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Taking the waters

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With its large tub, watery-blue glass tiles and glazed steam-shower room, this master bathroom has the hallmarks of a sophisticated spa

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Health spas are not only relaxing – they are also rejuvenating. So it's not surprising that the idea of creating such a retreat at home is proving popular.

The owners of the master bathroom featured on these pages wanted their new suite to be a place of escape and luxury. Architect Jim Fraerman says creating a feeling of serenity was essential.

Commissioned to design an extensive renovation of the entire house, Fraerman says space restrictions did not apply in the design of the master suite. It occupies the top floor of a new extension, which meant it could be designed to suit the owners' precise requirements – a luxury not usually afforded to refurbishments.

The suite needed to incorporate a large spa bath, his-and-hers basins and a large, twin steam shower. A separate toilet room was also required.

"As the tub is very large, we positioned it in front of the windows and made it the centerpiece of the room," says Fraerman. "A skylight directly over the tub provides additional natural light."

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The barrel vault ceiling also highlights the position of the tub.

"The ceiling continues an architectural theme established in the rest of the house, where different vaulted ceilings add visual interest to key rooms," Fraerman says.

To further link the bathroom with the other rooms, a decorative crown moulding was installed around the bathroom walls at a standard height. This also provides a sense of scale to the room.

However, the light, spacious feel of the bathroom is largely due to the extensive use of glass, which helps to create a serene, watery look. The separate toilet and shower rooms have frosted- or clear-glazed doors, and windows that look back into the main part of the bathroom. Watery-blue glass tiles line the shower and the lower part of the bathroom walls, enhancing an underwater feeling.

"We wanted to introduce a sense of translucency," says Fraerman. "The glass tiles, the mirror and the glass vanity have a transparency that adds to the light, airy nature of the surroundings."

The cantilevered vanity is curved to echo the round shape of the tub and the barrel vault ceiling. The glass basins have chrome fittings, including exposed chrome pipes beneath the glass.

"In some respects, there are some very contemporary features in the bathroom," says Fraerman. "But the overall feeling is still a quiet sense of traditional luxury."

To retain a clean, streamlined look, there are no obvious storage cabinets. Small medicine cabinets are inset into the walls either side of the vanity top. Spare towels are kept in a large wicker basket. Further storage is provided in the his-and-hers closets just outside the bathroom.

Inset shelving on one side of the tub is used to display decorative items. The rectangular pattern of the shelves echoes the frosted glass windows. By contrast, flooring tiles are laid in a horizontal pattern.

"This was a way to avoid a grid-like feel. It also provides a better visual balance to the curved shapes in the room," says Fraerman.

First published date: 23 May 2004

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Credit List

Architect Jim Fraerman, AIA, ALA, Fraerman Associates Architecture (Highland Park, IL)
Main contractor Canada & Klein
Tub Riverbath from Kohler
Basin Spun glass from Kohler
Faucets Falling Water in Chrome from Kohler
Shower fittings Grohe
Floor tiles American Olean
Wall tiles Chiaro glass from Fineline
Toilet and bidet Toto
Skylight Velux
Window Marvin Window Company
Vanity lighting Brass Light Gallery