Accessibility inside the home – our journey toward barrier-free living

As a preface – the next few posts will detail some of the massive changes we’ve made to our home to help improve accessibility for my darling husband. Some of the posts will highlight the transformations (like this post) and others will offer suggestions and ideas on the questions to ask yourself – and the contractors you will work with – when embarking on these expensive, stressful, and time consuming projects.

We were married a very long time before we bought our house. I honestly didn’t believe that we’d ever be able to find a place that was the right size, in the right neighborhood, with schools close by, in the right price range, with the option to build out accessible features as time went on.

In 2015, just as school was about to begin for our first kindergartener we found a one-story home that we really liked and checked all of the boxes. So, we made an offer they couldn’t refuse, and moved in eight weeks later with no immediate plans to improve on the accessibility of the home. At the time, my darling was still ambulating (walking) and we were trying to gain our bearings as new homeowners.

Fast forward to the summer of 2018, and things have changed drastically for my darling. He experienced a massive flare that landed him in the hospital and in-patient rehab for over a month. And upon discharge, walking was more difficult and we needed to really start thinking about those (now) necessary accessibility features.

But how? I work full time, we have two young children, and I am WAY too controlling to allow contractors to be in my house while I’m not there.

We struggled with the inaccessibility in our home for two years. We had multiple contractors visit our home over that time who graciously provided us with quotes to renovate our master bathroom. Unfortunately, nobody we met with really understood what we needed in its entirety. Each of the contractors shared one or two ideas that I filed away for when we met “the one,” but nobody really got my vision, and I didn’t have the words to articulate what we needed. We needed to meet the one contractor who would take all of these ideas and build something functional, beautiful, and accessible.

Before the renovation, the master bathroom was very long and narrow with little room to navigate with a wheelchair. The shower had a step. The garden tub hadn’t been used in years. The toileting area was in a literal closet. The sinks were not roll-in friendly. The entrance to the master bathroom was too narrow.

A fluke conversation with one of the doctors I work with led to a conversation about the amazing contractor who built his home. Cristina Hernandez owner of CH Lifestyle Home, LLC helped him build his house from the ground up, and after meeting with her in person I knew she was the person who could make our vision for this bathroom accessibility remodel a reality.

Our bathroom accessibility “must have” checklist included:

  • Roll-in, zero entry shower
  • 360 degree turning radius
  • Symmetrical double roll-under skinks
  • Handrails everywhere, and in the right places
  • Rainhead-type shower for me (because I matter too, ha!) and a handheld shower for easy maneuvering
  • As close to a wet-room style as you can get – tiles on all major walls for easy cleaning
  • Wider entrance into the bathroom

Cristina took our list of must haves, promised substantial completion in six weeks (depending on the availability of supplies), and that the bathroom would be as accessible as possible based on the space available after taking down the toilet wall and removing the garden tub.

The second we signed the contract, about a month before work began, I started ordering the finishes on Amazon, Wayfair, and Houzz. I’m glad we did – we were smack in the middle of the pandemic by then and everyone was renovating something. Supplies were hard to come by, especially if you were being particular about colors, and in some cases our plumbing and finishes were delivered just in the nick of time.

Six weeks later, my darling and I were moving our toiletries back into our newly renovated – and ACCESSIBLE – bathroom.

It’s been about a year since this renovation and we regret nothing. It was a challenging process – there was a lot riding on this renovation – the stress and anxiety were at an all time high, but Cristina was always very kind and level-headed, with solutions to all of our questions and concerns.

Cristina’s company, CH Lifestyle Homes, LLC, does all kinds of contracting work in the Greater Houston area – and we happily recommend her services to anyone who asks.

If you have questions about this renovation and know me personally – you can reach out to me however it is that we normally communicate. If we don’t know each other and you have questions, feel free to send me a message through the contact form.

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Wife, mother, writer, and caregiver. If you're here for support and caregiving life hacks, you've come to the right place.

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