AUSTIN, TX— They say everything is bigger in Texas. But in the case of this new construction master bath, both size and shape were factors in the design. And, the designers needed to overcome spatial constraints to create the clients’ dream bath, one that would provide a retreat-like atmosphere infused with elements from the great outdoors.
That was the challenge facing David Webber, AIA , principal of WEBBER + STUDIO, Inc., located here, who worked with Jason Santeford and Adam Alsobrook to bring the outdoors into this stunning bathroom.
“The idea was to make the space feel open and connected to the outdoors, with warm materials that reflect the Texas/Zen qualities the owner sought,” explains Webber. “They wanted the bathroom to remind them of a spa vacation.”
Webber adds, “In fact, ‘Texas Zen’ were the words the clients used to describe the style they were looking to achieve. That description depicts an openness between the indoors and outdoors, a warmth of natural materials, simplicity of design and clean, uncluttered lines.”
The Great Wide Open
For Webber, the key to this 9'x21' master bath was to make it feel as expansive as possible while also retaining a sense of warmth and tranquility.
He explains: “The primary aesthetic intent was to create a Balinese-influenced Texas/Zen bathroom. The owners sought a room that would provide a strong visual connection to the outdoors and rich materials that would feel earthy. And, they wanted these materials to work in conjunction with a style that would feature clean lines.” Additionally, they wanted the space to convey the airy, open feeling of the outdoors, not only through striking views and natural light, but through the product and material choices.
But before they even started, they had to devise a solution for a key challenge: An existing swimming pool needed to remain in place, along with existing mature trees on the established lot, and these limited what could be done with the size and shape of the bath area.
“The trees and pool constrained our buildable area such that the master bedroom and bathroom suite were out of proportion. That forced the master bathroom into an L-shaped zone that measured about 7'5" that wrapped the outer corner of a broad, outward-looking master bedroom,” Webber explains. This created an awkward space that did not naturally lend itself to the kind of open, airy bath the homeowners desired.
To make the space work, the design team used a mahogany tub deck and skirt set as a focal point in the windowed corner of the L-shaped zone. They created two shoji-like pocket doors that, when opened, allow a view through the corner of the master bedroom toward the corner-placed bathtub.
“The countertops and tub deck are quite reminiscent of some of the more exotic woods that remind the owners of the tropical resort getaways that they wanted their house to recall,” he describes.
Webber also integrated a 9'x6' vanity next to the spout area of the tub. It provides the homeowners with a well-lit area where they can prepare for an evening out, or wind down after a long bath. It includes a convenient sitting area from which they can draw a bath, apply makeup or shave.
“The vanity area is within the same footprint as the rest of the [suite],” Webber explains.
“If you were to walk from the master closet area, there is [a] little sitting table and a space with two sconces and a full mirror on the tabletop – using all the same materials that were already [established throughout the space],” he describes.
In fact, cabinetry played a key role in the success of the design, Webber suggests, especially in terms of minimizing clutter and increasing storage opportunities.
He explains: “To avoid too much clutter, we avoided using too many cabinets. Therefore, the two lavatories sit atop a table-like countertop.”
The custom cabinetry, designed by Webber, is made of rift-sawn oak and is complemented by Mahogany countertops as well as Leuders Limestone floor tile.
“There is also a large linen cabinet opposite the shower that stores the bulk of the bathroom necessities,” he adds.
He notes that, “Storage was incorporated into the lavatory table-like countertop, as well. However, most storage was pulled away from the bathroom fixtures and placed into the large linen cabinet.”
According to Webber, the bath exudes a sense of casual luxury that is largely about the materials and the ambiance they create. He explains: “Overall, the room is very casual, much like the owners themselves. The vanity is not overly large or luxurious, but is made of rich and sensual materials, more in line with the tastes of the owners. In addition, the shower is dark and enclosed to give a sense of escape.”
He continues: “The materials we selected are intended to allow these homeowners to feel like they are always on vacation in a faraway, [exotic] resort.”
To complement the design theme, Webber selected faucetry from Hansgrohe and Kohler; a sink from Duravit as well as Bisazza glass mosaic shower tile and a toilet from Kohler.
Light of the World
Webber selected Prandina lighting for the two lavatories and for the dressing table to accent those spaces. He also used a judicious amount of natural lighting.
“Having the large corner windows opposite from the double pocket doors that lead through a corner of the master bedroom into the corner of the master bathroom [really helped]. In fact, corner windows provide some of the best, most even, natural lighting available,” he says.
Tying into the need to bring the outdoors inside, the corner windows also provide a dramatic and expansive view into private exterior yard and garden spaces.
“They make the otherwise modest-scaled space read much larger,” Webber offers. “Meanwhile, the decorative lighting at each of the vanities is intended to wash the user’s face with light, providing the most even and usable light for applying makeup, shaving, or any other tasks done during their time in this master bath suite.”
For more about this project, click here.