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September 14, 2009

It’s hard to believe, but before designer David Stimmel, of Stimmel Consulting Group, Inc., was brought in to transform this Villanova, PA,
bath, it was nothing more than a “square drywall box,” he said. Now, thanks to his clever approach, it’s filled with architectural interest and imaginative details that bring the formerly bleak space to life.

Beginning with the layout of the space, Stimmel removed a small closet, moved the existing water closet, which was a very large room, and pushed the wall back to create a more sizable main bathing area. Although the new 240-sq.-ft. bath offered abundant room, its 8-ft. ceiling posed a challenge: how to incorporate an architectural element without losing any height. Taking his cues from two structural beams uncovered during
demolition, Stimmel veneered a series of panels to the ceiling around the beams and cleaved a gently tapered curve to each wall, creating the
impression of added headroom. “It’s a trick, an optical illusion really,” he said.

Because the clients—a “vivacious” pair of lawyers—wanted lots of detailing, Stimmel custom designed the vanity and incorporated millwork that mirrors not only the aesthetic of the barrel ceiling, but its proportions, too. Using columns and decorative moldings, in addition to a trio of framed mirrors (the middle of which is a medicine cabinet), he followed the widths of the ceiling’s panels to create perfect symmetry. As Stimmel explained, “I really wanted the room to have a delicate balance.”

Crossing straight to the other side of the room, the beams also allowed for a vaulted ceiling above the tub, where a single glass pendant
illuminates the 14-ft.-high cavity to maximize the perception of size. Here, Stimmel also kept the room’s symmetry by refinishing the existing
windows to match the width between the beams and flanking the tub with the same columns used on each edge of the vanity.

Besides detailing, the clients’ only other request was honey onyx. Used in different formats on the floor, for the tub surround, stairs and
countertops, and in the shower, it imparts a golden glow that brings warmth and texture to the space. But it also came with its own
complication. As Stimmel explained, “Honey onyx is a difficult material to work with because its color range is really varied.” Cut from the
same stone, the tile came in shades from white to a deep brownish cream, the only solution for which was to hand-sort each tile into
groups of like colors—a task undertaken by tile designer Leslie Moretti.

On the floor, darker large-format tiles are combined with small, white square inlays and a white border to form a pattern of subtly contrasted
detail. And in the shower, an assortment of complementary mosaics underfoot and a decorative border highlight the warmth of the tile on
the shower walls and the slab bench, both similar in hue to the bathroom floor. “The different colors make for a nice general blend
instead of a stark contrast,” said Stimmel. “It’s smooth, not overpowering.”

Like the shower bench, slabs of honey onyx were used for the vanity countertop, tub surround and stairs. Because of the small 3-ft. x 6-ft. size of the slabs, the tub surround and stairs required eight pieces of stone. But thanks to the painstaking hand-sorting of the onyx, they appear to be one single slab. Encased in this seemingly giant stone “deck” is an extra-deep jetted tub for two, which, with its position next to the windows, affords relaxing outside views.

In keeping with the traditional feel of the space, Stimmel chose classic faucets and shower fixtures in polished nickel, as well as traditionally styled sconces to illuminate the vanity and highlight the decorative molding. Because the wife didn’t want an overly lit, sterile room, Stimmel kept fixtures to a minimum. To that end, additional lighting is provided by recessed downlights and, during the day, an abundance of natural light, which, reflecting off the honey onyx, creates a warm glow.

“The nice thing about this bath is that it doesn’t look complicated, but it is,” said Stimmel. And thanks to his creative behind-the-scenes solutions, the space is now, to his clients’ delight, anything but a square drywall box.

SOURCES
Designer: David Stimmel—Stimmel Consulting Group, Inc., Ambler, PA; www.stimmeldesign.com
Tile design: Leslie Moretti—Stimmel Consulting Group, Inc.
Manufacturers:
Cabinetry: Village Handcrafted (custom); Tub: Kohler; Sinks: Kohler;
Faucets, tub/shower faucets and tub/shower handshowers: Kohler; Toilet:
Kohler; Showerhead: Grohe; Lighting: Nulco Lighting (sconces and
pendant); Stone: Marble Concepts; Tile: Direct Buy
Photography: © Charles Meacham

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