Luxurious Master Bathroom Remodel

Creating a spa-like master bathroom can be a challenge when dealing with limited space

January 31, 2009
Gold Award
Trends in Master Bathroom Design

Carnemark Systems + Design balanced this customer's 
desire for privacy with an equal desire for an open layout in the master bathroom. Carnemard located the shower in the middle of the room and used a frosted glass strip down the middle to hide the toilet.
After photos by ©Maxwell MacKenzie

Ten years ago, the average master bathroom remodel was relatively uncomplicated.

Typically more functional than luxurious, the master bathroom design required only enough space to include a sink with a vanity, a tub/shower combo and a toilet. Homeowners' increasing desire for luxury amenities, however, has turned the master bathroom remodel into one of the more challenging jobs for designers in recent years.

Walk-in steam showers, dual vanities, whirlpool tubs and private toilet areas are just some of the many features that have become commonplace in master bathroom design, which has made the designer's job much more difficult, especially when they have to fit the client's entire wish list into the room's original footprint.

This master bathroom remodel, by Carnemark Systems + Design in Bethesda, Md., was just such a project. Part of a whole-house remodel, the owners wanted the master bathroom to include a two-person whirlpool tub, steam shower with bench, toilet area, double vanity and expanded closet.


“We sort of thought of it like a puzzle,” says owner and designer Jonas Carnemark. “When you moved one thing, other things had to move as we went around the room.”

Carnemark likes to begin the process of drawing a room layout by visualizing a photograph of the remodeled space.

“For me, the most important piece is the flow,” says Carnemark. “Not just physical flow, but visual flow — how the eye works its way around the room. I usually think about the flow first and then look at what types of finishes are pleasing to the palate.”

This customer wanted both privacy and an open flow to the room, so Carnemark was faced with an even bigger challenge. He decided to locate the steam shower in the middle of the room and enclose it in glass with a frosted strip down the middle to add visual privacy to the toilet area while still allowing for open sight lines.

Oversized gray floor tiles in this confined space help create a monolithic feel, says Carnemark, especially when balanced by the mosaic tile shower bench and column. The column became a visual focal point but began as a functional necessity because it hides the shower's plumbing, which was purposely moved away from the exterior wall to avoid pipes freezing in winter.

“In a small space like that, every inch is important,” says Carnemark. “By creating that little tower, the sort of 'shower tower,' we were able to avoid furring out the masonry wall with a thick, insulated wall. It's three inches, but that's the difference between making it work and not.”


Gold Award

Bath over $50,000 
Remodeler and architect: Carnemark Systems + Design
Project location: Washington, D.C.
Age of Home: Approximately 35 years
Scope of work: Redesign bathroom layout to incorporate better flow, two-person whirlpool tub and steam shower with bench seat.

The mosaic tiled "shower tower" was a solution for moving the plumbing off the exterior wall to avoid frozen pipes in winter.

Trends in Master Bathroom Design

1. Bigger is better. Ample space for each area has become the norm.

2. Spa-like amenities. Think steam showers with multiple body sprays, mood lighting, whirlpool tubs, heated flooring and towel warmers.

3. Dual sinks and vanities. These allow two people to get ready for work at the same time.

4. Walk-in showers. Sometimes they open to the room and can include bench seating, shelves and other niches built right into the shower.

5. Secluded toilets. Often achieved by building either a short wall or a room within a room.

6. Wall-mount faucets. Free up counter space and add a spa-like look and feel.

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