Even on the coldest Minnesota day, Sid Levin and his wife can retreat to a beach-like atmosphere. Levin, principal of Revolution Design and Build, Wayzata, Minn., wanted to add usable space to his 1,800-square-foot home without building an addition, so he decided to take advantage of the unfinished basement. “We have four children and were looking for a place to add another bedroom/bathroom,” he explains. “Instead of building an addition, we utilized unused basement space to make a bedroom/bathroom master suite.”
Before construction could begin, Levin had to address plumbing concerns. The 90-square-foot bathroom was to be located against an outside wall, and he had to ensure plumbing water lines wouldn’t be located along the outside wall. Levin cut a 30-foot-long trench in the concrete to run the drain pipes in the floor and used fiberglass batt insulation to protect the water supply lines from freeze/thaw conditions. The pipes and insulation are concealed in a burlwood column meant to mimic a tree. After overcoming the plumbing issues, Levin was ready to proceed with the design.
Building on the beach theme Levin and his wife chose, Levin and his team, including business partner Rob Aldecocea, set out to integrate shore-themed elements. One of the dominant design elements throughout the bathroom space is that of a wave.
The soffit, countertop and cabinet follow a wave pattern. After Levin and Aldecocea built the soffit, Levin made a template of the same wave pattern out of plywood so the countertop fabricators could replicate the pattern with countertop material. “I wanted the look of a 5-inch front counter, but the material we had was only 3/4-inch thick,” Levin recalls. “For them to make a 5-inch-thick curved front edge where you’re not laminating multiple layers of material, you have to cut the 45-degree angle on the front face and miter the curve to that. That was an extremely difficult counter for the fabricators to make because they had to cut the 45-degree angle into the stone, then curl the front face of the counter to it.”
To achieve the concave and convex angles, the fabricators used a blowtorch to heat the material until it became pliable enough to slowly bend. Using many clamps, it took three full heating, bending and cooling cycles to create the wave pattern. “Those angles are what give the counter the illusion it is 5-inch-thick slab of stone, when in fact it’s just a mitered front edge,” Levin says. “It was a labor of love for the fabricators. They’re very proud of how it looks.” The counter, which was fabricated in one piece, is a little less than 7-feet wide.
The cabinets under the counter are constructed of plywood and follow the same curvatures as the soffit and countertop. The cabinets are coated with burled cherry veneer.
One of the focal points of the bathroom is the tile wave along the far wall. “That wave was fun,” Levin says. It involved cutting the shape, making a template out of plywood to install with framing to create the shape. Once the frame was in place, the tile setter coated it in mud and lath, then tiled the wave. “There are some pieces of glass tile that are smaller than half of your fingernail,” Levin explains. “It’s pretty spectacular tile work.” The tile setter used a diamond-blade saw to shape the pieces and create the intricate puzzle.
A portion of the wave has a cutout to create a cubby that also is covered in tile pieces. “I like it because it creates a place to put your extra stuff that would normally be in a cabinet, closet or on the vanity in a typical installation,” Levin says. “Instead of having a cabinet or shelf, it’s the visual aesthetic that is functional at its core and becomes a very strong element to the whole bathroom.”
Accessibility and Lighting
Thinking ahead to their later years, Levin and his wife decided to include several accessibility and aging-in-place features in their bathroom. The toilet has a remote wall control and includes a washlet system, heated seat and air purification. Levin also left plenty of room between the shower and vanity to make it easy to get around.