By Gina Valentino with Jena A. Butterfield
When Jay Levy of Jay Levy Architecture (JLA) was tapped to transform a contemporary but circa 1980s bathroom in Bedford for a client who loved the house’s mountaintop views and plethora of windows but not the dated primary bath, an alignment of vision evolved pretty quickly.
The art-collecting client wanted a space as open as possible, with a gallery-like feel, and he was excited to experiment. Levy, who is also an accomplished fine-art painter and sculptor, jumped at the chance to play with light and space while thinking outside the box.
He decided to set the bath in what was originally a separate, cedar-lined, sauna-and-Jacuzzi room, which had a dated cabin feel. The entire former bathroom had been relegated to the area containing the vanity, “but we wanted to utilize the whole space,” says Levy.
Placing the custom-made tub (built into a Caesarstone quartz box) in the middle of the room made the space instantly more dramatic.
A glass partition flanking one side of the bath performs triple duty by mirroring the picture window and separating the open shower yet allowing light to flow unobstructed. “We definitely felt like we were taking chances,” says Levy.
In the shower niche, giant-slab Caesarstone (in the concrete family) provides contrast, with long, more textural Porcelanosa tiles that mimic gray tweed or grasscloth. In order to keep layering texture, Venetian plaster was used instead of painted walls.
The multi-textural neutrals are balanced by both warm ipe wood on the exterior (visible through the picture window) and the walnut Levy used for the floating vanity. The vibe is complemented by a walnut closet wall with a sliding door that leads to exterior leisure spaces. Cleverly placed lighting mitigates any weight in the materials and lends an ethereal quality to the space.
The bathroom now flows seamlessly into the rest of the home with its polished concrete floors and play of light and space. Says Levy, “It’s as finished and luxurious as anywhere in this house.”
The owners of this simple yet elegant bath are a young couple: The husband is British; the wife is Italian, so “they have a Euro-modern sensibility,” designer Constance Hall explains.
Hall, who has an eponymous design firm in Chappaqua, says, “The bath was originally a 1980s nightmare, clad completely in verde marble, with a behemoth drop-in jetted tub that filled the bath nook.”
She adds that with the help of an architect, they divided the two spaces and created “a tub room sanctuary, with a unique, arched entry. The design was selected so that the wife could enjoy a leisurely soak and look out the window at her garden and woods,” explains the designer. “The slipper shape of the Victoria & Albert tub appealed to her desire for a feminine spa environment.” To complement the wife’s tranquil area in the primary bath, a steam shower and heated towel bars were installed for the husband, intended for his after-sports relaxation.
While the color palette of the room is soft and relaxing, Hall deployed a statement-making pop of color in the form of a light fixture, as the homeowners wanted to include a splash of their favorite hue. “When I saw that light fixture, I knew it was the perfect accent,” Hall says.
Created for the owner of a Pleasantville home who loves an indulgent soak, this primary bath is brimming with grandeur yet is not overdone. Christine Wetzel of her eponymous firm says this was an outside-the-box project, sharing that the team plumbed the primary sitting room and added the custom-gold-leaf soaking tub. She explains the flooring selection: “The wood flooring utilizes an 18th-century Japanese technique that preserves the wood by charring with fire, creating the unique color and texture.” The fireplace, which is original to the home and dates back to the 1800s, creates a statement-making backdrop. A double floating vanity and an oversize shower create a spa-like sanctuary. “The goal was to create an elegant yet livable primary suite, and my clients could not be more pleased,” shares the designer.
For the new owners of this home, who were seeking to modernize its 1980s reno, John I. Kim of Kimoy Studios and Ana Claudia Schultz of Ana Claudia Design Studio, Inc. teamed up to create a sophisticated bath with a moody color palette. “Throughout the renovation, we applied modern design principles with details that paid tribute to the home’s Colonial bones,” says Kim.
In the primary bath, they eliminated a dark, unused sauna and were able to create an expanded bath with a large, two-person shower, water closet, and freestanding tub.
“Our design traded the ’80s specs of mirrored walls, Formica, and tile for midcentury-inspired design, using a subtle and natural palette of teak cabinetry, marble counters, and walls with brass fittings as accents,” explains Kim, adding that “glass doors were used to maintain a sense of openness throughout, while the opaque film provided the necessary privacy.”
While the homeowners loved the charm and original details of this Larchmont home, they sought a modern layout that would include an updated primary suite. Says Erin Coren of Curated Nest Interiors: “We wanted to provide a more functional use of the space, rearranging the zones in the bedroom completely and expanding their bathroom. The master suite was a complete redesign in how we laid out the spaces. We channeled our inner puzzle abilities and modified the flow of the room by expanding the bathroom, adding a second closet, and making the previous walk-in closet into an office space with lovely natural light.
“Being an older home,” she continues, “the bathroom consisted of a dark shower stall and a single vanity. By expanding and rotating the bathroom configuration, we were able to create a double vanity and a better flow in the bedroom and larger interior space in the bathroom.”
Coren and fellow principal Lina Galvão chose natural tones in the bathroom with an emphasis on contrast by adding the black-iron shower door and the black mirrors.
The shower tile and floor tile, both from Tile Bar, and hardware and faucet from Kohler were thoughtfully selected. “The shower-wall tile was arranged vertically, to make the ceiling feel taller; shapes were the emphasis on the floor, with triangles of various sizes,” says Coren. “The custom light fixture from Lucent Lightshop expands over both sinks, giving the custom walnut vanity, from Walnut, a unified focal point.”
For clients moving from Manhattan who wanted to build their dream home, Emily Fuhrman of Sage & Ginger helped design the new construction. “After being in the city,” says Fuhrman, “the homeowners really wanted a large, luxe, spa oasis of a bathroom. This led to the clean, neutral color palette and spacious design.”
Fuhrman explains the goal was to foster the tranquil feel of an oasis: “We did not want it to feel too busy or cluttered, but we still needed the space to feel special.” To do so, they focused on subtleties.
“We tiled the walls, to add depth and detail, while keeping the feeling very clean. We laid the tile on the floor, in a herringbone pattern, as an inviting detail. A custom vanity in a light-gray painted finish is topped with a built-up quartz counter. The quartz is durable, and the extra thickness is another luxurious detail,” Fuhrman says.
For a seating area, the designer incorporated a furry stool, for texture, an element she describes as an “organic, fun accent.”
A crystal chandelier and crystal sconces add glamour, sparkle, and brighten the room. “They are super special and unexpected,” says the founder of the New Canaan-based design firm. “The linear drain in the shower and square fixtures contribute to a modern vibe, reminiscent of a luxury spa.”