Zen Arts and Crafts Master Bathroom
Designer Nancy Snyder had several requests to meet when designing this master bathroom, with the top priority being to make the room appear more spacious. What she delivered was a sunny yellow bathroom, complete with ample vanity space, a heated floor and plenty of other amenities.
What were the main items on the owner’s wish list?
Our client had a long list of must-haves for her new master bath: taller vanities, faster hot water, a soaking tub to replace the corner shower/tub combo, a new steam shower and a heated floor. We were also asked to preserve her already minimal storage space. A glass block exterior wall provided poor insulation and would need to be covered up or replaced as well. Her home was a traditional Arts & Crafts, but prior owners had redone this bathroom Euro-contemporary (circa 1988). The new bathroom needed to match the Arts & Crafts style of the home while providing the owner with an in-home spa experience.
What was the single largest issue you wanted to address for the owner/family?
Our biggest issue turned out to be the glass block wall. If we were to remove the glass block, then this structural wall needed to be replaced with brick. For budget reasons our first design included a false wall, but this took too much of the square footage away, plus it didn’t necessarily solve the problem of poor insulation. In the end, we proceeded with rebuilding the wall with brick and installing two new cantilever windows.
What was your biggest obstacle in this space?
Space constraints challenged us at every turn, especially when it came to installing a new tub. Putting in a soaking tub meant new plumbing, but where would it go? Freestanding tubs usually necessitate freestanding fixtures as well, but there was literally no room to run the pipes. Putting them within the exterior wall was not an option as here in Chicago the risk of frozen pipes is too great! In the end, our custom shower design was altered to include a half wall between shower and tub, allowing us to conceal the plumbing and preserve the clean lines of our original design scheme.
What surprised you the most about this project?
It was important to convince the contractor to install the shower accent tile and the cantilever windows so that the tile would be perfectly aligned with the window sills. Good design is all about the details, and standing your ground with your vision is important. The end result: the clean, continuous line contributes to the spa look sought after by the client and provides continuity between shower and slipper tub.
What are the hidden gems in your plan?
The spa look appears effortless, but the design elements employed in this small space were very strategic. The slipper tub has a gently curved line, mirroring the curves in the sinks, light fixtures and faucets. The expansive feel is accomplished by the linear aspects of the accent tile, the continuous use of the floor tile — even in the shower — and by concealing visual clutter, using shelving alcoves on the inside of the shower to hide shampoo and other products. We also minimized the impact of the shower fixtures by moving them from the rear shower wall to a new side wall. The result is an open, soothing and coordinated space that provides a daily respite for the homeowner.
How does the end result match up with your original vision for the space?
Our original plan called for new, freestanding vanities. In the end, we were able to raise the existing vanities to give the height desired by the client, which also gave us some room in the budget.