From the time she moved into her Media farmhouse, Joanne Swayze knew she’d one day renovate the master bathroom. After all, the space lacked personality and style, with its bland cabinetry and finishes. But when it came to remodeling projects, the family room, dining room and nursery took precedence.
Then, after almost seven years, the time finally came to transform the master bath. Swayze enlisted the help of Wayne interior designer Lisa Furey, who’d worked on several other rooms in her home. The space had to be gutted to accommodate the updates, including a skylight, a jetted sunken tub (below) and an oversized steam shower. Soothing neutrals, glazed cream Gobel cabinetry topped with striking dark-brown Emperador marble, creamy-beige faux paint, matching porcelain tile resembling limestone, and the browns and creams used on the floor and shower walls lend the room a Zen-like feel.
“I absolutely love my bathroom now,” says Swayze. “It’s gorgeous—and exactly how I always wanted it to look.”
Over the past few years, Furey has seen many homeowners lavish more attention on their master bathrooms. “People are looking at them as more of a sanctuary—an area for relaxation,” she says.
Many strive to re-create the luxurious surroundings they’ve experienced at top-rated spas and hotels around the world. And there are plenty of amenities available for every indulgence, though most require a generous amount of space—to the point where some clients even request smaller master bedrooms. “I haven’t had anyone yet ask me to make the master bathroom smaller,” says Ron Trull of Trull Building in Newtown Square. “The bigger the room, the better.”
While his-and-her master baths are still seen, one space is far more common, outfitted with amenities like separate vanities, sinks and mirrors, personalized storage, an enclosed toilet room, and dual showerheads. Fixtures can also be customized to accommodate two users. In the end, the main objective is achieving the utmost comfort for each user.
Showers in the Forecast
“The bigger the shower—with all the more sprays and showerheads—the better,” says Sara Brandon, manager of outside builder sales at Ferguson Enterprises in King of Prussia. “We call it the car-wash shower.”
Not everyone has the time to sit in a whirlpool tub, so people want their daily shower to rejuvenate them. A top seller at Ferguson is the Kohler Performance Shower (left), which offers a variety of custom components, including multiple showerheads, hand showers and body sprays. With the push of a button, choose a pre-set hydrotherapy experience—or opt for your favorite showering preference.
Another sleek addition is Kohler water tiles, which actually spray the body. Nearly flush to the surface, they can be used on the wall or ceiling. And a frameless glass exterior makes your shower a true showplace. “All you see is the hinges and the handle for the door,” says Trull. “It’s an attractive look.”
Or, if the room is large enough, forego the glass surround completely and choose an open shower—though you have to be willing to surrender your privacy.
In today’s bathrooms, the shower and the tub are typically separate entities. For years, the whirlpool has been a staple in master bathrooms, but air tubs are gaining in popularity. Unlike jetted models, they don’t re-circulate water, blowing air through holes in the bottom of the bath, which is more sanitary. Along with massage features, jetted tubs from Kohler and Bain Ultra have a chromatherapy option that illuminates the bath with color to enhance one’s mood.
From classic claw feet to modern concrete oval models, freestanding soaking tubs can be showcased like pieces of art. If you really want to make a statement, invest in the Clothilde Freestanding Tub from Waterworks, with its striking, shiny copper exterior and a tin interior. Such aesthetic extravagance comes with a hefty price tag—$39,905, to be exact.
No matter what you choose, any tub should be situated near a window for a view of the outdoors. A plasma television has also become an increasingly common request. In fact, countless splash-proof electronics have been integrated into modern bathrooms. A popular option is the Seura television mirror, with its 13-inch LCD screen. When the TV is off, you see only a mirror. Perfect for multitaskers.
With its lavish Neorest model, Toto proves that not all toilets are created equal. It’s equipped with a host of bells and whistles, including a gentle front-and-back aerated spray, an oscillating spray massage, a heated seat, an automatic deodorizer, and warm drying.
When you approach the Neorest, the lid automatically opens. Stand there long enough, and the seat rises, too. Once you walk away, it flushes and the lid closes.
“Water efficiency is huge right now in bathrooms,” says Trull. “People especially want toilets that conserve water.”
A dual-flush toilet is the answer. You can even choose between two flush types.
Some homeowners are making room in the master bath for small kitchen areas with refrigerated drawers for beverages and snacks. The drawers are faced with panels that match the cabinetry, so no one is the wiser. Other extras include coffee bars, mini laundry rooms, heated towel racks (for that fresh-from-the-dryer feel), and floors that automatically heat up in the morning and evening.
As for fixtures, polished nickel and chrome are among the most common choices these days. “Oil-rubbed bronze and brushed nickel aren’t as popular anymore,” says Brandon. “People want a clean, crisp look.”
Task lighting is also key—for things like putting on makeup and shaving. And layered lighting is still big.
“There’s overall lighting in the room and then accent lighting,” says Furey.
Builder: Trull Building Company, Ron Trull, 4677 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square; (610) 325-9515, trullbuilding.com
Interior Designer: Lisa Furey Interiors, Lisa Furey, Wayne, (610) 688-4201, lisafurey.com
Bath and Lighting Products: Ferguson Enterprises, Sara Brandon, 302 Hansen Access Road, King of Prussia; (610) 337-8856, ferguson.com
Top Bathroom Styles
Asian Soothing, restful and all about balance, with natural elements like bamboo faucets and Japanese soaking tubs. Some even have private garden areas. “The design is minimalist,” says interior designer Lisa Furey.
Natural A perfect option for the eco-conscious, featuring sinks and even bathtubs made of teak and other woods. Or choose a beautiful soaking tub carved from a single stone. All-natural cork is a popular option for flooring, and organic towels and linens are a must.
Sleek Smooth, shiny surfaces and fixtures dominate, with lacquered cabinets hung from the wall so it looks as if they’re floating above the floor. Unique geometric faucets in polished chrome, and art-glass sinks and basins also have a place. “The oversized glass walk-in shower is [often] the focal point of the room,” says Furey.
Opulent Key elements include marble or granite floors and counters, silk drapes, and Oriental rugs. Tubs are adorned with columns, and fireplaces are a frequent focal point. If the room is large enough, a sitting area is also an option, and ceilings tend to be vaulted or tray, perhaps even with a fancy chandelier (above). Soft brushed-gold faucets and cut crystal are also necessities. “A freestanding tub on claw feet is popular [with this style],” says Furey.