Launch Slideshow

bath: hidden help

bath: hidden help

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    Andrea Rugg

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    Andrea Rugg

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    Andrea Rugg

    Architect Rosemary McMonigal chose to use materials for both bathrooms that offer accessibility without looking institutional.

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    McMonigal Architects

The sink in the Gasterlands' half bath, located on the first floor, is a good example of the design touches McMonigal used throughout the house. It's a standard Kohler sink, fitted into the apron of the laminated countertop. “When you think ‘accessible,' you often envision the kind of wall-hung sink you'd see in an office building,” the architect says. “But here we were looking for something that would read as residential when you're in the space, but still provide accessibility.”

That guiding principle—accessible but not institutional —led McMonigal to choose brushed-nickel grab bars that double as towel bars. They're slightly smaller in diameter than most grab bars, which disguises their accessible application and fits Barb's small grip.

Other materials, used here and in the second-floor hall bath that serves the upstairs bedrooms, don't telegraph their universal utility. Both floors are commercial-grade, solid-body tile; the fixtures are standard-issue; and the hall bath's backsplash and roll-in shower are ceramic tile. Only the handheld shower bar in the upstairs bath gives a hint of any special need. It's longer than a conventional bar to span the couple's height difference.

Cross-ventilation is crucial for mitigating Barb's chemical sensitivities, so the upstairs bath also features wide-open expanses of double-hung windows. “The corner windows look into [the Gasterlands'] backyard, so there's a very private feeling,” says McMonigal. “They bring in lots of light, even between the sinks, which is something Barb and Hans really wanted.”