A look at some beautiful bathrooms

Designers offer tips to put the fun into “functional” for these rooms.



This expansive master bath in Windham was completed for homeowners who wanted a “spa-like and low-maintenance” retreat, says Diane Dubberly of Artistic Tile LLC, who worked on the project.

The bathroom may not be the largest room in the house, but designing one with flair calls for attention
to detail.  

 “How many people are going to use the bathroom? Two in a master bath? Two or more children in a hallway bath?” asks Alice Williams, owner of Alice Williams Interiors in Hanover. “We need to plan the room to meet the needs of the family. It’s such an important room that is most often used by more than one person at the same time. We plan from that starting point to make sure the room functions and then add the finishes.”

In fact, says Linda Cloutier of Linda Cloutier Kitchens & Baths, planning a bathroom can be just as challenging as planning a kitchen. “Start by looking at the location of the plumbing,” she advises. “That’s my first question: Are you happy with the layout of the room—where the sink is, where the toilet is, where the back of the shower is.” Once the basics are in place, “the fun begins,” Cloutier says.

In the master

When the day is done, though, everyone needs some relaxation—and for clients of Diane Dubberly, owner of Artistic Tile LLC, in Nashua, there were big plans. Rachelle and Mark (who prefer not to use their last name) had that quality at the top of their list.

“Rachelle and Mark really wanted their master bath to be spa-like and low maintenance,” Dubberly says. “We accomplished both of those goals with the room’s clean lines and light atmosphere.”

The large master bath features porcelain with a marble surround on a curved tub, a spacious steam room and a fire bowl behind the tub.

Rachelle and Mark’s master bath opens into a space that makes the word “closet” blush. This spacious room is home to the couple’s wardrobe and, thanks to the proximity to the bathroom, makes getting dressed easier.

“If you can integrate the master bathroom and the closet, that’s fabulous,” Williams says. “It’s an easy way to live: the bathroom, your clothes and your toothbrush are all close to each other, saving time in the morning.”

Don’t have the space for an in-home luxury spa? That’s OK, say bathroom designers. Small master bathrooms can deliver function without sacrificing beauty.

When space is limited, designers suggest taking a hard look at the necessary items.

Photo by John W. Hession

No tub doesn’t mean there’s no space for relaxation. Standing showers, such as this one with tile from Artistic Tile in Nashua, can offer a variety of options.

“Recently, more people are quickly willing to let go of the tub in the master,” Williams says. “As long as there is a tub somewhere in the house (like in the kids’ bath), freeing up this space often offers room for two sinks and a beautiful standing shower.”

Those standing showers can be retreats in themselves. With a variety of shower heads (rain shower, on-wall, hand-held with a hose), seating areas, steam jets, lighting and even sound options, getting out of the shower might be harder than getting out of bed.

For the family and guests

While the master bath is generally the largest, there are plenty of ways to make others feel right at home with a gorgeous bathroom.

For example, Mark and Rachelle’s guests are treated to their own suite, complete with a modest bathroom carefully designed and tiled in a 1950s manner with a modern twist. “We combined a retro look with today’s tile,” Dubberly says. “The speckles in the tub deck help give the room the feeling Rachelle was looking for.”

In all cases, designers recommend paying special attention to providing ample storage.

“If we’re working with a small space,” Cloutier says, “I try to design some drawers into the vanity. Today’s cabinet manufactures have a lot of options. It’s up to us as designers to put the pieces together to fit the needs of our clients.”

Other space-saving tricks include moving the linen closet to a hallway, rolling towels instead of folding them, using the wall behind the toilet for storage, and using a “tower” cabinet on top of a countertop, which acts like an appliance garage in the kitchen. “You can store so much in these,” Cloutier says. “You can put outlets in there and keep the hair dryer there. They’re great for cosmetics and toothpaste storage—they keep these items all out of sight, freeing up space around the sink.”

Photo by John W. Hession

The key to a well-functioning bathroom is to understand how it will be used and what the family needs. This master bath—designed by David Ely of Windy Hill Associate in New Boston—is north-facing, which plays to the homeowners' preferences for cooler morning air.

The powder room

Typically consisting of just two fixtures (a sink and a toilet) and often in the interior of a home (without any windows), powder rooms offer a chance to be “a little bit different, a little bit unexpected,” says Cheryl Tufts, the owner of 3W design inc. and who designed two powder rooms for New Hampshire’s executive residence, the Bridges House in Concord.

“You can have a lot of fun with a powder room,” Tufts says. “You can do something different with the walls or the vanity itself. You can have a fun mirror or lighting. Or hang a great piece of art. Or use wallpaper or decorative painting. Bathrooms have products in them—toothpaste, cosmetics, hair dryers—that need storage. But powder rooms have a minimized use, and all you really need to store is some hand soap and toilet paper. So you want to have décor in there that pops and makes the room special.”

Bringing in style

For all bathrooms, color is an important choice. “In the bathroom, I think there are certain colors to be careful choosing,” Williams says. “Some greens, for example, make you look like you have the flu. The room’s colors are reflected on your skin in the mirror. Neutral and soft colors reflect back on your skin in an advantageous way.”

The other advantage of a neutral palate, Cloutier says, is that it’s easy to change the color of your towels down the road.

Lisa Muskat of LKM Design used the same violet onyx countertop that’s in this home’s kitchen and dining room in the powder room.

Next, Williams recommends spending some time choosing the right faucet. “These can be such a design element in the room,” she says. “Most popular are a satin nickel or satin chrome finishes. And what’s great is that you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money for an interesting style. American Standard and Kohler make affordable faucets.”

Once the faucet is chosen, it’s time to decide what will hold it. “I’ve been seeing a lot of dark vanities—a dark maple or a deep dark chocolate brown,” Cloutier says. “These have a feel of being more like a piece of furniture, and they look fabulous with a lighter tile and a granite countertop.”

Don’t forget about the accent pieces. “People are excited about adding design to the room through lighting,” Williams says. “In a master bath, I’ve put in several great chandeliers. These and vanity sconces add a lot of style in bathrooms.

“Plus, people are willing to com-mit to color and design through tile by adding it to the walls of the bathroom—not just the shower,” Williams continues.

The results are beautiful bathrooms throughout the house—and for good reason: “No one wants to do their grooming in an unattractive room,” Williams says. So get your day off to a beautiful—and functional—start! 

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