An interior designer renovates her own five bathrooms

The sleek master bathroom of Margery Thomas Mueller in Alton draws inspiration from the work of French interior designer Philippe Starck. A piece of salt-glazed stoneware and thoughtfully designed storage amenities from Robern— including lifting, mirrored medicine cabinets and deep vanity cabinetry with soft closed drawers—make this space both unique and practical.

Accommodating a client’s needs while fashionably optimizing his/her living space to make him/her most happy is a guiding motivation for any interior designer. But what happens when a designer is his/her own client? How does a designer’s skill and personality shine in his/her own home? Designer and artist Margery Thomas Mueller faced such a situation when she revamped some of the spaces in her Alton home. 

The Mueller residence—built by her husband Bob in 1990—now provides all the comforts of home with its stunning lakeside views and stylish rooms decorated with an eclectic mix of art and books. However, many of its rooms and fixtures were in need of an update. “I wanted to give each space a more appropriate style and quality,” Mueller says. Refurbishing five bathrooms—a master bath, a powder room and three guest bathrooms—was a major part of this renovation.

interior designer margery thomas mueller's master bathroom

Mueller stands in her master bathroom with Roxie, her Labradoodle.

The master

The master bath is the most contemporary in look and the renovation’s greatest transformation. “The original bathroom was outdated and a lot larger. It had a sunken tub, coral marble and lots of unused space,” Mueller explains. “I wanted the new bathroom to have up-to-date fixtures, and to be a calm environment.”

A new layout for the space, presented by architect Michael Goldman, of Michael Goldman Architect in New York, minimized the room’s proportions as well as allowed space for a linen closet and another closet within the master bedroom. From here, Mueller drew inspiration from the work of French interior designer Philippe Starck, whose fantastical and chic interiors made a lasting impression on her and her husband while staying at a Starck-designed SLS Hotel in California. “Seeing that fabulous hotel’s bathroom space motivated me to reinterpret it for my own bathroom.”

Starck’s sleek ambience is emulated, but Mueller’s bathroom differs in terms of materials, lighting and functionality. “Starck’s designs are more concerned with atmosphere than practicality. The hotel bathroom was dimly lit, and used black mirrored glass and dark marble,” Mueller says. “I wanted to have more light, so I used straight mirrors and hanging light fixtures.” The polish of the mirrors not only introduces a stunning reflective quality to the room but also renders a striking contrast to the room’s dark slate tiles.

For functionality, Robern vanities and medicine cabinets with hidden areas for storage were installed. These amenities offer a stylish, yet practical way to store items and keep the vanity countertops clean.

guest bathroom of interior designer Margery Thomas Mueller
Penny tile flooring provides a striking texture, while Mueller’s cup and saucer collection on top of the wainscoting adds a delicate touch.

Other bathrooms

The other four bathrooms are a different sucess story. Mueller credits her contractor Peter Oddi, of Advantage Construction & Painting Contractors, LLC, in Farmington, and having all the tile and fixtures on-site for the project’s quick finish (these four bathrooms were renovated in the span of five weeks).

Departing from the sleek look of the master bath, Mueller says. “I wanted the other bathrooms to have a simple look and to feel open, clean and convenient for guests in terms of space and storage.”

Creating a sense of scale in each bathroom was equally important. To introduce proportion, Mueller painted each bathroom ceiling the same color as its walls. She also incorporated architectural details and downsized certain bathing amenities. For instance, the powder room—once with an oversized vanity—achieves comfortable proportions with a chair rail, two-toned paint and a smaller vanity topped with Carrara marble.

Each full guest bathroom has white beadboard paneling; yet details make each room distinct. The paint color of the downstairs full bath—Gray Sky by Benjamin Moore—is fresh and airy; the space is decorated with Mueller’s cup and saucer collection, and penny tile flooring introduces a stunning and eye-catching texture.

Upstairs, another full bath has white shower tiles, large floor tiles and beadboard paneling—all rectangular in shape. A third full bath is painted in a lovely purple hue; a shower curtain perfectly complements this color and adds a charming floral pattern. The room’s bookshelf enclosure—next to the room’s toilet—provides privacy and a great place to read. On top of the bookshelf, an antique balustrade—an unexpected, yet beautiful detail—serves as a piece of sculpture.

Overall, the five bathrooms are a testament to Mueller’s eclectic style, her attention to functionality, and her discerning eye for memorable and unique details.


What makes these bathrooms beautiful

  • Robern medicine cabinets and vanities in master bathroom
  • Toilets from Toto
  • Fixtures in powder room from Newport Brass
  • Lighting in powder room from Restoration Hardware
  • Tiles in all bathrooms from Ann Sacks Tile and Stone
  • Paint by Benjamin Moore
    downstairs full bath painted in Gray Sky; upstairs full bath with book enclosure painted in Stone; and other upstairs full bath painted in Pale Oak
  • Plumbing and bathing supply purchases were supervised by Molly Becker Lemle, design center manager of Torrco

Penny tile flooring provides a striking texture, while Mueller’s cup and saucer collection on top of the wainscoting adds a delicate touch.

In another full bath upstairs, a vanity with double sinks provides plenty of room for guests.

Two-toned paint and a chair rail give the powder room a sense of proportion.

Beadboard paneling and rectangular floor and shower tiles give the upstairs guest bath a unified and clean look.
Categories: Bathroom Designs