The master bath
Comforting amenities are important



Dale and Nancy Kuhlman of Brookfield wanted their master bath to be done predominately in white.  The 26-foot long bathroom features two walk-in closets, a sunken whirlpool in white porcelain
that is offset by Grecian pillars,
and a bay window. There is also a shower and long marbled Corian vanity top with two sinks.

Sure it might be nice to have a fabulous great room, impeccable home landscaping or finished basement, but when it comes to true house envy, there are only two places that really count — the bathroom and the kitchen.

Though it may not seem like it, these two areas of the home have much in common. Both crave the latest in design and technology. Though we don’t tend to spend a lot of time in either, when we do, we want to be comfortable yet functional, which means room to move.

The longer we own our homes, the more likely we are to become dissatisfied with a dated bathroom or kitchen. Our tastes and needs change, and what may have been perfectly adequate in the past now doesn’t cut it. Of all the rooms in the house, the bathroom and the kitchen are the two rooms that often see multiple face-lifts during the time we live in our homes. As homeowners, we love to incorporate new color schemes, technologies and design elements. That’s one of the luxuries of owning your own home.

Unfortunately, bathrooms often have a little more difficult time shedding a dated look or design. Bathroom fixtures, lighting and furnishings are often rather permanent. Color schemes are carried out in tile, porcelain and counter top surfaces. So when we do plan to create or renovate a bathroom, it does require careful planning about what we may want now, and what we’d probably want in the future.

Such careful planning is what helped re-create the master bathroom in Bill and Pam Deja’s house in the Town of Delafield. The redesign maximized the space’s potential and helped to highlight the existing architectural components, including two casement windows.

“The windows bring the morning sunlight into the bathroom,” says Pam Deja. “I didn’t want to remove them, and instead we used custom cabinetry to extend the vanity space, though the vanity tops are at two different levels. The additional cabinetry helps accent the windows.”

This extension also helped create additional room around the double sink area. The cabinetry and counter top extends from window to window, with the windows serving as frames to a large, mirrored medicine cabinet.

“Though the windows always helped to bring light into the bathroom, the new recessed lighting above the medicine cabinet really brightened up the area,” she says. “The lighting is much better for putting on makeup.”

The other substantial change to the existing bathroom was the removal of the bathtub. “The actual space did not change, but because we removed the casing and the bathtub, it seems much more spacious, “ says Pam. “We replaced the bathtub and casing with ceramic tile and clear shower doors.”

The tub area renovation also included the installation of a Kohler Master showerhead with three valves. “That was something Bill opted for,” admits Pam. “We actually tease him about all the settings.”

Bill and Pam Deja’s master bathroom in their Town of Delafield home boasts two levels of vanity space in order to accommodate the casement windows on each side. The cabinetry is Bertch Custom Cabinetry’s toffee-colored Morocco and the countertop is done in DuPont’s neutral Aurora Corian with the biscuit color carried through in the ceramic tile, which also includes light sprays of chocolate brown. The bathroom’s fixtures are by Kohler, and include a combination of chrome and brass.

The overall look of the bathroom is very contemporary, with a color palette that allows the Dejas to use accent colors of their choice. The cabinetry is Bertch Custom Cabinetry’s toffee-colored Morocco and the counter top is done in DuPont’s neutral Aurora Corian with the biscuit color carried through in the ceramic tile, which also includes light sprays of chocolate brown. The bathroom’s fixtures are by Kohler, and include a combination of chrome and brass.

“We’ve introduced some color with an arrangement of zinnias on the vanity, which brings subtle color into the room,” says Pam. “The project was finished in September, and I’m very pleased with how it has turned out.”

John and Peggy Heuler of Elm Grove, who redid their bathroom in the fall of 1999, share the same feeling. “We were able to completely update our color scheme and maximize the use of the bathroom’s existing space,” says John Heuler. “The color scheme was very out of date; it was brown, circa the 1980s.”

The bathroom’s new look is much more contemporary. “We replaced the old toilet with Kohler’s Rialto, which is a low-slung design,” says Heuler. “All of the fixtures were replaced and the sink is now undermounted under an expanded vanity top.”

All the old faucets and hardware were replaced with Moen silver faucets.

Like the Dejas’ redesign, the Heulers’ guest bathroom also does not include a traditional bathtub. “Instead, we have a five-foot by three-and-half foot whirlpool bath with a shower above,” says Heuler. The whirlpool bath also contains a hand-held sprayer.

The prominent color of the room is green with an Italian Verde green marble vanity top.

“We used 12-inch by 12-inch imported stone from Italy,” says Heuler, who owns Heuler Tile in Pewaukee. “It has a polished finish. It’s something I’ve known about for years, and I really liked the look of it.”

A matching marble tile was used on the walls, which also includes three feet of wainscot.

The cabinetry is also by Bertch, but in this bathroom, the selected finish is a white laminate instead of a wood grain. The Heulers also incorporated halogen lighting into their new bathroom. “Halogen lighting is becoming more popular than ever,” notes Heuler. “It’s a choice that has worked out very well for us.”

“The use of a 12-inch by 12-inch stone really makes the room feel bigger,” Heuler added.

Even though it’s been more than a year since the redesign was completed, Heuler is still quite happy with the results. “We needed to update the bathroom,” he says. “We both are very pleased with how it turned out.”

The most fortunate among us have the opportunity to design our bathroom as an original part of the home, which is what Dale and Nancy Kuhlman of Brookfield did when their home was being built six years ago. The end result is a magnificent space with classic accents and a luxurious amount of space.

“Our original intent was to create something large and spacious,” says Nancy Kuhlman. “As the project moved along, it evolved and turned into something quite beautiful.”

The Kuhlmans’ master bath is 26 feet long with a width ranging from six to ten feet. It includes two walk-in closets and joins the master bedroom through an arched entryway.

The predominant color in the room is white, which lends a fresh, clean and classic look to the room.

“In hindsight, white was probably not the best choice, but it’s really what I wanted,” says Kuhlman. “White can be difficult to keep clean and we’ve had to do some touchups, but it has been worth it.”

The focal point of the room is a sunken whirlpool in white porcelain, which is set off between two Grecian pillars and framed by a bay window. The pillars are faux painted to mimic white and gray marble, and the same feeling is picked up by a combination of painting techniques and tone-on-tone wallpaper.

Sheer swag curtains with blinds that can be pulled down for privacy accent the bay window. The bathroom is on the north side of the Kuhlman home, which provides a very comfortable environment year- round.

If there’s no time for a soak in the whirlpool tub, the Kuhlmans can use their shower, which includes two showerheads behind a beveled glass shower door. The shower also includes a seat.

A vanity with two sinks runs along the wall of the master bathroom. “That was important for us because when you only have one sink, it can be difficult for two people to get ready at the same time,” Kuhlman said.

The marble of the pillars is picked up in the vanity top, which is gray marbled Corian in Avonite. Gold and white faucets by Kohler accent the white sinks.

John and Peggy Heuler of Elm Grove updated their guest bathroom with a more contemporary look. The predominate color of the room is green including the

Italian Verde green marble tile used on the walls surrounding the three-foot by three-and-a-half foot whirlpool tub.


A number of light sources are used throughout the master bath. In addition to the natural light from the bay window, the design includes halogen lighting in cone shaped sconces, recessed and spot lighting as well as heat lights in appropriate areas.

Though the Kuhlmans’ master bath is predominantly white, Nancy has chosen to introduce subtle color in a very controlled way. Select tiles are used throughout the whirlpool tub and shower areas.

“Certain tiles include iris images, which introduce blue and peach into the color scheme,” she says. “I’ve also introduced color through a blue and gray floral arrangement on the vanity.”

The design of the Kuhlmans’ bathroom was very deliberate. “We knew we would be looking at a very long-term design, which is why I chose white because it is so timeless and classic,” says Nancy.

With one exception. If she could — and though she loves how it looks — Nancy might just change one small element in the bathroom. Because the master bathroom adjoins the master bedroom by an archway, there is no door separating the two rooms.

“When my husband gets ready at 5 a.m., it almost makes me wish that we had a traditional doorway between the two rooms,” she says. “But that’s something I can live with. I absolutely love the way the bathroom has turned out for us.”