conley6.gif (2529 bytes)


Less Is More
A carefully edited bathroom makeover reflects homeowners’ specific tastes


July 2017

 Hidden high-tech elements support a number of contemporary-ornate details, including a Baroque mirror hanging above a customized double vanity and a two-person tub and shower. The project challenged design and build specialists to minimize any visible material seams.

A bathroom makeover in Wauwatosa is a testimonial to the notion that high-tech encompasses craftsmanship as well as products.

Interior designer Heather Scott of Delafield-based Bartelt. The Remodeling Resource says both played a significant role in the six-figure project — a master bath and walk-in closet renovation occupying just under 500 square feet of a 2,600-square-foot, 1920s-era Colonial.

“This project challenged everyone involved,” Scott says. “My client was inspired by places she and her husband have traveled. She pushed the envelope with her vision.”

Realizing that vision took two years, as Scott’s client absorbed the first meetings and ideas before moving forward.

“My client was focused on what she wanted,” Scott recalls. That included details reflecting specific taste, particularly in how to accommodate the homeowner couple.

A separate tub and shower were created, and each accommodates two people. The tub also needed to meet expectations — not with a whirlpool, but to keep water heated for long soakings. A specialized liner and in-wall heater combination takes the water that flows out, reheats it, and sends it back to the tub.

Large sheets of porcelain tile, which encase the oversized shower, were cut and mitered to custom fabricate a curb and floor, providing a seamless and grout-less look while allowing for a proper slope to the barely visible drain.

Tech and craftsman details abound throughout the room, including two programmable thermostatic shower valves and shower heads, heated porcelain floors, a heated multifunctional bidet toilet seat and a multilevel countertop crafted with an ogee edge. The mahogany vanity cabinetry was custom layered with a stain and silvery metallic paint.

Other features — like subtle touches of silver and gray and polished chrome faucets — enhance the monochromatic color scheme. Vanity storage drawers with special inserts allow hot grooming tools to be set inside and out of sight. A Baroque-style mirror is situated above the vanity, and a whimsical bubble chandelier hangs over the tub. A wall next to the tub is fashioned from water jet glass and Calacatta Gold marble, creating an ornately airy Venetian design.

“A desire to create elegance ruled most of the detailed decisions,” Scott says.

“We did not put in all the new technology that is available, and that was by design,” the interior designer adds. “When you want a place to be elegant, sometimes less is more.”

The project also included a walk-in closet renovation —  a thoughtfully designed space that functions as an extension of the brand-new master bath.

Trends in High-tech Kitchens and Baths

The bathrooms and kitchens of tomorrow have arrived with ever-evolving technology that provides even more options. And the smartphone was the tipping point for technology.

“I think the first thing that came along was the ability to control your thermostat through your phone,” says Judy Kimble, corporate product and marketing manager of First Supply’s kitchen and bath division, which includes the Kohler Signature Store in Wauwatosa and Gerhard’s Kitchen & Bath Store locations throughout the state. Smartphones can also perform security functions, control various appliances, and even feed one’s pet.

Jessika Mische, of the Kohler Signature Store in Wauwatosa, says much of the new technology is fitted for bathrooms and aims to foster a spa-like experience. Hydrotherapies in soaker tubs include air bubble massage, jets for a deeper feeling, and chromatherapy, in which programmable colors address physical and psychological conditioning. Bluetooth-enabled sound systems and their ability to enhance moods through music are popular too, Mische says, and the bidet, an option that migrated from Europe years ago, can now be combined with a toilet to save space.

Both Mische and Cheryl Cincotta, manager of Gerhard’s Kitchen & Bath Store in Delafield, point to wave technology, from touchless faucets and soap dispensers to shower heads that pinpoint the exact type of spray to suit your needs, as an emerging trend. Our experts say steam showers —and their healthful benefits — are fast becoming a favorite too.

In kitchens, expanded lighting options include installing flex LEDs to illuminate darkened cabinets and corners, and heating flooring is now much more accessible — and feasible in almost any space. Bluetooth and wave technology further enhance convenience and comfort.

“A lot of that technology consumers have seen in commercial settings, so they are familiar with it, which makes it attractive,” Cincotta says. “They see the benefit and want it in their own homes.”

To personally experience the technology options available, you can visit showrooms. Then consider whether a new improvement is for long-term use or to enhance resale value, and remember that technology continuously evolves.


This story ran in the July 2017 issue of: