing(ly expensive) tiles I first noticed in McCalls, I fell IN LOVE with another range and was ready to go. Turns out they were actually double the cost of the already expensive ones. Maybe I like expensive tiles! By this stage, I think she knew what vibe I was going for and pointed me to the tiles we bought (still more than I wanted to pay but a decision was made) and we were sorted. I really love how they have turned out.
This was the last thing that we sorted for the bathroom but it feels appropriate to add it in here after talking tiles. We now had a strip of patterned tiles in line with the sink and didn’t really want to cover them up, while also needing a long mirror for both Andy and me to see ourselves. I looked for a long time and finally got sorted on a random Sunday when driving past a place that looked like it sold mirrors. It was the first time I think I had realised we could get a mirror each and it worked perfectly. The mirrors added a break of colour to the bathroom and we are both able to see our lovely faces in the morning without covering our tiles. Perfect!
When our house was assessed for Andy coming home we were told that a shower was not a necessity and the fact that the toilet was accessible was enough. They informed us that we could not start any renovations to the bathroom as they would effect Andy’s ability to come home on weekends and that we could sort that out after he was home. When you really think about this, it means that all renovation would be going on when he was in the house full time and therefore would be even more inconvenient; it didn’t make sense. So we started and we powered through (the boys did most of the powering). We created a temporary solution in our bedroom by taking away the wall of our ensuite to make another toilet available in the meantime. I will discuss that more in another post if I ever get round to it.
We were advised that the shower doors needed to be pretty specific, to allow for the top half to split away. This was to enable someone to help Andy, without getting soaked and without soaking the entire bathroom. Most of these also didn’t fit in with my dream of a normal bathroom, until Glenn (the builder) and a very lovely couple allowed us to see their recently finished bathroom and how everything worked. The doors were great; they looked fancy and also were fit for purpose. There was no time to mess around as they needed to be ordered to our specifications and Andy was coming home from hospital very soon. We bought them from Easa in Moria, who have a range of accessible bathroom goods.
When in Musgrave, Andy had use of a huge sink that moved up and down, to allow him to get underneath. It also had space either side to set all his things and he managed really well to get himself sorted in the mornings, spending far too much time in front of the mirror. This was the dream but we had very limited space available to us, therefore it wasn’t going to work. It felt pointless trying to find something that would work in this way, as the biggest sink we could find would still not be big enough, but would take up valuable bathroom space. In the end, we thought it best to go for a small one, placed on a bench for Andy (and me) to keep our things. It has worked really well as space in the bathroom has been more beneficial than a sink where he can cut/wash his hair in. The sink, along with the other bathroom furnishings is from Soaks on Boucher Road. You tend to spend a little more money, but end up with great quality stuff that will last much longer.
We did not need anything special for this, we just bought a standard toilet as raised ones would not allow Andy’s chair to wheel over it. Again, this was from Soaks and selected by Glenn. We did however need to move the position of the toilet to make manoeuvring to it and the shower, easy.
I really hope that this has been informative in some way or that you have just liked having a wee creep around our bathroom! I feel the need to add that it doesn’t normally look that tidy and that there is a lot of dust on those windowsills. Sometimes it can be so easy to see other people’s lives in pictures and think that they have it altogether. I’m pretty sure that you know by now that that’s not me, but just for clarification, I lifted everything into the hall so as to not distract from the photos. It all went back in again but zero tidying involved.