From the August/September 2014 Issue:

It’s Universal

    Writer: Meg Fox | Photographer: Peter Rymwid | Architect: Faith Zimmerman, AIA | Interior Designer: Marlene Wangenheim, AKBD, CAPS, Allied Member ASID |

Aging in place can be a beautiful transition

Article Photo
enlarge | A modified coffered ceiling adds sophistication and symmetry. Non-slip radiant-heat tile floors resemble wood. Beyond is a curbless shower with easy tempera­ture controls and a convenient handheld spray. BEFORE The ceiling in the main part of the bathroom lacked continuity and had unattractive angles.
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Besides suffering from a lack of style and a non-cohesive layout, a Kinnelon master bathroom was inaccessible and worn out, says designer Marlene Wangenheim, owner of Interiors By Design LLC in Morristown. (Wangenheim is also a kitchen and bath professional with Tewksbury Kitchens and Baths in North Plainfield, a division of Huston Lumber & Supply.)

The clients, both in their mid-50s, plan to remain in the house a long time and wanted a haven of warmth, comfort, elegance and privacy, says Wangenheim, an Associate Kitchen and Bath Designer, Allied Member of the American Society of Interior Designers and Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist. She brought symmetry and classic style to the expanded bath while keeping it safe, functional and accessible for the clients to use and age gracefully, she says. This meant designing spaces that are barrier-free with easy-access features and extra floor space. As we age our eyesight diminishes, our balance is compromised and we may require aids to help us walk, stand or move through a space, she says. So the task was also to design a space that could accommodate changing needs, keeping it beautiful and sophisticated.

Wangenheim worked with architect Faith Zimmerman, a member of the American Institute of Architects and a principal of Zimmerman Architects in Denville, to address disparate ceiling heights and unattractive angles. In the main part of the bathroom, rafters were changed to a different layout and the ceiling was made uniform at 10 feet so heat wouldnt rise to the higher portions in cold winter months, Wangenheim says. The result is a modified coffered ceiling.

Awkward angles were opened up or widened, and the space was divided into three areas: main bathroom, separate toilet/bidet space (not shown) and the wifes dressing room. All doorways and aisles are at least 36 inches wide, which allows a wheelchair to pass through, Wangenheim says.

For warmth and privacy, she moved the tub from beneath the window to the opposite side of the room. His-and-her custom walnut vanities were placed at each end of the window wall to capitalize on daylight.

"Statistics show that 40% o the real estate being purchased today is by Baby Boomers, and many in this population want to remain home and live their lifestyles at home. Aging in place is a frame of mind and should be part of all well-designed rooms. New products to make our lives easier and more accessible are being introduced every day."
Marlene Wangenheim

Lighting is a large part of the beauty of this space, says Wangenheim, citing the hand-blown Murano glass chandelier over the island and decorative sconces near the tub. Made with chains inspired by a Cartier necklace, the sconces look like jewelry on the wall, she says. They provide good illumination at the vanities and project no more than four inches in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

[The wife] wanted a big, beautiful open space with all the technology, Wangenheim says. Radiant-heat tile floors extend throughouteven into the expanded curbless shower and into the shower bench. Towels are kept toasty thanks to a built-in warming drawer near the tub. In addition, Wangenheim says, the entire place is wired for sound with Wi-Fi and two TVs: one opposite the tub (built into the wall with no projection into the space), the other in the dressing area so the wife can keep abreast of news and weather reports.


Design, Marlene Wangenheim of Interiors by Design in Morristown and Tewksbury Kitchens & Baths in North Plainfield; architect, Faith Zimmerman, AIA, Zimmerman Architects in Denville; contractor, Tomasz Kierepka of New Castle Construction in Roseland; walnut cabinetry, fabricated by Jerry William­son of Lazarus & Williamson in Ogdensburg; painted cabinetry, fabricated by Peter Albanese of Creative Kitchen & Bath in Wayne; integrated appliances, Reno’s Appliance in Paterson; cabinet knobs, Hardware Designs in Fairfield; countertops, Dente Trading Co. in Cedar Grove, fabricated by Marvic Corp. in Union; tile, Design with Tile in Morristown; plumbing fixtures and tub, Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery in Red Bank; Milano glass chandelier and drum chandelier, Larry Gerber & Associates in Loveladies; sconces, West Essex Lighting in West Caldwell; vanity chair, Christopher Guy with fabric by Lelievre-Paris from Old World Weavers; window treatment fabrication and motorized shades, Bob Gallic of Workroom Services in Warren; electrical, MDP Electric Co. in Lafayette; surround sound and TV installation; Premium Installation & Design in Pine Brook.

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