This Kathleen Hay designed master bath on Nantucket includes his-and-hers closets, a bathing room with dramatic views, laundry room, a marble shower and a powder room for the toilet and sink.
LONG THE “NECESSARY EVIL” of home renovation, bathrooms and powder rooms are today becoming a designer’s paradise. Spa-like master baths and striking powder rooms sure to make a lasting impression with guests are popping up on more homeowners’ wish lists during residential renovations. “A powder room is a space where you can take some greater risks because it’s a transient space—people are in it, they’re out of it,” says interior designer Dennis Duffy. “You can do more dramatic things because you’re not immersed in it for any great length of time.”
In one Maine waterfront home, Duffy found inspiration in luxury Grand- Craft boats to create a powder room appointed with parquet wood pattern and linen wall coverings and highly varnished walnut counters. Another designer, the Nantucket-based designer Kathleen Hay, abandoned tradition in creating a lavatory for a modern bachelor pad. She opted for sage pinehued walls, bottle-green sinks and halogen lights.
While powder rooms are designed to make an impact with guests, master baths are viewed more as a haven for residents. “Gone are the days where there’s one bathroom in a house and the whole family uses it,” says Hay, who favors clean, simple designs with “not a lot of fuss and not a lot of unnecessary stuff.”
“People really are looking to the bathroom as a sanctuary. There’s been a call for freestanding tubs for a while, but that trend hasn’t gone out. And now people want televisions in their bathrooms— they’re spending time there and relaxing,” says Hay.
“People are looking for comfort, for a sense of serenity,” says Duffy, whose science background inspires his modernist spaces that feature a balance of colors, textures and scale. “[The bathroom] is the first space you see in the morning, and it’s the last space you see at night. I find with most of my clients, people still want a calming atmosphere; they’re not looking for high drama, high contrast.”
To create a soothing environment, designers look to higherquality materials such as marble and glass. Hay even insists her clients sit on different toilets to ensure the amenities are just right for their needs. Rainhead showerheads, hand showers and thermostatic valves are other popular additions. For those who have the luxury of abundant square footage, separating showers, toilets and storage into distinct rooms is another popular option.
Also gone are the days of the simple on-off switch for bathroom lighting. “People want the ability to have bright light and dim light,” says Duffy.
“You want enough recessed lighting so that you can blast it at night or if you’re cleaning, but you can dim it for some ambience,” says Hay. “I usually do at least two recessed lights in a shower because there’s nothing worse than being in a gloomy cave.”
Interior designers are also finding that demographics play heavily into a bathroom’s design. Hay sees clients creating fun and functional bathroom spaces for children, while Duffy has had several clients preparing master baths for their later years when handicap access may become necessary.
But whether the client is a young couple, a family or empty nesters, both designers insist that one of the most important things about renovating a bathroom is getting it right the first time. “I always tell my clients when they’re designing a bathroom, it’s not something you want to do again soon,” says Hay. “In the budget, I always talk about taking time with the bathrooms and not just breezing through them and saying, ‘We’ll address those in a year or two,’ because you’re not going to want to.”
“People want the latest and greatest gadget for functionality and comfort, but they also look for an environment, because this is not something people change very often,” says Duffy. “You can reupholster your sofa or get a new dining table, but you can’t change your kitchen and bathroom very often. It has to have lasting power.” Kathleen Hay Designs, 508-228-1219; kathleenhaydesigns.com. Duffy Design Group, 530 Harrison Ave., 2nd Fl., 617-542-2074; duffydesigngroup.com
BOTTOM: Dennis Duffy created this nauticalinspired powder room at a Maine retreat using Maya Romanoff wood veneer and linen wall coverings, Dornbracht satin nickel fixtures, torchdesign sconces and a walnut counter complete with matte marine varnish.