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This bathroom's restrained palette creates a gallery-like ambience – where amenities double as sculptures and the scenery is framed in picture windows


Letting scenery take pride of place in a bathroom doesn't have to be at the expense of an interesting interior. One way to make the most of both indoors and outdoors is to have them stand in quiet contrast.

This bathroom is part of a whole-house remodel by architect Björn Skaptason. The home has an attractive, leafy outlook, and the architect has maximised appreciation of the space in several ways.

A restrained palette of white – and, to a lesser extent, black – creates an art gallery-like decor that lets the colour and life of nature stand out at the windows. The effect is all the greater through Skaptason's retention of classic window frames, which are in keeping with the circa 1890s home, and delicately frame the picturesque views.

"A floor-to-ceiling mirror visually doubles the already generous amount of natural light and greenery," says Skaptason. "However, this mirror fulfils another strategic function, too. The suite of curvaceous utilities featured in the bathroom includes two standing elliptical basins. By backing these onto the mirror, they effectively look like freestanding sculptural forms, matching the nearby freestanding elliptical bathtub."

The overall effect is a little like a minimalist sculpture gallery. The white walls that maximise the scenery also make the most of these fixtures.


"With so much light flooding into the space, the off-white walls act as backdrops for shadow plays from the curved porcelain forms," says Skaptason. "We are bombarded by so many colours in our day-to-day lives that I have made this space a tranquil, reflective respite, where pale tones, soft curves, shadows, and the restful look of nature hold sway."

The bathroom's celebration of form extends beyond the vanities and tub to the room itself. Vertical cabinetry pieces flank the floor-to-ceiling mirror. Their stretched dimensions lead the eye up to the ceiling, emphasising the height of the room.

"The ceiling has a sculptural presence of its own," says the architect. "By layering ceiling levels, the lower ceiling planes visually accentuate the height of the uppermost ceilings, making the room appear taller than it actually is."

In addition, the sculptured, curved ceiling lines provide an echo of the soft sculptured forms standing on the granite floor below.

"As white walls contrast with the verdant outlook, so, too do the modern ceilings contrast with the traditional windows," says Skaptason. "Everything about the space is in balance, allowing both interior and exterior to be equally well-appreciated."

First published date: 14 July 2008

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Credit List

Architect, interior designer Björn Skaptason, Atelier Architects (Reykjavík, Iceland)
Builder S & H Construction
Bathtub, basin and toilet Laufen Bagno Alessi set by Oras
Taps and shower fittings Laufen Bagno Alessi in chrome by Oras
Hot water systems Viessmann indirect
Wallcoverings Neutral-finish aluminium; painted plaster walls
Lighting Wever + Ducré Plano 2 in matt white
Ventilation Lifebreath HRV (heat-recovery ventilation)
Flooring Stained walnut; espresso polished granite
Window frames Marvin
Blinds Lutron Story by Charles Moxham Photography by Jamie Cobeldick