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The Great Escape

The bathroom, once considered the most utilitarian of spaces, has become a modern-day oasis.
By Dawn McMullan |

YOU START EACH MORNING THERE, readying yourself for the day. And each evening, you step back in. winding down for the night.

In between, screeching children squirt water from their rubber duckies, dogs slide as they escape from the family tub, and you-when the stars align just right and you have time to escape-light a few candles, put on some Billie Holiday, sink into a vanilla-scented bubble bath, and use this room for its intended purpose.

The bathroom is no longer solely intended to accommodate the necessities of life. Then again, maybe-if you consider relaxation a necessity-it is. But if you think of it only as the room in which you brush your teeth, grab a quick shower, comb your hair, shave, or apply makeup, you’re sadly missing the point.

Bathroom remodeling is big business these days. Perhaps it is because people are spending more lime at home. Families consider their home an oasis, a retreat from the hectic world. So instead of spending the day at the spa, many opt to bring the spa home.

Perhaps it is because bathrooms are personal. While the former owner of your home may have enjoyed his jazzed up shower/steam room, you might be more of a deep, claw-footed tub person. You may want a TV installed in the wall and a telephone by the toilet, while another may want the bathroom to be the setting for do-not-disturb time.

Most people spend between S 10,000 and $20,000 on a bathroom renovation. The good news is that, more than likely, you will get a direct return on your dollar. So consider it a financial and emotional investment.

But where do you start? How do you transform your lifestyle, your taste, your idea of the perfect bathroom into reality?

Before you begin the project, consider the following:

‧ What is your current bathroom lacking? A second sink for your significant other? A vanity to apply makeup? Perhaps you’d like a dressing area within the bathroom.

‧ How many people will be using the bathroom? Is it just for you and your husband or will small children be scurrying around in it, too? This will help determine, among other things, the amount of counter space you need.

‧ Are you a bath or a shower person? Is your idea of the perfect bathtub a free standing tub or a 6-foot Jacuzzi? Does your idea of the perfect shower include body sprays and steam?

‧ How much storage do you need? Do you want just enough room to store the normal bathroom items, such as toiletries, or do you want to incorporate your closet into the space? Are you maximizing the space you have with extra cabinets?

The Taylor family, who runs English Heritage Homes, has supervised some of Dallas’ loveliest home remodeling projects. The England-bom contractors are still amazed at the amount of remodeling Americans do-and the choices available.

“’In England, people don’t remodel to the scale they do in the United States,”says Michael Taylor, who moved to Dallas three years ago to open English Heritage Homes with his wife and son after working in England’s construction business for 30 years. “When they do, they don’t use an interior designer. There simply aren’t the choices of materials, fabrics, fixtures, and ideas. So people generally live with what they have.”

The Taylors encourage homeowners to make use of the choices before them. Marcus Taylor, director of the company, says clients should go with (heir gut instincts.

“We try to encourage clients to get involved in the design process.” he says. “Given the right amount of encouragement, you can normally coax people’s wants and needs out of them by working with them and asking them the right questions. You don’t have to be an interior designer to be involved. If you have an idea, if you go with it and feel good about it, it’s usually a good decision.”

Judy and Stan Woodward obviously listened to their remodeling instincts. The couple and their 5-year-old daughter moved into their North Dallas home in December. The master bathroom, which had been remodeled about 25 years ago, was only a part of the huge renovation of the 45-year-old home. The bathroom was functional but divided up, wasting space. Now, the H)-by-25-foot space is a perfect example of a useful, traditional bathroom with a creative twist.

The Woodwards first planned to use 12-by-12-inch marble tiles on the floor, around the Whirlpool bath and in the shower. But Judy, whose background is in graphic design, had an idea inspired by an outdoor bathroom at a hotel in Bali. She wanted stone. Shiny stone.

“We like things that are different,” she says. “We plan on living here a long time, and we’re in this room every day. We want to enjoy it.”

But their home is a traditional one, making a unique renovation even more difficult: “The challenge was trying to keep up the older theme while bringing something new into the house,” she says.

Cheryl A. Van Duyne, ASID, one of the interior designers who worked on the Woodwards’ master bath, had an idea of what Judy wanted. While working on a project in Vermont, Van Duyne stumbled across the exact stone Judy had envisioned. It’s called chist and is found predominantly in the New England states.

“In Vermont, they use it outside, for walkways and at resorts,” Van Duyne says. “Judy likes different styles so I knew she would love it. If you want to find something different like the Vermont stone, you have to do some research. Find what you like and see if it will work in that environment, considering the moisture of a bathroom. People can do this, it just takes some research and imagination.”

In finding the stone, the Woodwards completed the most difficult aspect of any remodeling project: finding the theme or the concept. Next, they built a room around that concept.

But first, professional stone layers had to install the foundation.

“About halfway through it, Judy wondered if maybe it was a mistake,” says Kim Miner, an interior designer with Park Forest Interiors, who also worked on the project. “When it came, it was so varied in the sizes of the pieces, we weren’t sure how they were going to lay it. She looked at it and kind of went, ’Uh-oh, what have I done? ’ But once it was finished, she loved it.”

The doorless shower is a continuation of the stone floor, complete with a stone seat. The shape of the shower curves so as not to spray water out of its designated area. The shower entrance is framed in stone, broken off around the edges to give a more natural look.

“If you’re going to do the shower out of this beautiful material, you want it to be open, like walking into a waterfall.” Marcus Taylor says.

The rest of the room flows from the stone-a Whirlpool tub surrounded by stone on the sides, ledge, and backsplash; granite countertops with flecks of gold and black; and bronze-khaki wallpaper that gives the illusion of a textured wall.

The Woodwards wanted to incorporate parts of their bedroom-dresser space, a dressing area-into their bathroom. The floor-to-ceiling cabinets hold a built-in ironing board, full-extension drawers, and shoe racks.

Although no one involved had ever seen a bathroom outfitted in Vermont stone, other types of stone are quite popular these days.

“Here, everyone is really getting into stone and granite.” Miner says. “Because Dallas is more centralized, it seems people have more access to different styles, like the Mexican marble, than in other parts of the country.”

Miner. like the Taylors, credits Judy’s creative instincts and gumption to go with stone and granite for the striking end result.

“I think that people should go with their instincts, especially in the master bathroom.” Miner says. “They want to be able to enjoy it. Go through magazines to see what you like. Go to tile stores to see the granite and marble available. It’s great to be able to visualize it.”



GEORGIA HEDRICK HAD NO PROBLEM visualizing her perfect bathroom. The former interior designer spent her professional life designing perfect spaces not only for her clients, but also for herself. She’s remodeled or redecorated every home she’s lived in. but she had never gone modern until she and her husband bought their geometric-shaped house in Highland Park.

Hedrick first considered the master bedroom, bath, and closet areas as one. Two sides of the bedroom/bathroom suite are devoted to open closets which wrap around separate his-and-hers counter areas. The combination bath/shower is like an oasis in the center of the room.

“This area has to be special,” Hedrick says. “This is where you live.”

Indeed, the first thing you notice about the counter space is that the countertops are 3’A-feet tall-a foot taller than the norm-to give the couple more space underneath and less back pain from bending over to use their sinks. The storage area below looks like 16 maple wood drawers which are actually four drawers on top of four cabinets. The height of the counter areas exaggerates the small size of the stainless steel sinks, which are about 12 inches long and 6 inches wide.

Hedrick has enjoyed yoga for years but has never had the proper space for it. So she made sure this bathroom suite had the perfect spot to stretch before exercise and relax during yoga. The suite features a yoga area, complete with three sides of floor-to-ceiling mirrors, a ballet barre, and a cushioned bench for meditation. The dressing area also features three walls of mirrors, the outside two like huge medicine cabinets that pop open to display rows of shoes.

As with everything in this bathroom suite, the bath/shower area is minimally filled for maximum effect. A 6-foot Jacuzzi bath rills the left side of the room while a 6-by-3’/:-foot shower fills the right. To display the natural-colored, rough ceramic tile in the shower, a clear sheet of glass creates the outside wall of the shower, leaving an open doorway at the end. A skylight-which can be opened on sunny days and closes automatically when it rains-fills the open space with natural light, which is highlighted by inset pin spotlights.

To complement the natural tile, which also makes up the bathroom floor, Hedrick chose a Ralph Lauren textured paint, “River Rock,” thai complements the neutral feel of the room with its grayish, beige tones.

The minimale;! bathroom suite, Hedrick says, is exactly what she needs at this stage in her life.

“Your mind gets all jumbled because the world is so busy. There’s so much going on. We’re over 50. The kids are gone. This is our time to relax.”

BATHROOM REMODELING TRENDS

Marble and granite floors

Heating coils underneath marble and granite floors to keep naturally cool surfaces warm (a new feature available for about $4,000)

Neutral colors

Natural textures

Custom showers with multiple shower heads, body sprays, and steam

Glass shower doors to show off the shower surface

Shower fixtures that keep the water at your designated temperature

Natural lighting and/or plenty of recessed lighting

Countertops of varying heights, depending on their use

Pewter and satin nickel finishes on fixtures

Antique or antique replica furniture as vanities (for powder baths)

Framed mirrors that hang on the wall as opposed to permanent ones

Ceramic sink bowls that look more like unique serving bowls than sinks {for powder baths)

Elongated, oval-shaped, one-piece toilets

Humidity sensors and air conditioning vents

“Suite-like” bathrooms which Incorporate the closet/dressing area Into the bathroom and provide easy access to storage space.

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