A Parisian retreat

When a household includes four growing children, every room must be as functional as possible. With this challenge in mind, a family in LaGrange, Ill., hired Normandy Remodeling to remodel its master bathroom.

Designer Chris Ebert was charged with re-imagining the second-floor master bath for the expanding family of six. Although their original bathroom’s appearance was acceptable, its layout was poor. “Everything was placed around the edges, with what looked like a big dance floor in the middle,” remembers Ebert. Although the family had several requirements for the room, dancing was not one of them.

“As soon as I walked in, it was obvious how the room should be laid out to maximize the look, feel and function,” says Ebert, who specializes in creating spaces that meet owners’ everyday needs. “A room can be pretty and still not be functional. I’d rather focus on the function first.”

But above all, he knew his clients wanted the bathroom to look and feel fabulous. After learning that one of the family members had fond memories of spending time in France, Ebert drew inspiration from studying photos of Parisian apartments.

Having previously designed an 800-sq.-ft., French-style pied--terres in Chicago, he was familiar with the flair and décor of these stylish urban dwellings — and even more importantly, how to make the most of small spaces.

Repurposing space

The most significant design change was adding a washer and dryer without expanding the bathroom’s 175-sq.-ft. footprint. Ebert was intrigued by the challenge of adding a laundry room for the family of six where there had not been laundry service, and still creating a comfortable space.

The plan required moving the washer and dryer from a first-floor mudroom, which Ebert also redesigned to become a more efficient space for the family. The bathroom had to meet code requirements for drainage and potential overflow issues.

The room’s location posed a challenge, as the best option was the corner with the bathroom’s only windows. Adding a skylight was not possible, because the home has a third story. Instead, French doors with frosted glass panels enclose the room while allowing natural light to shine through into the bathroom.

The double doors also allow the family to open up the small room as needed. “Most of the time, at least one of the doors will likely be closed,” he says, “but I wanted them to have the flexibility of using more of the room for laundry.” In addition to being in a more convenient location, he notes, the new laundry room creates the feel of a luxurious private retreat.

Elements of luxury

Ebert outfitted the rest of the bathroom with European inspired elements from manufacturers that specialize in Old World designs. At the clients’ request, he installed a Classic French free-standing tub, which, placed by the room’s only angled wall, became the room’s focal point.

Two console sinks with polished nickel legs sit on either side of the tub, accompanied by mirrored medicine cabinets — another unique and creative solution. “Since the pedestal sinks don’t provide storage, I wanted to go deep with the cabinets,” Ebert says. He chose 6-in. cabinets that would help eliminate clutter and even contain outlets for electric toothbrushes. The cabinets, however, would not sit flush within the walls, so Ebert built them out with two-step Carrara marble frames.

In addition to providing more storage space, the frames coordinate with the trim work around the shower door and French doors to create a rich, uniform look.

Ebert also used the marble — his clients’ stone of choice — to tile the floor and walls. He chose multiple sizes and shapes to keep the design interesting. A taupe, French limestone carpet molding draws the eye around the room and varies from “the typical gray/black/white bathroom.” Ebert designed the wall tile into a large subway shape and capped it with a 2-in.-thick chair molding that bisects the mirror frames.

The project was completed on time, and without complications (with the exception of a minor annoyance involving a cabinet that arrived with the wrong finish). In six months, the family’s generic bathroom was transformed into an elegant and accessible hub of activity. “It was a tall order,” admits Ebert, “but definitely a challenge worth accepting.”

Ebert says he relies on exacting attention to detail to meet customers’ expectations. Apparently, the homeowners are happy with the results; they have already asked him to redesign their kitchen in 2014. QR


Shelby O. Mitchell writes about remodeling and design from Berwyn, Ill.