October 25, 2016
By Chelsie Butler
The owner of a 5,000-sq.-ft. farmhouse on the St. John’s River in Orlando had multiple design requests for his master bath, kitchen and secondary bathrooms. According to John McClain, principal of John McClain Design, his client wanted a combination of high style and functionality in the master bath. Because he is a chef, he wanted a kitchen outfitted with professional appliances and a gathering place for friends and family. Both spaces also provide a lovely view of the river that flows by the home, which has been Green Home Certified by the Florida Green Building Coalition, Gold Level.
“This house was supposed to be a renovation, but during demolition we discovered it would be more cost effective to rebuild,” said McClain. “We were able to keep the same footprint as the original and used a lot of repurposed materials. My client wanted this space to be as natural as possible with fewer man-made materials.”
Master Bath Bliss
This space radiates a mixture of modern, traditional and rustic style in a white palette for a clean, up-to-date feel. An eclectic, reclaimed wood wall behind the modern tub anchors the bathroom and adds a splash of color.
“I love a good focal wall in a bathroom, and I like to juxtapose materials, styles and textures,” said McClain, which is apparent with his use of polished nickel fixtures, antique brass and metal on the octagonal pendant over the tub and brass border on the mirrors.
The designer’s woodworker cut down the wood for the striking focal wall into smaller pieces in length and width, laid out every board in an abstract way and extended them onto the ceiling. The final detail was a simple coat of wax.
Because the architect was not in the tune with the home’s interior during the planning stages, McClain and his team had to reorganize the master bath floor plan to make it work better with the homeowner’s requests. The tub is centered in the space with the toilet area on the right and the steam shower on the left.
The creamy, oversized marble flooring tile extends into the curbless steam shower, and an expansive double vanity with a Calacatta marble countertop balances the tub and focal wall on the other side of the room. Because the bathroom is slightly narrow, McClain designed open shelving under the sinks to visually expand the space.
Including all of the client’s requirements in the existing floor plan was the number one challenge in this long and narrow master bath. McClain also explained that because of property setbacks, the space was further reduced after construction began. He and his team solved the space issues using a symmetrical layout, as well as a sink wall to accommodate a sizable window with a view of the river.
“Instead of attempting to place a focal point directly ahead as you walk in to the bathroom, we placed it to the left as you enter,” said McClain. “This allowed us to place the shower and toilet room symmetrically within the space and provided a long wall to accommodate the large double sink vanity.”
The other master bath challenges centered around the steam shower – specifically it’s functionality. McClain wanted to include a shower with the maximum recommended height of nine feet, which necessitated a unit with additional power to work within the space. Because the designer’s preference is a curbless shower, he had to slope the floor front to back, use a linear drain and make a tight seal around the door.
“The shower ended up slightly smaller than originally planned because of the shrinking square footage of the entire room, so we chose folding teak benches instead of a permanent bench inside the shower,” said McClain.
The final shower challenge was that the client wanted a window in the space, which the designer explained would pose privacy and steam/water retention issues.
“By working with the builder, we utilized an all-vinyl window, took extra precautions to seal it and placed it at the correct height for semi-privacy,” he explained. “Luckily, my client lives at the end of a long road, so the privacy issue was lessened a bit.”
Cooking in the Kitchen
According to McClain, his client owns a restaurant and understands top-quality appliances, so he wanted those in his own kitchen – choosing all commercial-grade options down to the range hood. He also wanted a place to entertain friends and family, as well as an eye-catching view of the river outside.
The home’s living area, which includes the entry, stairway, dining and living rooms and kitchen, is a large, open floor plan that faces the river and is accessed by a 30-ft. wall of folding doors. For entertaining and prep, the kitchen offers a sizable island with seating for six that runs the entire length of the room. Various traffic patterns were created to lead in and out of the space.
“The kitchen is positioned to showcase the water view, but by doing so, it is also within a busy traffic pattern that leads directly to the back porch,” explained McClain. “To have the various traffic patterns flow from the entry to the living areas, and depending on the route taken, we designed a galley-style kitchen that allows passageways on both sides of the kitchen island that lead directly to the star of the show – the river.”
To preserve the view, his client wanted as many open walls as possible in the kitchen with no upper cabinetry. He uses the rear pantry for most of his storage, but he needed an additional solution above the cooking and prep areas.
“We devised a small soffit that extends from the refrigerator cabinetry to the end of the opposite side of the kitchen and joins a side wall made of the same cabinetry,” explained McClain. “This creates the feeling of a more intimate space and separates the kitchen a bit from the passageway to the pantry. The soffit also allowed us to install small puck lighting to spotlight the countertops and cooking area below.”
Despite the fact that marble is not the most hardworking material for countertops, the client loved the look of it and insisted on including it in his kitchen.
“We reviewed the pros and cons of real marble versus a synthetic material, and he was determined to only use nature-made materials as much as possible throughout the home,” said McClain. “He is now acutely aware of how regular use will affect marble and has decided to embrace the fact that it will eventually start to look a bit worn and possibly stained. To him, this is a sign of a warm and welcoming kitchen.”
The other challenge with the marble was finding slabs large enough to fabricate for the island. The designer and his client spent a lot of time trying to find the right piece and were lucky enough to come across two Calacatta Premium slabs that could be bookmatched to cover the entire island.
A final challenge to this kitchen was that the hood had more code requirements than expected – especially where the exhaust was to be routed. McClain said he learned a lot from the builder, and they ended up building a hidden passageway in the wall to hold all of the components.
Warmth of Wood
The client loves the look of reclaimed wood and wanted to use that in several areas of the house. The kitchen shelves are from an old barn in Tennessee and were cut to size, supported by iron brackets and coated with wax. The same wood was used for the staircase, as well as the L-shaped butler’s pantry behind the kitchen.
“We spent hours looking through pile after pile of wood,” said McClain. “We didn’t find anything we loved the first time, but when we went back, we found success. It was fate the second time around.”
The designer suggests that when working on a new construction with a builder to get in on the process as early as possible, adding that doing so limits the number of changes made along the way. Since he came in a little later on in the game, he had to solve such issues are reconfiguring the original curbed shower and lowering that portion of the floor.
“We are working on a new-build now, and we are hand in hand with the architect and builder,” said McClain, “which will save money for the client, who is the person in charge of paying for those changes.”
By Chelsie Butler
Designer: John McClain, John McClain Design
Builder: Hardwick General Contracting
Photographer: Stephen Allen
Backsplash: Seneca Metallic Tile
Countertop: Calacatta Premium and Calacatta Lincoln
Lighting: Restoration Hardware
Plumbing Fixtures: Kohler
Range and Hood: Wolf
Wood Flooring: Porcelanosa
Lighting: Visual Comfort
Marble: Calacatta Lincoln
Mirrors: Mirror Image Home
Shower Fixtures: Kohler
Tile: Crossville Tile
Tub Filler: Brizo
Vanity: Cuisines Laurier
Wood Wall: Gleeman and Sons