THE DESIGN EFFECT
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 the intersection of great design and quality construction and materials in bathroom design and how the convergence of all these considerations 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 and 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), ample storage space (another key element for marital harmony), and the toilet can seem like an overwhelming task. So space considerations and the way the layout facilitates functionality naturally come first.
Connie Hagestad and Janet Krogh, owners and designers at Ketchum’s Design Studio, say that space planning is the cornerstone of any great bathroom space. Krogh says, “Taking care to scale the design to the space is essential; this will avoid the common error of elements not fitting into the space. Often vanities are oversized for the space or door swings are inconvenient.” Lighting is another aspect The Design Studio specializes in. Hagestad adds, “We take care to layer lighting—task lighting with decorative.” Hagestad and Krogh bring many years of design experience to each of their projects—experience that ensures thorough planning and innovative thinking. The resulting designs are elegant and timeless.
Jennifer Hoey, whose eponymous interior design firm is in Ketchum, agrees, “Good space planning is pivotal in designing a bathroom.” Part of that space planning includes “ample storage for a clean look.” Hoey also suggests that homeowners consider even the smallest of details like planning the proper distances between showers or tubs and the towel bars or hooks for a functional and stylish bathroom. Many considerations deal with utility, but Hoey’s designs, while intuitive and functional, don’t stop there—they are also stunning. For character and effect, Hoey focuses on “great lighting and interesting materials used in both traditional and unique ways.”
With over 35 years’ experience building high-end, custom homes, Craig Johnson of Sun Valley’s LMJ Builders offers design/build services and has recently dedicated his craft to creating small but spectacular homes. In this pursuit of elegant living within a small footprint, Johnson has perfected the art of making a bathroom function-friendly without sacrificing beauty. He says, “My design/build concept is to make a fully functional living space in smaller—scale homes. When dealing with smaller homes, you have to be creative to create a user-friendly space. Often, bathrooms are designed with the notion that bathrooms and closets cannot be merged together.
DESIGNING A BATHROOM REALLY COMES DOWN TO COMMON SENSE AND A REAL ASSESSMENT OF THE WAY THE SPACE WILL BE USED.
Although this is not always necessary, merging the two spaces is a great option when remodeling or building a smaller scale home.”
According to the pros, designing a smart bathroom really comes down to common sense and a real assessment of the way the space will be used. Johnson’s small-footprint projects don’t feel small or limited when you are inside. He plans for ample storage and challenges traditional concepts of design in order to make the best use of the space available. For instance, smaller homes can benefit by having segmented and dedicated spaces in the bathroom. Johnson says, “Typically, smaller homes do not have compartmentalized space in the bathroom. When designing a bathroom you can design a space with the toilet and/or shower in its own space with a door to create a space for multiple-person usage.”
Good designers, builders, and home professionals understand the importance of the materials chosen for particular spaces. Nowhere is this more important than in a bathroom.
Krogh says their material choices reflect their clients’ tastes but that they are often able to show clients options that they might not have considered before. “We love to blend unusual glass tiles and mosaics, natural stones, and marbles—installing these in a variety of patterns really help customize the look.” For one recent project the client indicated she wanted a spa feel or the look of a luxury hotel bathroom. “To achieve that,” says Hagestad, “we created a simple palette—white accented with shades of grey, layered with nickel plumbing.” And the lighting is key. The recommendation is to layer functional lighting and decorative for a beautiful but utilitarian design.
In her designs, Hoey likes to use a variety of materials, some expected and some rather unexpected. “Bathroom materials are typically hard and sterile so I like to use wood tones, any hue. I like a wood element in the vanity design rather than a painted finish because it often warms up the look and can bring the other aspects of the home into the bathroom, integrating the design with the rest of the home.” Limestone, for Hoey, is a popular choice because of its soft look and color. For an unexpected blend of materials, Hoey likes to use bronze, steel, and concrete as well. “I also like to mix metal tones. For instance, in one project I paired polished nickel Waterworks plumbing with a Rocky Mountain Hardware bronze brushed finish for the cabinet hardware. The cabinet hardware blends nicely with the rift oak finish on the vanity to create a soft tone-on-tone look.”
And when it comes to materials, Russ Jenson, owner of Sun Valley Rug and Tile, says, “Over the past 25 years, we have worked on so many different types of projects from new builds to remodels. We have helped many designers, builders, and homeowners look at materials in a new way. We are always looking to help a homeowner create his or her ideal space using the best materials possible. We are using more stone slabs in showers. Depending on the choice of stone, we can create a feel that is instantly modern, glam or rustic. Aside from the visual appeal, it’s also very easy to clean and maintain with minimal grout lines.”
Jenson says, “We have the area’s best-stocked slab yard with options for granite, marble, limestone and travertine, and we have a full custom slab fabrication shop. We also carry extensive lines of carpet, tile, and hardwoods.” For bathrooms, Jenson says, he’s seen all sorts of design options. “It really depends on the homeowner’s tastes and preferences.” He and his team can and do offer expert advice in terms of the way the materials wear over time. “Some surfaces are just more durable than others. So, it depends on the way you plan on inhabiting your space—if you have small children, there will just naturally be more wear and tear and your choice of materials should reflect that.”
CHARACTER IS OFTEN DECIDED BY THE DETAILS.
Rocky Mountain Hardware has become synonymous with quality craftsmanship and innovative design. With a plethora of styles to choose from whether you’re looking for hardware, sinks, or lighting, Rocky Mountain Hardware has an option to elevate any style. John Johnston of the Rocky Mountain Hardware showroom in Ketchum says, “With so many cabinet and bath accessory choices it can be overwhelming—but choosing complementary finishes ties a room together in the details.” And since character is often decided by the details. Johnston suggests, “You don’t necessarily have to use the same finish on everything either—we have combined darker polished finishes on the cabinet hardware with polished nickel faucets making a subtle statement that works beautifully. And if you are really looking for a “wow” factor, nothing is as stunning as a solid bronze sink—either surface-mounted or under-mounted depending on the aesthetic.”
The Rocky Mountain Hardware showroom in Ketchum carries Rocky Mountain Hardware products, as well as many other brands to meet any aesthetic or budget. They also carry Waterworks with a large selection of tubs, faucets, and tile.
THE RIGHT CHEMISTRY
Human nature is invariably a factor in any 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.
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.