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The Resplendent Bathroom

What do you do with an eighties-style bathroom?  Jodi was finding that her bathroom felt cramped, outdated, and inefficiently designed.  Ready to create a new setting for starting and ending each day, she wanted the bathroom to feel modern and zen–a space for cleansing her body, mind, and spirit.  

Key features:

  • Rain shower custom-fit into the skylight
  • Ambient light, rich hues and textures
  • Custom-built walnut vanity, linen closet, and mirrors
  • Artisan-made ceramic planters in the shower
  • Shower tiles that resemble wood

Rain Shower

The original space had a large corner bathtub that Jodi never used.  She was excited by the possibility of an extraordinary shower experience, so we removed the tub and built a large rain shower under the existing skylight to create the illusion of water falling from the sky above.

To bring interest to an otherwise large and vacant surface, we added custom concrete shelves to the shower wall.  The shelves also provide additional areas for bathing products, candles, or decor.  Their flowing contours keep sharp edges out of the shower while helping to break up the strong linear lines throughout.

Working with a ceramic artisan, we made custom wall-mounted ceramic planters to bring some living elements into the light-filled space. Designed to hold just the right amount of water, these planters can be watered sporadically without the worry of over- or under-watering. A hidden overflow hole at the bottom front edge keeps drips off the walls.

Challenge: It would be easy for steam to get trapped inside the fixed skylight well, especially during the cold winter months experienced in the Upper Midwest.

Solution: We installed a custom ventilation system to draw air from the top of the skylight and vent it to the exterior of the house.


Jodi wanted the shower to have a rich organic feel to it, so we chose tiles that resemble wood without having the maintenance issues of real wood.  The tiles bring warmth and softness to the space.  We used 2×4-foot large-format concrete tiles.  We had to plan the tile layout carefully so we could maintain visual continuity and the impression of real wood.  All tile corners were mitered by hand to help create the cleanest look and to maintain consistent grout lines.

For the floor of the shower, we laid down slender slat-like tiles designed to look like a Tatami mat.  We placed them carefully to make it look like no two tiles were alike.  

Challenge: Setting up the tiles was a big challenge, with a significant tile plan and large-format tiles throughout the space.  The larger a tile is, the less forgiving it is, so we had to work carefully.

Solution: Lots of patience and skill. We ensured that the walls, floors, and ceilings planed out well and were plumb and level before even beginning to lay the tile.

Elegant Details

  • We added touches of warmth and elegance throughout the room with a custom-built walnut vanity, linen closet, niche, and mirrors. A built-in hamper and accessory drawers in the linen cabinet make great use of the tight area created by the fixed toilet location. 
  • Gorgeous cascading balls of light provide points of illumination along the vanity wall and mirror.
  • A motion sensor activates a low-output light under the cabinet and in the decorative niches as you enter the bathroom. This feature was added to make midnight bathroom runs a pleasant and perfectly Illuminated experience.

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