'Alley' Style Master Bath

The former life of this master bath space was more representative of a bowling alley than a welcoming retreat, which was the preferred look for its Fox Chapel, PA, homeowner. Its long, narrow footprint was further challenged by two deep, unutilized dormers and awkward, ineffective spaces at each end of the ‘alley.’

But April Spagnolo, CKD, and Thomas D. Trzcinski, CMKBD, owner, Kitchen & Bath Concepts of Pittsburgh, in Pittsburgh, PA, saw the potential to create a transitionally-styled, clean/sleek retreat where this busy entrepreneur who frequently travels could relax when he spends time at home.

The foundation of the ‘alley’ remained the same since it couldn’t be widened due to a master closet area the homeowner wanted to maintain. Dual vanities – which are separated by a dormer the designers turned into a toilet room, now line one wall of the ‘alley.’ Quartersawn oak cabinetry from Quality Custom Cabinetry provides texture and contrast to Imperial Danby vanity tops and Calacutta marble shower tiles and flooring.

“He wanted a lot of marble,” says Spagnolo. “So, to create warmth in the space, we pulled in wood finishes. The combination of multiple wood finishes – including the black walnut mid-height cabinets in the tub area – really makes the design stand out.”

A makeup vanity, sheathed in contrasting white paint with pewter glazing and egg and dart moulding, accents the opposing side.


Dramatic tub area

Spagnolo reconfigured each end of the ‘alley,’ fitting one end with a breakfast/beverage area and the other end with a tub/shower. To enhance functionality in the breakfast/beverage area, the designer added undercounter KitchenAid refrigerator drawers. Mirrors on each side of the fixed center mirror open via touch latches to reveal a coffee pot and storage. “This area was important for him so he doesn’t have to run up and down the stairs in the morning,” she says.

The focal point of the space is the tub/shower area. “It’s a dramatic point at the end of the room,” she says.

An air tub sits beneath a varied-height ceiling and in front of the master shower. “The ceiling in this space isn’t particularly high,” notes Spagnolo, “so stepping it up adds some height. Also, because the space is so narrow, as you walk through to the back of the room, you gain height and width.”

In the shower, honed Calacutta marble – 8"x16" tiles accented with a herringbone pattern inset – commands attention through the glass.

This client also requested very specific plumbing features for his shower, including a steam unit, chromatheraphy functionality and multiple showerheads. “Many of this client’s special requests were related to the functionality of the space, and to technology,” she says.

Lighting played a key role, with the designers adding layers of light with wall sconces, recessed lighting, cove lighting (above the tub) and toe kick lighting that acts as a motion sensor/night light. They also added tall windows to the tub/shower area to allow for natural light. “We layered the space with different types of lighting for added flexibility based on time of day and function,” she says.


Clean-lined kitchen

Spagnolo and Trzcinski also renovated the home's kitchen, based on a Beaux Arts design theme with clean lines and minimal upper cabinetry.

The designers had renovated a previous home for this client and, as such, he had certain elements he wanted to retain in the new kitchen, including plenty of refrigerator space for fresh foods and side-by-side double ovens. Since the width of the relatively small kitchen couldn’t accommodate the full depth of the ovens while leaving adequate walkway space, Spagnolo recessed them – as well as the cabinetry above it – into the walk-in pantry, which sits behind them.

Another design goal for the client was to include an island, which features Quality Custom Cabinetry cabinets, sheathed in a light Pumice-colored paint and topped with double-stacked Costa Smeralda granite. “He wanted a place where his three children could sit for quick meals,” she says. One challenge with this request was to ensure adequate traffic flow, taking into consideration a step-down into the breakfast area.

An additional challenge was to accommodate a fireplace chimney, which is located behind the wall with the Wolf cooktop. “It bumps two feet into the kitchen,” she notes. She worked around the obstacle by including a wall cabinet. Its leaded, seeded glass door provides display-type storage and allows interior cabinet lighting to shine through.

This cooktop wall is one of several focal points within the space. “Each wall has its own focal point,” Spagnolo notes. “On the oven wall, it’s the furniture piece and side-by-side ovens. On the sink side, it’s the refrigerator armoire. On the cooktop wall, it’s the custom stainless steel ventilation hood, which is accented with a slate backsplash.”

Like the master bath, Spagnolo included layers of light. “We added decorative fixtures for ambiance,” she says. “Then we added interior lighting to the glass cabinet and recessed lighting to provide full flexibility for dimming. We also enlarged the window above the sink to better access the view.”