5 Beautiful Bathrooms

From new construction to remodels, creating a functional space for freshening up can go a long way. Here, local architects and designers go inside five luxurious lavatories that boast intelligent design.

Photos by Craig Thompson

This homeowner wanted to renovate the entire master suite, says Thomas D. Trzcinski, president of Kitchen & Bath Concepts of Pittsburgh and a certified master kitchen and bath designer. For this project, Trzcinski worked with his design team — which includes Emily Miller, certified kitchen designer, and interior designer Randy Snell of Archetype Design Studio. The crew created a warm retreat with cohesive style throughout the space of 642 square feet, which houses a master bath, bedroom and sitting area.

Did you encounter any major design challenges with this project?
T.T.: The existing rooflines left the bathroom ceiling awkward, and the voluminous space, which included a skylight, had no rhyme or reason. In addition, two small windows had to remain above an overpowering corner Jacuzzi tub.

Describe the bathroom from underfoot to overhead.
E.M.: For symmetry throughout the space, two niches were added opposite the existing corner windows, creating the illusion of two more windows. One of the niches also contains a TV, which is hidden by automatic blinds when not in use. The corner Jacuzzi tub was removed, and a free-standing soaking tub was positioned below the existing skylight.

A floating backlit tile wall behind the tub became a focal point and conceals a ceiling-mounted tub filler. We used the same lighting technique behind the mirror frames at each vanity. Wall-mounted faucets and sconces installed on the mirrors maximize the width and height of the mirrors.

What eco-friendly design elements were used?
T.T.: We used a Toto Double Cyclone toilet with low-consumption flushing system and Thermostatic volume shower controls to allow preset water temperatures.

How is color used?
R.S.: The mid-height corner cabinets were incorporated in a neutral paint color and a neutral backdrop for the warm-toned, clean-lined furniture-style vanities. The mix of cashmere-gray walls along with pearlized taupe ceiling envelops the space in warmth, pulling tone from the mosaic glass tile. When combined with the warm cherry finish in the cabinetry and room trim, the result is a sophisticated color palette that continues throughout the entire master suite.

What perks were integrated into the design of the bathroom?
E.M.: A handheld showerhead mounted on a wall bar allows height for everyday use but can be dropped for shaving and cleaning. Heated floors are used throughout the space, and each operates on a separate thermostat. Custom cabinet interior accessories maximize storage and ergonomics, while the TV is concealed behind a motorized shade.

Kitchen & Bath Concepts of Pittsburgh, LLC
176 Rochester Road, Ross Township; 412/301-8000, kbcpittsburgh.com


These homeowners reside in a third-floor loft condominium in the South Side Lofts; the apartment contains the building’s original freight elevator shaft and adjacent stairwell to the roof above, says Jerry Morosco, AIA. The former Duquesne Brewery grain storage and bottling plant houses the condo, and owners of third-floor spaces have the right to expand above their homes — up on the roof, explains Morosco.

Over the years, owners of units along the north side of the building built on the roof, which effectively eliminated a view of the city for these homeowners. Neighbors on both sides of Morosco’s clients also built upward, leaving these homeowners with a 23-foot by 40-foot pocket of outdoor roof space surrounded by walls. Morosco says he found his inspiration within the owners’ aesthetics while acknowledging the industrial history of the building.

“My clients appreciate the American Arts and Crafts Movement, traditional Japanese design, and the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and George Nakashima,” he says. The design of the master bath builds from those related forms of inspiration.

Did you encounter any major design challenges with this project?
J.M.: The essential challenge was to craft a functional bathroom within the available pocket of space. They had used the former hoistway penthouse for the elevator as their bedroom. From that rooftop perch, however, the only bathroom in their condo was down the original 16-foot-tall flight of stairs and then another 40 feet across the loft.

Due to building-code restrictions, the exterior walls of the addition had to be fire-rated and could not contain window openings within 3 feet of adjoining units. The new addition had to work with the existing penthouse structure, which contained the stair access to the roof from the main loft space below and the historic elevator hoistway, now used as a bedroom. The final design includes the original stair, a guest bedroom, his-and-hers dressing rooms, a laundry room, and a master bedroom and adjoining master bathroom. 

Describe the bathroom from underfoot to overhead.
J.M.: We worked with Outlaw Studios in the Strip District to implement our custom designs for the soaking tub and shower floor, and the one-piece, double-lavatory vanity. The soaking tub and shower area are designed as one continuous element. The shower floor has a linear slot floor drain, and careful consideration was given in the design so that the shower is open to the room without the need for a door or curtain.

The ceramic wall tile is a classic field tile from Heath Ceramics in Sausalito, Calif. After much sampling, we built the order around four separate firings to obtain the desired color range and then laid out the tile on the floor to perfect the pattern, numbering each tile for subsequent placement on the wall. The floors are a continuation of the flooring used throughout the project.

The plaster walls and ceilings are a custom color and finish developed with and installed by artisan Tom Pollok of Marezzo, who also finished the concrete floors on the loft level below.

To acknowledge historic piping that formerly occupied portions of the building when it served as the bottling plant for the Duquesne Brewery, all plumbing fittings and bathroom accessories were fabricated from copper pipe and tube sections by Sonoma Forge. The custom cabinetry was developed with and crafted by Jonathan Moran of Jonathan Moran Woodworks in Butler County. To conserve space in the limited area available, we used a wall-hung toilet by Duravit in the discrete toilet compartment.

Carefully placed recessed lighting by HALO augments the backlighted wall mirror by the Electric Mirror Co.

The building envelope was fabricated in Structural Insulated Panels manufactured by Murus in Mansfield, Pa.

What eco-friendly design elements were used?
J.M.: We used Heath Ceramics — [they use] a gray-water system that recycles all water used in production. The Sustainable Forestry Initiative-certified oriented strand board used in the Murus panels is made from fast-growing, renewable softwood and hardwood species. These species are harvested from SFI-certified, self-regenerating forests or tree plantations. In addition, we used floor tile of natural cork, one of the most eco-friendly materials considered to be a rapidly renewable material by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System.

How is color used?
J.M.: The palette of the bathroom includes slight tinges and flecks of brown that pick up on the dark brown of the cork-floor tile. In contrast, the plaster wall color is an earthy cream, which also has subtle hints of sienna brown. The whole room creates a sense of sanctuary; we used dimmable incandescent lighting to further enhance the serene, spa-like quality of the space. 

What perks were integrated into the design of the bathroom?
J.M.: The space was designed to fully accommodate a soaking tub for her and a rain-head showerhead for him, as well as his-and-hers lavatories. The super insulation helps to maintain a consistent, comfortable temperature in the room.

Jerry Morosco, AIA
Gerald Lee Morosco Architects, PC
1016 E. Carson St., South Side; 412/431-4347, glm-architects.com


One enters this master bathroom through a bamboo-finished rectangular box that defines its entry and tub area, says Mary Cerrone, AIA. The master bath opens to face a floating vanity wall that conceals the shower and toilet. The total renovation of this 300-square-foot contemporary has turned a former sitting room off a master bedroom into a place of refuge.

Did you encounter any major design challenges with this project?
M.C.: Yes — maintaining a clean design while accommodating many functions, including balancing natural and artificial light.

Describe the bathroom from underfoot to overhead.
M.C.: Beginning with the floor, I used porcelain large-format tile over a heated floor mat. Other additions include bamboo casework, including the screen-shelf wall between the entry and soaking tub, and a custom wall-mounted vanity, which complements the glass and stone tile mosaic walls. Engineered stone is used for the vanity top and tub deck.

A generous double-bowl vanity with wall-mounted faucets and large recessed mirror is indirectly lit. For privacy, the toilet is concealed. Recessed directional halogen lighting augments abundant southern light and private views.

What eco-friendly design elements were used?
M.C.: To infuse green design, an on-demand tankless hot-water heater is housed in an adjacent closet.

How is color used?
M.C.: In soothing natural tones of bamboo, off-white tile and an accent color of light blue.

What perks were integrated into the design of the bathroom?
M.C.: A spa-like soaking tub with heated backrest and heated air jets, and a shower with ceiling-mounted rain head, wall-mounted hand-held spray and three body sprays.

Mary Cerrone, AIA, MCAI


The spacious master bath of this home features a vaulted ceiling and Douglas fir logs throughout, explains Beth Fay Lane, marketing director and hardware specialist for SPLASH. This suite of approximately 200 square feet is nestled within a stunning 4,500-square-foot Douglas fir ranch atop a 150-acre property in the Curtisville area of West Deer Township.

“Sitting above a 5-acre lake with sweeping vistas from every room, the homeowners incorporated aspects of their favorite lodges into the design of the home and bath,” says Fay Lane. 

Did you encounter any major design challenges with this project?
B.F.L.: The main challenge was the Douglas fir logs. They were cut, stripped and prepped in Colorado, where the home was assembled and labeled. It was then disassembled and shipped to Curtisville for reassembly.

Describe the bathroom from underfoot to overhead.
B.F.L.: The floor and oversized shower are tiled with a light mixed-gray slate. A rustic wooden double vanity is accented with oil-rubbed bronze hardware and provides ample storage. The highlights of this bath are the bathing and showering areas. The Bain Ultra Thermomassuer air tub for two sits up on a platform, affording lake views; it also features heated back rests, adjustable massage and chromatherapy lights.

The tub filler is from the Axor Massaud series. The shower is well-outfitted with a variety of jets, heads and hand showers in polished chrome, all by international designer Phillipe Starck [and] made by Axor. The shower ceiling is dominated by the 28-inch square ShowerHeaven head, which features three distinctive spray patterns.

How is color used?
B.F.L.: The combination of the light mixed-gray slate against the natural tone of the Douglas fir logs creates a town-meets-country aesthetic. The harmony of tones creates an inviting atmosphere.

What perks were integrated into the design of the bathroom?
B.F.L.: A pampering addition has to be both the therapeutic tub and shower, which provide a way for the homeowners to relax and unwind.

Beth Fay Lane, Marketing Director and Hardware Specialist
SPLASH, Nicklas Supply
1237 Freedom Road, Cranberry Township; 724/772-1060, exploresplash.com


This project involved a modern renovation of two existing bathrooms, as well as an update to a powder room, says Suzanne Baker, showroom manager at Crescent Baths & Kitchens. The powder room update also illustrates how a few changes can provide a fresh look, she adds. The homeowner sought to update the space, which was more than 30 years old. The result creates a flow between the two bathrooms, powder room and master bedroom.

Describe the bathroom from underfoot to overhead.
S.B.: The homeowner was very interested in gaining storage. She chose cherry cabinets with an espresso finish in the Lambiere series from WoodPro and supplemented this with storage from Robern. These cabinets are a combination of champagne mesh joined with mirrored cabinets to form two dramatic walls of storage in separate vanity areas. The countertop is Cambria’s Praa Sands quartz, which is taupe cream with blue, green and gray marbling.

We replaced the tile with ivory stone, with an opalescent mosaic accent from Ceramiche around the whirlpool and shower. In addition, we also replaced all the faucetry with the Siderna line from Brizo, inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. This striking faucetry has green glass handles, and the sparkle of polished chrome on the faucets highlights the warm softness of the glass. Completing the design are accessories in the Siderna line, including towel bars and robe hooks. Cabinet hardware in the Boutique line from Atlas Designs Spa Collection further emphasizes the magic of polished chrome and green glass. The toilet, with a quiet-close seat, is the Persuade from Kohler.

What eco-friendly design elements were used?
S.B.: We used several green resources, including WoodPro, a line of cabinetry certified by the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturer’s Environmental Stewardship Program; Robern, which features durable aluminum construction that resists the intense moisture in the bathroom; and Brizo, which offers a number of high-tech and eco-friendly features. The handle is a lever style, which makes it ADA-compliant. The faucet is WaterSense, labeled by the Environmental Protection Agency, and it uses 20 percent less water and performs as well or better than a less-eco-efficient counterpart.

The TempAssure thermostatic valve used in the shower measures and monitors the water temperature, automatically adjusting it for a more precise temperature. Once set, the temperature will remain constant. The toilet by Kohler is a dual-flush, gravity-fed toilet relying on the force of gravity to achieve a powerful flush. 

How is color used?
S.B.: To achieve a calming, spa-like feel, we infused soft greens and blues with classic tan, while the ceiling is painted a soft white. Additionally, the light fixtures are a pale-green bubble-art pocket style on a chrome bar, which adds some sparkle, from Platinum in Cranberry Township.

What perks were integrated into the design of the bathroom?
S.B.: The overall design offers a calming aesthetic, but specifically the use of a thermostatic valve in the shower to maintain water temperature is a daily benefit.

Suzanne Baker, Showroom Manager
Crescent Baths & Kitchens, 6301 Butler St., Lawrenceville; 412/782-3300
Stacey Fortuna, design consultant, Crescent Baths & Kitchens
Beth Sammarone, Independent Designer, Beth Sammarone Designs
412/491-1616, solutionsforbeautifulrooms.com

Categories: HOME + Design