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Marble baths in Rome inspired the design of this modernized bathroom in a historic Chicago row house


W hen the walls start coming down in arenovation, the options open up for redefining the interior rooms. Creative thinking that takes advantage of architectural features can lead to innovative uses of space and materials.

A pair of attached row houses in the Mid-North Historic District of Chicago presented architect Todd Main the opportunity to create a spacious family home.

As part of the total renovation of the two houses, the owners wanted to move the third-floor master bedroom from the front of the building to the back. This opened up a large area with a bay window that would become the master bathroom.

"We wanted to retain elements of the Italianate architecture of the building, so the bathroom was modeled after a Roman bath, with extensive use of marble," Main says. "The bay window presented an interesting position for the bathtub, which has excellent views but is nicely screened by the branches of a mature tree."

An original fireplace in black-painted marble was retained at the entry to the bathroom, and gives warmth and a sense of romance to the room. Also, the original Victorian-style moldings were rebuilt around the bay window, each one constructed of five strips of wood fitted together.


To combine the historical elements with a more modern look, Main introduced an Art Deco theme with the angled plinth and tub deck. The 10 foot-wide bay window is filled with the marble deck surrounding the Jacuzzi bathtub. Access to the controls is through two wood panels beside the marble, which is angled to form a natural toekick.

Cherry wood vanities in a dark satin stain with a book-matched veneer make a strong contrast to the white marble. Mounted to the wall, they seem to float above the floor.

Functionality was emphasized with his and hers vanities and a double-sized shower. The shower has two heads, one fixed at 7½ feet, the other adjustable at a lower level. They reflect the different heights of the owners and eliminate the need to move the shower head.

Glass panels enclose the shower, with one frosted panel adjacent to the toilet. It sits behind a frosted glass door that gives both light andprivacy to the separate space.

Accents that complete the Art Deco look include an Andy Warhol print, simple nickel drawer pulls and Philippe Starck faucets.

First published date: 24 April 2003

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Above A double-wide shower features his and hers shower heads, set at different heights, and three body spray jets.