A designer adds moody and edgy elements to a transitional-style design scheme.
These parents of two teenagers wanted their en suite bathroom to serve as a retreat from the hustle and bustle in the rest of their Virginia home. Interior designer Susan Sutter quickly assessed that their style leaned toward the contemporary and edgy side of transitional design. She adjusted the room’s awkward layout and gave them a clean-lined, moody-yet-calming space with tiled wainscoting, striking lighting, an open and bright new shower and a new freestanding tub.
Bathroom of the Week
Who lives here: A couple and their two teenagers
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Size: 180 square feet (17 square meters)
Designer: Susan Sutter of Susan Sutter Interiors
Builder: Denny + Gardner
Before: The bathroom’s style was dated and the room had an awkward layout. To the left was a door on the diagonal that led to a toilet room. On the right, a closet jutted out into the space. “The shower was like a dark cave,” Sutter says. “It was a driving force in terms of them wanting to remodel this room. My clients wanted to improve the function and have a moody, contemporary aesthetic — moody but not dark.”
On the homeowners’ must-have list were double vanities, a soaking tub for her and a shower with as many body sprays as possible for him. “He told me he wanted ‘the car wash of showers,’ ” the designer says.
After: Sutter had the drywall removed to create a larger, more open shower stall, and she replaced the clunky drop-in bathtub and surround with a minimalist freestanding bathtub. She removed the closet to open up the space around the tub. “We didn’t have to move any of the major plumbing elements, which kept the costs down,” she says.
A jumping-off point for the room’s style was a large-format, stone-like porcelain tile with veining that ranges from light gray to black. Sutter used it as wainscoting. “I used it to marry the spaces around the room and unify the different elements,” she says. She topped the tile wainscoting in black metal Schluter strips. “The black veining in the tile also inspired the matte black faucets, hardware and other accents,” she says. She also pulled from the couple’s art collection around the house and personalized the room by hanging some of their black-and-white photographs.
The lighting also played an important role in setting the style. “I really wanted to play up the high ceilings by going with oversize pieces,” Sutter says. “I fell in love with this chandelier for them because it had that moody vibe they wanted but at the same time it’s light and airy.”
Before: The shower felt dark and had limited spots for holding toiletries.
After: At left, Sutter straightened out the lines of the existing toilet room door. She also gave the couple two robe hooks. (Check out how the robes were piled on one hook in the first “before” photo.)
As for creating the car wash of showers, Sutter fit in a regular showerhead, a rain shower head, a handheld shower wand and four body sprays. She also gave the couple two niches, backed in a black-and-white accent tile. The tile from the wainscoting wraps the shower surround, tying it into the room. The shower floor tile picks up on the black tiles in the niches as well as the black veining in the wall tile.
Sutter used Caesarstone’s London Gray quartz on the niche sills, bench, threshold and around the knee wall. And she repeated the use of the black strips to edge the tile on these elements. “To get a contemporary look, crisp lines were imperative. The black Schluter strips lend a clean, finished look to the room,” Sutter says.
The flooring is digitally printed porcelain tile that looks like wood.
Before: The couple knew they wanted to keep separate vanities. They also like to have hampers in the bathroom.
After: Sutter added a tall cabinet to the vanities to make up for the closet she removed from the room. Each has a hamper section on the bottom. The vanities are semicustom with a walnut carbon finish that adds warmth to the space and coordinates well with the tiled wainscoting and wood-like tile flooring. Like the shower accents, the countertop is London Gray quartz by Caesarstone.
Sutter used ready-made mirrors with thick frames that pick up on the other black accents in the room. The sconces are from the same series as the chandelier, Soriano by Hudson Valley Lighting. Their glass hurricanes add a light feel to the moody room. And at 17 inches high, they’re large in scale, like the chandelier.
Before: This floor plan of the original bathroom shows the closet Sutter removed at bottom right and the diagonal toilet room door at top left.
After: The new floor plan shows how Sutter laid out the tub, shower and toilet room door. It also shows the locations of the vanities.
Before: The couple originally hired Sutter to renovate their bathroom and kitchen, but the project quickly spread throughout the house. After the design process commenced, they decided their bedroom also needed to feel like a hotel-like retreat away from their busy lives.
After: Sutter continued the Rockport Gray paint from the bathroom onto the bedroom walls, tying the two together. But she used more color in the bedroom to warm up the space. “It’s not as moody in here,” she says. She chose hues that work well with the couple’s existing bed and nightstands, and she created an inviting atmosphere with layers of textiles.
Two comfortable chairs form a cozy sitting area. They face an armoire with a TV inside and also serve as a favorite newspaper-reading spot.