Wide-open spaces, durable porcelain tile and integrated gadgetry help a disabled woman feel independent again
After an accident left Mary Kay Michelis in a wheelchair full time and forced her to retire from her work as an ophthalmologist surgeon, her master bathroom became entirely unusable — for 10 years. Her electric wheelchair wouldn’t fit through the door frame. An awkward built-in corner tub was a no-go. And the small, curbed shower wasn’t even up for discussion.
So Michelis and her wife, Sharon Dame, mostly ignored the space, opting for a guest bathroom elsewhere in the home that was easier for Michelis and her licensed caregiver to use. For a while, though, Michelis was staying mostly in an assisted long-term care facility. Recently, as her health improved and she was transitioning back to living at home, she and Dame decided it was finally time to overhaul the master bathroom and make it functional.
They enlisted the help of designer Heather Poulliot to take the bathroom down to the studs, create an open floor plan with a large, curbless shower, lots of grab bars and automated features that allow Michelis to do everything she needs to with minimum, independent effort.