Inspiring Nirvana

Attractive slate-grey porcelain tile with contemporary fixtures, a recessed shelf,
Photograph provided by Washa Remodeling & Design

We spend one-third of our day in the bedroom, so investing in a bed makes sense. The living room, den, or rec room gets similar treatment with furniture and entertainment expenses. But the bathroom is often about practicality. Functional sink? Check. Toilet? Check. Shower? Check. In and out, with the exception of getting away from the kids until your feet fall asleep from prolonged toilet cowering. But when the team at Washa Remodeling took on an en suite master bathroom, they set their sights on creating a spa experience that the homeowners look forward to.

The homeowner’s built their house over 25 years ago, so they already had something that fit their vision. But it was time to bring everything into the 21st century. Project manager Nick Siglinsky of Washa Remodeling says of the master bathroom there was “a lot of 1990s tile, dark wood cabinets, that kind of thing. They were looking to freshen it up.” Maybe it was the age of grunge music that brought on the espresso color palette, or a Raymond Babbitt-esque (Rain Man) appreciation for uniformity that insisted every corner be starkly framed. Whatever the case, the result of the remodel changed the look and toned down the accents.

Of course, there are limits to what you can do governed by structure and utility routes. To best visualize the space, imagine a 20 by 30-foot rectangle with a double shower in its center. Cut the rectangle diagonally so you’re left with a smaller triangle and a larger five-sided space. The smaller side is an L-shaped wood-floored hallway with access to the master bathroom at either end. In the bathroom, you’ll find the shower doors, double vanity, bathtub, and access to a deck with a view of some nice greenery.

Nick says, “Taking what we know about trends and bathrooms, we offered some design aspects about what we can change in the layout. We ended up flipping the tub around so it was up against the window, allowing more natural light to come in. We changed the shower. The shower was originally an octagon shape in the center of the room. It was very large and obtrusive—didn’t really flow well with the feel of the bathroom. We put a neo-angle glass door on it so that it created some sharp angles and sharp contrasts that made it a feature in the bathroom.”

That’s the big picture. As for the new look, the shower itself had some white inch-by-inch 90s-high-school-gym-looking tiles updated to a larger, much more attractive slate-grey porcelain tile with contemporary fixtures and a recessed shelf for shampoos, razors, and shower cocktails. Changing the doors also removed the abundance of chrome framing around each pane. Floor-to-ceiling glass gives the sense the shower is part of the room, rather than a completely separate area.

An elegant soaking tub with a faucet that comes up from the floor replaced the old oversized jacuzzi. Ingeniously, the outside wall was used for “a shampoo niche. It’s a wall-recessed shampoo niche. You find them a lot in showers, but this one is specifically for the soaker tub, so they have someplace to put shampoos, phones, things like that as they’re sitting and relaxing and soaking in the tub.” Next to the tub, the double vanity received a facelift—more drawers, larger cabinets, modern hardware, marble countertop, and cylindrical wall sconces that provide salon-mirror lighting.

All these updates work together thanks to the new tile flooring, which uses a staggered (as opposed to checkered) pattern, removing the feeling of stepping into the movie Tron. But it was also the most time-intensive aspect of the project. “We encountered a couple extra layers of subfloor that we had to rip up, and the tile was laid down with almost a half inch of mortar. We had to chisel up every individual tile with a hand chisel, which was really labor intensive, but without doing that, you don’t have a fresh base to lay down new tile, so you don’t get a good finished product.”

Functionally, it’s still the same, but now the homeowners navigate the space just a bit more naturally—each direction disguised as exploration. The lighting is warmer, and components feel like features. “The design was set when they built the house, and we just took it and flowed it a little better around the room,” leaving behind something seamless, eye catching, and obligatorily practical.

Kyle Jacobson is a copy editor and writer for Home Elements & Concepts.

Photographs provided by Washa Remodeling & Design.

Washa Remodeling & Design
2605 S. Stoughton Road, Suite 300
Madison, WI 53716