Welcome! My health problems add craziness to my life. Here I post ideas I've tried, also questions I'm still asking. I have an electrolyte disorder. So I have crazy neuro stuff like complicated migraines, alkalosis, loosing my speech and paralysis. (including legs and hands) Little by little, foods had to go, they affected my brain and immune system. So I avoid like the plague: soy, dairy, gluten, nightshades, and try to avoid refined sugar. My body requires pink salt and electrolytes. I now use a speedy red wheelchair that I love. I've craved a simpler life, but how do you do that with crazy health stuff? I've already had a fire and flood, so I really don't value possessions. I value people and experiences. I am not compensated for any posts, just my opinions.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Making My Bedroom More Wheelchair Friendly

Making things accessible often means really expensive or drastic, but it doesn't have to be. You can re-think the space you already have. Several small things made a big difference for me. Hoping this post might give you some ideas while planning your own more accessible space. Last year we did a remodel, making our living space more efficient, including moving our master bedroom. My current bedroom is a little smaller than my last bedroom, but I now have a bathroom as part of my bedroom, and it's much easier to get around in my new space.

We live in a rambler house built in the 1980's. (one main level) We chose the house because we could see lots of potential for good accessibility. It had wider than average doorways and hallways. In my last bedroom, (original master bedroom for the house) one wall had two tiny closets, the other wall a large window, the third wall was too short for a bed, and the room was without a bathroom. So, there was really only one place to put the bed and dressers. I have a queen size bed, so when I wheeled along the side of the bed to try to get into my bed, it was a really tight squeeze. Only about one inch on either side of my fingers. On my left side: the bed, on my right side: the dresser. Not very easy to get stuff out of the dresser. Also, by the time the closet doors opened, I was backed up against the foot of the bed.

The formal dining room was just a little smaller than the master bedroom, with two wide open doorways. 2 inches smaller in the width, 5 inches smaller in the length, but there was a better layout. When you exited the formal dining room, there was the hall, that just dead ended. Then a very small 1/4 bathroom, and further up the hall a side entrance to the kitchen. The bathroom was on the other side of the kitchen wall. We added hall space to the bathroom, making it a long, narrow full bath room, that’s easy to wheel back and forth in. We took out the sink and cabinet in the bathroom and put in a small wall mounted sink, that I can roll under. The second doorway to the dining room became the entrance to my bedroom where a door was added.

In this picture of my old hall, a tub was added, where the blue tape is. The tape line to the back wall was added to the bathroom. In front of the blue tape became closet space, the visible door opening in this picture became my closet doorway with a small bi-fold doorway to maximize space. The wall on the left side of the hall, from the blue tape to the back wall was taken down. Right about the front edge of this picture a wall went up, to close off the hallway. In the back corner of the bedroom (by the blue tape line), is the current entrance to the bathroom. I found from my old room, it's rather challenging to get through the bedroom door (open, get around the door, reach back to close it) then also through the bathroom door. I didn't want that challenge in my new space, especially in the middle of the night. So, there is no door between the bedroom and bathroom, just an open doorway entrance. I can't emphasize enough how much easier it without unnecessary doors!

The first picture in this post, you can see my bed is right by the doorway. I have several feet all around this side of my bed and in front of my dresser to wheel around. The dresser is on the back wall of the room with enough space to turn my wheelchair in a circle in between the bed and dresser. At night, I put my phone on the charger, setting it just under the edge if the bed, along with my kindle that I read every night. Then in the morning I pick up my phone and kindle, and take them to my office. I use a buckwheat pillow. It really helps me with my neck issues, I can't go back to other pillows now! The bed itself is a platform style bed, with a memory foam cushion. It's the same height as my wheelchair seat, making transfers easier. It's really nice that I can easily reach the light switch and the door handle. I got lever handles, much easier for bad hand days. On the outside of the door is a second handle to pull the door shut. (see picture on the right column of my blog) I also got a small grab bar to make getting in and out of bed easier. It takes good abdominal muscles to get up from laying down, which I don't have. My doctor asked me to get a bar for safety. There are some bars that go to the floor. My toes are a magnet to stuff like that. I could just see myself stubbing my toes every day when I got in and out of bed. I got this one from Amazon (link to bed rail) The bar is connected to a huge board that slides under the mattress for stability. I wish I had gotten this years ago, it really helps. (No compensation, just really love and recommend it.)

Our kitchen had two entrances. One that went into the regular, informal dining room, and one that went into the hall. When the wall went up for my closet, that blocked off the entrance from the hall to the kitchen. I thought it would be really nice to use that space in the old kitchen doorway as my kitchen space, where I could roll under the counter and park. The builder built a simple wooden counter for me. I bought custom glass to cover the painted wood. It's got my tea things, as well as space for me to do food prep.

We did a lot of thinking, measuring and looking for the smallest items possible, to give as much room as possible in a small space. I think because of these efforts, the space doesn't feel small. While the remodel was happening, I really thought about each of my things. Did I want to put it in my small space or give it a new home? (usually as donations) I enjoy minimalism articles, especially Joshua Becker's writings. I read a lot of these articles while planning for the remodel, pondering what I really needed in my space. I downsized my clothes to just what I really wear, (just a little more than a “capsule wardrobe”) we got better closet space, so we got rid of one dresser in our room. That also helped a lot with more open space. I wear 100% of my clothes now with most tops coordinating with multiple skirts. I only wear loose tops and long knit maxi skirts now and love them. (don't like pants or jeans anymore) I also don't have anything under my bed anymore which I'm rather proud of. I hung a nice old-fashioned mirror at wheel chair height beside my closet. I hung up less things on the wall, just picking my favorites, two of which are my father in law’s art prints water colored.

In my bedroom space, I now only have visible: the queen size bed, one side table with a lamp and small SAD light, one dresser (some decorations on the dresser), one music stand and my violin. In the bathroom, I have a nice wooden medicine cabinet, with 2 hooks for towels. Only a bottle of soap at the sink, with a small trash can between the sink and toilet. On the back of the toilet I have a small tray holding everyday things I need access too, including the toilet paper roll. A large grab bar is on the wall in front of the toilet. In my bathtub/shower, I have one bottle of soap, one bottle of shampoo, and a bag of Epsom salts handy. I have a white shower curtain and white curtains over the window.

The wide doorway of my closet (with bi-fold door) and having less stuff lets me wheel into my closet. My closet shelf was measured with me sitting in the wheelchair. I moved a small cabinet from my office to inside my closet. I keep sheets, towels, toilet paper and medical supplies in there. A pump for my wheel chair tires, a drying rack for clothes, and my two pairs of shoes sit on top of the cabinet, which is much easier to reach than on the floor. This closet space allowed for me to have a roll under sink without the cabinet below it. My husband also has a closet that was previously unused, walled off space. We keep the laundry hamper and travel gear in there.

I gave colors a lot of thought. I have this big thing against the color beige in my personal space. I usually like lots of color. The new space used to be 3 different colors, but I changed all the walls in my new bathroom and bedroom to white, except one wall I painted a nice Kelly Green. The bathroom floor and walls around the bathtub have nice gray tile. I chose the black/oiled bronze hardware. I really love the look of my new spaces, feeling that it looks very calming and clean. It's also all very low maintenance. I don't have a lot of energy, so I don't want to spend what little energy I have, just cleaning stuff. My room now has just enough, all things I use frequently. In the morning, I get dressed, make the bed, put my pajamas away, and my room is pretty much neat and clean. Every few days I sweep and wipe down bathroom surfaces and that's it. It's now been a year since we did the remodel.  My body feels calmer and less overwhelmed with less stuff visible. I feel much more independent with my more accessible house. I really love, enjoy, and appreciate my new accessible space!

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