I Design, You Decide – The Master Bathroom
Today is the day, and oh my gosh am I ready. It’s like I’ve been playing bingo for months and I have B. I. N. G. and the host keeps pulling the ball out but just holds it and says nothing…for what feels like an eternity. I want to scream with joy that I can finally share this post with you. The master bath is down to two design plans that Brian and I are BOTH EQUALLY happy with. You read that right. We don’t care which one you choose, because we both really, really like them (although we KNOW what you will choose). But wait, before going into that, I have a BIG announcement…I’m happy to finally tell you that I’m working with Kohler as a spokesperson for 2018 – turns out that being a fan of their products and generally charming (plus the bonus that they like my work, too!) makes for a really great partnership. I’ll be using their product in both renovations (Portland and Mountain) showing a variety of styles, finishes and a lot of new product that you have NEVER SEEN BEFORE, including some ‘intelligent’ features that are going to blow you away. More on that below, but a big thank you to Kohler for partnering with me on these bathrooms…now I just need Kohler, Brian and all 5 million of you to like what I’ve put together. NO (water) PRESSURE.
I’m OBSESSED with this bathroom. As someone who has previously never had a ‘master’ bathroom, who doesn’t have time to go to the spa (super sad story, I know), has a demanding career and two little kids who are pretty much the best human beings on the planet but who drain me (have the bathroom puns started already?) I’m DYING for this spa bathroom. So when Kohler expressed a desire to show off a lot of their spa and intelligent features, I could have cried. Yes, I will do that for you, Kohler.
Let’s revisit the space.
As you may or may not remember, the ‘master bedroom’ was long and windowless, so that is becoming the kids/bunk room and we are stealing from it to create a proper master bathroom suite.
The new master is a combination of the old jacuzzi room, the old powder room and some of the old master (the new bunk room).
The suite will be amazing, one day. But there are a lot of things that need to change first.
It may be hard to visualize and honestly, it was such a confusing space to even be inside.
Since we are working with Kohler on this, we spent a lot of time at their showroom testing out all the product – literally sitting in the tubs. The new Kohler Experience Center in LA is legitimately BEAUTIFUL and lets you actually experience the pieces in every way, making bathroom design SO much easier. I didn’t personally take a bath, but I did put my hand under the ‘Real Rain’ shower head and immediately was convinced I needed it (it feels like warm rain on you and it’s magical). We chose to make the bathrooms as ‘intelligent’ as possible, which is a big leap for us. I’m secretly intimidated by tech in the home (What if it breaks? What if I lose the remote?) but the conveniences are just too good to deny (and there are no remotes to lose).
So first, let’s talk about the Kohler product that we chose as obviously the function of the bathrooms is pretty darn important. I’ve used Kohler for years – first drawn to the lines of the faucets, and then, of course, their function. But they have more than just faucets – their collections include vanities, sinks, mirrors and more. The quality is high and the customer service is GREAT. They are a lovely company, founded in the Midwest and still family owned – I like that sort of stuff, a lot.
They have both traditional, transitional and modern fixtures and finishes – and so many to choose from. For the Portland house, we chose product with more traditional lines, so for this room, I wanted to go more modern and streamlined.
First up: the vanity area.
- The Jute Vanity is very simple and modern – totally streamlined and functional. The main reason we chose this one over some of the other vanities for this bathroom is that it’s going to look built-in. It’s flanked by two walls and will actually look more customized for the space than one with legs that sits on the floor. I had this vanity in our old master bathroom and it’s great – with lots of fun bells and whistles inside like roll out appliance storage, electrical outlets and more. It comes in a few different finishes, but we kept with the linen white. We’ll customize the hardware based on what happens with the lighting.
- The Wall-mount Purist Faucet in polished brass is AMAZING. As part of my partnership with Kohler, I was really excited to preview their finish to order program. Here’s the deal: I’ll be able to personalize select faucets by choosing the style I love (Purist for the master) and then bringing it to life with the finish of my choice. The faucets are then made to order (you can visit your local Kohler Signature Store or Kohler Experience Center to learn more about the program). I’ve had the deck mount in the brushed brass before which is also lovely, but I’ve made a turn back toward the polished (if it’s in a modern shape). Polished in a more decorative/traditional shape just didn’t fit into my dream for this space. In a simple modern shape, it’s so beautiful.
- We are doing the wall-mount faucet with undermount sink and chose the simple Caxton Sink. (The vanity pictured shows their countertop but we will do stone with undermounts).
The bathtub was hard to choose, mostly due to a form versus function thing. I essentially had four different tubs to choose from:
- A drop-in tub (the Underscore). It’s no secret that these can provide the most back support and can potentially have the most ‘features’ – like a bubble massage air bath (seriously, imagine swimming in champagne). But the space ached for a free-standing tub and a drop in, housed in a large rectangular home, would really cut off the flow of the room.
- The more ergonomic freestanding Veil. This is really beautiful and the shape of it fits the bay window, but as the ‘chalet’ moved more towards ‘cabin,’ I was afraid that it would be too much of a departure from everything else that is more minimal and classic.
- The unbelievably beautiful free-standing Ceric. This is what I had settled on. Its shape is stunning and it is so classic that I KNEW we couldn’t possibly regret it.
I realized that I was basically turning down the opportunity to have thousands of bubbles massage my body every second. I was choosing form over function – as a stylist typically would. I projected myself into the future, after a long day playing with the kids in the snow, super cold outside, a glass of red wine in my hand…would I rather have a heated tub with bubbles and back support or a beautiful classic tub in which to soak?
So I went back to Kohler’s site and found the Sunstruck – a freestanding tub that has the heated surface and the bubbles. I emailed Kohler faster than anyone has ever typed and said ‘HOLD THAT BATHTUB ORDER BECAUSE I JUST FOUND MY PERFECT TUB’. They made the switch and honestly, I’m so happy.
Sunstruck was the perfect mix of ‘modern freestanding’ with ‘intelligent spa.’ In the bath area, we have a floor-mount tub filler for my (much anticipated) long and luxurious soaking sessions. It was a very stressful decision…I need a bath with bubbles just thinking about it.
Of course, we have the Purist in polished brass as the roman tub filler – it’s stunning and in front of those windows this tub and faucet moment will be HOT.
Onto the shower room, which is 4’x5′ with a luxurious bench.
The shower is the real ‘spa moment.’ It’s a steam room, body hydrotherapy and shower all in one. I’m never going to leave and all future posts will be written from the shower.
- Here’s how we are going to accomplish my spa shower. We went SMART and thanks to Kohler’s water-saving faucets, our water bill won’t be insane.
- A DTV+ Digital Interface. 2015 Emily would have been terrified by this, but 2018 Emily is EXTREMELY excited to set my water temperature and with the press of a button it will magically be that perfect 97 degrees. I tried it at the Kohler Experience Center and found it super intuitive and easy. There will be no manual controls inside – just the DTV inside and outside. I can set my temp and Brian can set his – multiple users, folks. You can switch from Real Rain to body spray to handshower with a push of the button. And if you don’t live in California, you can even have three showerheads that perform all these different spa-like therapies on your body at the same time. I was SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS. I know that I can’t have all three showerheads on at the same time since we live in a water-regulated state, but Kohler offers a DTV+ Eco system so even us Californians can enjoy a luxury shower while being mindful of our water use. 2018 Emily likes a little pampering now and again. You can choose the spa settings and they will automatically spray you in a symphony of cold and hot water from toes to head.
- Real Rain Panel. Do you like standing in warm rain whilst naked? ME TOO. It’s soft and relaxing and just magical. It varies in the water pressure, giving you the real feeling of soft, summer rain. It’s AMAZING. I’m putting it near the bench area because it may be the kind of thing you want to sit down for while shaving legs, etc.
- Body Sprays. At first, I didn’t understand what this would really do, but they sold me on hydrotherapy. Hell, if you put the word ‘therapy’ after anything I’ll sign up for it.
- Steam Shower. It’s the pot filler of bathrooms in that it’s not necessary but you get STRANGELY excited at the thought of it. And at a mountain house with cold snowy temps in the winter, you bet I’ll be sitting in (and letting off) a lot of steam this winter (and summer). It’s good for your body, brain and soul. I’ll call it ‘Steam Therapy’ and 2018 Emily is so excited to sign up and sit down.
- Handshower Kit. A handshower was something we didn’t put in either of our bathrooms in LA to save money (we thought ‘why and when do you use these?’) Well, I really wished we had. The kids’ hair (for one) and my legs (for two) both wish that we had the convenience of a handshower.
- Obviously, we will be mindful of water waste (the drought is over, but we live in SoCal so it will likely come back). The Purist Showerhead has the air induction technology which delivers an ‘invigorating spray’ while reducing water by 20%.
For the toilet room (which no longer has a door on it since we had to reduce the size of the wall as it made the room so much smaller), we went with one of their intelligent toilets because our bums deserve it. That’s right. This toilet basically sings to you. It opens when you walk toward it and closes when you leave (no more touching the seat, ladies or gents). A remote control (that is mounted to the wall) will determine your (ahem) personal hygiene cleaning level – and even dry it! It has dual flush capability and there is even a nightlight. Before we even thought of buying this house, my best friend bought this toilet, and I was convinced I wanted it one day in the future. Using her water closet was an absolute pleasure. You don’t even need toilet paper! It’s heated. It greets you by lifting up and does all (fine, most) of the work for you. I never thought that I would be a person who owned this toilet, and frankly unless this is easily within your budget, then I’d say of course you don’t need this intelligent of a toilet. I never regretted having a normal toilet and want to emphasize that this is not something you NEED. But if you have a budget for a smart toilet, I can recommend this one highly. If you want the experience at a lower price tag, Kohler has a great line of toilet seats with cleansing features that you can just add to your regular toilet.
The Kohler products are pretty amazing – both in look and function. So the challenge is, how do you make those sleek and modern pieces work in a cabin?
That was probably my biggest challenge and why this took so long.
Dear ladies and gentlemen of the blog world, without further ado, I’d love to introduce you to the two design plans that we have finally, FINALLY, narrowed it down to. It’s like Miss America for bathrooms, with less bikinis and more faucets, yet full of intelligent statements.
It’s Modern Mountain, with a Contemporary Cabin bent. Both of these plans have elements of nature (wood and stone) but in finishes that feel more updated and less ‘rustic ’90s mountain house’ (no offense to those, because I’m sure that can be great, just not what we were going for here) and more airy, simple and Scandinavian. That first plan was easy to design and I didn’t really change it much. Some things might slightly change (I may put a 6″ marble backsplash behind the wall-mount faucet) and I might just do one wall of the toilet room instead of all four up to 50″ high. But the materials and general vibe won’t.
The whole space will be warmed up with wood on all three HUGE windows and a vaulted wood ceiling.
We have also intentionally left off the sconces, mirror and hardware as I really want to tell a whole story with those throughout the house and not just choose them per room. I had some on there and then took them off realizing that an overall plan was needed first, but this post couldn’t wait.
Let’s go through each element.
- The ceiling wood tone is TBD as we haven’t locked that down yet, but will likely be a medium tone. We exposed the ceiling and vaulted it and I’m very excited – but we have to put in insulation and there is ducting, so we will re-clad over that in new wood. The vaulting did create some awkward ceiling height issues in the shower, which we are troubleshooting but it’s worth the height we gained.
- The vanity backsplash is this new tile from Cle that is handmade and SO PRETTY. It has so much movement and that color of blue is one that I will NEVER get sick of.
- We wanted a contrasting shape/scale for the shower surround so I chose this beautiful (also handmade) tile from Ann Sacks. It’s STUNNING in person.
- The floor is a white pebble tile and yes I’m still nervous about it, but also excited. Brian has been pro-pebble since second one, so I love how much he will love it.
- The countertop, shower floor and WC floor will all be a natural stone that we source at a stone yard. I will likely go with a leather finish as opposed to honed or polished because it’s the most visually warm option.
- The faucets are all so beautiful in a polished brass and that bit of shine takes it to another level and gives it the EH stamp. I seriously debated the black finish, but when they confirmed I could get the Purist in polished brass with the new finish to order program, we committed.
On to the second option.
This second design is lighter, airier and plays more with texture than the first. It has less color, but a little more drama and warmth. You think on first glance that you like the first one more, right? Well, look at these textures…
For this one we have:
- The same wood ceiling – again TBD.
- The shower surround tile is this insane tiny Thassos mosaic from Artistic Tile that bounces the light around in a stunning way. It’s slightly more glam than I thought we’d go but in person, it’s just beautiful.
- The flooring is a dark gray pebble that I’m kinda more excited for than the white. With dark grout, I think it’s going to be really dramatic. If we don’t do it here we’ll likely do it in a guest bath because I really love it.
- The vanity backsplash is a STUNNING handmade white tile. It is not super rustic or farmhouse-y. It’s more refined, creamy and soft.
- The marble for the countertop and the shower bench are both TBD but they will likely be a stone that we source at a stone yard with warmer tones. Think Calacatta Gold versus Carrara (which has a lot more gray in it).
Am I tempted to mix both designs and have the tile surround from option #1 with the white tile of option #2(???) YES but I have to stop the decision-making at some point. I’m also super interested in using the dark pebble with the darker tile, but I MUST JUST STOP.
Once you choose between these then I’ll give you the hardware, lighting and mirror combo options (and by then we might know the wood on the ceiling).
I love them BOTH so much. And so does Brian. In neither of them do I have any MAJOR concerns, although both of them might be tweaked – I have to reserve the right to change things once in the field. But tile must be ordered. Stone must be sourced. It’s your turn to be the decider.
After all of that, it’s time for you vote: WHICH ONE DO YOU CHOOSE???????
I Design, You Decide
Master Bath: Overall Style
Thank you for doing your daily design duty.
Your vote has my vote 🙂
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I’m dying to know, although we both think there is a FOR SURE winner. In case you are wondering what this whole ‘I Design, You Decide’ thing is (and want to know what you can win by voting) go HERE.
If you need more information or want to watch the whole process, please enjoy this non-sponsored video. It was the first time that Brian and I did a video together just for fun, and not going to lie – it WAS.
***Thanks to Kohler for partnering with me on this post and these bathrooms. Obviously, we have a few more designs to do, but knowing what you choose here will definitely affect the direction of the rest of the bathrooms.