When you think of a designer’s particular style, the bathrooms he or she has created don’t usually come to mind. But I like to create bathrooms for clients. Aside from the obvious things, a bathroom is:
- Where you start your day – you go from your private self to your public self in your bathroom;
- Where you end your day – it can be where you take off that public self, where you disarm and retreat to your private self;
- A place where you give your guests their space; where your guests can revive, retouch, make themselves elegant and party-ready.
In my upcoming messages and on my blog, I’m going to show you bathrooms I’ve created or re-created for clients. Maybe this will give you some ideas of what you’d like in your bathroom. I’d love to create a bathroom for you!
Battery Park City Small Bathroom Ballet
Don’t we all think our own bathrooms are the smallest in New York? Here’s a story about how I re-created a five-by-eight-foot bathroom to give the owners four times more storage space. Why ‘ballet?’ Because this project was as much about managing the choreography of the individuals working on it, and the pieces they were responsible for, as it was about the design aspect. This tiny bathroom is in a Battery Park City apartment with breathtaking views of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. What you saw out the windows made up for the fact that there was virtually no storage space. Anywhere.
The owners are a working couple – they couldn’t take a month or so off while we worked on their only bathroom. We had two weeks to make it usable again while they took a vacation and camped out with their parents.
Here’s what we did – a true collaboration of designer, contractor, plumber, electrician, tiler, and cabinetmaker. The flow of work and installation of elements were coordinated as carefully as any classical ballet. The project was tightly choreographed so that each trade followed right behind the previous one right away. We had also made sure all materials and cabinetry were on site before we started.
By taking advantage of the actual wall thicknesses, we installed full-height storage cabinets on the one empty wall, embedded in the wall between the studs. By installing a narrow Toto toilet, we created additional deeper storage to its left and a drawer over it. These pieces combined did indeed begin to quadruple their storage space…
Tall ceiling-high cabinets, some only four inches deep, could hold small bottles and tubes. The cabinets were fronted with glass to make the room feel more open. I used Bendheim laminated glass (www.bendheim.com) mirrored on the inside (handy for a quick look-see at one’s lipstick for example, if the couple were overlapping in the bathroom).
I placed the sink basin on top of the counter, with much-needed additional drawer space and a built-in laundry hamper below.
Just as important as the structural elements, the materials I used made this bathroom interesting and unexpected – and completely unique. I combined metals (industrial), anigre wood (elegant) and ceramic tiles (traditional). These were handmade crackled tiles, mounted vertically to create height. The countertop was surrounded with a steel edge, encasing slate with shimmering mica chips (glamour). The floor was aluminum tile, surprisingly warm to the feet.
The Grand Pas:
the slate countertop with brushed stainless-steel edge went in first;
then the deep storage cabinet,
then the measuring and installation of the mirror,
then the sink itself,
then the faucet and the lights.
No fewer than six different trades in this part alone!
We installed a waterproof outdoor light to illuminate the shower, which also referenced the marine lights in the Hudson River view. A white shower curtain helped with reflecting light and creating airiness – it’s a favorite fabric of mine by Jack Lenor Larsen – tree images created with a burnout process within the fabric. And it’s washable.
A key goal was to get rid of the clutter, especially on the floor. That’s where additional details such as the tissue-roll holder inside a cabinet door helped us to achieve it.
Like a performance of a Corps de Ballet, this bathroom was not just my work alone. Thanks are due to the talent, spectacular commitment and coordination from Gil Winter and Isaiah Akande of Hallmark Construction. This project simply could not have been accomplished without the hard work of everyone involved!
“I love it when a plan comes together!”