IT’S NOT THE MOST GLAMOROUS ROOM IN THE HOUSE

But that doesn’t mean a bathroom shouldn’t sing “sanctuary.” Western Home Journal talks to the pros about how the intersection of great design and quality construction and materials in bathroom design can elevate the way we live.

HARMONY THROUGH DESIGN

Whatever you call it—bathroom, restroom, lavatory, washroom, water closet, WC, or the loo—the bathrooms in our homes should be more than merely functional. At the very least, the master bathroom should be a sanctuary away from the world. Powder rooms and guest baths should be welcoming. The bathroom is an intimate space and if the design is smart, function and feel will go hand in hand.

Generally, space considerations are a primary focus in bathroom design. Fitting all the essential elements into the bathroom in an efficient, space-conscious, and functional manner is important. Making space for a dual sink situation (the secret to marital bliss), a spa tub, a steam shower (if you’ve ever experienced a steam shower, you know it’s not optional), and ample storage space can seem like an overwhelming task. So space considerations and the way the layout facilitates functionality naturally come first.

Barclay Butera, notable designer with showrooms in California and Park City and author of soon-to-be four books on design says, “An exceptional bathroom begins with an appropriate space plan and great lighting.” The space plan has to consider storage. “Adequate storage,” Butera says, “helps create a user-friendly bathroom.”
To create that harmonious sanctuary for your master bath, an easy-to-maintain space for kids, or a statement piece for your powder room, the design is key. Choosing the right materials and avoiding traditional pitfalls is a matter of doing your homework and consulting with the pros.

MATERIALS MATTER

Human nature is often one of the biggest hurdles in a design project. The fact is, there are endless options when it comes to tile, fixtures, paint colors, lights. Anyone taking on the task of designing a bathroom space or narrowing down likes and dislikes for someone else who is designing their bathroom space can go down the rabbit hole of HOUZZ searches, tabbing magazines, and making Pinterest boards. Certainly hiring a professional to manage how long you spend down that rabbit hole is always a good idea—in fact we live by the mantra: when in doubt, seek professional help. But still, the fact remains, the wide range of choices for all the various design elements in a bathroom can be a major time commitment. Butera says, “Well-designed bathrooms are achieved by simplicity and proper use of materials. Often, we see people trying to cram in too many of their favorite materials and desires into one space. We prefer when materials work together harmoniously without competing for attention.”

About his favorite materials to use, Park City contractor Todd Arenson says, “I like the incorporation of metal, glass, and wood. We made a custom metal vanity for a client and then inset sepele wood doors. It was a nice combination of materials. But the proper care needs to be taken to make sure the metal is properly sealed since the environment is moist and rust can occur on the metal.”

“LASER PRINTING HAS BECOME SO GOOD THAT SOME PORCELAINS ARE EASILY MISTAKEN FOR STONES OR WOOD FLOORS. ” -LEAH WYNN, INSIDE OUT ARCHITECTURALS

When it comes to tile, Leah Wynn, owner of Inside Out Architecturals, says that function and aesthetics are key. “Whether it’s a children’s bath, a guest bath, pool bath, master bath, or powder room, each area has some unique functional qualifications that should be considered. In rooms that see more use, durability is key. A steam shower that is used daily should be made of durable stone or a porcelain tile that will withstand the steam and still maintain the beauty.” As far as technological advancements and the impact on tile choices, Wynn says, “Water-jet cutting mosaics have opened up worlds of possibilities in design in bathrooms. You can do full feature walls in plaids or flowers in stone and glass or just add pops of deco here and there. This is becoming more and more affordable with machines helping with the fine cuts. Also, laser printing has become so good that some porcelains are easily mistaken for stones or wood floors. This printing has encouraged fabulous art to be printed on large tiles. We are even seeing large photos and art pieces being produced for individual clients—technological developments like these allow for more personalization in the home.”

“ WELL-DESIGNED BATHROOMS ARE ACHIEVED BY SIMPLICITY AND PROPER USE OF MATERIALS.” -BARCLAY BUTERA, BARCLAY BUTERA INTERIORS

PITFALLS TO AVOID

Jessica Roberts, showroom designer and plumbing specialist with Mountainland Design in Salt Lake City, says that one of the most common pitfalls comes with the selection of plumbing fixtures. “This is a process that takes time and planning and shouldn’t be rushed,” she emphasizes. Butera agrees, “We often encounter bathrooms that we’ve been asked to remodel that have faucets that do not appropriately coordinate with the sink.” When making your choices Butera recommends, “These problems can be remedied by selecting sinks and faucets that reflect the bathroom’s users and purpose. For instance, we often see vessel sinks that are out of place and work against the purpose of the space.” Roberts says many of these issues can be addressed early in the planning stages of a project. “It’s never too early to stop into Mountainland and discuss options when renovating or building a new home. We can work with large- or small-scale renovations and help clients plan for a cohesive project.”

“SPACE PLANNING IS KEY. I ALWAYS RECOMMEND A BENCH AND A SHAMPOO AND PRODUCT NICHE IN THE SHOWER.” -TODD ARENSON, TODD ARENSON CONSTRUCTION

Arneson has over a decade’s worth of experience building homes in the Park City area and has contributed to many bathroom sanctuaries. He brings a creative and practical eye to each of his projects. His advice? “Don’t forget the handheld shower head if you have a large shower. This makes cleaning so much easier.” Also, he agrees with others, “Space planning is key. I always recommend a bench and a shampoo and product niche in the shower. This lessens the clutter and makes storage of the everyday essentials convenient.” He finds that while many bathtubs may look great in the promotional brochures or magazines, sitting in them and relaxing is another story. “I always recommend that my clients spend some time sitting in the tubs they are considering. The tub you fall in love with in a magazine may be a different story once you try to relax in it.” Mountainland’s Roberts agrees that comfort is key with tubs, but freestanding tubs, comfortable ones (!), can offer an immediate “wow” factor to a bathroom with the space for it. And clients can really make a statement with fixtures and accessories for freestanding tubs.

“ THE SELECTION OF PLUMBING MATERIALS IS A PROCESS THAT TAKES TIME AND PLANNING AND SHOULDN’T BE RUSHED.” -JESSICA ROBERTS, MOUNTAINLAND DESIGN

Whatever your project, whether it’s a cosmetic make-over, a complete overhaul, or a new build, you can go many directions with your bathroom spaces—a tranquil retreat or a statement piece to wow your guests. And like any good relationship, it’s always a matter of chemistry. All you need? The right space planning, the appropriate materials, and accessories that serve both a function and pop. And maybe a little help from the pros.

“WHETHER IT’S A CHILDREN’S BATH, A GUEST BATH, POOL BATH, MASTER BATH, OR POWDER ROOM, EACH AREA HAS UNIQUE FUNCTIONAL QUALIFICATIONS THAT SHOULD BE CONSIDERED.” -LEAH WYNN, INSIDE OUT ARCHITECTURALS