The grab bar in the shower helps prevents falls, and the telephone near the toilet ensure that -- should an accident occur -- help is close at hand.

Bathroom Safety and Maintenance

Bathroom safe­ty and future maintenance require careful consideration.

Nonslip flooring, handrails or grab bars for tubs and showers, pressure-balancing valves on showerheads to protect against scalding, and tempered glass for shower doors are some of the safety basics your installer should consider nonnegotiable.

Another, required by building codes, is a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) for any outlet near a water source. If there's an electrical short, as in a hair dryer hitting the tub, a GFCI instantly shuts off the power.

Maintenance is inevitable in any bath, so make it easy. From the plumber's perspective, the best bath layout has the water supply and drain/waste/vent pipes all in one wall. One "wet wall" makes repairs easier.

If, like many baths, yours has fixtures on two or three walls, do the next-best thing: Keep water lines and shut-off valves accessible in case you or a plumber needs to get at them. This includes whirlpool tubs installed into a tile-covered platform: Plan for a hatch that can be opened near the controls.

For day-to-day maintenance, make sure you really know how to clean those gold-plated faucets, marble counters, hand-painted sinks, and wood-paneled walls. They may be able to stand up to water but could be damaged by an all-purpose industrial cleaner with abrasives and bleach!

To learn more about decorating or remodeling your bathroom, visit:ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mary Wynn Ryan is the author of numerous interior design books including The Ultimate Kitchen, The Ultimate Bath, Cottage Style, Fresh Country Style and Garden Style. She has written about home furnishings and interior design for various magazines and served as Midwest editor of Design Times magazine. She was also the director of consumer and trade marketing for the Chicago Merchandise Mart's residential design center. She is president of Winning Ways Marketing, an editorial and marketing consulting firm that specializes in home design and decorating.

­