Accessible Designbefore and afterDIYInteriors

Before & After: A Modern, Wheelchair-Accessible Bathroom

by Garrett Fleming

Eighteen weeks into her pregnancy, Amy Webb, her husband and daughter waited anxiously to hear whether they’d be bringing home a bouncing baby boy or girl. As the ultrasound commenced, however, the technician hesitated. “I’ll be right back,” she quickly stated, and *zip* she was out of the room. Minutes stretched on and time seemed to stand still until she returned with their doctor. Much to their surprise, just as they were being told their baby was a girl, the physician revealed she would be born with extremely challenging limb differences. “We left the office with no answers. This completely unknown condition was either ‘incompatible with life,’ or if she did live, she was clearly going to have a host of issues, all of which would remain unknown for an indefinite amount of time,” Amy tells us.

It’s been nearly seven years since that scary day in the doctor’s office, and in that time Amy and her family have learned invaluable lessons about unconditional love, problem solving and how much of an amazing gift their differently-abled little one is. The joy and inspiration Lamp, the kiddo’s online moniker, has brought to her family even prompted Amy to begin documenting their life through her blog This Little Miggy Stayed Home. It was here that we first discovered her stellar knack for advocacy and the beautiful bathroom makeover we are walking you all through today. Alongside her husband, Amy’s merged modern amenities, stylish touches and accessible designs that work tremendously well for their daughter and are also easy on the eyes. Click through to see all of the ways they’ve made their space perfect for every member of their family, no matter their needs. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Amy Webb

Before & After: A Modern, Wheelchair-Accessible Bathroom, Design*Sponge
Most of the decorations Amy's family used to accommodate her daughter Lamp's limb differences aren't designed for those who are differently abled. Instead, they worked with contractors and did their own research in order to find options that were both easy on the eyes and made life as easy as possible for their little one.
Before & After: A Modern, Wheelchair-Accessible Bathroom, Design*Sponge
"We changed the entire footprint and layout of the bathroom, which included getting rid of the small hallway leading to the bathroom and pushing the doorway out into the main hallway. Additionally, we made the new doorway 36” wide, which is really important for accessibility as it gives [our daughter's] wheelchair plenty of clearance when entering the bathroom and also when turning out of the bathroom and into the hallway."
Before & After: A Modern, Wheelchair-Accessible Bathroom, Design*Sponge
"Our double vanity (which is actually a West Elm media console) isn’t typically considered accessible since it doesn't allow a wheelchair to go underneath the sink area, but for our daughter this is what works best for her." Sconces by Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co.
Before & After: A Modern, Wheelchair-Accessible Bathroom, Design*Sponge
"When [Lamp] brushes her teeth or washes her feet and hands, she sits on the counter. We made sure to have a double vanity again but one that was smaller than the original [in order] to accommodate the space while at the same time finding the smallest sinks possible to give us maximum counter space. Phew! It was the bane of my contractor's existence in this bathroom, but it’s perfect for us."
Before & After: A Modern, Wheelchair-Accessible Bathroom, Design*Sponge
The bathroom's brass fixtures are from Phylrich.
Before & After: A Modern, Wheelchair-Accessible Bathroom, Design*Sponge
"When we changed the footprint of the bathroom, we also made the main standing space in the bathroom a little wider as well. Again, we wanted to allow for our daughter’s wheelchair to have enough room to easily navigate and turn around in our new space."
Before & After: A Modern, Wheelchair-Accessible Bathroom, Design*Sponge
"We added a toilet seat that has the smaller inside seat made just for kids. Of course this is great for kids in general, but again we did this with our daughter in mind so that she is more stable while using the toilet as she can't reach handrails or anything else for stability."
Before & After: A Modern, Wheelchair-Accessible Bathroom, Design*Sponge
"We made sure to keep the space between the end of the shower and the built-in wide enough for her power chair. It works well as a 'parking space' when she's taking a bath or just a little extra space for turning around."
Before & After: A Modern, Wheelchair-Accessible Bathroom, Design*Sponge
"One of the biggest changes was the addition of a separate zero-entry shower. Our old bathroom had a shower/tub combo. While we definitely still wanted a tub, we felt it was really important to have a standalone shower as well. The zero-entry part isn't critical for our daughter right now as she can't take a power chair into the shower, but we don't know what sort of assistance device she might use down the road, and we figured we might as well go all the way and make it accessible for wheelchairs and walkers in general." The sliding shower head was also mounted lower than normal so water hits Lamp at a better angle now and will be able to be adjusted as she gets older.

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  • I love this so much. The thought of use is so important in design, and it looks like Lamp can thrive in one of the most intimate of spaces (AND with two sisters!).

  • This was an amazing post. Nothing I can say can clearly express how I felt between the first impression “wow”, the pause, the tears that followed and the admiration and inspiration that I am currently processing. As a mother of 3 daughters who faces her own challenges, I thank you. Happy New Year! :)

    • Thank you so much. I know how you feel… it means a lot to us special needs families to be included in the broader world and I always get excited when I see other SN families represented in a positive, also typical way.

      ps if you ever want to participate in my special needs spotlight series I’m always looking for new participants. Email me at thislittlemiggy at gmail dot com. XO

  • Beautiful room and story behind it. Thanks for working to show us all kinds of families! Happy 2017 and keep up the good work. :)

  • Thank you for sharing a home tour that features accessible design! All of us will need it in our lives, some more than others. Good to normalize it and see it function beautifully for this family.

  • Love the adapted media console — such a great idea! Already scheming how I can do this in my own bathroom :) And you have a beautiful family!

  • Wonderful post! Great seeing how beautiful universal design can be, and what a touching story. Love seeing families like this and their homes.

  • Lovely bathroom. Thank you for featuring such a great example of appealing universal design! I really appreciate your efforts to represent all kinds of people and their homes here.

  • Thanks so much for this. Would love to see more design highlights that take the unique needs of individuals into consideration. Gender and skin color are not the only elements of diversity to consider. (Dis)ability, medical conditions, economic class, etc. all could use way more exploration in mainstream media/design/imagery. Cheers!

  • Dealing with someone who came to need a wheelchair and assistance opened my eyes to the plain good sense of universal design. Congratulations to Lamp and her family for a job well done.

  • This was great to see, and I would love to see more stories like this. My mom was able to remodel her home to be more usable given her limited mobility, and to accommodate changes that will come with aging. Posts about adjustments for aging would also be great!

  • Yeah to this and much more of it. “Wheelchair accessible can look that stylish?”, people often say, when entering my home. Hell yes, it should!

  • This Little Miggy Stayed Home is such a good read–I have learned so much from Amy and her Special Needs Spotlight series.

  • Lovely article. You don’t have to go with the horrid hospital look to have a lovely space for someone with a disability. It’s something I’m constantly looking at with my husband’s needs.

  • My opinion is, in a small room, it is not necessary to use the furniture of intense dark colors. Use a range of cold colors – they push visual objects. By the way, thanks for your nice post. Keep it up :)

  • It’s so awesome to see a beautiful, accessible design that is clearly thought through for the individuals using the space. I’d love to continue to see work like this featured here.

  • Beautiful project, great article. I think this is the first time I’ve read a home design post that takes special mobility issues into account. It makes me wonder what kind of home design needs are not being met for other people with mobility issues (for example, older populations).

    • Hi Natasha! And thanks. So the mirrors are from Pottery Barn, but I don’t believe they have the brass finish anymore. But I highly recommend them. They are medicine cabinets and I absolutely love them.

      • Miggy
        What color is the grout? I am doing something Similar and I am getting fearful with the grout choices…there are so many and I thought I wanted dark and now… is it too dark?

  • What a lovely family friendly bathroom and it looks so stylish too. You have beautiful daughters they will be spending more and more time there as they grow too :)

  • Thank you for sharing your family with us! The bathroom is lovely too. Where did you find the freestanding bath tub? It’s just the right size and adds great character to the room?

    • Charisse–Thanks! One of the great perks about living in Cincinnati is that finding old home parts is a snap. The day I happened to go look at tubs I had a choice between about 6 different clawfoots. This one is very old (1906 I believe) and had to be professionally re-enameled, but it’s been great and I absolutely love it.

  • Absolutely stunning bathroom! How did you convert the west elm console into a vanity with plumbing?

    • Hi Kristi! So this was sorta tricky. The key was to find the smallest sinks we could (the sinks are American Standard and bowl width is 13″ across.) I wish I could give you a play by play on how they did it but it’s sort of tricky to explain with out photos–this was not a DIY bathroom, we hired a contractor so really they did it all and figuing out this vanity was definitely the trickiest part of the whole bathroom. We were getting down to needing a spare half-inch here and there. I will say that if we had gone with wall mounted faucets it would have been A LOT easier, because the sinks wouldn’t have been so tricky to place. They also had to cut out a portion of the back to make room for the plumbing. This probably didn’t help at all, but if you hire a pro they could help you figure it out! Just remember the old adage measure twice (or fifty times) and cut once.

  • I love the whole design and the story behind it. Beautiful! The console with maximized counter space is exactly what I’m looking for. Are the counter tops and sinks custome made?

    • The sinks are not custom, they are American Standard and are their smallest sinks (I believe?) at 13″ across bowl width. The coutner was just a remnant we found at a local stone place. Hope that helped!

  • I love everything you’ve done here – it’s all gorgeous! Just wondering – what finish did you get on the faucets? I’m so overwhelmed by all the choices that look the same!

  • How do you like the west elm media console? is it durable? I’ve read ‘horror’ stories recently of how west elm’s furniture is really no good.

    • They are Pottery Barn and they are medicine cabinets. I LOVE them. However they no longer have them in brass.

  • Hi.I love your conversion of the media cabinet to the sink vanity. Can you tell me how the vanity top was attached to the cabinet? Did you remove the entire top of the cabinet or cut holes?

    • Hi! Sorry for the delay, it’s been a while since I’ve checked in. So our contractor did the vanity conversion, but they just cut holes….they didn’t remove the entire top.

      • Your bathroom is the inspiration for our master suite addition. It’s perfect! Can you tell me – did you use the regular or large size medicine cabinet from Pottery Barn?
        Also – what is the approximate size of your shower?
        Thanks so much!!

  • Hi Miggy,

    The bathroom came out beautiful and also a lovely story behind it all!

    Question… how did you accommodate the countertop onto the media stand? I was actually going to purchase that same media console for our bathroom, but was unsure about the countertop. Custom, I imagine?

    Would love to know more!

    Thanks in advance!
    – Danielle

  • Hi,

    This is so beautiful. I absolutely love what you’ve done for your girls! I am actually trying to replicate your DIY.

    I bought the West Elm media console and the 13” American Standard sinks. But… I think your sinks may be rectangle? I purchased 13” x 13” sinks and my handy friend doesn’t think it will work.

    Would you be so kind as to tell me the basin dimensions for your sink? Were they the style “Studio Carre?”