Round-Up of Stylish Grab Bars

I have a confession to make. I am a little bit vain.

Let me explain. My illness has stolen so much from me: my health, my hobbies, my work schedule, time with my family, my social life… I can’t bring myself to let it take everything, and since it’s one place I can draw the line, I draw the line at my sense of style. I make it my goal, when I need an assistive device of any kind, to try my hardest to find one that’s both practical and beautiful.

One of the very first things I researched when my symptoms began was grab bars. They are the most practical assistive device out there–and often the ugliest. I just knew there had to be sturdy, stylish options available.

Here are the results of my search. These are my favorite ideas for subtle, stylish grab bars for your home.

Towel Holder Grab Bars

I absolutely love an item that does double duty. If I can put my things to work in more than one way, I’m all in! So when I discovered grab bars that also serve as towel holders, I was fascinated! Here are just two of the beautiful options on the market.

Image of brushed nickel grab bar with towel bar, with link to Moen website.
A long brushed nickel bar, attached with two circular wall mounts, with a second thinner bar parallel to the first.

I love the calm, classic look of brushed nickel (although this product comes in a variety of finishes to suit your home). This bar is simple and subtle, and almost has the appearance of a regular towel bar. The thicker top rod serves as a grab bar, while the thinner bar beneath hangs your towel to dry. The added bonus of this style is that it keeps your towel close at hand–and anyone with chronic pain or balance issues knows that the less you have to reach for things, the better! It’s rated to support up to 250 lbs, is corrosion-resistant, and has a limited life warranty.

Image of stainless steel curved grab bar with towel holder, with link to seller site.
Curved c-shaped rounded towel bar/grab bar, with white towel hanging from lower portion.

For a more modern look, consider a bar like this one. While the top has the look of a standard rounded grab bar, the curved portion at the bottom gives a convenient place to hang a towel. The added advantage to the open-ended towel bar in this style is that it’s easier to hang/remove the towel from the bar.

Toilet Paper Holder Grab Bars

Image of wall mounted grab bar/toilet paper holder, with link to Home Depot.
Brushed nickel, narrow bar with second bar parallel. The top bar fixes to the wall with rounded mounts. There is a subtle curvature and flaring to the bars and mounts for an elegant finish.

This toilet paper holder/grab bar is so subtle, it’s almost hard to tell it’s a grab bar! The stylish finish and swooping lines make it really beautiful, and easy to match to other hardware in the bathroom. The top bar functions as a grab bar, while the lower portion keeps the toilet paper roll within easy reach.

Image of c-shaped grab bar/toilet paper holder, with link to Home Depot.
A bluey grey bathroom wall holds a c-shaped rounded bar. The top of the bar, slightly longer, is affixed as a grab bar. A roll of toilet paper hangs from the lower section. To the right is a white curtain, and above, the edge of a brown framed picture with an outline of a leaf.

Similar in style to the more modern towel bar above, this streamlined, simple bar is a beautiful option. The open-ended bottom bar also makes removing and replacing a toilet paper roll simple–a bonus if you have pain in your hands or difficulty with dexterity!

Shower/Bath Grab Bars

Image of bronze gold grab bar, with link to Home Depot site.
A bronze gold finish bar is mounted with two flat circular wall attachments.

Did you imagine a grab bar could be a style statement? This gorgeous bronze gold bar could be just that! It’s sleek and elegant, and looks like anything but an assistive device. The bar is available in a variety of finishes, to make it easy to match to any of your hardware.

Image of black finish shower grab bar, with link to Home Depot site.
A circular black metal bar, open at the bottom, is mounted with two circular black attachments.

This grab bar is definitely a more modern take, with the black finish and circular shape. And while in many ways it looks like a grab bar, somehow it feels kind of fun and different at the same time!

Removable Grab Bars

A silver-finish plastic grab bar has suction cup attachments and rectangular latches to secure grab bar to wall. It is shown on a white background.

I lived without a grab bar for a very long time. I just couldn’t bring myself to install one, for whatever reason. My particular illness seems to have a little bit of waxing and waning (at least of the more severe symptoms), so it was easiest for me to make my peace with the idea of a removable grab bar. It remains to be seen whether I will actually ever remove it, but I can certainly vouch for how helpful it has been! This is the particular bar I chose, although there are many options on the market.

There are some great advantages to a removable grab bar: first, of course, is that it can be removed in the future. This means if you are living with temporary limitations, or have symptoms that flare and worsen at times, you can add or remove the bar as needed. The second advantage is that it is incredibly easy to install. You don’t need to drill into the wall or bathroom tile, no need to find studs, no need to even use tools! Simply press the bar to the wall and secure the suction cups. I had my doubts about how sturdy it would be, but even pulling with all my weight didn’t dislodge the grab bar. It really works! The third advantage is that, being removable, you can take it with you when you travel, so you can be safe even when you are away from home. The one disadvantage is that it can only be mounted to certain types of surfaces, so make sure you research and have a plan for where it will attach.

What are some of your favorite beautiful grab bars? I’d love to see your top picks in the comments below!

Energy-Saving Accessible Make-Up Desks

I had an enlightening moment one morning. I routinely need to rest after showers, and often use shortcuts to save me time and energy when I’m showering. Even so, by the time I get to applying make-up in the mornings, I’m often exhausted. I had formed a habit of doing my make-up sitting cross-legged on our bedroom floor in front of the mirror that hangs on our door. One morning, though, I just didn’t feel like sitting on the floor. I had taken a quick shower and dry shampooed my hair, and assumed I had saved enough energy to allow me to follow my remission routine: standing by my dresser and using my wall-hung mirror. It only takes me five to ten minutes to do my make-up, so I stood.

It was two hours before I recovered. Two hours.

And that’s the thing about chronic illness, isn’t it? It’s not the big things that knock us out. We plan carefully for those. It’s the simple little things. And it’s why we are constantly making calculations in our minds about how much energy things will require, planning out every step we take to minimize effort, and too often (as I discovered), miscalculating and paying the price.

If you are like me and need a solution for things like doing your hair and make-up (without sitting cross-legged on your floor!), here are some simple options to try at home.

Traditional Vanity

Image of small wooden vanity with drawers, attached mirror, and small stool. Links to Wayfair website.
A bedroom is shown, with a white wood vanity desk next to a window. There is a circular mirror attached to the vanity, two small drawers and a shelf, and two large drawers. The drawer fronts are light brown wood with rectangular gray pulls. A square stool with white legs and charcoal upholstered seat is under the vanity.

The most straightforward option, of course, is a traditional vanity. They come in literally all shapes, sizes, and styles. There are a few things you might want to look for, though. First, a comfortable seat. Make sure you choose one that is easy to pull out or push in, that is comfortable, and that is sturdy. If you live with back pain or have weakness, it might be a good idea to choose a seat with a back for added support.

Second, consider a piece with plenty of storage. Having everything you need right at hand will minimize reaching or getting up, which saves you valuable energy for things that matter more. A set like this has several sets of drawers that would make it easy to organize your cosmetics. If you plan to do your hair here as well, you might want to look for something with room to store hair product bottles, blow-dryers, straighteners, or other things you use.

Image of bathroom vanity cabinet with open space under counter, and drawer with outlet and storage space. Links to Rev-A-Shelf website.
A white bathroom vanity has open space beneath a marble countertop. On either side of the opening, we see stacks of drawers. One drawer is open to show steel cylinder space to store hair dryers and straighteners, and an outlet in drawer with closing metal cover.

If you are fortunate enough to be able to design your bathroom around your needs, an option like this might be a good idea. A lowered countertop with space for a stool gives you a place to get ready while staying seated. Having drawers nearby within easy reach will give you a place to store all of your cosmetics and hair products and minimize your effort. There are many ways to add an outlet to a drawer, so that your dryers or straighteners can be plugged in easily without standing to reach an outlet on the wall. This is also extremely helpful if you use a wheelchair, as it puts everything you need at a height that is easily accessible.

Wall-Mounted Vanity

Image of white floating wall mounted vanity with mirror and storage. Links to Rev-A-Shelf site.
A narrow white rectangular wall mounted vanity is shown. A center section is flipped open with a mirror and divided spaces for storage. We see various cosmetic products and flower vase on the surfaces on either side of the center section.

There are several reasons why a wall-mounted vanity might be a good option for you. If you have limited floor space, a system like this may take up less room than a traditional piece of furniture. If you have a wall within close proximity to your bed, it may be possible to do your makeup from the edge of the bed using a wall-mounted piece. And if you use a wheelchair, something like this is ideal as it allows you to access the vanity easily with nothing in the way, and can be mounted at any height you choose.

A vanity like this one provides plenty of storage for everything you need. When you are finished, it closes down to keep everything concealed and clean and looks like a floating shelf on the wall.

Image of wall mounted wooden cabinet with fold down surface, mirror, and shelving. Links to Povison website.
A narrow square cabinet with rounded corners in shown in medium wood tone, with a beige drawer at the bottom. The front of the cabinet folds down to form a desk top supported by steel braces. Inside, we see a small mirror and shelving with assorted personal care bottles.

Another option, if your space is narrow, is a system like this. The drop-down table will give you plenty of room to set your things as you get ready, and the shelves provide the necessary storage. When you are finished, you can close it back up and the whole piece only takes up a small amount of space. This system is also wheelchair-friendly and can be mounted at any height.

While you could purchase a piece that’s meant as a vanity, such as this one, it’s also possible to get creative and find pieces that can be adapted. A wall-hanging desk, for example, can be fitted with a mirror and work similarly. Or a small bar cabinet with fold-down ledge could function well. Many times, pieces like these can be found secondhand and are less expensive.

Image of wooden shelf with black metal wall brackets, with link to Target website.
A single wooden board shelf in light-colored wood is supported by two black metal brackets that are triangular and appear to loop around the board. The brackets are secured to the wall at the apex of the triangles, where the metal widens into a circular shape.

Another extremely easy solution is to simply hang a wall shelf. This can be placed at any height so that it’s easily accessible. It takes up very little space, so it works in a narrow bedroom. And since there’s nothing underneath, you can easily add a stool or roll up in a wheelchair. While this doesn’t provide any concealed storage, there is plenty of room on the shelf for boxes or baskets with cosmetics. Or, if you keep your make-up in a bag, consider hanging a hook on the wall underneath or nearby to hang the bag within easy reach. Then simply hang a mirror above the shelf.

The space in my bedroom is extremely limited, and this is the option I have been considering. I keep my make-up in a box that I can carry with me to the bathroom (or the floor!), so it would not be difficult to set it on the shelf. I’ve even considered a swing-out stool that could be mounted on the wall underneath, then kept out of the way when not in use. A shelf is by far the least expensive option!

Laptop Vanity

Image of wooden lap desk on metal legs with side drawer and storage. Links to Bed Bath and Beyond website.
Part of a blonde wood lap desk with curved metal legs is pictured with a small drawer opening slightly from the right side. We can just barely see a line dividing the desk top into sections that can be opened, and there are long narrow slits along the back of the desk to hold a tablet or other device.

I am always in favor of pieces that are inexpensive and do double duty. After all, we are all on a budget! If you spend a lot of time in bed, the best solution may be something like a lap desk. Not only will you be able to use it to apply make-up and do your hair (should you so choose), but it will also be invaluable for reading, using a laptop or tablet, writing, coloring, or anything else you might choose to do from bed. There are many options available.

If you need storage for your cosmetics, I recommend choosing a desk like this with a drawer that can be easily accessed and storage beneath the desktop itself. You could also keep a cosmetic bag nearby with all of your supplies in easy reach. Consider a clip-on mirror such as the one shown below to help you see what you are doing.

Image of round white mirror with bendable gooseneck and clamp attachment. Links to Amazon website.
A circular white-framed mirror with long bendable post support is attached to a gray table edge with a large white clamp.

Image of clamp-on faux wood desk top or table top for wheelchair, with link to Monster Scooter Parts site.
A faux wood rectangular table top is pictured attached across the arm rests of a black and blue wheelchair. There is a small black groove at the top of the table to hold a device. Stainless steel metal posts on the underside of the table appear to attach the desk to the wheelchair with clamps.

Similarly, if you spend time in a wheelchair, you could consider a desktop surface that can be attached, or a wide lap desk that can be laid across the arm rests. It’s possible to find options with built-in storage, or keep a cosmetic bag or box handy. The clip-on mirror could be easily attached to the edge so that you can clearly see what you are doing.

Hopefully these options gave you some ideas to find workable solutions for your own home. Save your spoons for the things that really matter!

Creating Accessible Entryways

I’m not sure if this is true of your house, too, but the entryways in my home always seem to be in chaos. They are the first spaces we enter and the last areas we see before leaving the house, and yet they so quickly become a dumping ground!

If you live with mobility issues, chronic illness, or pain, this can be especially problematic. It’s challenging to navigate your way through a cluttered space without stumbling over shoes and coats. Putting on shoes can be difficult without a dedicated space. And let’s not even begin to talk about storage for coats and bags, let alone canes or mobility devices!

As always, no one living with a medical condition wants a constant reminder of its presence (not that we need the design of a space to help us remember, anyway). We all want beautiful spaces; we just want spaces that work for our needs.

Here are a few of my favorite ideas for taming the entryway and designing a space that makes your life easier!

Seating

Image of entryway with built-in bench, drawers, hooks, and shelving for storage.
A wide entryway is shown with map patterned wallpaper in beige, navy, and olive. A long low wooden bench with built-in drawers and black metal cup drawer pulls runs along the right side. A blue wainscotting wall is fitted with black metal hooks and assorted jackets and bags. Straw hats and wooden duck decorations sit atop the blue shelving.

Seating may seem like an odd place to start when discussing entryways, but if you’ve lived long with mobility issues or the fatigue of chronic illness, you probably know that making it over the threshold of the doorway after being away can feel like tumbling, exhausted, across a finish line. When I’m having a bad day and have been out and about, often my first desire when I get home is to collapse and catch my breath. Conversely, having a safe, sturdy place to sit and put on shoes is not only a matter of comfort, but a safety issue. So with those things in view, here is a beautiful solution for both seating and storage. A built-in is, of course, the dream. Even if you don’t have space for a built-in this large, adding one or two small drawers that are constructed, and not simply furniture, has a few advantages. For one, permanent pieces like this are stable and secure. This means that there is no risk of the bench shifting or sliding when you sit. This is very important if you struggle with balance or limited mobility! The drawers in this example are easy to access even from a seated position, so there is no need to bend or crouch. I also love the specific drawer pulls in this piece. They are easy to operate without a need to grip anything, which is a plus if you have pain, weakness, or difficulty with coordination. The coat hooks are also easy to access, so no need to mess with doorknobs and hangers if you have difficulty with using your hands. Plus, let’s agree, this built-in is just beautiful!

Image of two folding wooden wall mounted seats; one folded and one opened.
Hallway with beige walls, white baseboards, and wooden laminate flooring. A Two wooden seats are mounted to the wall. The right side seat is collapsed, with a square of wooden slots visible and flush against wall. Left side seat is open, with wooden slats visible against wall, and small seat of interwoven slats extending out perpendicular from the wall.

Perhaps your entryway footprint is more limited and can’t accommodate an area for seating all the time. Our front entry is extremely narrow, and there is absolutely no space for a chair. I’ve been eyeing this folding chair for some time, because it seems like a perfect solution for seating without obstructing the path. The wood on this little bench is beautiful, and I love the simplicity of the slats. When it isn’t in use, the seat folds up flat against the wall and has an almost decorative look. It actually reminds me of a miniature radiator. If your space is as minimal as mine, consider an option like this to make it easier to tie your shoes on the way out the door.

Image of long wooden padded bench with back and arm rests.
A front entry is seen with beige walls, baseboard, and area rug, and dark wood flooring. A tall plant in grey pot sits in the right corner. A round wooden end table with various accessories is seen on the left. There is a large circular mirror with beige metal frame on the wall. A long, low wooden bench with short arm rests, straight back, and padded olive cushion sits beneath the mirror.

Another obvious solution that’s both decorative and functional is a simple bench or chair. Something like this would serve well. The solid wood construction makes it sturdy, and careful placement against a wall or with a rug to help anchor can prevent it from sliding or slipping. The back on this bench provides a little support, as do the arm rests. This bench is wide enough that you don’t have to hit a small target if you struggle with balance or mobility. And the padded seat would be comfortable to rest on.

Shoe Storage

Image of front entryway with tall narrow cabinet with four cubbies.
A narrow white cabinet is seen in a front entryway with white walls and gray tile floor, with woven black and white rug visible in corner. Four square cubbies appear to open with leather loops to serve as pulls. There is a wooden top with an assortment of baskets, plants, and frames. A round wooden mirror hangs on the wall, with beige felt fedora hanging beside. A low wooden stool with colorful blue and green seat sits on right side.

Oh, the clutter! Is there anything worse? Our shoes seem to multiply by the front door… If your space is limited, like mine, then a narrow storage unit like this may be just the trick. The drawers pull out and allow you to slide several pairs of shoes into each section. The ledge along the top provides a place for keys or other little things at a height that’s easy to reach on your way out the door. The pulls on this particular piece may be problematic if you have joint pain or difficulty grasping. I would consider adding pulls that are a little more robust (but still beautiful!) so that it’s easy to pull the cubbies open.

Image of built-in cabinetry with pull out shelves for shoes.
A front entryway with built-in wooden cabinetry amid white walls and brown laminate wood flooring. At center, we see a gray countertop with drawers beneath. Drawers have thin wooden edge with wide narrow cutouts for pulls. We see the backs of shoes on each drawer. One drawer in front right side is pulled out and we see soccer cleats and several pairs of athletic shoes.

If you have the room to create a built-in storage unit–or even a closet with space to spare, or an under-stair area–a set-up like this might be perfect for you. These drawers have plenty of room for multiple pairs of shoes, all tucked away neatly. The pull-out drawers make it very easy to access the shoes without much need for bending or reaching. If the narrow slots would make it hard to pull these drawers, you could easily add larger drawer pulls. And if you prefer your shoes to be out of sight, these drawers could be hidden by cupboard doors or a pretty curtain. The counter-height top in this particular piece also gives a convenient place to stash keys, bags, or other things you need to grab easily on your way out the door.

Image shows a metal shelf with bar holding three pairs of shoes.
A white wall holds a black metal shelf with metal bar across length of shelf a few inches above shelf. We see three pairs of shoes tucked behind the bar: beige and white athletic shoes, camel colored laced ankle boots, and black leather ankle boots.

A little unconventional, perhaps, but a storage system like this could be very helpful. In addition to displaying your shoes so that you can enjoy them, this shelf has some very practical benefits. For one, it can be mounted at any height. If you struggle with balance or pain, it can be difficult to bend to pick up shoes off the floor. With this option, the shoes can be lifted out of the shelf at any height and carried to your seat to be put on. This option is also easier than systems that require you to fit shoes into cubbies or hang them on hooks, as it requires very little dexterity and coordination to slide them behind the bar (and if you have more than a few pairs of shoes, you could add a series of these shelves–I think it would be a great feature wall!). Plus, the industrial chic look is just lovely.

Coat and Bag Storage

Image shows entryway with wooden coat hook, padded bench with shoe storage, and umbrella stand.
An black door with six panes of glass, a black metal umbrella stand with two umbrellas, and a dark brown wooden seat with shelving for shoes and black padded seat are seen in an entryway. A black metal circular mirror hangs on the wall overhead. A wooden coat hook with square base and straight pegs sits against the wall, with white leather purse, straw hat with black ribbon, and beige jacket hanging from the hooks.

Coat trees have somewhat fallen out of favor, but for space-saving and ease of use, it doesn’t get much better! A coat tree takes up an incredibly small footprint, leaving plenty of space to navigate the entryway without tripping over clutter. It can also hold several jackets, bags, or accessories. In terms of pain, mobility, or other physical challenges, it takes almost no effort to remove or replace a coat on the simple branches of the coat tree. And the varying heights mean that coats can be hung at any level, making them accessible from a standing position or from a wheelchair.

Image shows four wooden coat hooks hung on a wall.
Image shows a white wall with four wooden coat hooks secured with two brass screws each. The fourth left hook holds a knitted gray scarf and we see the top of a brown leather backpack hanging from the second hook.

Nothing really beats a coat hook for all-around simplicity and versatility. They can be hung in any space, at any height. They come in every color, shape, and size under the sun. They’re easy to use without requiring much dexterity, and larger designs such as this can hold coats, bags, backpacks, or just about anything you need to have handy on your way out of the house. For easy access from a wheelchair or for younger children, they can even be hung at a lower height (just be mindful that this can be a safety issue if children can get caught up in them, and there can be a potential for injury if they’re hung in a place where people might bump into them).

Image of wooden cabinet system with four cubbies and cupboard doors.
Image shows a light blonde wood cabinet system with four cubbies. The doors are flat with cutout on vertical aspect of door as handles. The far left cubby is open slightly to reveal a blue, yellow, and red child’s backpack.

For the endless collection of purses, work bags, backpacks, and other things, a locker system is a workable solution. Each person could have their own cubby. Handles like this would be easy to operate without the need to grip, and the unit could be mounted at any height from floor height to above the head. Locker systems come in a variety of colors, materials, shapes, and sizes, so it’s possible to find one that fits your decor perfectly! Look for solid, sturdy construction that can hold up to frequent use, easy-to-grip handles, and enough space to store the items that clutter up your entryway.

Cane and Mobility Device Storage

Image of woven wooden umbrella stand.
Image shows a tall, narrow woven medium brown wood umbrella stand against a white background.

Canes and crutches aren’t just an essential mobility aid, they can be a fashion statement! It can be a challenge to find creative ways to store them, though. Most days, I can get by without my cane as I navigate the small spaces in our home. But I often need it when I leave the house, so I like to keep it by the front door. A simple umbrella stand is a great option for storing canes in an accessible place. It’s incredibly easy to use and displays all your beautiful canes or crutches in an organized way. Umbrella stands come in all shapes and colors and sizes to fit your d├ęcor, and they’re extremely affordable. They can double as umbrella stands, too, to corral some of that entryway clutter.

Image shows handmade wooden cane stand with holes drilled for walking canes.
There is a handmade wooden umbrella stand with circle base with a series of round cutouts to fit the bases of a canes. Three straight upright pieces of darker wood connect the base to a top , which is a slightly larger circle of light wood like the base with holes drilled for canes.

A dedicated cane stand is another great option. There are a variety of options on the market, and many of them are beautifully handcrafted like this one. These stands allow you to display multiple canes without having them fall over. The small footprint means it can be kept right by the door so you can easily grab a cane on your way out. They do require some coordination to line the canes up with the holes, but as long as this isn’t an issue for you, a cane stand is a wonderful solution.

Image shows a wall with three chair-shaped wall hooks holding canes and walking sticks.
The corner of a light gray bedroom is pictured with striped beige and navy bedspread. There are three hooks on the wall, black and shaped like a variety of three chairs. A red and blue floral cane hangs from the seat of the far left chair hook. A black cane hangs from the middle hook. A pair of red walking sticks with cork handles hangs from the far right hook.

Sometimes the most functional and fun solution is the one that’s a little outside the box. This is my bedroom, where I use IKEA Fjantig hooks to hang my canes. I loved the idea of the canes, which give me support during the day, resting on miniature chairs (as chairs also provide me support all day long). While these hang in my bedroom, this solution would also be great for entryways. These hooks are not only fun, they’re incredibly affordable. And they make me smile every time I see them!

Image shows wood and metal handmade mop holder for cane storage.
A dark wooden mop holder with black metal clamps for mops hangs on a white wall. We see a wood and metal gray brush and a silver metal mop handle hanging from the holder.

Stay with me for a moment: do you know what’s roughly the same diameter as a mop handle? A cane! Do you know what’s easy to mount on the wall, easy to attach things to, and easy to release? A mop holder! In all seriousness, this is a fantastic option for storing your canes. Mop holders come in all shapes and sizes under the sun, from individual clamps, to pieces with multiple clamps. They can be mounted with screws for long-term use, or mounted with temporary adhesives if you will only be using a cane in the short-term. They can be hung at any height on any surface. And they’re incredibly easy to use. There are even some fun mop holders out there, with different colors or quirky shapes that reflect your personality.

Comfortable Bedding Options for Chronic Illness

Fatigue is the ever-present companion of chronic illness, and if you suffer from a medical condition, odds are you are no stranger to it either. In fact, you may sometimes feel you spend more hours of your day in the bed than out of it.

With so much time devoted to rest, finding comfortable bedding is a wise investment. We live in an old house that has definite hot and cold spots, and no spot is colder than the master bedroom in the winter. Overnight, our room temperature routinely sits around 53 degrees F, and it doesn’t climb much higher during the day. For years we made do with whatever blankets and sheets we previously owned, but the cold didn’t do any favors for my symptoms. Last year we decided to splurge on some new sheets, and to say that they have been a game changer would be an understatement!

So, with that in mind, here are a few ideas for ways to make your bed more comfortable and chronic illness-friendly.

Sheets

Image shows fleece bedsheets with forest gnome theme, and links to Kohls website.
A set of fleece bed sheets with light or dark green evergreen trees; red and white mushrooms; and small gnomes with light or dark green tunics, long white beards, and red pointed hats scattered about.

These are the sheets that changed my life (although I don’t have them in this fabric, and I wish I did!). If you live anywhere in a cold climate, I can’t recommend enough that you invest in fleece sheets. Unlike flannel, these are warm to the touch almost immediately. They’re soft and cushiony, and feel like wrapping up in your favorite broken-in sweatshirt or sweater. They’re inexpensive and hard-wearing, and hold up fantastically well even to frequent washing. If you suffer from neuropathy, the smoothness of the fleece fabric may also be helpful to you, since they’re less abrasive and irritating than cotton or flannel sheets. I will never again not own fleece sheets!

Image shows white cotton sheets with gray striping, and links to Target website.
White cotton sheets with thin dotted gray vertical stripes are folded, with each piece stacked on top of the other, and a pillowcase slightly unfolded on top of the stack. They are on a white background.

On the other end of the spectrum, in warmer weather nothing beats a nice soft cotton sheet. While there are certainly luxury high-thread count sheets out there, sometimes you can find something just as workable at a lower price point. These cotton sheets are soft and breezy, and stay nice and cool in the summer. They’re washable and easy to maintain and come in a variety of styles. If you suffer from night sweats, hot flashes, or sensory issues related to heat, then cotton is probably going to be your best friend.

Image shows custom sheet set with both flannel and cotton sheeting, and links to Etsy seller.
We see a close-up of two pieces of fabric. On top, there is beige flannel material with rough weave. On bottom, we see solid white cotton fabric.

What if you share a bed with someone who is warmer blooded than you? Or colder? In all honesty, this seller beat me to an idea I’ve had for years: sheets that are half flannel and half cotton! This shop will create sheets that are warm on one side and cool on the other. You can customize what type of fabric, which side, and just about everything else. If bedding and temperature have been a battle zone in your bedroom, this may be a great solution.

Blankets and Comforters

Image shows white down alternative duvet, and links to Wayfair website.
A bedroom with dark blue walls and light wooden floors has a beige upholstered tufted headboard with brass hobnail along edge. An assortment of white and beige pillows sits against the headboard. A fluffy white duvet is draped over the end of the bed and falling onto the floor.

If you suffer from pain or a neurological condition, it’s possible that the sensation of weight can be comforting to you. While a down comforter has long been the gold standard in bedding, sometimes a down alternative comforter is the more practical option. A comforter such as this one provides the warmth and weight of a down comforter, but is likely to be hypoallergenic and far easier to wash. Cover it in a soft flannel duvet cover to make it even easier to clean, or even to switch out with the seasons. For my neuropathic symptoms, I often find it comforting to have the slight weight of a comforter like this pressing on me while I sleep.

Image shows flannel striped duvet cover and links to LL Bean website.
A bed with flannel gray and white mattress ticking duvet has comforter folded down and we see a white sheet and assortment of white and ticking pillows against a beige wall.

This is the duvet cover I’ve owned for the past twelve years. It is incredibly well-made, easy to wash and replace, and so very comfortable. In time, some of the softness of the flannel has worn down so that the fabric resembles a regular heavy cotton. But it has held up to all sorts of abuse in my house and lived to tell the tale! L.L.Bean has some great policies for replacing worn and damaged products, too, so the higher initial outlay may be worth it in the end when it comes to the longevity you get out of their products.

Image shows a beige Sherpa blanket and links to Wayfair website.
We see a beige velvety Sherpa blanket folded on itself against a white background. The top layer is folded back to reveal a corner of white fluffy lining.

For ultimate comfort and warmth, does anything beat a Sherpa blanket? These babies are soft, heavy, and easy to wash. If you suffer from neuropathy or chronic pain, you may find the fluffy weight comforting and soothing. They come in a variety of styles, colors, and sizes to work with any room.

Image shows sustainably sourced, recycled wool blanket with link to World Market site.
A beige wool blanket against white background has beige fringe at the bottom, and a black label reading “Sackloth + Ashes.” Above this label, we see a thick dark charcoal stripe, a golden stripe, a white stripe, and a pale blue stripe. The blanket is folded on itself and appears at an angle.

Sometimes for a nap, all you need is a good throw blanket. I challenge you to find a better blanket than this one. This company, Sackloth + Ashes, is one of the companies at the top of my list of favorites. Their blankets are all made from recycled, eco-friendly products. Many are designed by indigenous people, and reflect the colors and patterns in their region. For each blanket purchased, the company will donate one of their beautiful blankets to a homeless shelter in your local area. With some purchases, the company will also donate firewood to local Native American elders in the region where the blanket was designed. As if all of that weren’t enough, the blankets are some of the warmest, softest, most durable I have ever found. If you are looking for a worthwhile splurge, this is absolutely the place to spend your money! While the photo link will take you to World Market, these blankets are also widely available in local shops and boutiques, and I encourage you to shop locally!

Pillows

Image shows bamboo bed pillow, with link to Bed Bath and Beyond site.
A quilted white pillow sits on white background. Scattered across pillow, we see “Miracle Bamboo Pillow” written in sage green embroidery with outline of bamboo shoots.

Pillows are such an individual thing, and the wrong pillow can affect sleep more than any other factor. Some people prefer a hard pillow, others prefer it soft. Everyone has a preference for pillow height and length and just about every other specification you can imagine. But for an excellent, basic pillow that meets everyone in the middle, I can’t think of a better option than this one. I bought it a few years ago, and it has given me many, many nights (and days!) of good sleep. It holds its shape without being too firm. The combination of memory foam and bamboo provides just enough support, but also has a little give when I press my face into it. And I can mold it and shape it under my head or neck to support me the way I need when I’m sleeping.

Image shows woman resting on a series of contoured and angled pillows and links to Contour Living website.
A Caucasian woman with long straight blonde hair lounges in dark brown tank top and loose pants on a series of angled wedge and contoured white foam pillows on a white background. Her hands are folded in her lab and her legs are extended over the pillows. She rests her head on a curved neck rest and smiles peacefully.

If you suffer from pain or spasticity, sometimes versatility and support are the name of the game. Wedge pillows, especially in a variety of shapes and sizes such as this set, can help with positioning and relieving pressure. The different configuration options with a wedge pillow allow you to change up your arrangement depending on your symptoms or pain severity on any given day. They are also helpful for anyone with immobility issues or paralysis, since positioning with pillows like this can relieve pressure points and reduce the risk of pressure ulcers and sores.

Headboards

Image shows brown-gray upholstered tufted headboard, and links to Wayfair website.
A bedroom with solid beige wall with misty seaside painting hanging and brown-gray upholstered tufted headboard is flanked by two side panels with white cording. The bed is made up with an embroidered beige comforter and an assortment of matching beige and white pillows. There is a nightstand of dark espresso wood with single drawer to the right of the bed. A silver fluted lamp base and light blue barrel linen lampshade sit at the back of the nightstand, and there is a small silver vase holding purple tulips in front.

Whether you are spending your time in bed sleeping, resting, or reading, it’s important to have good support. A padded or tufted headboard is a great option to make an extended period in bed more comfortable. Styles, sizes, and colors vary widely. Look for something that is supportive and comfortable, and that can be wiped clean if needed. When you are spending extended periods of time in bed, you are likely to put more wear and tear on a headboard or bedframe than usual, so make sure the construction is solid enough to hold up.

Image shows upholstered bolster pillow, and links to Etsy seller.
A gray tweed upholstered long bolster pillow is trapezoidal in shape, and we see it looking from the right side across the front and into the distance. The pillow sits against a light beige background.

If you already have a headboard you love, but you don’t find it particularly comfortable, a bolster pillow is another great option. This provides the function of a padded headboard, but can be removed when not in use. As an added bonus, many bolsters come with removable covers, so they’re easy to wash. They can also be positioned in different ways for maximum comfort. They come in a variety of colors and styles: from streamlined like this one, to tufted or tasseled, or everything in between.

Final Notes

Let me just take a minute to step away from the practical details to say something I suspect you may need to hear as much as I do: it’s ok to rest.

It’s ok if you have to cancel plans. It’s ok if the housework doesn’t get done today. It’s ok if full-time work just isn’t possible for you right now. It’s ok if your schedule isn’t brimming with activities like your friends’ and families’. It’s ok if you’re not there for every moment with your family. It’s ok if you aren’t doing all the things you used to do. It’s ok. 

Rest is not an indulgence or selfishness or laziness. Rest is a need. It is an unavoidable part of chronic illness, and it is essential. So let me say it again: it’s ok to rest.

And now I’ll confess that I wrote those words with tears in my eyes, because I know that rest always seems to come with strings attached. I often feel guilty, sad, grief-filled, selfish, and all kinds of things about the amount of time I spend resting. But I seldom feel permission to rest. 

So I hope you find the bedding and the environment to enhance your rest and ease your symptoms just a little. But most of all, I hope you feel you have the permission that you need to get the rest that your condition requires. This is all a part of chronic illness, and we all must do what we can to make even this part more livable.

Rest well.

Kitchen Design with Built-In Seating

Nothing feels more like a marathon than cooking with a chronic illness. Standing at the stove stirring food, chopping vegetables, and even pivoting between a stove and countertop can take their toll on a hurting or fatigued body.

Disability-proofing a kitchen does not necessarily mean making the whole room accessible, especially if the issue is one of fatigue, weakness, or limited mobility. Instead, think about the spaces where you will be spending the most time in the kitchen. If it’s possible, design those spaces with built-in seating, or at least a back-up plan to allow for rest on bad days.

Here are some simple solutions to provide seating in a way that enhances the look of the kitchen, and doesn’t scream out its real purpose. As an added bonus, you just might find that all that extra seating invites others into the kitchen to join you! And there’s nothing like a heart to heart with your teenager over a steaming pot of supper…

Image shows rounded wooden stools mounted to metal swing arms with cut-out letter "H," mounted to rustic barnwood bar. Links to Etsy seller.
A pair of rounded wooden stool seats are attached to a black metal pivoting arm. The arm is mounted to a rustic barnwood bar front, and we see a letter “H” cutout in the metal. The stools appear to pivot on a large pin so that they can swing out from the bar, or be tucked under it.

A metal swing arm stool provides convenient seating that can easily swing out of the way when not in use. The style adds a vintage or industrial feel to the space. These stools can often be found in salvage and resale shops, or the hardware can be purchased to make the stools by hand. Or check out these beautiful custom monogram stools from Etsy.

Image shows kitchen with peninsula-style seating area and window seat, and links to CDN website.
A wide bay window has a padded seat cushion at the edge of a kitchen. There is a set of wooden cabinets and sink, with a countertop that extends past the kitchen and into the bay seating area to form a rounded tabletop. Wooden stools are tucked under the counter opposite the windowseat.

I love how the countertop wraps around to include the window seat in this kitchen. This would be a perfect space for eating, chopping vegetables, or even working with a griddle or Instant Pot. Plus, it’s a wonderful social space!

Image shows a bright kitchen with gray cabinets, a window seat, and long island with stool seating.
A kitchen with light gray cabinets and large windows is shown. There is a low set of drawers beneath the tallest window to form a lot seat. A long dark blue island sits opposite the window seat with open space beneath the counter, and four red metal stools are tucked under.

Full disclosure: this kitchen is actually mine! We built in a variety of seating options at the counter (with stools that tuck under the countertop and out of the way), and in a low window seat. This gives me plenty of options for sitting and resting while I’m working in the kitchen. The stools are close enough that they can easily be pulled up to the stove or the sink when needed. And the drawers on either side of the stove stash utensils and spices within easy reach while I am sitting and cooking.

Image shows small portable kitchen island on wheels, and links to Bob Vila site.
A small black rolling island cart sits in the center of a small traditional kitchen with mahogany cabinets. There is a butcher block countertop on the island and assorted baking supplies on top. Horizontal shelving beneath the counter houses recipe books, bowls and plates, and a light yellow stand mixer. A section of vertical shelving holds three baking sheets. There are caster wheels beneath the cart, and a stool with wooden seat and metal legs beside.

A rolling kitchen island like this provides versatility and mobility. It can easily be rolled to wherever you are working, with easy access to small appliances, utensils, or whatever you use most in the kitchen. Adding a drop leaf to one side could add even more workable space, and make it comfortable to pull up a stool. This is an especially great design for small spaces.

Image shows dark green kitchen cabinets and sink, with open space beneath sink. Links to Remodelista website.
A set of lower kitchen cabinets in a deep green are shown, with white marble counter top. There are several drawers with gold finish cup pulls, and a small sink with gold faucet. Beneath the sink are two false drawer fronts, with open space beneath that reveals gold-colored pipes.

A kitchen sink with open space beneath may be uncommon, but it’s a great way to make a space workable with seating or even a wheelchair. The space beneath allows room for your knees as you sit washing dishes or vegetables. It also makes the kitchen feel open and airy, with just a bit of an industrial or vintage feel. The green shade of this particular cabinet is especially stunning!

Image shows a metal and wood adjustable-height stool on wheels, and links to Wayfair website.
A black metal stool with dark colored round wooden seat sits on a white background. The stool seat has an adjustable threaded post. Four curving legs support the seat with four caster wheels.

An adjustable heigh stool on wheels could be a great option for versatile seating, especially in a small kitchen. It can easily be wheeled to any work area, and the adjustable height makes it perfect for working at a low counter, sitting at the stove, or even working at bar height. Stools like this are sometimes available at thrift stores, salvage shops, or resale stores, too, for an economical option.