Home Makeover – Feb 2011



When it comes to making a small space work, it’s all in the details

Four-sided shapes can be found throughout the bathroom  from the custom Interior Solutions cabinetry to the Kohler WaterTile square 54-nozzle showerhead. The linear look makes the space feel contemporary and organized.
When Teresa Cain, principal of Interior Solutions Design Group, decided that the time had come to update the guest bathroom in her home, she had just one item on her wish list: metallic-brown porcelain floor tiles.


“They’re glamorous, with a bit of a sparkle through them,” said Cain, who asked a consultant within her own West Vancouver firm, Tiffany Karlson, to help complete the transformation. “Other than that, I wasn’t tied to a particular vision for the room, other than to make sure it had lots of storage and a unique, modern look.”


First, she and Karlson opted to reposition the door and shower and widen the existing window. Then they painted the ceiling, covered the walls with light-coloured, easy-to-clean porcelain and laid Cain’s 12-by-24-inch square tiles across the heated floor.


In fact, square and rectangular shapes can be found throughout the bathroom from the crystal Schonbek pendant lights hanging above the vanity to the unique Kohler WaterTile square 54-nozzle showerhead. Karlson says that this linear look makes the space feel more contemporary and organized.


Left: The crystal Schonbek pendant lights above the vanity pick up the sparkle in the metallic-brown floor tile.
Right: The designers chose a shallow depth “hatbox” toilet from Kohler to save space and keep with the room’s square-shaped theme.

The bathroom, before,was tired, dated and needed a makeover.
 “The white shower tiles even have horizontal lines running through them, like Japanese tatami mats, as does the grain in the natural maple wood cabinets, she explained. It’s the subtle nuances that you don’t recognize right away that set a certain mood.”


The same sort of attention to detail helped the two designers squeeze as much use as possible from the small, five-by-eight-foot space. For example, they replaced the toilet with a compact, rectangular “hatbox” model from Kohler (which, besides being comfortable, makes a great conversation piece) and carefully chose and installed open shelving next to it for paper and towels.


“Had we not gone with the shelves this would have been wasted space, since it is too close to the toilet for traditional under-counter cabinets with doors that need room to swing open and shut,” said Karlson. “Instead of a tiny vanity that didn’t extend to the wall, we came up with this solution, which gives us more storage but is pretty to look at as well.”


The remainder of the custom-made Interior Solutions vanity includes a Kohler sink and faucet, with ample drawers below, a granite countertop and a ceramic backsplash that picks up the metallic in the floor tiles. An upper cabinet on the wall adjacent to the frameless, polished-edge mirror is, according to Cain, unusual for a bathroom, but perfect for hiding nail polish, extra bars of soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, all the things you need to reach for daily but don’t want cluttering your counter.


Another unusual concept that helps maximize the space: a door-less shower. Some people really splash around in the shower, but [a door] is not an absolute must, Cain explained, adding that the stall’s frameless glass wall ends where the water hits your body, eliminating the need for a swinging door. Showering without getting the room soaked is a learned behaviour; it’s really not a problem at all.


The shower floor has smaller, square versions of Cain’s metallic-brown tiles, and its step is a solid extension of the vanity’s countertop. Both details create the illusion of a larger space.


And though it includes a bench for seating, the shower is purposely void of storage. “I didn’t want any of the shelves or soap dishes you normally see in showers, which tend to get very cluttered and somewhat messy looking,” said Cain. “I just wanted to keep it really clean and open.”


Rather, she and Karlson ensured that there was plenty of room to store things in other areas of the bathroom.


“It’s a small bathroom but it has everything in it: adequate storage with lots of leftover space, plus everything is clean, contemporary and luxurious,” said Cain. “It looks and functions exactly the way I wanted it to.”


Benjamin Moore & Co., www.benjaminmoore.com
Interior Solutions Design Group,
Kohler Canada, www.kohler.ca, 800-4KOHLER
Schonbek Worldwide Lighting Inc.,
After photos: Randal Kurt Photography

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