Photos by Martin Tessler

When designer Kevin Mitchell first toured with the homeowner around her newly purchased home, it didn€™t go well. €œShe sat on her front stairwell, and put her head in her hands,€ says Mitchell, who worked at Douglas Cridland Interior Design during this reno, and now runs Mitchell Design House. €œShe said, €˜I'm having major buyer's remorse. I feel like I'm in my mom's house.€™€

This bathroom, for example, featured bow-front vanities with mahogany wood and traditional, ogee-edged granite; a built-in tub deck was paired with a decorative roman tub filler. €œShe kept repeating, €˜It's too traditional, and I'm not a traditional person,€™€ says Mitchell.

The goal, he says, was to get the space feeling a little more modern, without destroying the traditional architectural elements in the house€”that great archway over the bath, for example.

In the bathroom, the general layout would stay the same, though Mitchell carved out a few more feet for the shower from an adjacent laundry room, making it large enough for two. And the client was more than game to get creative in the design of the room. €œShe loved the idea of it being really unique,€ he explains.

To wit, he created a one-of-a-kind plaid tile design for the shower, and covered the entire room with silver leaf€”a glittering surface that will change over time. €œIt's a living patina,€ explains Mitchell. €œIf you replace a square, the sheen is a little different, but it adds to the effect over time. The way it looks right now isn€™t necessarily the same as how it will look a year from now.€   automate-photo

How to Make a Bathroom Both Glamorous and Functional 

1. Include a seat in the shower€”but don't forget to warm it up.

It's one of Mitchell's signature moves: including radiant heating in the bench in the shower, perfect for when you want to take a little longer and enjoy the steam.

2. Automate your water temperature settings.

Mitchell's a big fan of Hansgrohe's RainBrain: the touchscreen shower control allows you to create personal settings for up to five users€”meaning you'll never have to tweak the taps to reach the perfect temperature again.

3. Make a niche for shampoo in the shower, but hide it in the back corner.

Mitchell always uses chrome baskets to make sure there's proper drainage around shampoos and soaps in the shower, but also tries to disguise them in the back. €œNobody needs to see your Head and Shoulders,€ he says with a laugh.

4. Take advantage of dead spaces in the walls to create sculpture niches.

When the homeowner opts to take a long soak in that Hydro Systems bath, she won't just be staring at the (albeit lovely, silver) walls. Mitchell punched into the archway over the bath, creating pockets in the walls for two sculpture niches.

sconces photo5. Pay careful attention to the placement of your sconces.

There may be no room more important than the bathroom for proper lighting. €œYou want lighting to be equally spaced in the middle of where you're standing,€ explains Mitchell. €œIf you have light hitting you on one side, you start to look different, and it affects how you do your makeup.€  

Originally published April 2015