Ethereal Beauty

Mid-century modern elements lead to a crisp and clean bathroom design

Crisp, cool and modern are just a few words to describe the revamped master bathroom in Hermann and Mary Schenk’s Tampa home, a far cry from what it used to be.

Once a traditional 1960s bathroom, complete with pink wallpaper and vertical blinds, the space has morphed into what designer Mitch Levey, of Mitchell Keith Tile and Bath Collection, considers the height of European contemporary.

“The home is typical Florida ranch on the outside and a retro European contemporary masterpiece on the inside now,” Levey says. “We were very fortunate to have a clean slate to start with. The homeowners wanted white, clean, contemporary fixtures that would be the focus of the bathroom.”

A smooth transition

The Schenks craved tranquility—a space in which they could close themselves off to the rest of the home, and even the world, at the beginning or end of each day. They hired Phil Kean Designs in Winter Park to serve as architect and Hagwood Construction and Restoration as their general contractor.

Then, they plunged full-force into demolition, stripping the bathroom down to its skeletal wood beams and studs. By the time the bathroom was bare, the couple realized just how ample the space was. From there, Levey began utilizing every square foot, maximizing the room’s natural assets and minimizing any accoutrements.

Levey started down the list of cherry-picked materials and created what is now the ethereal retreat the Schenks had envisioned. Meticulously cut Silestone slabs in White Zeus make up the countertops of the spa’s two floating vanities. The porcelain pieces are as creamy and smooth as bars of Ivory soap—and stark white, rectangular sinks sit seamlessly atop.

Wooden tissue holders and soap dispensers match the walnut cabinetry and offset the polished chrome doorknobs, drawer handles and faucets. Above the sinks, simple, geometric mirrors and horizontal fixtures humbly peer down on the carved artistry below.

“We like modern design, but not the sterile, all-white and chrome kind of modern,” Mary says. “This is a mid-century house, and we looked to mid-century, classic design for our inspiration, mixing the warmth of the walnut vanities and tub with simple, modern tiles.”

Delicate features

The updated standing steam shower boasts glossy white, 6x18-inch stacked tiles on the walls and ceiling, as well as porcelain penny rounds on the floor. “What this bathroom shows is that tile has the ability to take on many different design aesthetics,” Levey says. “Penny rounds have been used in many period homes from the early 20th century.”

Another highlight is the stained glass mosaic that hangs on the feature wall behind the tub; its design almost mimicking a water feature. “This mosaic can fit into any design style as long as it’s paired with the right complementary pieces,” Levey says.

In this case, the sparkling whites and reflective glass of the mosaic play off the gleaming silver plumbing fixtures perfectly. “When it comes to tile, it’s all about texture, or at least, the appearance of texture,” Levey says. “Whether it’s a glass mosaic that looks like cracked glass, or even an Italian travertine with a resin-based fill and metallic flecks—these all provide depth.”

Mary is delighted with the tile composition. “The tile wall behind the tub brings in a modern, organic feel,” she says. “It reminds me of bamboo or a waterfall.”

A refined base

For the floor, Levey and the Schenks chose oversized, 24x24-inch, matte, rectified porcelain. The checkerboarded grain design of the tiles subtly mimics the wood cabinetry. And the overall mix of light and dark colors creates a complementary palette and a Zen-like ambiance.

“European contemporary is hot, and so are traditional spaces with a contemporary twist,” Levey says. “We are specifying more unique plumbing fixtures now, from unique tubs to minimalist sinks. These are all truly works of art.”


Tile designer: Mitch Levey, Mitchell Keith Tile and Bath Collection; Tile installation: Champion Tile & Marble; Architect: Phil Kean Designs; General contractor: Hagwood Construction and Restoration, Inc.; Vanities and tub face: W.J. Bergin; Plumbing fixtures: Toto; Countertops: White Zeus Silestone

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