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"Bathing Beauties"

Steven Clipp, Architect

After the kitchen, the Master Bath is the most focused upon and most expensive room in our home.  So why is it often so uninspiring, so uninviting, so blah.

At least once a week I do a consult with a homeowner, often about how to prepare their home for sale or with a Buyer deciding which is the best home for them.  I see bathrooms crammed full of objects; sinks, cabinets, tubs, showers and toilets.  I see baths tricked out with costly tile and over the top fixtures.  I seldom see style and grace.

More ‘me’ time is spent in the bath than any other room in the house.  It should be a space that both recharges and calms, that welcomes you, shelters you and allows joy to reenter your life. 

How do you recharge – by filling the space with light and focused flow.  At the start of the day your bath should lift you and kick you into gear.  Flood the room with daylight, to pop those eyes open and let in the joy of the morning.  Focus your thoughts by creating an outside view, out into the world is where you are moving, look outward to it.  Avoid multiple and conflicting internal stimuli.  A cluttered bathroom drains energy.

How do you achieve calm – by focusing on the space first.  At the end of the day your bath should encourage the casting off of your cares.  An ordered space with symmetry and balance is calming, the functional items are there, but secondary to the whole space.


Think first impression:  Not ‘here is where I use the toilet and brush my teeth’.  But ‘I like this space, here is where I can relax, sink into myself’.  Imagine if the first thing you see as you enter is your favorite painting and an inviting chair?


The typical bathroom is barely big enough for all the things that have to go in it.  It is really hard to just get the physical functions in place, much less to elevate it to be the zen core of your home.  Here are 10 tips:

  1. Start with a concept for the character of the room, then fit the pieces into that concept.  Find a picture in a magazine or on Houzz that speaks to you.  Stay true to your dream concept.

  2. Create a visual focus, elevate the tub into an elegant slipper show-stopper, or spotlight a painting.  Make sure that highlight is what you see first when you enter the room.

  3. Flood the room with morning light, use skylights or high windows to bring it in.

  4. Hide the toilet, put it in its own space, or at least make sure you can’t see it as you enter the bath.

  5. Obscure the shower, showering is a vulnerable time, a clear glass box in the middle of the floor doesn’t feel safe.  Make sure you can’t see it from the bed.  Consider less glass / more solid walls and a skylight.

  6. The greatest value of the big tub is to visually open up the bathroom.  If you sink the tub partially into the floor it does so quietly.  If you won’t use the tub, take it out, replace it with a sunny nook and a comfortable chair.

  7. Sink cabinets are bigger and chunkier than they need to be.  16” deep cabinets are just as functional.  Pedestal sinks really free up floor space and are visually lighter.  Use a medicine cabinet for storage.

  8. Put a window between the two sinks.  Being able to look out at the morning world while brushing your teeth helps focus your energy on your day.  Consider a shade that pulls up from the bottom, set it as low as possible to still preserve privacy.

  9. Don’t go overboard on the tile detail.  No more than three tile choices.  Keep it strong and simple and neutral.  Use towels and artwork for color and accent.

  10. Tile the floor in front of the shower and toilet, but consider hardwood everywhere else.  It unifies the bedroom and bathroom and is warmer underfoot.   


When faced with an uninspired bathroom the temptation is to just replace the fixtures and retile.  Aiming for the ideal is more costly, but seldom does it exceed a twenty-five percent premium.  The payback in your enjoyment and resale value is far greater.  If you want to discover how great your bath can be, please contact me for a Consult.

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