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Key considerations for family-friendly bathroom renovations

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Posted: Thursday, July 10, 2014 10:00 pm | Updated: 1:34 am, Fri Jul 18, 2014.

(BPT) - Mom rules the media room, Johnny loves the basement workshop and the kitchen is Dad’s domain. Gender roles notwithstanding, each family member has one room where he or she enjoys spending more time. One room, however, is equally used and loved – or reviled – by all: the bathroom.

If you’ve decided to renovate a bathroom that no one wants to use, it’s important to keep family-friendly upgrades in mind. Approximately 4.3 million American households are multi-generational – with grandparents, parents and children living under one roof – according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It’s more important than ever to keep the needs of all family members in mind when undertaking a renovation project, especially in a key room like the bathroom.

Here are a few areas for attention when you’re upgrading a bathroom for the whole family:

Safer, more satisfying showering

If your family has older members, grab bars in the shower are necessary for safety. They can also be helpful for youngsters learning to manage the shower on their own. A safer shower doesn’t end with grab bars, however. Have you ever considered the safety – not to mention ease of use – of the shower door?

New technology from Sterling improves the usability and safety of an often-overlooked part of the shower experience – the door track. The ComforTrack is a flexible bottom track that bends under applied pressure, making it easier and more comfortable to bathe a child (or pet) and virtually eliminating the unpleasant scrapes that con occur with metal tracks. The durable track is also simpler to clean, making it friendlier for the family member cleaning the bathroom.

Since durability and cleaning ease are essential in bathrooms that see a lot of use from multiple generations, consider a shower unit that installs without the hassle of caulking, reduces leak risks and reduce maintenance and cleaning time. Shower surrounds like Sterling’s new Ensemble Medley product are simple to install – within the abilities of most DIYers – and easier to clean. What’s more, the material is stain and scratch-resistant, so it can stand up to use by the most demanding bathers, including the family dog.

To further enhance safety in the shower, install slip-resistant flooring and consider a device that prevents unexpected temperature changes – and potential scalding – in showers and faucets.

Lightening up for everyone

Like any room in your home, the bathroom benefits from layers of lighting. Overhead lighting should keep the room well illuminated for showering and bathing, when you need more light. Lighting around and/or above the mirror is essential for detail work, like applying makeup or shaving.

You’ll also want sources of gentler light for nighttime bathroom visits. Keeping lights low can help make it easier for bathroom users – especially young children — to return to sleep. Dimmers control the intensity of overhead lights, or a simple nightlight may be sufficient to preserve safety and sleep. Natural light can be a welcome addition to a bathroom. Privacy is always a concern, so consider window frosting or even a skylight to admit natural light while preserving modesty.

Making it personal for all

In bathrooms where people share space, it’s important to make everyone feel at home. Giving each person a dedicated storage spot (such as a shelf, cubby or a cabinet bin beneath the vanity) ensures he or she will feel at home and the bathroom will stay organized. You can further enhance the welcoming feeling by including personal touches like monogrammed towels, his-and-hers accessories or even framed art created by the kids.

The kitchen will probably remain the heart of the home, but the bathroom will never lose its vital spot in the lives of American families. If you renovate yours with an eye toward making it more family-friendly, your home-improvement dollars will be well spent – and your family happier.

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