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Bathroom of the Week: Serene Spa Style in 100 Square Feet

“After” photos by Jackie Lamonds of WNC Real Estate Photography

Bathroom at a Glance
Who lives here: Blake and Lacey Hoyle and their two young sons
Location: Asheville, North Carolina
Size: 100 square feet (9.3 square meters)
Designer: Shawn Merkel of Align Design

Before: The updates the Hoyles tackled themselves never quite lived up to their standards. The lighting was poor. The colors didn’t pop. The tile work wasn’t great. The shower wasn’t properly ventilated, so condensation always remained on the glass. And barn doors that separated the bathroom from the bedroom didn’t shut properly, leaving the toilet visible. “That always bothered Lacey,” Merkel says.

After: Merkel ditched the old shower and vanity in favor of a calm and serene palette with light woods, like the hickory wood floating custom vanity, and plenty of white. The warm white walls are Cloud Cover by Benjamin Moore. “We have it throughout our house. It’s our favorite color,” Lacey says.

A new transom window with a natural wood frame above the vanity brings in natural light and offers treetop views. Merkel also added a larger picture window in the shower and framed it in the same light wood. A teak shower stool coordinates with the wood details.

The countertop is concrete with an integrated sink. “It’s another organic element that’s different from traditional granite or quartz,” Merkel says. Concrete pendants hang above. Grooves in the drawer fronts eliminate the need for hardware, creating a sleek look.

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Two single-handle faucets in brushed nickel sit over the large sink. A wood shelf on the round mirror coordinates with the vanity cabinet and other wood details in the room. “Everything else was linear, so we wanted to balance that out with something round,” Merkel says of the mirror. “It helps soften things a little. The shelf matched the cabinetry perfectly and was a happy accident.”

In addition to the pendants, a woven shade light (reflected in the mirror) and LED recessed lights in the shower and toilet area provide a layered lighting scheme. “All are on dimmers so we could keep the space feeling cozy and warm,” Lacey says.

A slim electrical outlet sits on either side of the vanity to keep the wall behind the vanity visually unobstructed.

Before: In the former bathroom, the Hoyles felt the wall next to the vanity was underutilized. The mirrored pocket door opened to a walk-in closet.

After: Merkel created a recessed niche with hickory wood shelves for storing small items. She replaced the pocket door with a barn-style sliding door that can hide the niche. “We measured very carefully to provide enough room for the niche and the barn door,” Merkel says.

Before: The former shower wasn’t properly ventilated, so moisture often remained on the shower glass and window, where mold formed. The tile around the shower entrance shows how the installation wasn’t exactly on par with professional work. The Hoyles also felt the toilet area lacked privacy.
After: Merkel created a wider shower with a crystal-clear glass enclosure. Handcrafted ceramic tiles in a stacked pattern — and properly installed — give the shower a clean and inviting look. A new operable window adds ventilation and crisp views of Asheville’s leafy mountain scenery. “It’s a 100% improvement,” Lacey says. “We can take a shower and stare out at all the mountains.”

Merkel positioned the shower controls near the entrance, rather than beneath the shower head, so the homeowners don’t get sprayed when turning the water on. Brushed nickel fixtures coordinate with the faucet finishes.

The shower floor is pebble tiles with organic tones.

The pebble tile runs up behind a storage niche in the shower. Tempered glass shelves hold products and washcloths. The shelves align with the tile grout for a clean, professional look. “The niche doesn’t go all the way to the ceiling, to help with ventilation,” Merkel says. She also installed a new bathroom exhaust fan.

The bottom portion of the niche lets the homeowners tuck their teak bench away when they’re not using it.

A recessed storage niche stands in a gap between walls that now separate the shower from the toilet area. Hickory wood shelves complement the vanity cabinet, holding woven baskets that store hair dryers and products. Wood hooks offer a spot for towels right outside the shower. “We just like that there’s not a lot of metal and shininess going on in this bathroom,” Lacey says.

In the wall to the right of the toilet, another recessed area (not shown) has additional storage for toilet paper and other items. An operable awning window above the toilet maintains privacy but allows in light, air and treetop views.

A new linen closet across from the toilet has a concrete countertop like the one used on the vanity. The upper cabinet has adjustable shelves for storing linens, while the bottom cabinet opens to reveal a hamper. “We had baskets hanging in our walk-in closet for dirty clothes before,” Lacey says. “This gave us a home for sheets and our laundry. It’s been a game changer for the functionality of the bathroom.”

Frosted glass double doors open to the Hoyles’ bedroom, replacing the white barn doors that didn’t close properly.

The bathroom floor is 24-by-48-inch white-and-gray travertine tile. “Larger floor tiles in a smaller space make them look bigger, and there’s less grout to clean,” Merkel says.

The refreshed bathroom now complements the modern Scandinavian style of the couple’s bedroom.

Before: These floor plans of the former bathroom show a functional setup, but not the small, frustrating details like poor-quality materials and lack of storage that added up to major frustrations.

This content was originally published here.

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