Stewart Alsop’s old master bathroom was an awkward, shared space that lacked the privacy a typical master bath enjoys. Building Lab's task was to create a private master bathroom and separate half-bath for guest use.

Oh, and building Lab had to include an 80-pound, handmade steel art piece above the toilet.

Scott Hargis Photo

The piece “No Unlawful Sex” was created by David Buckingham. Buckingham got the idea for the piece from a man named Owen Diaz, who sits on Market Street in San Francisco with his own version of the sign. While Diaz’s sign has more words and phrases on it, Alsop says Buckingham only took the phrase “no unlawful sex” for his art.

“By itself, you might think that it means there is no sex that is unlawful,” Alsop says. “In context, it means the exact opposite. And that’s why I love it so much.”

To help highlight the artwork, building Lab principal Stephen Shoup and his team made sure to leave plenty of space on the wall to showcase the work. “We have a skylight above it so there’s some natural light washing above it,” Shoup says.

While it may seem strange to put such a statement piece in the bathroom, “No Unlawful Sex” fits right in with the unique space. “The bathroom has a little bit of eclecticism to it,” Shoup says. “Some of the geometry is clean-lined and modern and yet we have a mixture of teak which adds real depth to it. One tile was handmade ceramic and the other is a natural stone.”

That eclecticism runs throughout the whole house. “I would say that if you’re in this person’s house, it’s a 1920s Mediterranean style building in Russian Hill, you would see and understand quickly this is a well-traveled, well-educated person. That’s expressed from a collection of art work ranging from high tech and electronic to this piece of artwork, which is handmade. It extends that theme throughout the house.”