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Optical Illusions

Master bathroom is a visual masterpiece of color and light

Originally appearing in Housetrends, Dayton


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The old master bathroom in the Dayton home of Jennifer and Dr. Joel Tobiansky, a local cardiologist, was a typical circa-1980s design complete with Formica countertops, pastel colors, and a tiny pre-fab shower. | The new bathroom is nothing short of dazzling—no longer a bathroom at all—but rather an experience.

Creating a masterpiece

The countertops were replaced several years ago but the rest of the overhaul sat waiting. Jennifer and Joel teamed up with Chris Newman of Cheeky Monkey, a local decorative painting and interior design company, and Erich Eggers of Remodeling Designs Inc., to create a masterpiece unlike any other.

“In all the publications and research we did we never saw anything like it,” says Joel. “Some of the best comments we get come from men, and usually men could care less,” Jennifer says with a laugh.

Before the materials were selected, a basic design for the bathroom had to be created. Even though the trend is to have a jetted or garden bathtub in a master bathroom, the Tobianskys opted against the idea, saying they wouldn’t use it. Instead, Joel says he dreamed of a luxurious shower.

Luxurious zero-threshold shower The new design incorporates a zero-threshold shower in place of the old tub and a closet area. The original water closet remained, while the area that housed the original shower became storage space. The layout of the vanity area stayed similar but the finishes, like the rest of the visual decor, were dramatically changed.

Front and center

Imagine a shower experience, provided by a computerized Kohler digital interface. A pre-set satellite radio station in the bathroom wakes you in the next room. As you sleepily step onto the warm tile floor thanks to radiant heat and enter the large shower, you simply hit an electronic pad that offers whatever pre-determined combination of body sprays and water temperature you desire. Surrounding you are a mixture of sleek blue glass tiles and tiny iridescent accent pieces. If you wish to sit down in the shower, the black granite seat is also heated.

Joel says the visually stunning shower, which is no longer “tucked away like an afterthought,” lets in plenty of natural light thanks to the two glass block windows. A sheet of glass on the side with all of the shower controls and sprays “is almost like an illusion,” says Jennifer.

Both Jennifer and Joel are athletic, sometimes showering twice a day. After a workout, Joel has a second, pre-programmed shower that utilizes only body sprays. There is also a flat-panel television and refrigerator built into the vanity cabinetry. With all of that, who needs a jetted tub?

Eclectic mix of materials

Eggers credits Newman for envisioning the perfect combination of faux finishes and other materials. In addition to the black matte cabinetry, he suggested the use of the 1x1-inch Walker Zanger glass tile for the shower floor and bench seat wall, the 12x24-inch black tile for the bathroom floor, the fluted glass block windows and silver hardware and accents. Newman was no stranger to the Tobianskys and they trusted him completely. “Chris has done the entire house now, except maybe the garage. He has a way of seeing the end product before it is done. I could have trusted him even if we were out of town,” Jennifer says.

A specialized sandblasting technique was applied to the glass doors leading from the bedroom to the new bath, and to the water closet area in order to obscure views. “On one side vertical lines are blasted and on the back side the lines are shifted the width of the sandblasting line. It works like a privacy fence. The pattern is called Tuxedo. Jennifer found this technique on the Internet,” Eggers explains.

Bathroom ceiling mirror Another specific request of the Tobianskys was a little more challenging: a ceiling mirror. Eggers admits he wasn’t sure how to do it safely and without maintenance issues, but he’d seen plenty of casinos and hotels install ceiling mirrors so he knew it could be done.

He turned to the Internet and then the telephone, armed with a plethora of questions. The end result is quite a surprise. The approximately 6x4-foot ceiling mirror is made of mylar—the same substance used for balloons except with a much higher reflective value. It satisfied both safety and maintenance concerns, while successfully imitating the look of a mirror.

Soothing sanctuary

Seeing the bathroom at night is a whole new experience from Jennifer and Joel’s morning routine. Ambiance and track lighting installed in the ceiling and floor give the room an even more stunning appearance.

“I really love it at night after the sun sets. It’s extremely soothing because of the way they designed the lighting,” explains Jennifer, who adds that a light in the shower can also be pre-set to go on and off as a security feature.

In addition to the essentials, the combination of materials, finishes and lighting tops off this already over-the-top spa. And yet a point Jennifer emphasizes is the bathroom’s functionality. “It has the wow-factor but it’s so easy to maintain. It seems brand new every single day we walk through the door. We don’t take it for granted.”

article resources
Contractor: Remodeling Designs, Inc.; Designer and faux painting: Cheeky Monkey; Cabinetry: Black Matte laminate; Cabinet hardware: Flint knobs and pulls, Michael Aram; Faucets: Kohler Purist in brushed nickel; Shower system: Kohler DTV Digital interface, Kohler water tile showerhead and body sprays, 10-inch Raindance AIR showerhead, Kohler Revival Handshower; Shower walls: 6x12-inch Royal Opera Glass, Artistic Tile; Shower floor and bench seat side: 1x1-inch Denim Luster Vintage Glass, Walker Zanger; Shower seat top: Black Galaxy granite; Bathroom floor: 12x24-inch shimmer Excelsior Black, Artistic Tile; Heated flooring: Warmly Yours Heated Floors; Windows: Argus fluted glass block; Ceiling mirror: Delmarva Glassless Mirrors; Lighting: Seagull LX motion activated toe kick lighting and track lighting; Heated towel rail: Jeeves

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