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When a House Is Not a Home

ASID Los Angeles Chapter and Kiwanis Partner to Give Owner a Barrier-Free Future

Thirty years ago, Hugh Finlay suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed on his right side and unable to speak more than a few words at a time.  In all but one respect, he was able to move about the condominium he had purchased in the New Horizons retirement community in Torrance, Calif.:  He could not take a shower because the tub was too high for him to step over safely.  So for many years Hugh grabbed his cane and walked to the local YMCA to use the showers or visited the clubhouse pool showers once or twice a week on the days his friend, Jack Rennie, would pick him up and drive him there. 

Today, Hugh no longer has to leave his home just to take a shower.  He has a newly universally designed bathroom, thanks to a cooperative effort of the ASID Los Angeles Chapter and the Torrance Kiwanis Foundation. Evelyn Grodan, CAPS, of Design That Works, a consultancy specializing in building modifications for seniors and people with special needs, served as project manager and accessibility consultant for the project. Their combined efforts, along with generous donations from local vendors and contractors, allowed them to remodel not just Hugh’s bathroom but the entire condo.  The project employed universal design, sustainable and accessibility principles to create a space that is healthy, safe and barrier-free. 

 

The centerpiece of the design is a fully accessible bathroom that was created by combining two smaller bathrooms into one.  Doorways were widened from 28” to 36” and new doors were put in. The bathroom now has a 2x2 non-slip tiled walk-in shower with a five-foot turnaround, an anti-scald hand-held faucet and a fold-down seat; a sink with a hands-free faucet; and an energy-efficient, water-saving comfort-height toilet and a portable bidet. Grab bars were installed in the shower and toilet area, and the shower floor was sloped towards the center drain.  A custom vanity was added that can accommodate a wheel chair, should one be needed in the future, and a special cover was put around the pipes to protect legs from coming in contact with the hot water pipe.  For safety and ease of use, a motion sensor now operates the lighting. 

"The type, nature and severity of a patient’s disability all impact how limited his or her bathing experience will be,” says Grodan. “Providing adequate bath safety also means preserving a person’s independence and dignity."

The project expanded beyond the bathroom, as more vendors and people heard about it and wanted to get involved.  The kitchen cabinets were refaced and new appliances, countertops and lighting were added in the kitchen.  The doors and windows were replaced with easier-to-open, lighter weight vinyl models.  Donations included new furniture, built-in closets and window treatments.

Other improvements were made to create a healthier environment and enhance ease of use.  All the door knobs throughout the condo were replaced with lever-style handles, and all closet hardware was changed to large pulls.  The carpet was removed and replaced with a wood-look vinyl flooring that is easier to keep clean and makes for a smoother transition from room to room.  The walls were given a fresh coat of low-VOC paint.  New thermostats with auto control and larger number pads were installed, as were two HEPA air purifiers.  All the light bulbs were changed to energy-efficient, longer-life fluorescent bulbs. To top things off, the address numbers on the outside of the building were replaced with larger ones and properly lighted. 

“It’s amazing, the support we’ve gotten,” says Ellen Cantor, ASID, CID, the chairperson for the chapter’s Aging in Place program.  “The positive reaction from the neighborhood has been very encouraging.  We are eager to get started on our next project.”

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Thanks to the following companies and individuals that contributed to this project.

Donated Items

  • Water-efficient toilet, Washlet portable bidet, hands-free faucet, hand-held shower, grab bars and sink from TOTO USA, Inc., Industry Partner of ASID
  • Windows and door-walls are Clark Adams Renewals from Anderson
  • No-VOC paint from Benjamin Moore, Industry Partner of ASID; paint and paint supplies provided by Supreme Paint
  • Vinyl flooring from Tarkett
  • Kitchen cabinet doors from Decore-ative Specialties
  • Kitchen and bathroom countertops from Caesarstone, Industry Partner of ASID
  • Furniture from The Sterling Collection; Patricia Edwards, Industry Partner of ASID; The Sofa Co.; Smith and Hawken; and Vitality Furniture Group, Industry Partner of ASID
  • Built-in closets from Closet Factory, Industry Partner of ASID
  • Lighting from Lamps Plus, Industry Partner of ASID
  • Lamps from Distinctive Designs, Industry Partner of ASID
  • Recessed Lighting from SCI, Industry Partner of ASID
  • Lighting Supplies: Capital Electrical
  • Window treatments from The Restoration Factory, Danmer Shutters, Industry Partner of ASID and Hunter Douglas, Industry Partner of ASID
  • Drapery Fabric: Kravet, Industry Partner of ASID
  • Custom vanity from Basically Cabinets
  • Bathroom tile from Catalina Home, Industry Partner of ASID
  • Bathroom Mirrors from A&E Glass
  • Bedding from Artcraft
  • Flooring from Nafco

Services

  • Landscaping by Gardens by Design
  • Accessibility design by Design That Works
  • Moving and packing by Highly Organized
  • Photography by Matthew Knassas
  • Faux Painting by Michele Bara, ASID
  • Vinyl floor installation by Carpet Spectrum

Contractors

  • General: Platinum Properties
  • Electrical: Sun Electrical
  • Plumbing: McKeeve Plumbing
  • Kitchen: Dave Eggli Construction
  • Tile: Southwestern Tile and MV Tile

 Volunteers and Supporters

  • ALLAN DALLATORRE, ASID
  • ANGELA RADLEY, ASID
  • BETTE HORNSTEIN, deZign services, Industry Partner of ASID
  • BILL McWHORTER, ASID
  • CORRIE MASSEY, Allied Member of ASID, Inspire Design
  • CAROL FOX, ASID
  • COASTAL INTERIORS, MICHLE BARA, ASID
  • DERIC SCHMIDT, Allied Member of ASID
  • DOLORES KAYTES, Highly Organized
  • DONNA DUPERRON and family (Lt. Governor of Kiwanis)
  • ELAINE WILSON, Gardens by Design
  • ELLEN CANTOR, ASID
  • EVELYN GRODAN, CAPS, Design That Works, Industry Partner of ASID
  • FRED GRIFFIN and RAY CORTEZ
  • HAROLD TEDRICK
  • HOPE WITKOWSKY, Councilwoman, City of Torrance
  • JACK MASTBROOK, Aggregate Protective Coatings, Industry Partner of ASID,
  • JACK RENNIE
  • JANE BIGGELN, ASID, LUNADA Services
  • JEAN PINTO, ASID 
  • JUDGE MARK ARNOLD and son FRANK
  • KEITH DARLING
  • KIWANIS FOUNDATION INTERNATIONAL - Torrance
  • LINDA WILLIAMS, Allied Member of ASID
  • LOUISE VORHAUS
  • MANUEL MONEZ
  • MAYOR of TORRANCE, FRANK SCOTTO
  • NIK PHOU, Allied member of ASID
  • NORTH HIGH KEY CLUB
  • PAMELA BOGGS
  • PATRICIA EDWARDS
  • REV. JOHN HERNANDEZ
  • SALLY RAY, Student Member of ASID
  • SHERRY ENTEZAR, Allied Member of ASID, BFA Interior Design
  • TIM HU
  • TONY GOORCHENKO
  • TONY MOLINO, ESQ.
  • TORRANCE CITY HALL
  • TORRANCE LOCAL CABLE-ALEXA SITA