A spare bedroom in a 1937 French Provincial home was the ideal place for a master bath, and it turned out to be a space the whole family loves and can use. The room's layout, which designates a different function for each corner, makes the morning rush a breeze for a busy couple. The eclectic style sets a refreshing tone for the hardworking elements.
Ceramic tile in a harlequin pattern covers the sink wall. A shallow cabinet provides storage and counter space within reach of the console sink.
An oversize shower with low body sprays is a hit with homeowners' children, as is the large freestanding tub. The shower -- with its body sprays, two showerheads, and bench -- is designed for rejuvenation.
The family's more serious bathers can relax at either end of the large tub, thanks to controls mounted on the side. The homeowners thought they would have to choose between vintage character and soothing air jets in a freestanding tub, but this 72x40-inch soaker on satin-nickel feet features both.
The espresso-stained maple cabinetry along the wall incorporates a makeup spot with customized storage and outlets for a hair dryer and other grooming appliances.
The cabinetry continues in the toilet compartment, where it provides storage for spare supplies as well as hiding the motor for the jetted tub. Stainless-steel grilles in the doors promote airflow.
Even on days with an early wake-up call, this bathroom is bright-eyed with warm, sunny color. The couple wanted the look of a historical bathroom, one filled with fine millwork, tile details, and fixtures with period style.
Interior designer Tina Barclay helped pull the look together, starting with the silk fabric used to make the window treatment above the tub. "I think the buttery yellow is a very soothing color," Barclay says. It inspired her to wrap the room in shades of yellow from the paint on the walls, cabinetry, and molding details to the warm neutral field tile.
The dark Nero Marquina marble on the tub deck, counters, and shower and floor accents provides a dramatic but not jarring counterpoint. "Millwork is generally a creamy white ... but white millwork or cabinets would have broken up the room," Barclay says.
The tub alcove includes built-in shelves for towels and toiletries. The ribbon-trimmed window shade gives the tub a graphic backdrop.
Raised-panel doors and turned legs endow the double vanity with a furniture look. One of the wall cabinets hides a coffee station. "It makes it feel like a hotel suite," Barclay says.
In the shower, black marble wall tiles set in a simple geometric pattern play off the limestone on the floor. A pan-style showerhead with a thermostatic valve ensures the preset water temperature is ready the moment the shower is turned on.
Visually expand a small bath with an optical illusion. "Paint the ceiling a fresh accent color. It will give you a quicker fix than repainting all of the walls," says Minneapolis designer Kirsten Hollister. A bold color will give you the most impact and make the room appear larger.
"Hang your shower curtain at the ceiling with a curtain rod for more drama -- just make sure it kisses the floor," says New York City designer Celerie Kemble. "You can even use a curtain panel instead of a traditional shower curtain." Try a curved shower curtain rod to make the shower interior feel larger, and look for a washable curtain liner that's 84 inches long to accommodate the increased height.
Soften your bath's utilitarian feel with furnishings. Add a comfortable stool, small slipper chair, or metal garden chair for seating. Bring in a nightstand or small dresser to increase storage options, or use a little writing desk as a vanity table. Banish the boring bath mat and roll out an area rug to inject more color and pattern; today's outdoor options are pretty enough to be used indoors and make a durable choice for a bath.
"The number one thing that changes the look of a bathroom is changing the mirror," says Washington, D.C., designer Barry Dixon. "A new mirror turns a completely different reflection on the room and maximizes the light." Use a large mirror to mask an unused recessed medicine cabinet, or hang a smaller framed mirror -- large enough to comfortably reflect your head and shoulders -- directly on a plate glass wall mirror.
Retrofit your vanity interior with roll-out shelves for easy access, says Minneapolis designer Mary Jane Pappas. Complete the facelift with new pulls and knobs on doors and drawers.