April 27, 2016

The Details of Designing a Luxury Master Bath

Designing a luxury master bath requires a great amount of planning beforehand. Though it may not be the largest area per square foot in your home, it requires more decisions and planning than you can possibly imagine. In fact, I recently received a phone call from a woman in Bronxville who was worried about her current master bath renovation for just that reason.

After listening to her concerns, and knowing that this was an old Tudor, I knew that there were limitations to her design. In these style homes, more often than not, the existing space has not been built as efficiently as it could have been in the first place. I learned that the homeowner had worked with a local architect to design an addition off of the master bedroom, but while the architect succeeded in designing the space, he left all interior decisions for a specialist to design. This client, innocently not knowing, went ahead with the construction without all of the details worked out — and froze when the builder began to bombard her with so many specific questions. It was around this time that I received the phone call — and of course, stepped in to help handle the logistics and fine details of her new, luxury bathroom.

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A beautiful freestanding tub placed to overlook the garden.


Using symmetry, a beautiful, free-standing tub and a window which overlooked a blooming garden of perennials, lilac trees and cherry trees, the focal point of the space finally came together. A free standing hot and cold water tub filler was selected in a chrome finish. Chrome or nickel was typically used in the early 20th century, and for this project chrome was the perfect choice due to the hard water. Flanking the tub left and right would be a water closet as well as a shower. I find that framed walls can take up a lot of space in a bathroom, so I often design the space with walls of etched glass instead. They are easy to clean, allow light to stream in, and give these areas their own privacy. Since the etched glass goes all the way to the entablature, a transom can be added for ventilation. A steam shower with aromatherapy is a gem when designing a luxury master bath like this!

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Etched glass rather than framed walls saves space and allows for ventilation with a transom.
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Etched glass shower door in a client’s luxury master bath.

The architectural elements of a space can carry through in many different ways, and as a professional, it is my job to help my clients use these elements properly. I find that architecturally, I can create great storage by creating a paneled jamb at the entry into the bath from the master bedroom. Remember — shallow storage is best, and this option gives floor to ceiling storage. I find it’s best to position the vanity on axis to a focal point. In this particular case the vanity was centered opposite the tub, with the entry to the bath on the right and matching doors set back on the left for towel and accessory storage. It’s important to consider the exact locations of all plumbing fixtures first, select them ahead of time and document it so the plumber know where they go.

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Considering the placement of the plumbing fixtures is key.

Where budget allows, solid stone for wall and floor material is truly elegant, and when honed properly, slippage on the floor is not an issue. The less grout in a bathroom the better! Don’t miss a heated floor as well — a must in a remodeled master bath. If space allows, a heated towel bar or a warming drawer built into a vanity works beautifully.

With the help of a professional and your good taste, a luxury master bath can be designed for enjoyment for many years to come, and also add equity to your home. This is an excellent investment if done right.

Thank you,