Learn how Arizona-based interior designer Lori Carroll turned her own bathroom into a desert-inspired retreat.
Home Work: Design Professionals' Own Baths What plans do professional, award-winning designers create for their own rooms? With Home Work, we peek into the houses of leading architects and designers to see the bathrooms they have produced for themselves.
The Arizona desert outside designer Lori Carroll's bathroom window gave her the brainstorm she needed when it came time to remodel the room.
"My inspiration came from a grove of mesquite trees and a natural wash and the yearning for a relaxing environment," she says. From there, the design process became a little more amorphous.
"I don't always know where it comes from," admits Lori, who has her own design firm in Tucson and won the National Kitchen and Bath Association 2006 Pinnacle of Design award for Best Overall Project and for Best Bath award.
Lori says she started with materials she liked and put the design together from there, with no backward glances or second guesses, which is good, because she was on a tight schedule. Lori and her husband bought the circa-1990s home in late 2002, and she had only a couple of months to come up with designs for the areas they wanted to change. One of those changes included turning the original master bath, a suspect blend of pink porcelain and Southwest-style tiles, into an office and taking space from an extra bedroom for the master bath. The main reason for the rearrangement was privacy. The old master bath had huge windows around it with a view straight into the next-door neighbor's house.
Lori found that designing her own space was a whole different design ballgame from working for clients.
"It's hard when it's your own house, because you have to live with it," Lori says. It's one thing to dream, create and design a space for a client, she says, since it's the client who lives with it day in and day out. It's another thing entirely to live with it day in and day out yourself. Fortunately, says Lori, she still loves her bathroom, which is the ultimate test of a design's success.
Lori listens to her clients' requirements and starts the design process from there. And that was what she did this time, too: What did she need and want in a master bath? A steam shower and storage were at the top of her agenda, and Lori met those requirements as well as others, such as leaving the toilet in the same place, all done with style.
That style includes a masterful mix of materials, a signature trait of her work, which gives Lori's designs variety and interest without enormous fuss. Her own master bath design was no exception; slate and pewter tiles, granite, glass, wood and silver leaf are some of the materials Lori used, their colors echoing the desert outside.
The steam shower has desert-colored prairie slate from floor to ceiling, the walls covered with large tiles in rich hues of gold and gray, interspersed with 1-inch mosaics surrounding 4-inch square pewter and prairie slate tiles. A custom-designed Grohe shower system supplies the steam part of the shower and a custom-made glass door keeps the steam inside. Looking through the door from the shower, there's a view of the line of mountains that lie beyond the desert, a purposeful alignment, according to Lori.
Pewter tiles also line the backsplash above the vanities, surrounded by the prairie slate mosaics. The countertops below are seafoam green granite with undermounted Kohler sinks and sleek Kohler faucets. Just above each sink are mirrors that Lori first used in a design house. She liked their irregular shape and backlighting so much, she used them in her own house, and their asymmetrical quirkiness is just the right accent for the geometric lines of the bath. Behind them, ICI Paints Khaki Green, a warm sage, brings out the other desert colors in the vanities and chest.
The vanities are anigre wood veneer and the chest in between them is custom-made. It's constructed of MDF and covered with green-tinged silver leaf. A glass top makes it bathroom-friendly. Across from the sinks and chest is a built-in anigre cupboard with shelves above a two-door storage area on the bottom. Three graduated floating anigre wood shelves above the silver-leaf chest hold pictures and other decorative objects.
For lighting, Lori went with Artemide's modern classic Tolomeo design in a suspension version with a lamp on each of two arms sprouting from a central rod, one above each sink. Square lights from Bega, almost flush with the wall, are set on each side of the sinks for additional lighting.
The square lights echo the mosaic slate and pewter tiles throughout the bath, as well as the square bronze Century hardware on all the cabinetry; even the ottoman's material has squares sprinkled throughout. The curving linear grain of the anigre wood provides a nice contrast to the recurring cubist theme.
It all adds up to a luxurious but easy-going master bath. Lori says she wouldn't do anything differently, except perhaps to spend less money, a universal wish among home remodelers. And her favorite thing about the bath? The steam shower.
"I use it every single morning!" she says.
Kohler Stillness Widespread faucet, Kohler
Prairie slate and pewter tiles:
Stone Pewter Accents
Artemide Tolomeo Suspension Lights, www.artemide.com
Bega Square Lights, www.bega-us.com
Artist Rudy Hodgers of Luna Negra in Tucson, Ariz.