Bathrooms of Beauty

When I think about bathrooms, I think rest, relaxation and rejuvenation. We spend a lot of time in our bath rooms and dressing spaces, so why not make them as beautiful and useful as possible?

Many clients approach me with questions as to how they can achieve spa-like bathrooms, and even though my answer is tailored to suit their tastes and styles, my fundamental approach is always the same. First of all, I ask, what kind of bathroom is it – a large master bath or cozy powder room for example – and how will it function? Clearly defining a “feel” for the space is also paramount and will help outline what materials you choose to enliven your own bathroom or water closet.

Though you may have some established ideas for renovating or redesigning your bathroom putting the pieces together and making it a reality is where a designer is able to help.

The following are a few of the most common questions I receive about bathroom interiors or renovations, along with my design tips and advice.                                         

Q: What materials should I use for bathroom surfaces?

A: A bathroom’s largest surfaces—such as the floors, walls, and areas surrounding plumbing fixtures—create the backdrop and set the tone. I like to dress them up with ceramic and porcelain tiles. Porcelain is dense and less porous than ceramic clay, which makes it nearly water-resistant, a trait that makes it great for walls along shower and bath spaces. For some interior bathrooms, I choose to use onyx, which is a variety of the microcrystalline quartz.

Walls should generally complement flooring, especially when the tile or other surface ascends from the floor, such as in a shower. The bathroom design seen below does a great job of exemplifying how a bathroom surface should look. In this case, I used onyx on the shower walls, surrounding the tub, and countertops. Don’t forget, textured glass is also a nice option, as it can provide privacy without inhibiting sightlines or light.

As seen below, however, keeping shower glass enclosures minimal and subtle will permit your breath-taking hard surface choices to be seen and serve as the space’s artful design.

Q: How should a bathroom’s vanity or sink surface be designed?

A: There are so many natural and synthetic options when looking at countertops these days, but marble and granite are still classic selections. I love the glossy, mirrored quality of marble and often use it to add a sense of light in small or cramped spaces, like the bathroom pictured below. It has a tendency to patina, however, which is why I also suggest granite for people looking to avoid maintenance.

In fact, I sometimes find honed granite to be an interesting alternative to standard, high-shine surfaces, not to mention that it is scratch-resistant! For some of my clients, I install interesting granite with gorgeous color palettes and intricate venation.

For those looking to stay on-trend, I would say the “it” surface of 2016 is definitely quartz, a sparkling hard surface that yields a sense of shine and sophistication.

As I did for the bathroom project seen below, a sconce mounted into the mirror offers an interior punctuated by grace and beauty, while its candle-bulbs reflect, redirect and enhance light.

Q: How can I make the most of a small bathroom without a total renovation?

A. Glass, glass, glass! I just can’t get enough of mirrors. Even though most people use them to glean a glimpse of themselves, I sometimes like them as an alternative to paint and tile work in key areas. In boxed spaces they can add dimension, reflect light, and create the illusion of grandness despite a small foundation.

Not to mention the fact that they’re just fabulous, just like my bathroom design below! For this bathroom’s dressing area, I flanked the vanity with double sinks and wall-to-wall mirrors. This was done to allow the room to appear larger than reality and provision plenty of reflection for applying make-up and other dressing needs on the part of my client. The mirrors are also functional, as they serve as hidden storage cabinets.

We even installed a television behind the mirror on the left side. When the TV is turned on, my client can view her favorite programs and the news right through the mirror. When turned off, it is out of sight and out of mind.

Q: When it comes to bathroom décor, should I go big or go home?

A. Luxury is key in bath and powder rooms, especially in an era where everyone is clamoring to create the most spa-like retreats. Residentially inspired accents, like statement light fixtures, make regal statements, but don’t forget to have fun with the design.

Bold wall décor, themed art collections and even faux finishes can go a long way aesthetically in creating visual interest. The photo below is a perfect example when it comes to shedding insight on bathroom décor and the creative approaches one can take to turn a plain wall into a stunning display.

For all your bathroom and powder room design needs, feel free to contact me as I would love to create the luxury space you’ve been dreaming of for your home!

~ Ami Austin

Daniel Hicks