“The couple who own the home are repeat customers of mine,” says designer David Stimmel, owner of Stimmel Consulting Group, in Ambler, Pa. “I did a stunning kitchen for them when they lived in Philadelphia, but the arrival of a baby boy prompted them to flee the city to raise their son in the suburbs. Now they both work out of their suburban home.”
The couple's home, an 8,000-square-foot single-story structure built during the 1970s, is sited in beautiful woodland in Wyncote, Pa. But, as lovely as the tree-filled setting may be, the home's existing 450-square-foot master bathroom seemed small and outdated, especially compared with the rest of the home's open, modern-style interiors. It was time for a change.
“Since he is European and the couple frequently travels to England, they have had more exposure to open, airy baths, and that's what they wanted here,” Stimmel says. “I decided to bring the outside in and lose the '70s ‘love-in'–style bathtub and pink Formica countertops to give the room a more sophisticated feel, open to the bedroom, yet still warm … not drafty.”
Stimmel brought in general contractor Walter Gaunt of George Gaunt & Son, Ivyland, Pa., to work on the project. “David and I have been working together for some time. We have similar ideas,” Gaunt says. “David shows the client several designs. After he discusses the designs with them and narrows it down, he and I will meet to see if the resulting ideas are feasible as far as how they are to be constructed. I might have a different spin on it; I tend to troubleshoot, especially with the cabinet specs.”
Wide Open To fulfill the goal of creating an expansive, light-filled bathroom, Stimmel's design called for removing several partitions and opening up space from the small hallway and closet that had been part of the existing bath, and bringing views of the outdoors inside. The designer took advantage of the relaxing view offered by the wooded lot, with its many tall mature trees, by including a window with sloping glass skylight in the spacious shower area.
“Many clients now are requesting large showers with an array of options, instead of a bathtub,” Stimmel says. “Removing the old soaking tub was a key element in this remodel.
“The window-skylight is raised so the focal point is the treetops, not the house next door. The skylight creates a blanket of treetops above the shower. The window height provides privacy, yet floods the space with natural light,” the designer says.
Three walls of the shower area are clad in 16-by-16-inch Raja slate tile, as well as the bathroom floor; the shower floor has 4-by-4-inch Raja slate tile. The radius wall separating the shower from the adjacent vanity area is covered with a custom blend of iridescent and non-iridescent 1-by-1-inch glass tiles laid in a brick pattern on the inner (shower) side. The shower bench in the corner, with its curved edge for comfortable seating, is clad in honed Black Absolute granite.
One of the shower walls includes a frosted glass panel, allowing daylight to filter into the adjacent toilet compartment that is accessed via a space-saving pocket door. This toilet area includes built-in shelving for storing magazines and toiletries.
“The curved shower partition is a major, yet subtle, design element,” Stimmel says. “It leans in toward the shower to help retain heat and to avoid water splashing out, and it provides a place to hang towels. The top of the partition is also angled down to slope toward the floor to allow light from the skylight to reach the bedroom.”