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The soft hues of solid cedar give this ensuite a natural, sauna-like ambience

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Much has been said about connecting interior spaces to the outdoors by using natural materials. While ceramic and porcelain bathtubs are found in most bathrooms, timber bathtubs, with an obvious visual connection to nature, are quite rare.

The exterior of this waterside home features distinctive timber lattice work and shutters. The aim of architect Christian Anderson, from Sumich Architects, and of the owner, was to introduce a timber element into the master bedroom's ensuite.

"The three bathrooms in this house are similarly sized and share many common materials. In this ensuite, however, we wanted to introduce the timber element to create a luxurious, soft, enclosed feeling," says Anderson.

The bathtub, complete with a square block seat, was custom-made from 100mm solid redwood cedar. It was joined with timber dowels before being laminated.

"It's really the final element in the journey from the outside to the interior. It brings softness into the most private sanctum of the house," he says.

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Turning on the bathtub taps creates a waterfall effect, with the water cascading from a horizontal-shaped spout, mounted on the back wall of the tub.

Adding to the warm atmosphere created by the bathtub are walls clad with sweetly scented cedar. Other natural materials include honed basalt slabs on the floors.

To maintain clean, uncluttered lines, Anderson specified wall-hung vanities. White ceramic tiles float back under the mirrored cabinetry, providing a ledge to store items in use.

Underfloor hot water heating, with an individual thermostat, is used to maintain optimum comfort levels in all conditions. The distinctive heated towel rail, made from chrome-plated nickel, was custom made by the owner and contributes a nautical element to the room.

The other bathrooms received a similar treatment to this ensuite, says Anderson. However, instead of timber, structural concrete panels were left exposed, then polished and sealed.

First published date: 20 June 2006

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Credit List

Architect Lawrence Sumich and Christian Anderson, from Sumich Architects (Auckland)
Flooring Honed basalt slabs
Walls Feature wall of sweetly scented cedar
Ceilings AquaGib
Tapware Meta range from Dornbracht
Toilet Wall-hung pan from Starck 2
Basins Vero
Cabinets Recessed mirrored wall cabinets
Heating Underfloor hot water with individual thermostat
Towel rail Custom-made heated towel rails
Bath Solid redwood cedar tub
Audio In-ceiling speakers connected to an intelligent management system