Feature

Mastering the Bath

The master bathroom—far out of sight from guests—is usually the last room to get attention. But with the right remodel, it just might become your favorite room in the house. We found four bathrooms that double as relaxing retreats. Step inside for inspiration.

June 2013

1 Timeless Elegance
A traditional bathroom with just a touch of shimmer.
When talking about her master bathroom, interior designer Michelle Jaffe uses terms like “formal balance” and “scale graduation.” We just call it good design—which comes not only from Michelle, but also from her husband, Bruce, a cabinet-maker, and architect Lisa Egger, whom Michelle tapped to draw up the couple’s Boulder home because of a shared penchant for “traditional houses with contemporary cleanness.” The result is a lesson in applying classic design principles to 21st-century living.

Go custom
Bruce built the cabinets to house the bath’s dual sinks. “Custom cabinets work well in bathrooms,” says Michelle, “because you can use whatever paint color you want, and they’re not so heavy.” It’s topped with a Calcutta Gold marble slab.

Add sparkle
Polished nickel faucets (by Watermark) and drawer pulls (by Top Knobs) are a sophisticated look best used in master bathrooms, says Michelle. “It’s not a very forgiving material,” she says. So reserve the look for rooms where you can enjoy it—and keep it safe from little ones and guests.

Flatter yourself
“Having lights in front of you, not coming from above, is much more flattering,” Michelle says. “It takes out all the wrinkles.” The Studio Openwork Long Sconces are from Visual Comfort & Co.

2 Breathing Room
An architect uses the Front Range foothills as inspiration.
A trip to the master bathroom in this Boulder house, which sits on the threshold between the city and the prairie, feels like a visit to a spa. Architecture firm Arch11 conceptualized the space to blend the natural beauty of the outdoors with the clean, simple lines of modern interiors. “It’s very much about connecting to the landscape,” says architect Ken Andrews. “A lot of people take it for granted that a bathroom is just about taking a shower. We like to think of it as a pause in your day.”

Bring the outside in
From the two-person Agape soaking tub, there’s a perfect view of Boulder’s Bear Peak. “We call the house a ‘viewfinder’ because it reveals the surroundings,” Andrews says.

Soften the vibe
Instead of pure white surfaces, the Arch11 team chose natural materials such as soapstone countertops from Dorado Soapstone in Denver, Bianco Venatino marble flooring from Arizona Tile, and Roku glass tiling in Rain from Walker Zanger, which “bounces light around,” Andrews says. “There’s a very welcoming, cleansing quality to the room. You never feel like it’s stark.”

Personalize it
The flooring near the tub and the custom sink are built out of jarrah, a sustainable Australian eucalyptus wood that handles moisture well. (It’s so durable that it’s often used on yachts.) The owner, who is from Australia, wanted to incorporate a piece of his native home in the new house.

Light the Way
The subtle ambience of the pendant lights, which add a subdued glow at night, is carried throughout the house for consistency. “They read more like candles at night,” Andrews says.

3 Sleek & Playful
Classic style and unexpected flourishes strike the perfect balance.
The outdated master bathroom in this traditional Cherry Hills house begged for a transformation that would match the clean, sophisticated taste of its new owners. Interior designer Nadia Watts and architect Stephen Ekman reconfigured the flow of the bathroom and created a soothing and versatile color scheme. “It’s not quite contemporary, and not quite traditional,” Watts says. “It gives a fresh look to a classic style, so they’re not going to look back in 10 years and think it’s dated.”

Make a mosaic
The contrasting gray patterns of the flooring (Cloud Vein in a herringbone pattern from Artistic Tile) and the hand-glazed shower tiling (Encore Ceramics’ Basketweave Silver on the floor and Field Silver on the walls, and Mini Crescendo Mosaic Silver as an accent) give the room effortless interest.

Rethink layout
To replace a room-consuming Jacuzzi, Watts chose a sleek soaking tub with a white Caesarstone slab and Watermark and Jado fixtures. The team designed in more windows and built-in shelves to add variety and natural light.

Have some fun
Watts passed on a traditional chandelier in favor of the Moravian Star from Circa Lighting. “We didn’t want something glamorous, but didn’t want anything too expected, either,” Watts says. “It’s fun to try different shapes and materials.” The contemporary vanities—from Wetstyle’s C Collection—are flanked by chic Urban Electric Co. sconces. And the playful, cast resin Clyde Mirrors are from Oly.

4 Total Tranquility
An artist and two designers collaborate to create a modern oasis.
When Judy Karp bought her new-construction condo in Cherry Creek last fall, the watercolor and pastel painter knew she wanted a streamlined look for the space. She found a kindred spirit in designer Chris Awadalla of Interior Intuitions, who was already on board to design the kitchens and bathrooms for the building’s six units. The pair, along with interior designer Roy Herberg, created a serene master retreat, with no superfluous baubles or ornate detailing to distract from the room’s purpose: relaxation.

Consider your space
A Dahl Plumbing faucet is seamlessly mounted through the mirror to make room for the MTI Baths St. Tropez LV sink, which sits above the counter. The ledges around the built-in Kohler soaker tub are perfect for candles, bath salts, and a glass of wine.

Color it in
Although Karp embraces a vivid orange palette in her home’s living areas, she decided on this soothing aqua shade (Martha Stewart Precious Metals) to create a spalike retreat.

Add warmth
With its sharp edges and minimalist decor, modern design can feel cold. Karp warmed up the room by selecting limestone for the floor (Arrowhead Floors & Interiors); the naturally varied markings provide an organic feel.

Try modern touches
Forgoing wood or beadboard, Awadalla extended the floor tile up the wall to create a modern take on traditional wainscoting. The limestone is capped with Schluter-Schiene aluminum edging instead of the customary curved bullnose.