This powder room is tucked under a staircase, a common location for a first-floor bathroom in 1920s Richmond, Va., rowhouses. The homeowners decided to renovate the existing 15-square-foot space during a larger remodel. The bath was not part of the original plan, so remodeler Mark Franko, co-owner of Franko-LaFratta Construction, and staff designer J.B. Elko, worked with the architect and interior decorator on the custom vanity. The unique piece holds a copper sink and was created by Franko-LaFratta’s in-house cabinet company, Vangarde Woodworks. “Anything our clients can envision, we can build,” Franko says, noting that an in-house cabinet company is especially helpful for a project like this where several materials had to fit together with little room for error. “More thought and engineering went into this vanity than usually goes into an entire house,” Franko says.
—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.
The walls, floor, and angled ceiling in the powder room are tiled with the same mosaic tile, with a contrasting diamond tile on one segment of the wall. The mirror behind the vanity makes the room feel bigger.
The vanity is secured to the wall with a steel frame. Mark Franko and his team made a wood mock-up of the steel frame, which had to fit the shape of the vanity — especially the waste pipe. “There was no way to describe it in a drawing,” Franko says. He wanted to make sure that if a guest leaned on the vanity top, it would hold. The granite countertop is spaced slightly away from the wall, so if it flexes, it won’t crack the mirror behind it.
All the Trimmings
The vanity is made of alternating pieces of mahogany and maple trim. The design picks up on the reeded trim on the door casings of the main house, as well as the home’s original columns. “It’s as if we took a fluted column and bent it and made it conical,” Franko says.
Instead of a conventional surface-mounted faucet, the team chose a wall installation so the bowl is closer to the wall, which is important in a small space. The faucet had to be carefully centered on the vanity. Franko’s crew readied the pipes for the faucet components. The glass contractor took measurements, cut the holes and installed the mirror.