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Two small contemporary bathrooms

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Even a small bathroom can pack a lot of punch when bold forms and innovative materials are teamed with an interesting color palette

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Good bathroom design is not dependent on size – it's about making the best of the space. And often it's the small bathrooms that inspire the most interesting design responses.

The bathrooms on these pages were both designed by architect Linda Brettler, who is passionate about using tiles in innovative ways to make a strong design statement.

For the bathroom shown above, a sculptural stone sink provided the starting point.

"There was a lot to squeeze into a small space with this bathroom," says Brettler. "So everything was chosen to ensure the space would not look too enclosed. The vanity, for example, is open, with wood shelving in quartersawn oak. And we placed a towel rail on the front, as there was a limited amount of wall space."

Visual continuity is provided by matching overhead shelving, which appears to slide through into the custom medicine cabinet.


Decorative purple-toned mosaic tiles, chosen to complement the stone sink, wrap around the room, alongside larger glass tiles. They also form a vertical band on one wall. To further link the two spaces, the bench seat in the shower extends right through the glass wall.

The second bathroom, shown on these pages, is in the architect's own home. Brettler says the inexpensive blue porcelain tiles were the impetus for this design. These have the appearance of small mosaics, but are actually 12in by 12in tiles.

"To add even more oomph, I introduced a white valance over the tub, and had a fountain installed on the wall outside, which makes for a pleasant outlook."

Brettler added green tiles to the floor that are in keeping with the Art Deco look of the rest of the interior in the 1920s house.

"I also discovered a perfect wallpaper with little birds that pick up the colors in the bathroom, and links to the warm red of the wall in the adjoining vestibule. The shower curtain features a similar, but not identical pattern."

For a finishing touch, the architect found a vintage bird cage and had this transformed into a light fixture that has become a talking point for guests.

First published date: 13 July 2014

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Credit List

First bathroom Architect Linda Brettler AIA, Linda Brettler Architect (Los Angeles)
Builder Herman Construction Group
Vanity cabinet Quarter-sawn oak
Basin Altmans honed stone
Faucets Graff G Eco
Shower fittings Eco Valve
Floor tiles 1960s vintage from Mortarless Building Supply Co
Wall tiles Imperial Tile (discontinued)
Toilet Toto Second bathroom
Architect Linda Brettler AIA, Linda Brettler Architect (Los Angeles)
Lighting Thrift store bird cage repurposed by Ray Ferra's Antiques & Iron Accents
Shower curtain Bloomingdale's
Paints Benjamin Moore
Mouldings Superior Moulding Inc
Sink, mirror and faucets Vintage