April 3, 2015
Cleansing and rejuvenation can get lost when a bathroom feels constrained.
“One of the biggest gripes was the darkness of the room,” said designer Sue Shinneman, designer and co-owner of Kansas City-based Kitchen Studio. “They had a skylight, but there wasn’t enough natural light.”
To rectify this design flaw, Shinneman installed a window on the wall above the tub and added additional lighting to brighten and open up the space. An abstract chandelier was suspended from the room’s center and also acted as a visual focal point.
“The light fixture kind of looks like a jellyfish to me,” said Shinneman. “The rest of the house has very much of a beach aura or a seaside palette.”
A palette of soft blue and green throughout the bedroom and home revealed the client’s preference for a seaside aesthetic from which Shinneman drew inspiration when choosing the bathroom’s design elements and overall feel. Since the room’s original blue tile floor was coming up in different places, Shinneman decided to replace the tiles with a centralized pattern fashioned to mimic a rug. To create the effect, basket weave tiles were selected with a series of small blue mosaic tiles arranged in a wave around the perimeter.
“I proposed the rug idea to make the tile look like there’s an inset rug in the middle,” explained Shinneman. “We just went for soft white and gray with blue accents.”
To accommodate her client’s wish list and add utility to design, she installed a mesh system heated floor – an ultra-thin, low-profile mesh mat set to warm on a timer system underneath the tile – throughout the majority of the room, making a real rug obsolete.
“They can set it to turn on in the morning so when they get up it’s already warm, and you can also decide how warm you want it to get,” said Shinneman. “The only issue is that if they ever wanted to change the floor, it would be difficult to take up without damaging the mesh.”
Installing the tile posed a challenge, however, since the room’s alignment was off, making it difficult to decide where to center the tile rug. In the end, they chose to use the vanity as a reference point.
Like a typical older home, the vanities sat 30 inches high, which the client felt was too low. They instead opted for a 36-in. height to lower the seating area, which she wanted to keep as a makeup station. The flat vanity mirror provided no storage and was replaced with recessed medicine cabinets – framed to match the cabinets – to create more storage.
“Of course, once they opened up the wall there were bits of electrical (exposure),” said Shinneman, referring to the challenge posed in creating a recessed box, “but it makes such a difference that they’re flush and not sticking out into the space.”
Shinneman then mounted silver sconces across the cabinetry, creating a subtle pillar illusion across the cabinets as framing members of the wall and chose cream countertops to further accentuate the room’s new coastal feel. A matching slab replaced the tub tiling and alleviated grout buildup. The tub’s backsplash was made with the same mosaic tiles as the inset “rug.”
To match the vanities, the tub fixtures were also replaced, and a handheld showerhead was installed per the client’s request. For additional storage, they added a niche to hold bath products. A long, blue, horizontal tile forms a band in the shower and echoes the floor. Large wall tiles measuring 18 by 20 inches were installed to create an illusion of height.
“The icing on the room is the gorgeous chandelier,” said Shinneman. “My favorite part was the floor though – it’s just fabulous.”
Cabinetry: Crystal Cabinetworks Inc.
Floor tile: Jeffery Court
Shower Tile: Jeffery Court
Tub deck: Caesarstone