Bath­room De­sign Se­crets

How to build a bath­room that you’ll love for years to come? De­sign expert Alexan­dra Rae shares her pro tips.

Cottages & Bungalows - - Kitchens - BY JICKIE TOR­RES PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY ERIC ROTH

De­sign­ing bath­rooms can be in­tim­i­dat­ing. There are lots of ma­te­ri­als and func­tional as­pects to con­sider, but you want it to be stylish and you want your in­vest­ment to last. Where do you start? In­te­rior de­signer Alexan­dra Rae not only puts to­gether a great bath­room, but her sig­na­ture style blends time­less tra­di­tion with mod­ern en­ergy and bold at­ti­tude. “I’m a huge fan of color and pat­tern, so I al­ways start there,” Alexan­dra says. “For me the color evokes the par­tic­u­lar feel­ing of a space.”


While your roadmap to pulling to­gether a great bath­room de­sign will vary de­pend­ing on your needs and cir­cum­stances, Alexan­dra al­ways starts by as­sess­ing the phys­i­cal space.

“You start by re­ally un­der­stand­ing how you’ll be us­ing the space.” Alexan­dra says. “Just like with kitchen de­sign, you have to have a clear idea of what you need. I push my clients to get re­ally hon­est with me and them­selves. Just be­cause you pin lots of beau­ti­ful van­ity pic­tures on your Pin­ter­est doesn’t mean you ac­tu­ally use a van­ity.

Are you more of a put-your-makeup-on-in-five-min­utesin-the-car type of per­son?”

The next step is to fig­ure out how you’ll use pat­tern in the space. And Alexan­dra points out that pat­tern doesn’t just con­sist of wall­pa­per or fab­ric. “To me tiles and tile pat­terns, the wood trim and win­dow mul­lions—those are all pat­terns your eye will pick up on in the room.”


Un­der­stand­ing how you’ll re­ally use the space will kick off the de­ci­sions in the big­gest area of in­vest­ment: the cabinetry. “Cabinetry is the big­gest ticket item,” Alexan­dra says. “Cabinetry is the most ex­pen­sive and the most im­por­tant. You’re not go­ing to change your cabinetry. And if you do want to update your bath­room in 10 years, if your cab­i­nets are well crafted, you’ll be able to re­fin­ish and paint them.”


“I think the eas­i­est way to max­i­mize your money in a bath­room is to use widely avail­able ma­te­ri­als,” Alexan­dra says. “Save the spe­cialty items for ac­cents. If you fall in love with a very high-end tile, ap­ply it only as your budget al­lows, as tile lin­ers or ac­cents. But if there is a mir­ror or light fix­ture you ab­so­lutely love, use it! You’ll re­gret it if you don’t. Just chip away some­where else at the things you won’t miss.”

There are a few ba­sic ar­eas in which to save and some that are safe to splurge on. “If the house is go­ing to re­sell, it has to have some­what wider ap­peal. But if you are not plan­ning on re­selling any­time soon, and you use qual­ity cab­i­nets and coun­ter­tops, have fun with the jew­elry. Think of cab­i­nets as a good black dress; fun light­ing, mir­rors and faucets are the change­able jew­elry.”


“To me, the perfect bath­room is more about a mood or a feel than a spe­cific de­sign or for­mula,” Alexan­dra says. For her, it’s the tried and true spa ef­fect. “I think your bath­room should make you feel re­laxed,” she adds. “It’s where you start your day and end your day. It’s a perfect bal­ance of be­ing able to feel re­freshed in the morn­ing, re­laxed at night.”

|RIGHT| EASY & EL­E­GANT. De­tails make all the dif­fer­ence. To help give this space a sense of sub­tle vin­tage ap­peal, Alexan­dra took her time choos­ing the right hardware and ac­cents. “The hardware was im­por­tant be­cause with the clean blue and white style and clas­sic Carrara mar­ble, I had to find places to in­sert the de­tails that gave it a vin­tage feel,” she says. “I like the fab­ric in the glass-fronted cab­i­nets be­cause it adds that same spe­cial el­e­ment.”

|BELOW RIGHT| BOYS AL­LOWED. This up­stairs bath­room is shared by three boys of vary­ing ages, so the space needed to be el­e­gant enough for the whole house, and yet feel a lit­tle fun and a lit­tle mas­cu­line. “Space plan­ning was key here be­cause they are all dif­fer­ent ages, and we needed them to be able to use it at the same time,” Alexan­dra says. Light­ing and small nau­ti­cal de­tails in the tile bor­ders un­der­score the look in a so­phis­ti­cated way.

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