Master Bath Triumphantly Fuses Multi-Cultural Design Elements

HOLLYWOOD, CA — While the thought of a bachelor’s bath may conjure up images of something out of a bad 1970s film, replete with leopard prints, a brown shag rug and a step-up, über-sized hot tub, the one designed by Troy Adams for a young entrepreneur shatters those images for good.

Using his past design experiences – and his appreciation of the subtle combination of materials – as a guide, Adams was able to capture the imagination of the judges in the inaugural Axor Bath Design Competition, held earlier this year. His master bath design for a Los Angeles bachelor fuses natural materials such as teak, marble and stones with a stainless steel, running water display that grabbed the judges’ attention.

In fact, the judges were so impressed by the end result that they awarded the grand prize to Adams, a CKD who runs his own Los Angeles, CA-based firm, Troy Adams Design. Notably, his 500-sq.-ft. “Bachelor Bath” was among more than 40 entries submitted from professional designers worldwide.

According to Adams, he had just finished this master bath in the fall when he came across announcements for this contest. It didn’t take long to make up his mind: “I thought it was [an outstanding design] because it was very contemporary, with a lot of heavy European and Asian influences. I felt that it was also very warm.”

He continues: “Too many baths with the same influence – and the same type of high-end, high-tech European fixtures – can feel too cold, almost clinical. In this instance I thought [the design] would be perfect for the competition,” recalls Adams.

“I also felt it was a good example of fusion design, which, for me, is an approach I use for all of my designs. It involves blending design elements from Asia, Europe and America,” he shares.

With a nod toward Asian design, Adams tried to incorporate as many natural materials into the design as possible, such as installing the built-in water feature and a teak wood “bridge.”

He then brought in high-end, custom European fixtures and pieces from Axor and Julien, and even installed a plasma-screen television that can be viewed while relaxing in the soaking tub.

Adams tied the entire look together by marrying form and function, and ultimately giving the Euro-Asian design a warm, modern American edge.

His combination of materials and fusion approach – accentuated by the use of decorative faucets, showers and bath accessories designed exclusively for Hansgrohe’s Axor brand by Philippe Starck – certainly caught the judges’ eyes. It not only illustrated the trend toward modern, clean design and more spa-like baths, says Adams of the judges’ assessment, but it also conveyed the breadth of the Axor line.

Natural Fusion
Adams began this project with what every designer hopes to get: a clean slate and a generous budget, which, in this case, was $150,000.

“My client came to me to completely design the 20'x20' space [from top to bottom]. He offered no input, but gave me a clean slate with which to design. I was left to determine what I thought the master bath should be for this 29-year-old bachelor and owner of an Internet credit reporting agency,” explains Adams, whose bath design is part of the design equation in this client’s Hollywood Hills home. It is actually part of an entire master suite.

As the designer describes, he brought the bath to life while the local Los Angeles interior designer that the owner hired breathed life into the master bedroom. To connect the two different spaces, both designers used the same 18"x18" Sandstone tile flooring and the same paint, Adams further points out.

For his part, Adams wanted to create something that pulled the stunning Hollywood Hills vistas into the space, and also had a distinctive modern, urban edge – fitting for a young, hip, tech-savvy bachelor.

Adams further sought a “luxury spa environment, and a place to relax and enjoy the kinds of amenities you might encounter in the finest spas in the world.”

In keeping with this idea, Adams centered the design on the aforementioned 36"x 48"x32" stainless steel Asian Furo soaking tub, which was custom-made by Julien, notes Adams. To complement the look of the tub, Adams paired it with an Axor Starck two-handle tub filler and handspray.

“That fixture was the start [of the entire design],” Adams comments. “This master bath is a masculine environment, and [since] we really wanted to create a high-tech feel, we opted for stainless steel.”

Adams countered the weight and the starkness of the stainless mass by surrounding its base with continuously running water, “as if it were floating on a quiet stream,” he describes.

Behind it, water runs down a wall covered with small squares of honed marble and bamboo cast in resin, he elaborates. Coursing first under the teak wood bridge (which runs parallel to the tub), the water glides over a bed of small stones on the floor to complete the effect of a bathtub in the middle of a small pond. To create a constant circuit of water, it is piped around the tub and up back into the wall, adds Adams.

As a result of the tub’s positioning, says Adams, the client can enjoy a framed view of the hills from the tub, peering through a rectangular pane of glass that sits above the bridge, which then leads to the doorless custom shower.

Designed as a separate room, Adams decided to give the shower a more insular feeling – opting to remove the window that was in the original floorplan. Instead, Adams decided to cover all four walls in 1/2" back-painted glass for a much more dramatic feel.

“It gives the space a [truly] unique feel with a sleek, mirrored effect. Perhaps more importantly, it’s also very easy to clean and wipe down. You’re really in your own little world in there,” he notes.

An Axor Starck showerhead that comes out of the ceiling, coupled with a trough design in the floor that causes water to gently slope toward the center drain, adds to the shower’s function and drama, he points out.

At the other end of the bridge there is a clear, tall, vertical pane of glass that frames a view that evokes the sensation of standing on a cliff, he adds.

Yet another notable element is the two-person, 605 stainless steel, 8'-long trough sink and vanity Julien custom-made for Adams. He topped the vanity with Lagos Blue CaesarStone. He got the idea for the trough sink from the two Axor Starck lav mixers he chose.

“Those products made me think of a plain and simple, single-pipe water spigot that you might find next to a horse-feeding trough on an old farm or a ranch. [That image inspired me, so I] figured, ‘Why not combine a couple of these faucets with a large sink, so that it actually looks like a trough?’” elaborates Adams.

For added visual interest, the vanity sits on the wall adjacent to the master bedroom, he notes. There, Adams used a product that mimicked the look of an Asian shoji screen to connect the bath to the bedroom.

“I used a glass product from a company called Switchlight that turns the glass from opaque to clear at the flip of a switch,” explains Adams.

For a bit of symmetry and cohesiveness throughout the design, Adams mimicked the shape of the trough sink onto the ceiling by cutting it into a trough shape. He then hung Bruck wire mesh pendants that he felt were reminiscent of Asian lanterns. They cast a soothing and warm amber glow.

To the right of the vanity is another separate, doorless room that houses a Duravit toilet and stainless steel urinal from Neo-Metro. There, Adams continued the trough motif and created yet another one in the ceiling. In it, he installed subtle white fluorescent lighting, which casts soft light and creates a warm environment for the client.

Completing Adams’ design is a custom-made cantilevered bench that floats above the teak bridge and a set of custom shelves that sit to the left of the vanity.

More Winning Designs
In addition to Adams’ bath, there were five other Axor contest winners announced. They include:

  • Second Prize winner McFarlaneGreen Architecture and Design Inc. in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
  • Third Prize winner Sieger Suarez Architectural Partnership of South Miami, FL.
  • Honorable Mentions Inez Saunders and Amy Rosengarten of Interior Design in Chicago, IL, Shelter Interiors in Sacramento, CA, and Laura Burns, a Del Mar, CA-based designer.