December 4, 2023
Resuscitating a Primary Bath Design
Originally, the homeowners of this 1950s mid-century modern residence intended to tackle the remodeling of its primary bath themselves. The room had been reworked in the 1990s, which accounted for the brown large format tiles covering the floor and walls and the dark wood, column-like vanities. But they didn’t get far into the project before deciding they needed professional help. Enter Kara Piepmeyer – a registered nurse-turned-designer to resuscitate the comatose design of the primary bath.
Founder of Studio Kosma in Los Angeles, Piepmeyer inherited the homeowners’ choice of tile, but nothing else, as she took control. “Being young professionals with two small children, my clients wanted their primary bathroom space to feel calming and luxurious without being stuffy or pretentious,” she said.
Using the Waterworks Paperclay Sea tile in a gloss finish from floor to ceiling on two walls was a bold choice, and it worked to unify the shower, tub and vanity areas and provides an uplifting feeling in the space. That, along with a new curbless shower design and freestanding tub, made the room appear much larger and brighter. A lilac marble slab with rich veining in tones ranging from lavender to grape complements the tile and infuses a hint of chic luxury into the room. Instead of introducing more color on the floor, the designer chose a textural, handmade brick tile for a herringbone pattern.
“I always do a dry lay with my installer, but this project solidified the practice for me forever,” said Piepmeyer. “I initially planned to use a straight stack pattern for the wall tile. But the moment I saw it, I knew we had to switch gears and use a running bond layout instead. The pattern was just a little softer with a classic edge. As with all things design, sometimes you just have to be in the space, to ‘feel it’ before you know!”
The new double vanity features a thick counter apron and a makeup counter. The design incorporates flip-down drawers under each sink and pull-out drawers behind the cabinet doors to maximize storage and accessibility. “We focused on getting the dimensions just right so the counter was actually comfortable to sit at when applying cosmetics,” said the designer. “If the apron was too thick, it would cut into the top of your legs when sitting on a standard counter height stool.”
—By Leslie Clagett, KBB managing editor
Design: Kara Piepmeyer, Studio Kosma
Photography: Bethany Nauert for Big Leo Productions
Cabinet Hardware: Rejuvenation
Countertops: Lilac Marble
Faucets, Shower Fittings, Sinks: Kohler
Lighting: Worley’s (sconces) and Cedar & Moss (tub pendant)
Paint: Benjamin Moore
Tub: Randolph Morris