A Moved and Improved Master Bath
Taking the place of a luxurious, window-lined closet, this period-inspired master bath has storage and spa style to spare
Baths are often designed for efficiency, with amenities like a steam shower almost an afterthought. Architect Aleck Wilson faced a different challenge when the owners of a century-old shingled house in San Francisco asked him to revamp their master bath. "They wanted a retreat," he says, "a real room with symmetry and presence and a sense of entrance."
Shown: Moved to a larger, light-filled spot, the bath now holds a windowed shower, a marble-framed tub, and finishes in keeping with the rest
of the late-1800s house. Paneling, based on wainscoting in other rooms, opens for access to plumbing.
The existing bath was squeezed alongside a master closet that was three times larger and boasted three windows.
Shown: Before, the small master bath, last renovated in the 1960s, was mainly fit for splash-and-run.
Wilson moved the bath into the closet, rebuilding walls en route and installing divided-light casements that match the rest of the house; the old bath became a vestibule. He carved out spots for a steam shower with a Japanese-inspired drying-off area and a closet for the toilet.
Shown: The glass enclosure brings more light into the bath and swings open to a Japanese-style ipe-wood mat and bench.
The double vanity's top extends over the tub, turns a corner, and narrows to form a sill that crowns tiled wainscot.
Shown: The sinks sit relatively close, which allows the vanity top to extend over the tub surround to the right.
Wall paint: Benjamin Moore's Bath Salts
The wall that holds the door was thickened to hold recessed cabinets and drawers, creating that sense of entrance.
Shown: Storage built-ins flank the door and reinforce the bath's finished, period look.
The paneled tub is the room's focal point as you enter, but it's not for looks only. These homeowners, Wilson says, "actually take baths."
Shown: Cross-handle faucets have the polished-nickel finish of flea-market finds.
Relocated to a large dressing closet, the bath grew to 148 square feet and gained natural light.
What They Did:
1. Replaced the windows with casements, centering two over the tub and giving the third over to the shower area.
2. Thickened the entry wall to hold built-ins and add presence to the doorway.
3. Used frameless glass to enclose the shower, which disperses natural light. A toweling-off area sits just outside.
4. Gave the toilet its own room.
Pro Tip: "We placed the windows high over the tub for privacy, then emphasized their vertical lines by extending the trim to frame open shelves below."—Aleck Wilson, architect, San Francisco