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Combined with simple materials, an uncluttered design, and pieces from the owner's modern art collection, even functional objects take on an artistic value in this bathroom

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In contemporary interior design, the beauty of a space is often derived from an appreciation of the functional materials it contains. In a bathroom, for example, the tub, plumbing and lighting can be decorative as well as useful objects.

Architect Jim Olson was asked to remodel two apartments in a 1960s building to create a single, open, uncluttered home. The spaces, including the bathroom, were stripped back to expose raw concrete, which became the floors and ceilings. Walls are filled with large windows that wrap around the entire building.

"The simple concrete structure provided us with a neutral background for the owner to display his modern art collection," says Olson.

In the bathroom, the concrete surfaces meant plumbing was exposed. As a result, fittings such as faucets and the Agape spoon bath and basin were treated as sculptural objects in their own right.

Because the bathroom is on the 22nd floor, it is completely private, so without window coverings, the owner has unhindered views of the city, lake and sea, the sunrise and sunset. To take full advantage of these views, the bathtub and shower are set in front of the window, separated from the rest of the bathroom by a glass wall and door. This creates a wet area and allows the views to be enjoyed from deeper in the room, where the vanity and handbasin are located. The vanity, a terrazzo slab, is designed so it appears to extend through the glass wall, making the two spaces flow together. Below it, a concrete shelf provides storage.

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"By having the shower and tub in their own glass box, the owner can hang pieces of art in the bathroom without worrying about damage from steam and water spray," says the architect.

Even lighting has been designed with the art collection in mind. Track lights can be moved or redirected if the owner changes his paintings.

First published date: 18 November 2008

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Credit List

Vanity top Corian
Cabinetry Custom-painted enamel white
Basin Agape spoon sink
Faucets Hansgrohe Axor Starck
Shower fittings Hansgrohe
Shower stall Axor Starck shower column
Flooring Lightly ground concrete
Toilet Toto
Lighting Resolute, Cloud 1 pendant
Blinds Mechoshade
Architect Jim Olson, Les Eerkes, Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects (Seattle, WA)
Builder MRJ Constructors
Bathtub Agape spoon bath