A Spacious and Eco-Friendly Bath Makeover
Borrowed square footage is put to work as an efficient bath equipped with luxurious amenities
Before the days of master suites with private dressing and washing areas, most old houses had just one lone—and typically tiny—bathroom used by everyone on the main sleeping floor. So it was with Scarlet Fu and Dennis Goh's 1905 house in Brooklyn, New York, where a small, dim bath served not only the couple but also their young son and their soon-to-be-born baby.
To help realize their vision of a new bath that would be both luxurious and an efficient bathing and grooming space for their growing family, the couple hired Erika Doering, a local designer. Doering devised a solution by converting an unused bedroom adjacent to the original bath into a new, larger shared space, claiming extra square footage for a built-in tub, a separate walk-in shower, a two-sink vanity table, and a wall of built-in storage. The original bathroom became a dressing area and a passageway that connects the master bedroom to the new bath. There's another entry off the common hall.
Doering, who specializes in eco-friendly design, encouraged the couple to use green materials, such as no-VOC paints, which don't off-gas. "We figured that as long as the paint didn't have lead, we were good," Scarlet says. "But Erika pointed out a less toxic choice. With a baby on the way, it was a no-brainer." Combined with recycled glass tile in the shower, floor slate mined in the U.S. (rather than shipped from abroad), and additional windows to lessen the need for electric lights, they got more than the family-friendly bath they requested. "It's a great bathroom," says Scarlet, "but it's also just a nice room to be in."
New vintage-style woodwork, such as this marble-topped oak vanity table, nods to the fine craftsmanship of
the early 1900s when the house was built.
A wide marble tub surround provides a perch for the couple while they bathe their young kids, plus plenty of surface area for keeping toys close at hand. A separate shower is a luxury, but it's also a time-saver: While one parent bathes the kids, the other can shower.
The custom built-in storage unit is fitted with pull-out bins for dirty laundry, open cubbies for towels, cabinets for hiding extra TP, and drawers for grooming supplies as well as stickers—given to the toddler as toilet-training rewards.
The original hall bath was too small for the homeowners and their children to share.
1. Converted a Bedroom. Taking over an 8-by-14-foot room next to the existing bath allowed for a 6-foot tub, walk-in shower, and twin sinks. Relocating the entry to the old bath created a dressing area that links the new bath to the master bedroom.
2. Extended Plumbing. The new bath's location, next to the old one and above the kitchen, made
it easier to extend water and waste lines. Pairing fixtures—tub and shower on one wall, sinks and toilet opposite them—made running lines more efficient.
3. Maximized Natural Light. Adding a window in the shower and turning a door to an unused balcony into a window near the toilet let in more daylight. Light-reflecting recycled glass tile and a sunny paint color on the built-in amplified the effect.
4. Built In Storage. A custom floor-to-ceiling cabinet holds toiletries, eliminating the need for above-the counter medicine cabinets—and the potential for fall-inducing climbs by little ones.