December 30, 2015
When designer Sheryl Steinberg of Steinberg Interior Design and her husband purchased a 1960s home in Bethesda, Md., several years ago, they knew the master bathroom would be the site of a future renovation. With its dated layout and the only noticeable upgrade the addition of a large 1980s tub, the bathroom was ripe for a remodel. The challenge Steinberg faced was to create a functional and spa-like space within the existing small footprint. Additionally, the homeowners sought to replace the out-of-date fixtures with modern, eco-friendly products.
Putting Function First
“It’s always so tempting to expand the footprint and take down a wall,” said Steinberg. However, the couple was certain they did not want to sacrifice any space from the adjoining master bedroom. Limited by the room’s 6.5-ft. by 12.8-ft. dimensions, Steinberg developed a floor plan that made better use of the space. Originally, the bathroom included a small shower and a one-sink vanity. In fact, everything was small except the tub, which blocked the entry and sightline into the bathroom.
“The first thing I did was get rid of that tub, and that really opened up the space,” she said. With the monolith gone, Steinberg could include a large glass shower and a double vanity with ample counter space and storage. The 24-in.-deep vanity now allows for a clear entry path into the room.
To maximize the functionality, she added a partially recessed wall cabinet that includes a combination duplex receptacle and USB charger inside and underneath. The cabinet is situated between the vanity mirrors, which also house electrical outlets inside. All three pieces were recessed four inches into the wall, offering deep storage without compromising above-vanity space.
“There were some measurement challenges,” explained Steinberg. “Everything had to be precise.” Recessing pieces meant the thickness of the wall, including tile, had to be determined even before the vanity and cabinet could be designed.
Perhaps one of the best space-saving decisions was replacing a swing door with a pocket door. This meant taking down a wall and putting it back up after installation, but it was worth the effort.
“The door just disappears,” Steinberg said, “and it saves plenty of space.”
All the Comforts of the Spa
In addition to creating a more functional space, Steinberg looked forward to trading in the uninspiring bathroom for a spa-like experience. In search of light, she chose small, iridescent, mosaic glass tile in green hues to cover two of the four walls, including the one opposite the southern-facing window. This offered a significant improvement over the beige and pink tones the bathroom originally featured.
“The iridescent nature of these mosaics reflects the light and gives the walls a glistening look,” she said. “It’s very spa-like and calming.”
She complemented the mosaic tile with white 12-in. by 24-in. field tile. The mix balanced the room by juxtaposing large and small, matte and shiny. The larger tile is easy to clean and was used on the floor as well.
The spa atmosphere continues in the spacious walk-in shower, which took the place of an old sliding-door shower. Steinberg included features like a recessed niche and corner shelf for storage – knowing that these small touches make a big difference in usability.
As an Allied ASID and LEED Green Associate, Steinberg wanted to utilize eco-friendly products as much as possible. Replacing the old florescent light attached to the sink mirror, she installed recessed LEDs in the ceiling and wall sconces above the new vanity. All lights operate with a dimmer, providing options not available from the previous fixtures and outdated electrical. The plumbing also received an upgrade, and the new showerhead, faucet and toilet are energy and water efficient. A fan was installed to provide ventilation and remove moisture from the 49-year-old home.
The decorative products are also green. Steinberg’s treasured mosaic tile was made from 70 percent post-consumer recycled glass. The vanity countertop is Silestone, which is composed of 94 percent natural quartz. Steinberg used zero-VOC paints for the walls and chose only water-based cabinet finishes.
Thus, despite the small space, Steinberg was able to include everything she needed to create a functional, relaxing bathroom. She actually appreciated the challenge, acknowledging that most clients do not have unlimited space or budget.
“You don’t always have to get bigger, but you can go bigger in the space that you have by designing it well,” she added.
Designer: Sheryl Steinberg, Sheryl Steinberg Interior Design
Photography: Sheryl Steinberg Interior Design
Cabinet Mirrors: Robern
Mosaic Tile: Sonoma Tilemakers Vihara
Porcelain Tile: Tweed Porcelain Tile
Shower Trim & Showerhead: Hansgrohe
Sconces: George Kovacs
Sink Faucets: Dornbracht
Towel Racks: Ginger