BY BRIAN MCCULLOUGH

Sometimes when you close your eyes and wish very hard, a miracle can happen. Just ask the Graf family in Stittsville’s Crossing Bridge neighbourhood.

When the Grafs bought their home in 1998 they had it constructed with accessibility in mind. Light switches were lowered, electrical outlets were raised, and all of the doors were made wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair.

“The house always was meant to be accessible,” said Mrs. Graf, “but our philosophy was that it should look welcoming to everyone. We have always been interested in universal design where everything works well without looking like it was made for someone with a disability.”

The forward planning was well placed as the younger of the family’s two daughters has muscular dystrophy and requires the use of a wheelchair. When she returned home from university the family decided it would make sense to turn the main floor study into a bedroom to give her more space and privacy, but she needed a better solution regarding a bathroom. Continuing to use the lift to access the main upstairs bathroom was simply too inconvenient.

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“When we decided to create a new bathroom that was ensuite to her bedroom,” Mrs. Graf said, “we knew we wanted a beautiful, zero-threshold universal design.”

They also knew they wanted Westend Bath and Kitchen to do the renovation work. The family had done extensive research before deciding that Westend’s reputation and straightforward answers regarding the complexity and cost of the project were a right fi t for them. “In every meeting we had with Westend,” Mrs. Graf said, “they were clear up front about what we were looking at.”

Westend designer Sarah Stott’s portfolio on accessible design made her the ideal choice to work with the family, but she knew she had to set realistic expectations. With the work scheduled to begin Nov. 30, it seemed impossible that it could be ready by Christmas as the family hoped.

“An accessible space can involve many factors relating to safety, efficient design, adaptability, and ease of cleaning,” Stott said. “The Graf family not only wanted all the functional aspects of an accessible design, but they wanted their daughter to have a bathroom that felt like her own oasis. This renovation meant more to them than just some new plumbing fi xtures. It would be a lifestyle change.”

Contractor Rick Cleroux and his crew pulled out all the stops to work on the renovation that required considerable new plumbing, electrical, and ducting to be run at one end of the bedroom. According to Mrs. Graf the team was nothing short of fantastic.

“I had asked if there was any way we could have something ready for Christmas,” she said, “and the Hero Moment was that when Rick and his crew left on the 15th of December, our daughter had a working bathroom. It was the best Christmas present.”

“This renovation meant more to them than just some new plumbing fixtures. It would be a lifestyle change.”
SARAH STOTT,
Designer, Westend Bath and Kitchen