Before we remodeled, this bath was a classic hall bath dating from the 1950’s. White and black tile, gray-patterned Formica countertops, a standard white enameled cast iron tub and black, white and red geometric wall paper (probably from the 1970’s). The client wanted a comfortably sized shower with the ability to independently operate a hand-held shower and overhead shower; she wanted lots of storage and a modern style that would blend with the newly modernized split level in upper Northwest, Washington, DC. But she wanted “water” shades of blue, aqua and green instead of the muted palette of grays, charcoals, and mauves used in the rest of the house. She did not, however, want the bath to feel like it belonged at the beach. And, of course, since you could see the bath as you walked up the stairs to the bedroom level, the colors still had to blend with the more muted palette of the house. Finally, as with the rest of the remodel, she wanted to be conscientious of environmental concerns.
The old bath (see picture below) was dismantled so that all the useable materials could be re-used. Most of the materials were donated to Community Forklift, a local non-profit that collects and sells surplus and salvaged building materials. Additional items that Community Forklift wasn’t interest in were given away using Craig’s List and Freecycle.
We used a local cabinetmaker to craft the cabinets. He uses a local mill. Thus we supported the local economy as well as limiting transportation. We also used countertop and tile material that employs over 80% recycled source material — Bioglass countertops and Eco-Terr terrazzo tiles from Coverings, Etc.. While these materials are manufactured overseas, we selected in-stock material that had already been shipped. It was a compromise. The lighting is a mixture of energy-saving fluorescent and LED.
To control costs, the plumbing fixtures all remained in their original locations. The only structural change was to widen the doorway from 24″ to 32″.
To reduce the “beach” look, the water colors are deep and intense tones. Plus we introduced warm, honey-toned alder cabinets. To blend the palette with the rest of the house, the terrazzo has the muted grays found in the rest of the house. The hallway leading to the bath employs a deep grayed brownish/mauve on the walls and a deep reddish-rust in the carpet. These tones are near complements of the “water” tones of the glass and paint making for a pleasing transition. [See discussion on using color complements.]
Notice the design of the glass tile. We used a 1″x4″ mosaic on the floor under the floating vanity and up the wall a variable amount. This resulted in a variable horizontal grout line separating the gradations of color moving up the vanity wall and in the shower — creating a gentle wave effect.
The shower uses separate mixing valves for the ceiling mounted rainhead-style shower head and a bar-mounted hand-held shower. The hand-held bar is installed low enough to allow it to be used as a body spray directed to the shoulders or low-back. The hand-held has a variable spray to allow a gentle or pulsing spray. The separate shower mixing valves allow the hand-held and shower heads to be set at different temperature and to be used simultaneously.