Bathroom of the Week: A Pro’s Own Nature-Inspired Space

“After” photos by Dandelion Dreams Photography

Bathroom at a Glance
Who lives here:
Interior designer Susan Wintersteen of Savvy Interiors and her husband, along with their daughter and dog
Del Mar, California
Size: 90 square feet (8.4 square meters)

Before: The house was built in the mid-1990s, and typical of that era, it had a large tub surround, low vanities and a small shower stall. “We aren’t really bathtub people, and we were getting a hot tub for the backyard. We knew we’d never use that tub,” Wintersteen says.

The bathroom also had a small, cave-like shower stall. “We really wanted a bigger shower,” Wintersteen says.

After: “I knew the best place to put the shower would be in front of the windows where the bathtub was, but my husband was concerned about that,” Wintersteen says. As it turned out, that corner of the house is quite private, but to be on the safe side, the designer added a tree outside to thoroughly block any view into the shower.

“The windows in the shower have become one of my favorite features. I love all the natural light and being able to see outside from the shower,” Wintersteen says.

She knew that at 6 by 6 feet, the shower might appear overly large. She used her designer’s eye and playing with scale to address that. She created a smaller square of white hexagonal tiles in the center of the shower pan, then surrounded that with a wide border of the large-format gray tiles she used on the bathroom floor.

Wintersteen covered the shower surround in a zellige-inspired tile from Bedrosians. The handmade texture and subtle variety of colors in the tiles add an organic feel to the shower.

Here’s a close-up of where the shower stall’s threshold meets the bathroom floor. Wintersteen covered the threshold in the same zellige-inspired tiles used on the shower walls.

Designers often use their own homes as laboratories to test out ideas for their clients. Look to the right of the photo to see where Wintersteen added half-inch penny rounds in the grout lines between the bathroom floor’s large-format tiles. “I had never done this before, or seen it done before, so it was a real risk,” she says. It was the kind of risk designers are willing to take on their own homes to make sure it will work for clients in the future, and it paid off.

Finding a great tile professional was key. “I had the tile installer cut these lines of dots from 12-by-12-inch penny round tiles,” she says. “Good tile installers get excited about trying something new and different.”

Wintersteen also put her tile installer to the test on the shower walls. She had him create wide, horizontal lines in the composition with grout. “In order to grout this way you need to go heavier on the sand in the grout mix to prevent cracking,” she says.

Using a neutral color palette on the walls puts the focus on the windows. The windows also help balance the large scale of the shower. “The teak bench also helped break up the space,” Wintersteen says. “And it’s far enough from the shower head that it doesn’t ever get very wet.”

She covered the area over the vanity with a gorgeous green grasscloth wallcovering. “Because the shower stall is so big and because of the windows, we don’t get much moisture in here. So I wasn’t worried about using it,” she says. The color and texture of the wallcovering kicked off a nature-inspired, organic color and material palette.

Wintersteen designed custom cabinetry for the vanity and adjacent towers. The wood is white oak with a custom white stain.

The door and drawer fronts have a reeded texture. The inset cabinetry lends a streamlined element to the textured piece. The hardware finish is brushed champagne.

This photo also provides a closer look at the floor tiles. They’re made of digitally printed porcelain that looks like cement, another organic material.

The designer bookended the double vanity with tall mirrored cabinets that serve as medicine cabinets. “This is not a big bathroom but we have more storage than we even know what to do with now,” she says. After living in the house for several months, the couple find they still have a few empty drawers.

The mirrored door at the left in this photo leads to a closet.

The countertops are marble, the faucets are polished nickel and the light fixtures are brushed gold. “I like to use polished nickel when mixing with warmer metals because it will take on the reflection of the cabinets. And polished nickel reads warmer than chrome does,” Wintersteen says. She also notes that mixing metals is a good way to stay trend-proof, avoiding a dated look in the future.

The faucets are from Brizo. “I like to use one-hole faucets for universal design reasons. They are so much easier to use than faucets with an 8-inch spread, and they work well in a small space,” Wintersteen says.

The toilet room used to contain both the toilet and the dark, cramped shower stall. That shower was the main impetus for the renovation.

After relocating the shower, Wintersteen had room to install additional cabinetry for storing items such as toilet paper. A painting of lotuses plays off the rich range of greens in the wallcovering.

With their youngest daughter about to head off to college, interior designer Susan Wintersteen and her husband decided to downsize to a house about half the size of the one where they’d raised their children. With her ability to create beautiful spaces, Wintersteen transformed the Southern California home into one that felt exactly the right size for them. In the en suite bathroom the couple share, she replaced a bathtub she knew they would never use with a roomy shower stall, added lots of storage and created a nature-inspired palette that relaxes her the moment she walks into the room.

This content was originally published here.

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