The aging baby boomer generation; they’re living longer, have more refined tastes that their parents had and have the spending power to cater to their whims. With advances in technology and medicine, this generation is more likely to remain active as they get older. And, as they make their way into their 50’s and 60’s, they aren’t leaving technology or great design behind.
For most baby boomers, their children have left nest and most are opting to renovate, rather than sell their homes. When it comes to bath design, they’re planning for the future but, that future doesn’t mean ugly stainless steel grab bars and a cheap acrylic tub from the hardware store.
In fact, consumers in the baby boomer generation are looking at their bathrooms as more of a sanctuary than any other segment of the population. While aging in place is important to them, they’re seeking discreet ways to incorporate it into their bathroom design.
Enter universal design, a concept that hinges on creating products and spaces that are suitable for a range of people regardless of age, sex and ability level. There are 7 principles to universal design:
Equitable use: this means that the design is usable for people of all abilities.
Flexibility: the design can accommodate a wide range of preferences
Simplicity: the design is east to understand, intuitive and doesn’t require any special knowledge or skills to use.
Perceptible information: regardless of the user’s sensory abilities, the design communicates function easily.
Tolerance for error: the design minimizes the probability of error, hazards and adverse reactions.
Low physical effort: the design can be used comfortably and easily with minimum effort.
Size and space for approach and use: enough space is provided to easily approach, reach and manipulate regardless of the user’s body type, size and ability.
Why is universal design so important to this generation of homeowners?
Because as they age, they don’t know what condition their bodies may be in 10 or 20 years from now. The fact is, people are living longer, quality of life is ever improving and advances in medicine are making things like knee and hip replacements easier and more likely to be successful upon healing. This also means that as couples age, they are likely to have differing levels of physical ability.
Universal design encompasses elements of aging in place while maintaining aesthetics and usability for everyone. The fact is, the new generations want bathrooms that don’t look sterile or like they belong in a hospital.
Baby boomers are sparking a trend in bathrooms that look serene, beautiful and spa-like but, can be used by anyone. Even with comfort height toilets, grab bars and ADA compliant walk-in showers, these spaces aren’t designed to make you feel like you’re getting older. Instead, they’ll remind you of being on vacation even when you’re spending the week at home.