McClurg's Home Remodeling Blog

Project of the Month: A Bathroom Remodel with Universal Design Features

Posted by Jayson Breckheimer on Tue, Nov 8, 2016

“Universal Design” is being considered more often in home remodeling, especially when renovating bathrooms. The owners of a home in Manlius, NY completely remodeled a bathroom and added Universal Design features for accessibility, comfort and safety.

While most people think of grab bars when Universal Design is mentioned, there are many other Universal Design features that are more subtle such as lever handles on faucets, deep toekicks in vanity cabinets, slip-resistant flooring and comfort height toilets.

bathroom remodel with universal design features

This tub-shower combination has grab bars for accessibility and safety. Wall niches provide a place where soap and bath products can be easily reached. Lever handle shower controls can be operated with the push of a hand instead of a grasp.

Homeowners’ Objectives

The homeowners wanted to replace everything in the outdated bathroom including the plumbing and electrical wiring. They also wanted to add an extra sink to the vanity.  

BEFORE: pink bathroom

BEFORE: Bathroom styles have changed dramatically over the years and fixtures age. The homeowners wanted to replace the dated tile and mauve tub, toilet and sink and the matching tile. For the vanity, they wanted a second sink and improved storage.

McClurg’s Solutions

The dimensions of the bathroom space are 7.75 feet in width and 9.16 feet in width (71 square feet). The small size of the space required maintaining the original location of the tub/shower combo and toilet in the room and determining a space saving configuration for the vanity. The bathroom remodeling project took approximately five weeks to complete.

Vanity and Sinks

The new design called for a vanity with two drop-in sinks with single hole faucets and lever handle controls. Space saving features include a countertop that narrows at the basin areas and base cabinets with toekicks that expose more of the flooring to make the room appear more spacious and improve access for users.

Deep toekicks are subtle Universal Design features that enable users to maintain balance and stability when grooming. A towel bar was placed on the vanity to save space. Full-extension drawers included in the vanity cabinet configuration are another UD feature that improve the storage space and make it easier to organize and access contents.

bathroom vanity with two drop-in sinks

The new vanity has a quartz countertop and a quartz backsplash. The sculptured edge of the Kohler drop-in sinks complements the ogee edging on the countertop. The brushed bronze finish of the faucets and towel bar add style to the vanity.

Toilet and Flooring

The new toilet and flooring are UD features. The original toilet was replaced with a two-piece comfort height toilet with an oval bowl that matches design style of the sinks and tub. The one-inch floor tile of the original bathroom was replaced with 12-by-24 inch slip-resistant porcelain floor tile.

Kohler comfort height toilet

Details are important in bath design. The toilet placement optimizes the space in the bathroom. The new floor tile has less grout and is easier to maintain. The shoe molding separating the floor and wall complements the design of the fixtures selected by the homeowners.

Tub and Shower

A custom tile bath surround was designed for the tub area. The homeowners chose beige bath tile with glass mosaic tile accents. Wall niches were placed at heights to make soaps and bath products accessible for users when they shower or bathe. Grab bars were also installed for safety.

tub and shower with Universal Design features

A lever handle control was selected for the faucet. The finish of the grab bars matches the shower controls, faucets, spouts and towel bars and they blend into the design.


Lighting is also important to Universal Design. We worked with the homeowner to refine the lighting of the room. In bathrooms, lights should illuminate shower and sink areas. It is also helpful to include a night light for users. Since the room was narrow and space small, the primary illumination is provided by downlight fixtures placed over the vanity that diffuse light into the room.

downlights over bathroom mirrors

Double lamp downlight fixtures were placed over the vanity sinks to provide light to the room and grooming areas. The wall cabinet with open shelves installed between the mirrors over the vanity can be used for display or handy storage.


The products used in this project were:

Kohler cast iron tub

This stylish Kohler tub with embossed panels on the exterior features a built-in support for bathers and a grab bar for safety.

  • Wall tile: 12-by-2 inch and 12-by-24 inch irregular pattern of “Limestone” ivory porcelain with a row of glass and natural stone mosaic tile used as an accent.

bathroom accent wall tile

A close-up photo of the linear accent tile used for the project.

vanity countertop with ogee edge

The ogee edge used for the vanity countertop complements the edge design of the self-rimming Kohler sink.

How to Start Your Bathroom Remodeling Project


Universal Design Guide CTA

Topics: Bathrooms, Universal Design