Baths Take Top Honors in Annual Chrysalis Awards

Custom was the keyword for this year’s Chrysalis Award-winning bath designs. In fact, each winning design shares one key attribute: a unique custom approach geared specifically for the client's sensibilities. From creating a soaking tub on-site to meet the clients’ specifications, to giving a tall client the large shower he always desired, the winning baths stood out from the pack by showcasing the designer’s choice architectural elements, color pairings and custom elements.

Whether it meant turning a windowless bath into a bachelor’s sanctuary, creating savvy storage space or craftily working around existing structural elements, each bath employs intuitive designs and subtle details to stunning effect.

The Chrysalis Awards for Remodeling Excellence – which have honored the best and brightest in remodeling since 1993 – are co-sponsored by Qualified Remodeler, a sister publication of Kitchen & Bath Design News. Judges this year included editors and writers from a range of consumer publications, including Better Homes & Gardens and Southern Living.

This month, KBDN highlights some of the national bath design winners of the 14th Annual Chrysalis Awards for Remodeling Excellence.

Best Bath Under $40,000

Of this handsome, Asian-contemporary-inspired bath, designer Tim Franklin says, “This was a heck of a lot of work for such a small bathroom, but it was well worth it.”

Franklin, of Akron, OH-based Franklin & Associates, a design-build firm, took on the 1970s split-level remodel and was responsible for both a master bath and a master guest room renovation.

“We touched everything,” says Franklin. “We took it down to the studs.” The firm changed out old ductwork, plumbing lines and completely rewired the room as part of the project.

“You never know what you’re going to get until you strip it down,” Franklin adds.

Indeed, no truer words have been spoken as the design team moved one window and found itself redoing the exterior of the home as a result.

It was also an opportunity for the design firm to spread its wings, Franklin says. “The homeowners were really seeking to make their home very contemporary, which is neat because we don’t get to do as much contemporary design as we’d like,” he says.

However, the firm also faced some daunting challenges with the project as the original bath was quite small and narrow. The trick, according to Franklin, was coordinating all of the design elements the homeowners desired while leaving the room with a spacious feel.

One of the results of the tear-out was the reconfiguration of the fixtures, including a new TOTO quiet flush toilet. A contemporary Kohler sink and fixtures from Hansgrohe and Grohe complete the contemporary, Asian-inspired look.

The space was physically altered in several ways. One of the home-owners had endured what Franklin describes as one of the smallest showers he had ever seen, measuring a mere 30"x28".

“The homeowner was over 6' tall, so it was a tight squeeze,” he adds. To remedy that situation, the designer captured space from a master closet and the result was a roomy walk-in shower with a seamless glass enclosure.

The clients desired a wood floor, so the design team went for a light maple floor and chose to seal it with a marine-grade finish.

“In the real world,” says Franklin, “when someone gets out of the shower, a lot of water comes with them. With a marine-grade finish, they can just wipe the water off the floor and not worry about its long-term effects.”

There were a number of custom touches created for this bath, including light maple grills for the new ductwork to blend with the earth tones of the room. The “floating” light cherry vanity is also a custom piece.

“Bringing it off the floor allows the homeowner to access and use the space below it for additional storage,” says Franklin. Beneath the granite-topped vanity is a suspended towel rack and space for a small stool.

Light maple grills, custom-made, are also featured.

Finishing touches include large-format wall tiles, which give the illusion of space on a grander scale, says Franklin, adding that small format or mosaic tiles would have made the space look too “busy.”

Best Bath $40,000-60,000

The owners of this stunning bath lived for many years with a typical 1970s bathroom, complete with sunken tile bath and bright electric-toned wallpaper. Jonathan McGrath of Longwood, FL-based Jonathan McGrath Construction responded to his clients’ desire for a “zen-like” atmosphere by opting for neutral browns, oranges and other earth tones.

In conjunction with Canin and Associates, the design team created a nautilus-shaped shower with a frameless curved glass enclosure, rimmed with gold-toned mosaic tile. The vanity, also topped with gold mosaic tile, is a custom piece and features Kohler sinks and faucets.

The centerpiece of the room is a large Japanese soaking tub, included per the wishes of the client, who desired a tub where the water would reach her chin. McGrath notes that originally, the clients wished to buy a tub to those specifications, but when they could not find one, McGrath constructed one on-site.

In fact, the designer cites this as the biggest challenge in the bath’s design. A ceiling-mounted tub-filler was installed overhead.

Natural materials make the style come together. A custom-built cedar cabinet/linen closet combination with twig door handles stands to one side. Large flagstone flooring provides a dramatic, earthy touch.

A combination of customized fixtures and natural lighting create the atmosphere the designer feels his clients were searching for.

Best Bath Over $60,000

According to the builder, the owner of this bath is a young bachelor who desired a “hot” look. To meet his request, Atlanta, GA-based Cruickshank, Inc. had to contend with a crowded, puzzling layout, as well as a complete lack of windows and dated existing fixtures.

First, it was necessary to add space. The builders started out by capturing space from an adjacent closet to expand the layout to a more workable 201 square feet. The most obvious improvement came next: adding in a window for natural light.
Next, they would have to simplify the room’s layout. In the old bathroom, a person wishing to use the shower entered from the water closet – a strange, maze-like and confined configuration. The new bath was opened up with light colors and horizontal floor-to-ceiling tile. A window was added along one wall and a glass shower partition allows the natural light from the window to filter to other parts of the room.

The window sheds light over the new jetted tub, surrounded by light rectangular tiles to accentuate the room’s size. A shower with a custom glass partition allows for an uninterrupted line of sight that visually expands the space. The shower has both a traditional and a rain showerhead, which is flush with the ceiling, and numerous body sprays. The cabinetry, countertops and stone work are all custom.

Finally, to meet the client’s request for a “hot” bathroom with manly touches, Cruickshank included a video system that can be viewed from both the shower and tub.