Rustic Country-Style Bathhouse

A family needed a building designed to accommodate guests staying on their dairy farm. Designer Heidi Richardson created a bathhouse with guest quarters that complements the pastoral setting while meeting guests' needs for a comfortable stay.
White Country-Style Home Exterior With Porch and Container Garden

White Country Home Exterior With Porch and Container Garden

This country bungalow makes for a petite and completely charming retreat. A wraparound covered porch is the perfect spot to take in the lovely landscaping and surroundings.

From: Heidi Richardson

Photo by: Jeff Zaruba

Jeff Zaruba

What were the main items on the owner’s wish list for redoing this space? What was your design concept for this space?

The goal was to design a building that complemented the pastoral dairy farm and to design a bathhouse for the nearby tent platforms/sleeping quarters that would be welcoming with comfortable amenities. In terms of design concept, we wanted the focus to be on the architecture. The design embraces a fun, whimsical and practical character that evokes the rural quality of the property.

What was your biggest obstacle in this space and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge was creating openness in this 260-square-foot structure. We opted for a pitched roof, which helped enhance the building height. With a small footprint, adding height can make the space feel bigger. The added height also helps maximize the natural light.

We also kept the interiors simple. We painted the walls white and for decor used Shaker-style furniture including a rustic settee, a braided rug and classic red-and-white checkerboard bedspreads in the sleeping quarters.

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A bathhouse for a family summer camp is a unique project. What inspired its materials, layout and design?

We selected materials to complement the other structures on the property and that were appropriate to the rural vernacular. We used noncorrosive and wear-resistant materials, including galvanized sheet metal, sealed board and batt siding, and painted plywood and MDO board.

Did the fact that the space was for a family camp change the way you approached this design project?

White Country Bathroom With Barn Stall Doors

White Country Bathroom With Barn Stall Doors

Wood paneling and stall-style doors evoke a renovated barn in this charming country-style bathroom. Built-in shelving along the back wall offers up oodles of storage space as does the long vanity.

From: Heidi Richardson

Photo by: Jeff Zaruba

Jeff Zaruba

Yes. Because it was designed for a family camp we added two toilets and two showers (versus one bathroom).

Everything doesn’t always go according to plan. How does the end result match up with your original vision for the space? What changed and why?

Originally, the design called for only a bathhouse with a small storage shed off the back. At the owners’ request, just before construction started, we added the bedroom, enlarging the area for the storage space to encompass the 130-square-foot bedroom.

What surprised you the most about this project and what lessons did you learn? How does that impact the way you’d approach a similar project going forward?

What surprised me the most is that the bathhouse is so popular. It struck a nerve with a lot of people. In terms of lessons, it taught me that there is a need for simple forms and small houses. It also reinforced the idea that if you keep it simple, it works!

What makes this project uniquely yours? Is there a particular design element that you incorporate into every project you work on?

What makes this project uniquely mine is the proportions of the exterior, the proportions of the porch and the proportions of the windows, as well as the roof slope. All of these elements were carefully considered.

It is harder to do things simpler. With all my projects I take great care with the proportions and make sure that we use materials that are appropriate.

Our readers love the small details. What are the “hidden gems” in your plan that really made a big difference in the overall success of your design?

There are a few hidden gems. We worked hard to get the proportions of the space just right. The scale of the windows and doors adds a timeless quality.

The pitched roof is also a hidden gem as it helps make the space feel bigger and imparts a feeling of openness.

The bathhouse is reminiscent of a classic barn. For interior doors, we added the traditional X trim and kept the beams exposed — these details are key to the success of the overall design.

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Heidi Richardson

Contact Me
Richardson Architects AIA 219 Shoreline Highway Mill Valley, CA 94941 415-380-0474