Unabashedly celebrating an often overlooked space, interior designers and architects understand both the technicalities and the art of transforming the bathroom into a place of beauty. And why not? According to Maximum Performance (MaP) testing, we spend an average of 30 minutes a day in the bathroom: That's nearly eight days a year. Thanks to new ideas and technology, multi-tasking and functionality has grown by leaps and bounds. From a bathing zone serving two at a time, to a tub providing views of household activities, to fittings that both provide water and air, these six bathrooms leave a resonating, lasting impression for a necessary retreat.
1. Firm: Minosa Design
Project: Beachfront Bungalow
Location: Sydney, Australia
Standout: To meet the demands of a family of seven, a bathing zone in a bungalow in Coogee, a beachfront suburb of Sydney, has room for two at a time. Including a tub and large open shower with a Gessi stainless-steel shower head, it's located on a raised platform of Carrera marble, which also rises up one wall with carved niches for cleansing products and backdrop for a leather-clad Adnet mirror from Gubi. The remaining walls and floor are dark gray ceramic tile. The space also includes an abundance of storage for toiletries, dirty laundry, and towels from a low long hamper with a Carrera marble top that doubles as bench seating. The multitasking continues with two washbasins, custom-carved out of a single piece of solid surfacing material.
2. Designers: Grayson Perry and Charles Holland
Project: A House for Essex
Location: Wrabness, England
Standout: Nestled in the eaves of the roof, the bathroom in A House for Essex offers occupants a birds-eye view of both the entrance hall and the driveway. Reclining in the custom mosaic tile-clad shower and bath area—rendered in two bold shades of green with brass fittings—bathers can watch the activity of the house. A one-way mirror film applied over the adjacent window provides privacy. "People staying in the house are thus implicit in a domestic drama of seeing and being seen," Holland, now of Ordinary Architecture, explains. "Loos’s hand basin in the entrance hall of the Rufer House and Le Corbusier’s tiled and sculptural bench in the bathroom of the Villa Savoye were both important references." In the downstairs shower room, white tiles are lined with yellow grouting—a nod to the timber detailing of the hallway and entrance.
3. Firm: UNStudio
Project: W.I.N.D. House
Location: Noord-Holland, The Netherlands
Standout: In the master suite of this single-family house, residents are steamily embraced within a glass-fronted hamam made from tadelakt, a traditional Moroccan plaster mixed from limestone and sand and coated with olive-oil soap. Polished stones cover the walls and floor of the WC, while a large tub by Studio Massaud is positioned in the bedroom.
4. Firm: Steve Hermann Design
Project: L’Horizon Resort and Spa
Location: Palm Springs, California
Standout: Built in 1952 by celebrated architect William F. Cody, this desert oasis hotel with 25 rooms recently received a revamp by self-taught interior designer Steve Hermann. In tune with the mid-century modern interior representative of Hollywood's golden era, bathrooms feature marble countertops and walnut cabinetry, brass hardware by Buster + Punch, and an exposed bulb hanging pendant light by Brendan Ravenhill.
5. Firm: Markzeff
Project: New York Town House
Location: New York, New York
Standout: The owners of this brownstone, a financial executive and his wife, found it on one of the West Village’s best-preserved streets. Bringing the house’s total square footage to 4,000, the first bedroom level is given over to the master suite, where the bedroom is dominated by a headboard wall in channel-quilted brown velvet, the bathroom by cement floor tile made using a 19th-century technique with the floral pattern poured into the framework before drying. Two layers of floor-to-ceiling curtains, both shears and blackouts, operate on a track recessed into the ceiling of the bedroom, while blinds disappear into the ceiling above each of the three sash windows in the bathroom.
6. Firm: Michaelis Boyd Associates; Fox Browne Creative
Project: Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge
Location: Okavango Delta, Botswana
Standout: Curved like a giant armadillo, seamlessly part of its environment, this is Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge in the Okavango Delta, home to one Africa’s densest and most diverse wildlife populations. The site—highly desirable for its superb position and plethora of mammal, reptile, and bird life—has been reimagined by the architecture firm Michaelis Boyd Associates, working with Nicholas Plewman Architects, and the interiors firm Fox Browne Creative, all collaborating to replace an outdated Sandibe camp owned by &Beyond, an ecologically conscious travel brand with 33 camps in Africa and South Asia. Inside, the sleeping and bathing areas are open-plan, the palette’s neutral tones with bronze accents deliberately calm and understated so as not to compete with the extraordinary architecture. The only two fabric colors are taupe and creamy white. Where possible, elements from the original camp were recycled. For example, Zambian hardwood from support columns was used for the double sink vanities. Old horn door handles and wooden cowbells serve as accessories.
7. Firm: ODA New York
Project: TriBeCa Penthouse
Location: New York, New York
Standout: “The best thing about the TriBeCa neighborhood is the rooftop additions,” Eran Chen says. His firm, ODA New York, designed just such a penthouse for a fivestory Romanesque revival warehouse from 1892. But he points out that new elements, particularly the steel catwalk hugging the walls of the doubleheight living area, are in keeping with the 19th century architecture. And Chen kept his palette of colors and finishes to a minimum. Paint in an inky black coats the catwalk. Off-grays repeat in the paint on door and window frames, the stain for oak floor boards, and the slabs of marble in the bathrooms.