Home Inner Sanctum

The luxury baths of the Nineties are places that cleanse the soul.

A BATHROOM IS, UNDOUBTEDLY, THE most personal room in the house. It’s our retreat, a place to rejuvenate our bodies and refresh our spirits. Designing your own bathroom requires a clear look at what features beyond the functional provide the feel of sanctuary.

A few years back, says designer Allen Fields, clients wanted gadgets and “a Hollywood vision of luxury… Now people are thinking more about their own experience, what works for them.”

For Shelly Musselman, luxury means space. “The one thing I really wanted when I designed my own bath was enough room. The kids are always in here. I tell them, ’Just go on, ask the neighbors over, let’s all get in the bath-room.1 ” Her bath cum dressing room is certainly large enough for company now. Marble steps lead up to the deep Kohler whirlpool tub, faced by three big windows and a marble splash; the dressing room holds a huge pier glass, marble vanity, and flounced chaise longue. A trellis and pink-flowering vine design painted by artist Karen Linder adorns the area, which adjoins the master bedroom.

Keith Clements, owner of Vertu, a high-design specialty shop, wanted a modern but airy look for his Lakewood bath retreat. Clements brought in a six-foot salt-and-pepper granite vanity counter and an oversized, two-person tub from TKO, sinking it halfway into the black slate floor. Faucets and hardware are from Vola, in the Museum of Modern Art Collection. The design’s sleekness is offset by the serenity of the very private patio garden, visible through glass doors.

Artist Stu Kraft and his wife Joyce wanted to enlarge the tiny bathroom in their peaceful Cockrell Hill cottage but do so in a way that protected the period feel of the home, built in 1917. “It’s relaxing to me to have things look as if they’d always been there,” says Joyce, who found a cast-iron water closet, circa 1908, an enormous 1890s sitz bath from a Mississippi plantation, and etched Art Nou-veau glass window panels. The room’s showpiece is a seven-foot-long, footed tub originally from the Earl of Airedale’s house in Scotland.

For Dave Rolston and Julie Cohn, pampering had more to do with atmosphere than fixtures in their East Dallas home’s bath. By walling over a window, knocking out and vaulting the ceiling, the small room was made extremely vertical; natural light comes through the skylight above. Julie, an artist and co-owner of Two Women Boxing, a line of handmade books and stationery, painted the walls’ rough finish a warm antique pink. Inspired by a Balthus drawing, she rubbed the walls with chalk and oil, and painted on small gold scrolls and sunbursts. The pink woodwork is also washed with gold; in the afternoon light, the room glows. The whole effect is spiritual-and luxurious.

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