NKBA 2004 Design competition: Category 6: small bathrooms

While common wisdom says that soft, light colors are the best way to enlarge a small space, designer Vernon Applegate of the San Francisco, CA-based Applegate Tran Interiors decided to take a somewhat riskier approach.

Convinced that even a small bathroom should be allowed to make a big design statement, he made the decision to forego pale colors, and instead went for a dramatic effect, using rich, lush color and dynamic contrasts to define the small bathroom.

As he explains, "An exuberant, glossy orange painted wall and rich, chocolate brown marble flooring and shower tiles drench the room with color." Stark white fixtures were then added to create the desired sense of drama. The result is a truly eye-catching bathroom that makes a bold statement about the power of color.

Of course, small spaces still need light to maximize their potential, so he addressed this challenge by floating the Jim Crone cabinets off the floor to create a light feeling, and then added two vertical sconces on either side of the oval mirror. A frosted glass window allows natural light to enter, while still obscuring the view from the deck outside.

Applegate also added visual interest through the addition of an angled shower wall. The Hansgrohe shower which was made possible by expanding the original half bath with space from an adjacent closet accommodates a luxurious overhead rain shower control, as well as a hand-held and pressure spray from the wall.

To enhance the sense of richness and elegance, Applegate specified striking, white glass countertops. Richly textured Bisazza 1"x1" glass tile blends beautifully with the Emperor Dark marble flooring, tying the space together.

The bathroom also features a Duravit sink, TOTO USA toilet, Dornbracht fittings and Policelli lighting.

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