Labor of Love Combines Ivy League Club Details with Graceful Touches

Des Moines, IA — When Karin Edwards remodeled the master bathroom she shares with her husband in their Des Moines, IA, home, she channeled the aura of a traditional Ivy League Gentleman’s Club and enhanced it with graceful details that add a touch of feminine softness – most prominently of which is the stylish slipper tub with its fluid lines and sinuous shape that seamlessly flows into the floor.

“I started with his palette, his look,” says the owner of Karin H. Edwards Interiors, who specializes in kitchen and bath design for the Des Moines, as well as Chicago, areas. “He is an elegant, dapper man, and I wanted something that was warm and ‘clubby’. It was a labor of love, designed with him in mind.”

That start includes distinctive floor-to-ceiling walnut panels – stained a custom, medium chocolate brown. They outline the niche surrounding the contemporary-styled Victoria + Albert Amalfi volcanic limestone tub that provides grand luxury in the compact space, accented with a beaded chandelier above. “The tub has a beautiful finish, with a milky white color that matches the ceiling,” says Edwards, adding that the absence of legs gives it a floating effect. “The gentle scoop and sinuous curves add to the geometry of the space.”

Dark versus light

The dark panels, which are lined with chrome strips to frame out the ceiling and floor, also provide high contrast to similarly designed floor-to-ceiling, high-sheen chalky white panels that grace the bedroom walls.

“It’s a high-contrast space,” says the designer, who notes the room consists of just three basic colors: white, walnut and chrome. “I think that the higher the contrast, the more spacious the room feels.”

Openness was a concern, since she indicates the room is relatively small. “I didn’t have a lot of space to play with,” Edwards says, adding that she did grab a few feet from a guest bathroom that she ultimately moved down the hall. “I enlarged the room by the depth of the vanity, and that’s it.”

While contrast adds to the spaciousness, so does the absence of a door to separate the master bath and bedroom.

“My husband and I live on very different schedules,” she says. “Oftentimes, the one time in the morning we have for conversation is when he’s shaving at the sink; when I am still in the bedroom. I didn’t want a scenario where there was a door to open and close.”

To maintain privacy for more personal bathroom functions, Edwards hid the toilet and shower from direct sightlines of the bed. “When you look into the bathroom, all you see is the tub,” she says.

A walnut-paneled folding door to the right of the tub conceals a toilet stall, effectively camouflaging the toilet’s existence. Edwards located the shower – which is accented with two Axor Citterio showerheads – directly across from the vanity. Porcelanosa Cubica tiles sheath the wall and resemble micromosaic tiles. “You don’t see any grout lines,” she says. “I wanted it to seem as seamless as possible from floor to ceiling.”

The shower’s glass door, which also runs floor to ceiling, allows natural light to filter into the space from the room’s only window. A shared glass wall between the shower and toilet stall also provides light into the potentially dark area.

To gain extra space, the designer actually eliminated a second window, which used to reside where the towel warmers are currently located. As such, Edwards paid special attention to materials, finishes and how light is reflected in the space. “I knew if I did this right I wouldn’t need the light [from the second window],” she says.

By eliminating the door to the bathroom, natural light from the bedroom can stream into the space. Choosing highly reflective Porcelanosa tile also bounces light into the room.

“It is no accident which walls are wood and which walls are reflective in white,” she adds, noting that the beaded chandelier in the tub niche provides just enough lighting in the area, which doesn’t need to be brightly lit. Sconces on each side of the vanity add extra brightness as well as a feminine touch that offers graceful elegance over a more severe bath bar.

Hidden storage

To address storage needs, the designer added medicine cabinets behind the vanity mirrors. Hidden storage is also located behind the panels to the left of the tub. The walnut vanity, custom designed by Edwards, features six fully functional drawers and a Cameo White Corian top.

“I just love Corian,” she says. “It’s incredibly easy to maintain. And the pure Cameo White offers a nice match to the honed white sinks by Kohler. The waterfall edges also bring white down to the floor, offering a full frame effect. Wherever there is walnut, I wanted it framed in white.”

Designed to resemble Calcutta marble, the floor is actually porcelain tile from Porcelanosa. “The tiles look just like the real thing,” she says.

Edwards added chrome Axor Citterio fixtures with recessed plates “so they are flush with the mirror to maintain the geometry of the space,” she says. “The fixtures also have a beautiful swan neck, which adds a soft, graceful touch.”