Transforming two outdated Southern California bathrooms using limestone and marble
Tricks of the Trade
Christopher Grubb, president/founder of Arch-Interiors Design Group, Inc. of Beverly Hills, CA, was recently commissioned to reinvigorate a master/guest bath duo located in Studio City, CA. The bathrooms use distinctive striped surfacing along with some of Grubb’s best tools for helping small spaces appear larger.
The Master Bathroom
“The overall design goal was to update and visually expand the space into a more open design,” explained Grubb. “The room itself was exceptionally small. It had a very low ceiling with no ability to raise it. The existing vanity was low and did not function for the client’s needs. The shower had a partial wall dividing it from the room and a pony wall separated the vanity from the space. All of those separate elements made the space feel even smaller. The owners wanted a more open feel and they really wanted a Jacuzzi tub. They also required a dual vanity with a pull-out hamper, a towel warmer, a rain showerhead, a zero threshold shower entry, niches in the shower, improved lighting and a shower bench.”
Grubb used 480 square feet of polished Asher Gray marble for the walls and 105 square feet of polished porcelain tile on the floor, both from Turkey, sourced through Tri Stone in Los Angeles, CA. About 18 square feet of Caesarstone in pure white was also used for the countertops. The stone was chosen because the client had seen an image using the material and had very much responded to it. “Additionally, the striations give it a powerful and naturally graphic quality,” said Grubb.
The biggest hurdle Grubb faced with this part of the process was the striped marble. “It’s a material that some would consider daring,” he explained. “A material that a lot of people would be afraid to use. But, when it’s done right, the look is fantastic. We took a risk and it paid off. It was also tricky to pull out the various details that would help the master suite look as large as possible.”
Grubb was able to overcome this obstacle by getting creative with his arrangement.
“We arranged the tiles in a subway configuration,” he said. “This helped break up the stripes while still getting the effect of the horizontal elongation that we wanted. By emphasizing the linearity of the space, it helped to visually enlarge the room. The vanity, for example, echoes the same sense of linearity. I also included an oversized mirror above. It reflects the stripes on the opposing wall, giving the sense that the pattern is completely enveloping you in the space.”
The Guest Bathroom
The guest bathroom was in desperate need of an update. The shower was hidden by a wall and there was an attempt to conceal the toilet with a pony wall. The materials were very dated, however, the space itself was somewhat large, and so the goal was to maximize that sense of size.
For the walls, Grubb chose 396 square feet of Zebra Gray limestone from Stone Source in North Hollywood, CA. The stone is honed, has a subtle stripe, and like the master bathroom, Grubb installed a subway pattern to make the material a bit more exciting.
On the floor, there is 128 square feet of 12- x 24-inch porcelain tiles in a matte finish. Grubb aligned grout lines for a more modern effect. The room also features a 9-square-foot Caesarstone pure white vanity with oversized edge detailing.
“There was an overriding interest in a gray palette,” Grubb explained. “One concern was for the room to not look too flat but to also have a sense of the gray being warm and enveloping you as a feeling when you entered. Several gray stones were looked at and the subtle veining of the Zebra Gray was the winner. The porcelain for the floor didn’t take too long because we wanted a color that complemented the stone and anchored the room.”
In this bathroom, Grubb basically used the same concept that he applied to the master bathroom. The limestone was cut into tiles and he did them in a subway pattern to add interest. The stripes, though more subtle in this room, still help to create that sense of expanse.
However, the guest bathroom presented less of a challenge to the designer.
“The shower was a fun shower to design,” said Grubb. “Same as the master suite, it features a zero threshold entry to make the room seem bigger. The conversation we had with the clients was that the shower should be a dramatic showcase with a showerhead that was a piece of art in itself. The bench added drama as well. Since it’s ‘floating’ it helps the room feel larger, plus it’s a nice architectural feature.”
In the end, all of Grubb’s hardwork paid off. “The clients love it,” said Grubb. “They especially love the angled shower bench, which also works as an architectural element in the room, visually. It’s angled so they don’t bang their heels on it when they sit, but I exaggerated that angle just a bit to have it be more of a statement piece. They are now spaces they want to proudly show off and their guests love to use and compliment. They say it feels like they’re at a luxury hotel.”
Interior Designer: Arch-Interiors Design Group, Inc., Beverly Hills, CA
Stone Supplier: Stone Source, North Hollywood, CA
Stone Supplier: Tri Stone, Los Angeles, CA