Friday, November 6, 2009

Interiors Series - Bathrooms

The other day my husband were both in our Ensuite at the same time which actually rarely happens, different schedules, different habits . We were each at our own sink doing our nightly routines when it struck me that the life of the bathroom has certainly come a long way in the past 100 years. From a pitcher and jug of water and an outhouse in the first part of the century to the mid century when one main bathroom was the norm for any large family, to the present day when just about everyone in any given house has their own sink. Even our kids have their own bathroom. Does this generation know how lucky they are? Not only do we now think there should be two sinks in any given ensuite, but this functional room has become one of the most well-appointed rooms of the house. There is nothing more satisfying than a well designed bathroom, it releases an incredible feeling of indulgence, the perfect way to start and end your day.

Years ago my design partner and I had the pleasure of meeting celebrity designer Vincente Wolf in one of the largest and most prestigious showrooms at High Point. Soft spoken and gracious, he accepted our profuse gushing in the most surprisingly humble manner. I have long admired his inate talent and incredible ability to do contempory design in such a timeless and luxurious fashion. After all these years my respect has only grown as I have noticed he stays true to his vision without being sidetracked by current trends or distractions. Do you know he has a most popular blog {click here} where he actually takes the time to answer reader's questions? Now, what does that tell you? Note the well-executed details in one of his more recent bathroom projects. The custom limestone tub is partially raised and enclosed by a glass wall and his skill in bathing the room in diffused light. The incredible refinement seen in his vanity design, am I gushing again?

If you actually take apart these design elements, you can see that this is a classic example of it isn't how much you spend, it's how you bring it together. Designer Karyl Pierce Paxton brought together the elements perfectly and exucuted the design with a pleasing restraint. That vanity could have been a standard vanity at one time but may have been given a coat of black paint and a new Carrera marble top. The floor the classic black and white tile pattern. The porcelain footed tub is maybe the original. The artwork and chandelier could be found at any price point. The chair or something similiar could be easily duplicated. I make it sound so easy, but this kind of talent for taking the right components and mixing them up in a pleasing way is what separates the good from great. Though it might be hard to find the fabulous view out those doors, this understated bathroom overlooks a private courtyard.

The Romans did know how to indulge in bathing, mind you in a more social way, but they did know their stuff having invented plumbing and all that. Borrowing classic Roman elements will always give any bathroom an elevated dose of refinement. Designer J. Randal Powers used the symmetrical placement of an architectural cabinet feature on the rear wall along with the round window to capture the essence of a Roman bath. It's all in the details when planning a bathroom build or reno and this room illustrates that careful thought will always bring stunning results.

Bringing in unexpected accessories, in scale and style, add the extra level of style. Isn't that oversized ginger jar just perfect there? Notice how the floor tile is laid to match the main angle of the vanity and the architectural detailing around the room perimeter.

I loved the suggestion of fun in this bathroom. The Ann Sacks glass mosaic tiles manage to be sophisticated and whimsical at the same time. The symmetrical treatment and rigid tile lines designed by designer Jay Jeffers is perfectly crossed by the unexpected mirror shapes. Sometimes it's good to colour outside the lines. Or think outside the box, however you want to look at it.

The right wallpaper can make or break any room, no wonder we spend hours deliberating on it's choice. And you should. This choice goes to show you that the most daring colour choice can often be the most spectacular. Designer Amanda Nesbit uses a raspberry Manual Conovas pattern to take basic white to a whole new level in one wallpaper application. If a colour moves you, find a place to use it.

Design 1 by Paolo Moschina/Design 2 by Vicente Wolf/Design 3 by Karyl Pierce Paxton/Design 4 by J. Randal Powers/Photo via The Inspired Room-Cottage Living/Design 6 by Jay Jeffers/Design 7 by Amanda Nisbet. All photos via House Beautiful.


  1. Gorgeous bathrooms. The romanesque one is my favorite.

    And you're absolutely right! It amazes me how we've gone from 1 or 1.5 bathrooms in a house to 3 or 4 or 5. Right now, Dave and I have a 3.5 bathroom house, which gives us a sink for each of us...and for each of our 3 pets!

  2. Dear Sande -

    Thank you so much for the kind words about my blog and my work. It means so much!


  3. The limestone bathtub makes my heart beat with pure delight!

  4. The third image is to die for! Wow...the floor, the chandelier, the chair, everything...

    Have a beautiful weekend :)



  5. Oh Sandy~
    Where oh where are you now my friend??? Paris or Italy? I Miss You!! That pink bathroom reminds me of a present you wrapped~ Hope your days are being perfect~

  6. ok ... so i was seriously just thinking i ought to be going to bed ... nighty night and all ... but then that second image ... LOVE that tub ... has me thinking a long lounging hot soak might be in order ...
    oh, look what you've done, sande!
    cheers my dear,
    prairiegirl xo

  7. What wonderful bathrooms....they put mine to shame !!!!
    You can't beat lovely surroundings when you're having a long soak in the bath....champagne helps too ! XXXX

  8. Oh what gorgeous bathrooms, my fav is the second one. Vincente Wolf sounds so amazing.

  9. Sande,
    Bravo on a gorgeous & inspiring post. This confirms my belief that natural light is the best design element & knowing how to use it is a gift. Thank you for sharing. Have a wonderful weekend!

  10. Heart these - especially the yellow and white tile!

  11. loving the sink in the first pic!!! all of these are gorgeous!

  12. I adore all of them! Makes me want to go draw a bath , lock the doors ( a necessity in my male dominated household), light some candles, and relax on this lovely sunday...thank you for sharing such inspiring rooms :)
    Happy Sunday to you,

  13. Wow, I can't even imagine.


  14. What an absolutely GORGEOUS post....I love them all! :)

  15. I would love to have a two sink on my bathroom, a soothing tub, a glass translucent sliding door, a sofa and a hot and cold shower. My bathing days will be perfect.

  16. i wish i could soak in one of these tubs with warm and floral essence bubble bath liquid soap. ah! that would be a very soothing feeling.

  17. Love the Manuel Canovas wallpaper and love the bathroom with the blue and white Chinese porcelain.

  18. Hi Sande,

    I never thought that there was a business out there selling "beautiful gift boxes"! My aunt is going to love your boxes... she loves to give gifts in beautiful boxes! Anyway, and talking about bathrooms... very inspiring... I am designing a bathroom right now and I would like to tell you that it was great to see your new post! Thanks for sharing... : )

  19. Beautiful post....I am a spa addict...just yesderday, I received 3 books about the latest spas... Wherever i travel, I need to test the "best spa" around. As such , my favorite aspect of designing a house or apartment is envisioning and creating bathrooms and last project had 9 bathrooms.... I am always looking for the latest materials, technology available, love carved tubs out of solid stone... always with the goal of creating the ultimate Zen retreats..Loved your inspiration for my bathrooms, I just wished I had the same budget as my clients...

  20. I love the round window in the second photograph-and the reflection on the floor!

    The classy bath in the first photo and the idea that it could be done on a moderate budget
    makes this so very interesting. Thank you for this post.


Your comments are such a lovely addition to my day. Thank you.


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