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Four statement-making baths to inspire your home upgrade

  • 8 min to read

Bathing Beauties 

 These four statement-making baths from around the state are bound to provide plenty of inspiration.

Think big

Featuring large-format quartz tiles, this Washington Depot bath is a study in cool sophistication.

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Enough was enough. The owner of this Washington Depot bath had had it with grout. Grout that had mildew. Grout that had grime. Grout between each and every teeny tiny tile that, because of the room’s lack of ventilation, needed to be endlessly scrubbed, scrubbed and scrubbed some more. Big changes were called for, and “big” was exactly what designer Diane Keller of Litchfield Hills Kitchen and Bath in New Preston had in mind for this bathroom revamp. For inspiration, she turned to, of all places, the kitchen.

You’ve heard of the popularity of quartz countertops? (Thanks to their durability, stain resistance and the abundance of color choices and design styles available, National Kitchen & Bath Association surveys show quartz countertops leaving even granite in the dust.) Well, Keller lined the shower of this chic “new” bath with big ol’ quartz panels that echo the timeless look of Carrara marble. Think of the unusual application as, “essentially a countertop material used on a vertical plane,” Keller says. It’s a smooth and virtually seamless look that complements the current celebration of large-format tiles in bathroom design. Speaking of which: The floor of this bath is bordered with 12-inch-by-24-inch porcelain tiles (remember: bigger tiles mean less of that pesky grout) with a “carpet” of hexagonal tiles at its center. On the walls, a sophisticated mix of large-format Carrara and porcelain tiles accented with glass wraps the whole room at 44 inches beneath walls painted an icicle gray.

The previous bath had been all about “brown and rusty tones with lots of tumbled marble,” Keller says. This time around, the homeowners wanted a minimalistic look that was “clean and crisp” with “subtle movement.” They wanted it kept “neutral and monochromatic” in order for the eye to “catch different textures and shapes as opposed to contrasting colors as it flowed through the space.” Floors, for example, are matte finish, while walls are all about gleam and gloss. A sleek wood vanity topped with the same quartz that lines the shower, wood-framed mirrors and an accent bench bring in some earthy warmth, while polished-nickel hardware, which Keller considers “jewelry for the room,” adds a touch of shimmer and shine. 

We’re all grown-ups here

Packed with pizzazz, this Milford master bath and powder room are designed for style and safety.

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This Milford home was originally built in 1918, but when its current homeowners purchased it some 24 years ago, they gutted it, and, with the help of designer Kyong Agapiou of Designs by Kyong in Orange, made it their own. Fast-forward a couple of decades of birthdays, graduations and everyday living, and the couple, now in their 60s with an additional home in Florida and an empty nest here at home, found themselves not quite as fond of kid-friendly, beach-themed baths lined with schools of colorful fish. (Can you blame them?) “They wanted something more mature and sophisticated for this stage of their lives,” Agapiou says. “The trend toward simplicity is huge right now,” she explains. “People like the clean look. They want to simplify their lives — and that includes the bathroom.” Agapiou’s clients were no different. The goal for both their master and hall-bath makeover, she says, was for each to feel “sophisticated, modern, updated and serene” with a heavy emphasis on spa-like luxury and organic influences.

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It started with finding stone for the master bath. “My clients love natural materials, so our goal was to find the perfect stone to feature in the shower, which is the first thing you see when you enter the room,” Agapiou says. They found it in statement-making polished arabescato orobico marble, used as a vertical slab to create visual height and, when combined with large-format white porcelain tiles with gray and beige horizontal striations, provide a soothing color scheme for the room. Because the clients “no longer felt safe going in and out of bathtubs” as they were aging, the “functional luxury” of a shower with seating, an array of snazzy showerheads and temperature/pressure controls was the focus.

Greater comfort came with added features like heated floors, cubbies set at lower heights for comfort and a luxurious TOTO Neorest dual-flush toilet with a heated seat among its many features. In the hall bath, a wall of built-in storage that had outlived its use was removed to add a boldly patterned accent wall of geometric tiles in a mix of honed and polished beachwood, driftwood and white thassos marble that couldn’t be more up-to-the-minute and was supplied (as was all tile, plumbing and cabinetry) by the Bender showroom in New Haven. The easy-breezy color scheme continued with a Kohler jacquard vanity in felt gray with chrome pulls. Again, an organic look that is both sophisticated and stylish.

Serenity now

An ultra-modern, award-winning Ridgefield bath provides a peaceful paradise.

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The HOBI Awards, sponsored by the Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Connecticut, are pretty much the Oscars of the home-building industry. Last November, at the state’s 25th annual HOBI Awards, this master bath from Clark Construction in Ridgefield had the honor of receiving the HOBI for “Best Remodeled Bath Under $100,000.” Seeing it, we can’t say that we’re surprised one bit.

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“The entire space is a work of art,” says company president Ross Clark, who served as lead designer for the project. “Its materials and textures speak for themselves.” Sure, sleek gadgets and gizmos aplenty (more on those in a minute) may add what the homeowners like to call “wow power” to the room, but that “wow,” Clark says, “is counterbalanced with quiet colors and soft drama, creating a serene place to relax and get away from it all.”

Glossy Laminam porcelain slabs in the shower and behind the Wellborn vanity and custom backlit LED mirror are offset by the texture of a (heated) herringbone tile floor. (Want your own? “The wood look is hugely popular in tiles,” Clark says, “and because of this there are tons of options out there.”) The luxury fixtures from Brizo are polished nickel, “which 80 to 90 percent of our clients choose,” Clark says. And, yes, despite the fact that only about 50 percent of master baths have tubs these days, this sanctuary features a glorious freestanding Elise soaking tub from MTI Baths.

“Enormous attention to detail was required in order to fit everything in just perfectly and use every inch of space,” Clark says. To add storage and keep the clutter down, there’s a window seat with drawers below as well as a full-height Robern medicine cabinet that doubles as a charging station and provides a full-length mirror on the inside.

And then there’s the shower, of which Clark says he is most proud. The entire floor of the open-concept bathroom, in fact, is pitched to a linear drain at the back of this spectacular curbless glass-enclosed shower, while the “smart shower” at the heart of said beauty is U by Moen, which allows for a “personalized showering experience.” The homeowners may start, stop and pause the shower with their voice or create a pre-set within the U by Moen app and start it with Alexa, Siri or Google while still snuggled beneath the covers. They may even ask their devices to kindly notify them when their custom setting has been reached.

Sigh. “Alexa? Can you hear us? Set shower to 112 degrees. We’re ready.”

A loo with a view

A splendid vista of Long Island Sound is at the heart of this relaxing space in Madison.

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Pamela Ciccarello of Covenant Kitchens and Baths in Westbrook describes the homeowners of this new build on Long Island Sound in Madison as a “young family” who wanted a home they could “live in, work in and play in.” Working in conjunction with interior designer Julie Furey of Julians Interiors in Madison, Ciccarello also deemed it imperative that the happy homeowners score a top-notch bathroom retreat in which to relax, one that combines the best in function with all the glory of natural form.

“This bath was designed to flow from the soft color palette of the rest of the home,” Furey says. The goal? A “casual, relaxed look with organic tones, textures and finishes that are calming and easy to live with.” Natural limestone tile was chosen for the expansive two-person shower because of its casualness and warmth (and the snazzy giant rain showerhead certainly doesn’t hurt), while industrial-style, oil-rubbed bronze hardware was selected to give the home what Furey calls “a feeling of timelessness.” Vinyl textured grasscloth by Thibaut in what Ciccarello says is a “smoky gray-green” was chosen for the walls to frame the handsome windows that flood the room with natural light, while the warm wide-plank walnut on the floors contrasts with the creamy white of the streamlined vanities Covenant designed for opposite ends of the room. 

Today, “people seem to want bathrooms with dedicated spaces for each separate purpose [i.e. one vanity for me, and one for you] — which leads, of course, to larger baths,” Ciccarello says. Opting for a separate, private area for the toilet, for example, is also “back in full force,” she adds. Oddly enough, “It’s the opposite of what’s happening in kitchens these days where everything is open,” she says. Go figure.

The room’s centerpiece soaking tub with blue-ocean views was admittedly a bit of what Furey calls “a challenge” because of the need for a tub that was narrow but long, yet Kohler made it happen with this beauty that is centered in front of the windows just so. It is, without a doubt, the best seat in the house.


Oh, the possibilities

Bath basics you need to know before the demolition begins.

Tempted? We don’t blame you. We are, too. And so, in an effort to get you started on the bathroom of your dreams, we asked Frank Christino, owner of Christino Kitchens & Remodeling in Glastonbury and a general contractor who has been in the kitchen and bath biz since 1985, for his expert advice on some key things to consider before you take the first step. 

Talk it out. Find people who have done a bath remodel recently, Christino starts out. Ask them what went right and went wrong. Ask them what they might do differently the next time around. Get referrals and then talk to your town building department to see if whomever you’re considering hiring has had any issues.

Be organized. And hire someone who’s organized as well. “Bathrooms are a lot of work,” Christino says. “In fact, they’re way more work than kitchens. Ask any pro which they prefer to work on and they will always say ‘kitchens.’ ” There are a lot of little pieces and parts that go into creating a bath, and a lot to keep track of — you need someone who is capable of doing that.

Get to know yourself. “It’s easy to pick out beautiful materials,” Christino says. That’s the fun part. But what you really need to consider is what goals you’re trying to achieve. Who’ll be using this particular bath and what are their physical needs? Establish a “must have” and a “wish list” as you consider your lifestyle and routine.

Be practical. “Function has to come first and looks second,” Christino says. It’s not just about looking good. I.e., those smooth and shiny floors you fantasize about can be incredibly dangerous when wet. That snazzy new showerhead you have your eye on may not in actuality deliver enough pressure. These are the things to think about now — and put to the test whenever possible. (Many plumbing suppliers, for example, have “wet” showrooms where you can do just that.)

Consider resale. “If you’re thinking about selling in the next five years or so, it’s really not just about you,” Christino says. Remember to consider resale value and keep things from getting too personal.

Yes, you do need a budget. And be honest about it. “A lot of people are afraid to give a budget, but it really helps us find the best products for you,” Christino says. “The more accurate your budget, the more accurate we can be.”

This article appeared in the October 2019 issue of Connecticut Magazine. You can subscribe here, or find the current issue on sale hereSign up for our newsletter to get the latest and greatest content from Connecticut Magazine delivered right to your inbox. Got a question or comment? Email editor@connecticutmag.com, or contact us on Facebook @connecticutmagazine or Twitter @connecticutmag.