Curbless Showers: From Universal Design to Universally Popular

Curbless (also known as zero-threshold) showers were once primarily a solution for homeowners with accessibility issues. Today, curbless showers are one of the leading bathroom design trends for 2015. Over the past six months, the majority of bathroom renovations that we have completed have featured a curbless shower.

As its name suggests, a curbless shower has no threshold to step over. The bathroom flooring simply extends right into the shower. The elimination of a separate shower enclosure creates a seamless, contemporary look that makes even small bathrooms look and feel larger.

curbless shower with slate floorThe continuation of the slate floor right into the shower makes this small bathroom look and feel much larger.

Most clients considering a curbless shower ask the three questions below. We hope our responses help you evaluate whether a curbless shower might work for your home renovation.

Q: How does water stay in a curbless shower?

A: Most curbless showers incorporate a trench drain, which is a long narrow trench that runs the length or width of the shower. The trench feeds into the main drain and is covered with a grate that is flush with the shower and the room floor. The floor is pitched on both sides of the drain to funnel water into the trench.

trench drain close up
As this trench drain shows, the pattern of the drain cover itself can be a wonderful design element.

A door panel is usually installed just outside or right over the drain so water droplets trickle directly into the drain when they hit the door. If the drain, door panel, and shower head are properly installed, water remains inside the shower.

curbless shower in Somerville, MAThe door panel in this Somerville shower is located just outside the trench drain.

Q: Does a curbless shower cost more?

A:  A curbless shower installation is a bit more challenging than installing a conventional shower. Since the installation requires a little more work, curbless showers tend to cost $1,000 - $1,500 more than a shower with a threshold.

Q: Can I put a curbless shower in an existing home?

A: In most cases, the answer is “yes”. Since the floor needs to have a slight pitch, it is important to plan for the shower in the framing stages of a bathroom renovation. To achieve the necessary pitch, existing floor joists may need to be cut. Occasionally the location of floor joists will make it difficult to install a curbless shower in an existing space, but this is the exception rather than the rule.


The beauty of curbless showers shows that elements designed for accessibility do not need to look institutional. As more and more younger homeowners install curbless showers, they are discovering that they now have bathrooms that all generations of family members may safely use and enjoy – while enhancing the aesthetics of the room. We are delighted to see curbless showers listed on many lists of hot bathroom remodeling trends for 2015!

For more information, please give us a call at 617-666-4460 or contact us online.

Tags: universal design, bathroom remodeling, curbless showers

Spotlight on Recent Bathroom Renovations

This has been a big season for bathroom renovations. We just received Eric Roth's photos of two projects that we recently completed in Somerville. Both of these space-efficient baths feature a zero threshold shower -- key when accessibility and aging-in-place is a consideration, but beautiful for any bath.

Boston bathroom renovation with zero threshold shower

Morse 11 14 bath 3

Meanwhile, we were delighted that one of our other bathroom projects was recently featured in an ad in New England Home.  We joined forces with Barbara Hirsch of Elza B Design to renovate her bathroom. We were thrilled that she won a Designers Shine Award from Designer Bath and the bathroom was featured in this ad in New England Home! Congratulations, Barbara!

Morse Constructions bathroom featured in Designer Bath ad

See More Bathroom Photos

If you have any questions about bathroom renovations or the bathrooms featured, please send us a comment or give us a call at .

Tags: aging in place, bathroom remodeling, bathroom design

2014 Bathroom Remodeling Trends

Houzz just issued the results of its Winter Bathroom Remodeling Survey of more than 7,500 Houzz users who are in the midst of, or are planning, a bathroom remodel.

The survey results are consistent with what we are seeing: many homeowners are replacing tubs with larger showers, go for glass shower enclosures, like lots of light, and are upgrading with energy-efficient, luxury fixtures. Rather than expanding the footprint of the existing bath, 75% of homeowners plan to make better use of existing space and keep the footprint the same.Morse Back Bay Bathroom Remodeling Project

Here are some of the survey results that we found most interesting:

•    Tubs continue to lose favor: 43% of bathroom remodeling projects will not include a tub, although tubs have retained some popularity among younger homeowners who have children.

•    Throne privacy is secondary: 52% of homeowners do not plan to separate the toilet from the rest of the bath.

•    New light sources are key: Nearly half of respondents are adding a window (48 percent), four in ten are adding a lighted vanity (41 percent) and one in ten are adding a skylight (12 percent). Seven percent are even spicing up the shower with LED lights in their showerhead.

•    High-efficiency toilets dominate: Overwhelmingly, new toilets will be high efficiency (91 percent). Two-piece toilets remain most popular (47 percent), but more than one quarter of younger homeowners stray from this traditional look, choosing tankless and wall mounted options (29 percent).

•    Double sinks on the rise: More than half of homeowners will have double sinks in their master bathroom post-remodel (55 percent) up from just 35 percent pre-remodel. Homeowners 45 years and older are more likely to install two sinks versus younger homeowners.

Boston bath remodeling rain shower head
•    Showers stay glassy: Glass shower enclosures are the clear choice, appearing in eight in ten bathrooms, with frameless glass topping the list for master baths (54 percent). Shower curtains are banned from most masters, only appearing in 10 percent of new master baths, but remain popular for other full baths (33 percent).

•    Rain showers skew younger: When it comes to showerheads, homeowners under 45 are more likely to choose rain (45 percent) and multiple showerheads (24 percent) in the master bath while those 55 and older prefer hand showers (50 percent) and sliding bars (20 percent).Boston Back Bay Powder Room Remodeling

•    It’s all about the upgrades: Upgrading fixtures and features is key to bathroom remodels with nearly half of respondents citing this as a motivator for their remodel. Other reasons include making the space more functional (37 percent), increasing home value (31 percent), addressing changing lifestyle or family needs (22 percent) and improving organization and storage (19 percent).

•    Unique features adorn powder rooms: While wallpaper is out in most bathrooms, homeowners are eight times more likely to use it in their powder room. Hardwood is four times more likely in the powder room, often extending from an entry or great room. Other features more common in this bathroom are pedestal sinks and furniture-like cabinets.

You can download the full report at: If you are planning a major bathroom renovation, we’d love to help. Please contact us if we may be of assistance.

Tags: bathroom remodeling

Morse Constructions Receives 2013 PRISM Award for Universal Design

2013 Prism Award

Morse Constructions was honored to receive a Gold Award for Best Universal Design at the 2013 PRISM Awards hosted by the Builders and Remodelers Association of Greater Boston (BRAGB) on October 30, 2013 in Boston. The PRISM Awards celebrate the building and design achievements of professionals in the home building industry. Gold and Silver Awards are presented to companies in 49 different categories.

Morse Constructions received the Gold Award for Best Universal Design for our work creating a bath that looked beautiful and functioned equally well for our clients, a 38-year-old recent quadruple amputee and his able-bodied 6’ 2” partner.Our client, Will, lost his limbs to a horrible strep infection that almost took his life.Our goal was to restore some of his independence by employing universal design principles while creating a bath that looks stunning and functions well for all.

Boston universal design bathroom

As outlined in the description for BRAGB, the project posed some challenges, including:

  • The very small existing space gave us only 8’ 11” x 4’ 10 ½” with which to work. There was no possibility of expanding the space.

  • There is no natural light with the layout of this unit within a large building.

  • Because of condo limitations, there are constraints working with the floor/ceiling cavity when installing a trench drain.

The new design includes simple clean lines with beautiful colors, maximum floor space and maneuverability.The relocation of the toilet and sink gives a more spacious feel and creates more room to enter and exit through a 36” wide, zero threshold doorway.

Boston universal design bath

All the fixtures and doors allow for minimal effort for all abilities and are simple and intuitive:

  • Both the entry door and the large shower door are on easy rollers that require little effort.

  • The wall mounted sink includes a touchless or manually operated faucet with the possibility of presetting the temperature.

  • The Duravit Sensowash Shower toilet seat has flexible wall mounted or remote controls.

  • The curbless shower with trench drain allows for easy access and gentler slope within the shower.The shower features a rain head and a personal shower which may be mounted in multiple locations and heights for maximum flexibility and personal preference. The controls also allow for presetting the temperature. The hinged shower bench allows for easy folding.

Our client says that his guests joke about having parties in the bathroom because the space is so beautiful and sleek.“Before I lost the use of my limbs, I was a professor of film. I appreciate the visual and love beautiful things, but I never thought I would have a bathroom that is this stunning.”

Best of all, Will says that the bathroom that Morse Constructions created for him has had a “huge impact” on his life by allowing him to do things that he never thought he would be able to do again. “When you lose the use of your limbs, you need a lot of personal care assistance and give up a lot of personal space. To regain some independence is totally amazing.”

We are proud that the national judges for the 2013 PRISM Awards selected this project for recognition.


For more examples of our work, please visit our photo galleries.

Tags: universal design, bathroom remodeling, awards

Client Story: Brookline Bathroom Restores Independence

Will Lautzenheiser in elegant Boston universal design bathroomCould you remain in your home if you suddenly became disabled? This was the issue that confronted 38-year-old Will Lautzenheiser when a strep infection took all of his limbs and almost his life. (Read Will’s story).


Will knew he would need to move from his second floor walk-up apartment, but the waiting list for accessible housing in Boston was years long. While he spent nine months in hospitals and rehab centers, Will worked with his family and partner to locate a feasible place to live. They finally found an apartment building in Brookline with an accessible unit, but it was still difficult to navigate a wheel chair around once you were inside.


Will and his partner, Angel, initially thought they would simply widen the doorways, but they realized more significant changes had the potential to restore some of Will’s independence. The biggest issue was the bathroom. Will points out that “the normal set up is not convenient for anyone who is not able bodied.”


Will discovered Morse’s expertise in universal design when he read an article that Paul had written for Will, Angel and Paul collaborated on a bathroom that would look stunning and function effectively for both Will and his able-bodied partner and guests.


The  9’ x 5’ bathroom features:beautiful universal design Boston bathroomt

  • Zero threshold shower with a trench drain
  • Fold-down shower bench
  • Touchless faucets
  • Duravit wall mounted toilet with Duravit sensowash system
  • Rolling shower door
  • Gliding entry door


Will says that his guests joke about having parties in the bathroom because the space is so beautiful and sleek. “Before I lost the use of my limbs, I was a professor of film. I appreciate the visual and love beautiful things, but I never thought I would have a bathroom that is this stunning,” he comments.


Best of all, Will says that the bathroom that Morse Constructions created for him has had a “huge impact” on his life by allowing him to do things that he never thought he would be able to do again. “When you lose the use of your limbs, you need a lot of personal care assistance and give up a lot of personal space. To regain some independence is totally amazing,” he comments.

elegant Boston universal design bathroom


Tags: universal design, bathroom remodeling, bathroom design