Ultimate Oasis

A heavenly master bathroom in this dream house is designed for maximum relaxation.

More than a decade ago, Lou Schmitt began sketching his dream house during long flights. As a consultant, Lou was traveling frequently for work, and he passed the hours by planning the home he would one day build for himself and his wife, Carol.

Lou wanted a home that felt like an oasis, a peaceful break from the stress of work and travel. It would be a place of bright, sun-filled rooms where family members could unwind in cozy, relaxing spaces.

In 1989, the couple purchased a sprawling piece of property high on a hill in Hampton Township. In 1994, construction finally began on the spectacular home that grew from those early sketches. Among the home’s highlights is a master bathroom that’s as grand as anything you’d find in a five-star hotel suite.

The room is circular and has a high, domed ceiling lit by a chandelier. The marble floor is refreshingly cool in summer, Carol says, and “in winter, we can put the heated floor on.”

Imagine the comfort: Just before entering the shower, hang a bathrobe so that it’s touching the heated floor, and it will be warmed to perfection by the time you finish.

That shower, which stands in the center of the room, is like a room unto itself. It is circular and spans 7 feet in diameter, with his-and-her waterfall showerheads and a curved-glass wall etched with scenes from a rainforest. It also doubles as a steam room, which makes it “my husband’s favorite part of the room,” says Carol.

Her favorite element is the Jacuzzi tub, which is elevated on several steps. It’s surrounded by large windows and an octagonal skylight, creating an atrium complete with potted palms. She adores the view of the gently sloping fields of a nearby horse farm. Because the Schmitts’ property is rather private, Carol says there’s no need for window treatments that might block the view.

Lou’s dressing area is connected to the master bath, and Carol’s is just outside the door in their bedroom. The room is large enough to give the couple a bit of privacy, Carol says, but also allows them to get ready together for a night out.
There are his-and-her vanities, designed with marble accents in black and gold (this is Pittsburgh, after all).

Carol collaborated with interior designer Nancy Hoff Barsotti to decorate the master bathroom and the remainder of the home. Much of the work on the bathroom was done by Kitchen & Bath Concepts and Rex Glass.

The Schmitts moved into their dream house more than 10 years ago. Carol marvels at how quickly the time has gone, and she’s delighted with how well the design and decor of the bathroom have held up.

“It looks as good now as when we moved in,” she says. And the peace that comes from relaxing in a steam-filled shower or lounging in the bubbling tub remains the perfect antidote to the stress of daily life.

Design tips from Nancy Hoff Barsotti

Plan ahead. The Schmitts carefully decided what they wanted before beginning construction. Changes after a project begins can be costly, so “you need to have drawn and redrawn your plans before they bring out the hammers,” Barsotti says.

Make choices that will last over time. The Schmitts used high-quality marble and granite. They also chose a contemporary—not trendy—look for the room. This is crucial for bathrooms since you won’t want to invest in remodeling again too soon.

Pay attention. Remodeling a bathroom can be complicated because you may be working with numerous contractors to do plumbing, tile work, mirrors and other elements. “It’s like conducting an orchestra,” Barsotti says. So it’s important to really stay on top of the project to avoid delays or cost overruns.