One Winning Bath Embraces Nature, Bringing the Outdoors In

TOPEKA, KS — When one thinks of an enclosure, one generally thinks of a finite space designed to confine a specific item.

In the case of one California master bath, the enclosure is actually designed to bring the outdoors inside. Borne out of limited space, the shower enclosure houses an outdoor shower, and through the use of glass, heat is able to be captured and retained.

This design, created by Mike Manthey, owner of Village Glass & Mirror, located in Los Gatos, CA, not only solved the homeowner’s space problem, it also captured the judges’ attention in the 2004-2005 Design Awards sponsored by the Bath Enclosure Manufacturers Association (BEMA). It took the award for best enclosure in the Glass 3/8" and Over category.

“We felt this shower environment was unique enough for consideration of the BEMA Design Award because [we believe] it provides any bath the luxury of including an enclosed sauna without detracting from its overall size,” says Manthey, adding that, in his opinion, this design stands out “because it is the first truly frameless shower environment in the U.S. to include a glass ceiling.

The judges agreed, awarding Manthey’s design the top prize in this category at BEMA’s 2005 Fall Meeting. This year’s panel included David Newton, CMKBD, of David Newton & Associates; Ellen Chilcoat of US Glass; Fernando Diaz, ASID, of Fernando Diaz & Associates; Donna Vining, FASID, of Vining Design Associates, and Nancy Davis of Glass magazine. They based their choice on the complexity of the design and how well the enclosure works with the overall bath design. Manthey’s design was picked from a pool of eligible entries that were completed between January 1, 2004 and June 30, 2005, and that came from designers, architects, installers, builders, and even homeowners.

A design by Tim Griffin of T&T Custom Shower & Tub Enclosures Inc. in Jacksonville, FL took top prize in the contest’s other category, Glass Up to 3/8".

Developed by BEMA, this design competition showcases “innovation and excellence in bath enclosure design,” says Chris Birch, executive director of the 14-year-old association that’s headquartered here.

“The BEMA Design Awards began in 1996 and the 2004-2005 program marks the 9th annual competition. [I believe] the evolution of the awards program mirrors the changes in the bath enclosure industry, as demand is increasing for custom enclosures,” Birch elaborates.

Here, Kitchen & Bath Design News spotlights Manthey’s award-winning, “au naturel” shower enclosure design.

The remodel of this Portola Valley, CA master bath seemed simple – at first glance. His clients envisioned a master bath suite based on their previous travels to Bali. However, after looking more closely, Mike Manthey saw that to create the shower environment that functioned not only as a shower, but also as a steam unit – and that was also in line with the homeowners’ dream bath suite – he’d have to find room where there seemed to be none.

But that only stirred the creative juices of both Manthey and his clients. He explains: “Due to space limitations in the bath, our customer opted to have us design an outdoor shower.”

So Manthey, using his 22 years of experience as a C-17 contract glazier, devised a plan that called for a glass ceiling to retain heat.

“We designed a 4'x5' showering environment that included two pieces of 1/4" tempered Starphire glass from Western States Glass that was laminated to 1/2" thickness for the ceiling, and used 1/2" tempered Starphire glass for the outside walls. Inside the enclosure, 3/8" Starphire glass was used for the door and notched stationary panel,” describes Manthey, who notes that Starphire is a glass with a low iron content that gives it “an unequaled clear appearance that was paramount to this project. It created a shower without visual barriers.”

Indeed, his design enabled the removal of “the obstructions between the shower and the atrium while still being able to function as an enclosed steam unit,” he says. Installing the shower environment in the atrium further allowed the space to include an inside whirlpool tub with a fireplace from B&B Fireplace by Fireplace Xtrodinair in Niles, CA. The space also has a walk-in closet, separate vanities with Rohl lavatory faucetry and a separate toilet area.

Finishing the shower are Rohl shower fixtures, Lifetime Brass accents from US Horizon and Verde Manikia granite from Integrated Resources Group in Brisbane, Australia. The granite was fabricated by Provence Stone in San Carlos, CA. The rest of the bath is finished in brass accents.

“The storage in the shower environment consisted of three Starphire shelves provided to house the client’s various rare orchids which thrive in the ideal conditions of the steam unit,” he adds.

The master suite now leads to the enclosed outdoor atrium, and the shower overlooks the outdoor spa hot tub and extends from inside the master bath to the enclosed outdoor atrium.

Overall, Manthey feels his shower design “was in keeping with the organic design of the bath. Inspiration for the bath was the Redwoods adjacent to the bath window and enclosed outdoor atrium. Since this was our second project for these clients, they knew we could create a unique solution to their particular dilemma, which was to keep warm while still enjoying the beauty of their atrium.