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Bathroom with Japanese accent, porcelain tiles, Corian surfaces and soaking tub

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Master suite with natural look by Leonie von Sturmer featuring a bathroom, meditation room and office

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The bathroom is often the only place in a home where peace and privacy are a given. Many suites are created to enhance this sense of escape and respite – and none more so than this restful Japanese-influenced design.

Here, the owners bought the adjoining apartment and combined the two to create this luxury master suite. The brief to Leonie von Sturmer was to include a bedroom, ensuite bathroom, and office, along with a meditation room with a tea center and lounge area.

"The couple wanted the suite to have a serene mood and follow the seven aesthetic principles used in traditional Japanese garden design," says von Sturmer. "These include simplicity, asymmetry and understated beauty; together with a sense of nature, tranquility and freedom from habit. The spirit of these principles is carried through all spaces in this expansive, spa-like master suite."

In keeping with a resort-style sensibility, the bathroom includes a Japanese soaking tub and a luxurious steam shower. Von Sturmer set the tub in a raised plinth to accommodate the depth required. The plinth was necessary because the apartment tower is built entirely of concrete, which meant there was no space available under the floor to utilize.

The plinth, steps and shower cubicle are all in porcelain tile with a wood-inspired pattern, combining a natural aesthetic with a practical water-resistant surface. And while the bathroom follows age-old design concepts, it also achieves a modern air, evoked in its clean lines, off-center marble basins, sculptural tapware and curved stair handrail. The bathroom walls are finished in a hand-applied, textured plaster which has been highly polished. This creates a damp-resistant, almost luminous surface.


The bathroom is on one side of the suite, connecting through to the master bedroom with the meditation room, office and sitting room beyond. Sliding shoji screens were integral to the design, partitioning the areas to avoid a direct sightline from the bedroom to the office or meditation room.

"The black-lacquered tea area, at one end of the meditation room, has a Bisazza mosaic splashback depicting cranes in flight before the rising sun," says von Sturmer. "The Northern Star is set to the north within the tile square, which is inlaid in the pale wood floor."

Genuine tatami mats were imported for the meditation and tea room, and have been laid in a pattern said to bring good fortune. To enhance contemplation, a poem has been etched into the plaster wall above the black lacquer and marble prayer table.

First published date: 12 January 2015

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Credit List

Designer Leonie von Sturmer, Von Sturmer's (Ponsonby, Auckland)
Cabinet Lacquer and Bestwood Wilderness Tasman Elm
Countertops Glacier White Corian
Backsplash Bisazza mosaic tile
Flooring Main balsalt
Shower stall Etic Rovere Italian porcelain tile from Heritage Tiles
Wall treatments Plaster by Ambitec; Etic Ebano tiles from Heritage Tiles
Faucets Dornbracht MEM from Metrix
Shower fittings Dornbracht Imo shower set and Nikles XL Quadro rainshower
Tub Kaldewei Kusatsu
Basins Santiago round countertop in Nordic Grey from Robertson
Awards NKBA Trends Innovative Bathroom Award; Creative Excellence Award