American Standard Outfits Accessibility Award-Winning Hawaii Home of Wheelchair Tennis Champion
Wheelchair tennis champion Beth Arnault was looking to redesign her residence in Paia on the island of Maui, Hawaii, into a flexible, accessible home base to enjoy between stops in her international tournament schedule while supporting daily routines involved in raising a young son.
"Primarily, she wanted it more open," says Jean Tessmer of Space Options, the designer for the remodel. "And the reason for openness for people in wheelchairs is that you don't have so many obstructions-you can just glide across the room for a long distance without having to make a turn or a stop."
This was a challenge due to the arrangement of load-bearing walls in the existing floor plan, and extensive structural engineering was required to create that open, welcoming flow for household traffic. Arnault's other challenge to the renovation team was to give the home a contemporary, "normal" look that would prove comfortable for family members and guests of all abilities, particularly when it came to the kitchen and bathrooms.
THE BARRIER-FREE REMODEL
After completely gutting the home, Tessmer and the team began building toward an accessible new reality.
The spacious new kitchen included granite work surfaces surrounding Porcher's London 30" Single Bowl Farm Sink, the under-counter mounting of which was an accessibility bonus. Says Tessmer, "It's still the normal installation, but because it's dropped slightly, we were able to take advantage of that to give it more usability for her."
A Jasmine Single-Control Kitchen Faucet with hand sprayer contributed even more easy utility, allowing Arnault to bring water flow closer to the classically contemporary sink's edges for washing and rinsing.
In the master bath, American Standard's Mezzo Semi-Countertop Sink was paired with a Ceramix Lavatory Faucet atop another sturdy granite countertop. Designed for barrier-free living and to provide full-size capacity in small spaces, Mezzo's bowl extends beyond the counter's edge with a smooth undersurface comfortable for use whether seated or standing.
A Champion Right Height Elongated Toilet combined barrier-free styling with American Standard's exclusive EverClean fired-in surface, which repels dirt and resists bacterial growth on all exposed surfaces for easy maintenance. Finally, a Reliant Pressure Balance Shower Faucet contributed ease and comfort to the suite of fixtures in the shower area.
The home's second bathroom was also designed with access in mind. Here, another Champion Right Height toilet was installed, and this time a Ceramix lavatory faucet was paired with an elegant Piazza Countertop Sink from American Standard's Barrier Free collection. The bathing center was equipped with another Barrier Free fixture, the Spectra 5-1/2-foot Tub. Notes Tessmer, "It's a nice long tub so you can actually lay back a little bit…You could put a seat on the back end and do a side transfer (from a wheelchair) and then slide down into it."
ACCESSIBLE, AWARD-WINNING RESULTS
Since the indoors-and-out renovation of her home was completed in 2006, Arnault has been very happy with the beautiful functionality it offers for everyday routines and entertaining. The residence received even more accolades from the Hawaii Department of Health's Disability and Communication Access Board in the fall of 2007, when it was recognized with the Private Residential Design Award of Merit at the annual Disability Access Conference.
Tessmer, who serves as a barrier-free consultant for public projects in addition to her work on private residences, values both American Standard's products' flexibility for universal design and the opportunity to consult with design engineers as she designs new spaces.
"I can actually talk to the engineers and ask them how things are working in relationship to all the other accessories that have to be present for barrier-free design, and I'm also looking for fixtures that give me some tolerance," says Tessmer. "I really search for that kind of thing when I'm choosing plumbing fixtures, and so far, American Standard gives me that option."