November 6, 2017
In a stressful world of technology and busyness, more homeowners are requesting redesigns that incorporate clean lines and nature; this is where minimalist, contemporary trends come into play. One 1990s-dated home not only lacked these features, but it also had a dysfunctional, compartmentalized layout. The homeowners looked to designer Leslie Dohr of Milwaukee-based Deep River Partners to transform their space with a minimalist and organic style: mid-century modern.
“The house had true 1990s preferences: shiny brass hardware, black marble, red cherry cabinetry and traditional doors and trim,” said Dohr. “We needed to reorganize the rooms and replace the finishes to achieve the mid-century modern design intent.”
Restructuring the Bathroom
The existing bathroom needed flow and a focal point, and its outdated fixtures cried out for an update.
“[My clients] wanted to update the finishes and plumbing, as you might expect with any bathroom remodel, but they also wanted us to explore how the function of the individual spaces could be modified,” said Dohr.
Using AutoCAD, the design team planned three grooming areas: one each for the husband and wife, as well as a separate makeup area with seating. In a room with several corners and angles, the his-and-hers vanities on opposite walls form the sides of a triangle. The end of the triangle is the new focal point in the bathroom: a freestanding tub surrounded by windows and underneath an eye-catching ceiling design.
“One of the biggest challenges was the ceiling,” said Dohr, explaining that the original had odd angles, did not support the interior design and was unusually high. “Our solution was to soften the angles with a curved soffit placed centrally over a new freestanding tub. This provides a visual lift to the entire space.”
Color and Material Solutions
With the layout in place, the design team set out to incorporate the mid-century modern style the homeowners wanted. Since simplicity and natural materials characterize this look, Dohr started with a limited color palette of white, gray and pale blues and greens.
The shower features classic white subway tile in a stack bond pattern – or lined one on top of the other – for a contemporary feel. While the vanity cabinets are also white, an accent glass tile in blue and green covers the entire wall behind them. The gray-toned porcelain tile flooring continues from the main bathroom space onto the shower floor.
“We wanted the tile to flow from one area to the next to reinforce a sense of openness and focus attention to the center of the room where the tub is,” said Dohr.
The floating vanities enhance the airy look in the room and are topped with marble countertops. Natural fiber window treatments add softness and another organic touch to the design.
The original kitchen had even more layout issues than the bath. There was no eat-in area, the lighting was poor, and the cabinets did not accommodate the space effectively since they stopped two inches short of the ceiling. In addition, the cabinetry was bordering on a pale pink tone.
“The clients wanted a more functional use of space – primarily by having an island to accommodate a variety of needs,” said Dohr. “They also wanted to update all finishes, appliances and lighting.”
Once the kitchen was gutted, the design team designed an island that would accommodate both prep work and dining. This L-shaped unit distinguishes each area with different materials: white gloss cabinetry and white quartz countertops on the prep end, and contrasting rift-cut oak cabinetry and dark quartz countertops on the dining side.
“The combination of high-gloss white cabinets and custom oak cabinets were a nice balance to each other and kept the space from feeling too cold,” said the designer.
After the island was redesigned, the next step was bringing in the mid-century modern look. The kitchen uses a simple color palette of white, gray and tan, and the geometric light fixtures are true to the design period. Strong horizontal details such as door and cabinet hardware highlight the style’s clean lines, and natural fiber textiles were used for the bar stools and the window treatments.
Finally, Dohr designed the main lighting above the island to come from behind a “floating” ceiling panel above the island. There are also three pendants to add further interest.
“This not only helped create intimacy over the island, but the ambient light effect was a very effective and unobtrusive way to indirectly light the kitchen,” she said.
Designer: Leslie Dohr, Deep River Partners
Photographer: Tricia Shay
Bathtub: Hydro Systems
Tub Faucet: Hansgrohe
Convection Steam Oven: Wolf
Range Hood: Vent-A-Hood
Sink: Artisan Manufacturing
Sink Faucet: Hansgrohe