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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cozy up the Cave!

The best way to describe our master bath was CAVE-LIKE. When we bought our house the master bathroom was just partially finished. The builder had made choices that were very style specific and not at all neutral. This posed several design problems.
First, the bathroom is very small (about 7' by 10') yet the builder selected materials that were heavily patterned and felt very imposing. The flooring in this space is slate tile. The tile certainly has an interesting texture but it is so varied in color that when the tile was paired with the deep, saturated red-brown wall color the space felt as if it could close in and gulp someone up at any moment. The same slate tile (although a smaller size) was utilized as the shower surround and the whirlpool tub surround. With all that color and texture on the floor and parts of the walls, I knew I needed to calm the walls down quite a bit. I first thought of colors for this space. I liked the idea of using a cool color as I knew this would help expand the small space visually. I hesitated with a cool paint color as this space is already had a very cold feeling -- I didn't want to enhance that at all. I selected a great product called Valtekz (this can be purchased through ABD) that is actually a heavy-duty composite fabric. Valtekz has a leather look yet it is constructed of man-made materials that give this product unparalleled durability and flexability of use. Valtekz is most commonly used in yacht applications yet it can be used as a fabric in a residential application and it can also be used as a wall covering. I decided to use this product as a wall covering in our master bath. I chose this fabric as it would add a soft, warming sense with the very subtle texture but I also knew it would help to expand the space visually as well.
(Please note: If you decide to use Valtekz as a wall covering, be sure that you work with an experienced paper hanger who understands the product and how it should be installed. If you need a referral please contact our office and we will be happy to help you.)

I had several other design challenges in this space: 1) The mill work was low-quality and needed finishing work, 2) The vanity lights were domed down lights, creating shadows on anyone standing at the sinks, 3) The shower was not finished and did not have a door, 4)There is very little wall space to fit enough hardware to accommodate towel bars.

For the mill work issue I decided to enamel all of the mill work including the built-in vanity. I used Benjamin Moore Bone White in the Impervo enamel product. This product worked well but I would recommend hiring someone to do enamel work -- it is very tedious!

I decided to cut down on cost and leave the vanity lights where they were (above where mirrors would go) but I did change out the fixtures. For light fixtures I selected a very transitional 3-light fixture from Forecast that features three linen-shaded lamps. The fixtures add a nice soft light to the space while the linen shades add interesting texture in a subtle way.

When it came time to decide on a shower door I felt this was a place that I wanted to splurge a little. In my mind there was nothing worse than the thought of using a framed shower door in the small shower space. The white frame of a shower door would have contrasted with the dark slate in a way that anyone looking at the space would have immediately paid attention to the shower door but not the tile design. I selected a frameless shower door design with a 28" wide glass door and an 18" glass panel. Both the door and the panel are installed with minimal hardware in a satin nickel finish. This application allows the slate tile to be the focal point, not the shower door. One thing to note with frameless shower doors is that they can be difficult to clean. I recommend using Rain-X to clean the glass -- this product will also help minimize water spotting on the glass.

When it came to installing hardware I used Restoration Hardware because I needed a "train rack" towel bar system and Restoration Hardware has the best selection of train racks that coordinate with other hardware. The train rack was installed above the whirlpool tub. This piece allows space for hanging bath towels but it also has extra storage for unused towels -- this was a must-have in our small bath with minimal storage! I added a small towel ring by one of the sinks and a towel hook right outside the shower door.
I have posted some "BEFORE" photos with this post! I will post the "AFTER" photos next week! Peek in next week to see the finished product!

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