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A customised stainless steel tub makes an eye-catching feature in the master bath of this refurbished row house

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When asked to come up with a scheme that's different and interesting, architects and designers use a diverse range of tools to satisfy this request.

Virginia architect David Jameson responded to such a brief by employing contrast – in colour, texture and material selection – and continuity.

The refurbished master bedroom pictured on these pages occupies the third floor of a four-level, 1880s row house in a historic area of Washington DC. The owners commissioned Jameson to transform the original space, which featured two bedrooms and a bathroom, into a master bedroom with a vestibule, a dressing room and a laundry.

"They wanted an interesting, minimalist design that would take advantage of the attic area above the third level," says Jameson.

While few major structural changes were made, aside from raising the ceilings, the spaces were reworked to transform one of the bedrooms into a light, spacious bathroom. This symmetrical room incorporates a glass-walled shower, a WC, matching vanities and a large, custom-made tub.

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Made from stainless steel, this deep, oval bath tub sits in front of an existing bay window, making it the visual focal point of the room. The owners asked Jameson for a tub big enough for two people to enjoy. In addition to this practical requirement, they also wanted it to be a beautiful, sculptural piece, he says. Its simple, reflective form contrasts with the backdrop created by the white plaster walls and original double-hung windows.

A special feature of the tub's design is the chrome tap spout. Mounted on a rectangular stainless steel stand beside the tub, it becomes a separate and distinct element that doesn't disrupt the tub's simple contours.

On the walls at either end of the tub, the custom-made matching vanity units, with integral hand basins and towel rings, are each fabricated from a single piece of shaped stainless steel.

The use of stainless steel continues through to the master bedroom. Here, curved panels of perforated stainless steel hang over the customised bed – also made from stainless steel. The same material is used for a rolling window shutter, the stairway balustrade and two tall storage units.

"Carrying certain materials through from the bathroom to the bedroom, creates a sense of cohesion in this relatively small space," says Jameson.

In contrast, the walls, floor and ceiling are clad in lacquered oriented strandboard panels.

"In response to the clients' desire for something interesting, we created a sort of tension between certain elements. For example, we juxtaposed the raw, light-absorbent strandboard with the smooth, refined stainless steel," says the architect.

Transporting everything to the work site posed a significant challenge. The 70cm wide stairway that leads up to this level became the major constrainer of the project, he says.

"To get around this, most of the custom-made stainless steel and wood fixtures were designed in pieces and hoisted up through the windows, then assembled in situ."

First published date: 23 July 2004

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Credit List

Architect David Jameson, AIA, David Jameson Architect Inc (Alexandria, VA)
Bath and vanity Custom made in stainless steel by AK Metal Fabricators
Taps Polished chromefrom Kroin
Shower stall Frameless glass
Shower fittings Hansgrohe
Flooring Carrara marblefrom Stonesource
Tiles Pietra Cardosafrom Stonesource
Toilet and bidet Toto Carlisle in white
Bedroom cabinetry Ebonised ash
Bedroom wall, floor and ceiling coverings Oriented strandboard
Lighting Leucos
Ventilation Panasonic
Windows From Weathershield with 3M Etch Film