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From the Ground Up: The Guest Bathroom

The Designer’s New Toy

By AnnMarie Marano

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OK – it’s time. We’ve gotten over our insecurities and are ready to talk about the most intimate of places in the guestroom.

Get your mind out of the gutter.

I’m talking about the bathroom. And you might be surprised to find out that designers are having a ball picking it apart and blowing it up to epic proportions. Trust me, we’re certainly not in Kansas anymore Toto.

“We’ve blown the guestroom bathroom apart,” said Christina Hart, partner, BBG-BBGM, during her presentation at the Specifier’s Club Luncheon in Miami, FL. The Specifier’s Club Luncheon presents a panel of designers who discuss current trends and movements in the industry. This year, the message was clear: bathrooms are big.

Christoph Korner with Graft Lab, also part of the panel, said that Graft tries to bring the bathtubs and sinks into the room and open it up. Graft believes in the “hybridization of elements,” he said. “We have to create hybrids to give them (guestrooms) more function and more meaning.”

“There are no barriers,” Hart said, as she explained that the firm has started to blur the edges of the guestroom by placing either the tub and/or the shower out in the open at center stage.

“It’s about life coming at you too fast,” she said about this new approach to the guest bathroom. “For us, it’s about coming into a guestroom and appreciating all this room due to not hiding these elements away.”

“We now design bathrooms which can be more than 1/3 the size of the guestroom,” said Colum McCartan, principal, MCCARTAN.
“The result of this is a greater number of amenities, more dramatic and larger showers and increasingly clever fixture design.”

Two examples of McCartan’s unique bathroom design would be the Hotel Vitale in San Francisco, CA and the West Edge Hotel in Kansas City, MO.

Hotel Vitale:

“The design direction for the Hotel Vitale was designated by the keywords ‘luxury naturally’ that we established with ownership during the design process. The whole hotel embodies a spa-like experience. Placing soaking tubs in the sleeping quarters sought to bring the spa to the guestroom, where guests can take advantage of the ‘bath butler’ who will prepare a signature bath for the guest. The ‘tub suites’ aimed to bring the bathing experience out of its traditional and sequestered room and place it where guests can enjoy amazing views of the San Francisco waterfront.”

West Edge Hotel:

“The West Edge Hotel in Kansas City, MO, a uniquely modern hotel in an architectural complex designed by architect Moshe Safdie, features guestrooms where the bathrooms are extremely generous. The walk-in showers have multiple fixtures and will easily accommodate two or more people. In certain room types, we created circular showers to conserve space, but also to add flair and flow to the room in general. As a result, operators will find these rooms extremely marketable for their uniqueness.”

This has all trickled down into the home, showing that the proof is in the pudding. According to an article on entitled “A big payoff from the tiniest room,” putting in a master bath in your home can boost its value by 20 percent (Paul Emrath, an economist at the National Association of Home Builders).

“Design for hotel bathrooms has become an inspiration and a benchmark for contemporary residential design,” McCartan said. “People often seek out hotels for the design experience they provide. They will choose hotels that either reflect their lifestyles or lifestyles they aspire to. As a result, bathrooms are gaining square footage in the guestroom.”

Adding to this trend is the addition of wetrooms to the guestroom as well.
“Wet areas are used predominantly throughout Europe. Since many of our designers are European, it seemed a natural fit to begin introducing this aesthetic in the United States. A wet area is essentially a stand alone shower which shares space with a deep soaking tub, with no division between the two. It allows the possi


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