Art Deco Bathroom Adds Unique Character to Bungalow Remodel

Homeowners wanted the remodeled master bathroom to make a bold statement; art deco proved the way to go.

March 31, 2008
Bathroom Remodel
Products List
A Smart Move

The new second-floor bathroom features an interesting blend of materials and finishes to create the art deco-look the homeowners desired.
After photos by Stanley Livingston

The glass and polished chrome in the new art deco bathroom in this craftsman bungalow in Ann Arbor, Mich., delivers on the bold statement the homeowners intended to make when they selected its bright finishes.

The bathroom's modernist style is a deliberate departure from the traditional character of the 80-year-old home, says project remodeler Bruce Curtis, founder of Ann Arbor-based Washtenaw Woodwrights. And this is exactly what his clients were hoping to achieve. "They really wanted their personal bathroom to have a lot of pizzazz, so when it came to materials selection, they made very deliberate choices in order to create a space that would stand apart from the rest of the house."

The upper floor bathroom marks the culmination of an ambitious, award-winning whole-house restoration project in which the two-story home was transformed from two rental units into the single-family residence it was originally intended to be.

Replacing what had been a converted kitchen for second-floor tenants, the bathroom now serves as a unique and luxurious master bath for the homeowners, who purchased the bungalow several years earlier with the goal of restoring it.

The project was undertaken in two separate stages, says Curtis, who worked closely with local architect, Michael Klement of Architectural Resource, and the homeowners from start to finish.


The bathroom remodel came after a new front porch, kitchen and breakfast nook was completed. In place of the original hall bathroom that had served the bedrooms on this level, the home's upper floor now includes a very handy second-floor laundry room.

Curtis calls the new bath "a real show stopper." It features distinctive blue glass block walls; a frosted glass vanity with two countertop-mounted, vessel-style lavatories; an oversized, open shower with a ceiling-mounted rain shower head and wall-mounted body spray system; a separate linen storage alcove with its own counter; and a semi-private toilet.

Color Schematics

His client's tenacious adherence to the color and texture scheme they envisioned for their bathroom presented Curtis with a significant challenge when it came to maintaining the original production schedule for the project. In fact, the overall job took nearly a year to complete due to delays incurred in either procuring materials the clients had chosen or reordering them in different shades when the homeowners were unhappy with the colors when the products arrived.

The clients selected a new, deeper shade for the glass tile used for the shower surround as well as for the tinted glass blocks that form the shower and divider walls. The glass vanity countertop also had to be returned to the manufacturer several times due to imperfections embedded within its surface.

"We really lost control of this project in terms of time because of the materials themselves. It is definitely not our style to have a project like this go so far beyond the projected completion date," says Curtis. "But when you break the mold of working with materials that you are comfortable and familiar with and branch out into using materials that you have not used before, delays are to be expected."

"I have certainly learned how important it is, when you are experimenting with new products or techniques, to understand and plan for difficulty in obtaining them in the first place, as well as the potential for delays in case things need to be reordered or reinstalled."

His advice:

  • Know that you can get the materials that have been selected and understand the lead time required for obtaining them.
  • Communicate this information to your client from the start.
  • Research any unusual materials or installation techniques that may be necessary so you can get the best results the first time.

Respecting his clients as part of the overall design team, as well as keeping them up-to-date on the project status — and the cost increases from change orders — minimized his clients' frustration at the extended schedule, says Curtis.

Ultimately, Curtis says he owes the successful outcome of the project to the cooperative working relationship among himself, Klement and the homeowners.

"There were really a lot of design heads working on this part of the project the whole time. This really made a huge difference because you just can't pull off a job like this without that.

"And, finally, when you have something turn out as well as this one did, all of the challenges you faced getting there are forgotten down the road."


The alcove between the shower and the walk-in closet was the perfect place for the linen storage cabinet and counter.

Bathroom Remodel

REMODELER: Washtenaw Woodwrights, Ann Arbor, Mich.
ARCHITECT: Architectural Resource, Ann Arbor, Mich.
AGE OF HOME: 80 years old
SCOPE OF WORK: To create a compact, efficiently functioning master bath within minimum available floor space

Products List

Tile shower surround: Walker Zanger Showerheads: Grohe Cabinetry: Holiday Kitchens, custom Glass block: Ventroarredo Sinks: Kohler Faucets: Newport Brass Toilet: Porcher Floor tile: Dal Tile Lighting: Robern, Halo, Kichler

The vanity counter is actually 1/2-inch plate glass with a frosted edge and base that rests on a custom-fabricated, chrome-plated steel tube support system. Two of the three mirrors above the vanity hide recessed medicine cabinets.

A Smart Move

His client's request for a second-floor laundry room to replace the original bathroom on their home's remodeled second floor did not faze remodeler Bruce Curtis.

In reality, he says, adding a laundry room is much less complicated than adding a bath. "Once you have the water lines in, all you need is a grey box in the wall for drainage." In this case, the job was easier because plumbing already existed.

"These homeowners, like most, were concerned about what would happen in the event that the washing machine overflows, but that is not really a problem these days. There are lots of products on the market today to alleviate those kinds of worries."

One solution that Curtis finds works well for second-floor laundry rooms is a washer that sits inside a specially designed floor pan that is lined with sensor strips. When a water leak is detected, a relay automatically shuts off the water supply to the washing machine, preventing an overflow.

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