FORM on Design: Bathroom Basics

The centerpiece of a Boston area bathroom redesign by Lian Eoyang, of VIF Studio, is a freestanding tub from Waterworks. Photography by Bob O’Connor Photography/courtesy VIF Studio. When clients start remodeling, bigger is often the name of the game, especially when it comes to bathrooms. Not so for Lian Eoyang, of the San Francisco–based firm VIF Studio and her clients’ master bath in their expansive home outside Boston. Instead, she took a sprawling space, actually a his-and-hers set-up, and made it more intimate and user-friendly, swapping in a soothing palette of black, white and gray, along with equally quiet materials. Highlights include a two-person shower, a new closet for the toilet and a tub ringed with loose stones for a dramatic textural statement. We were so intrigued by this jewel box of a space, we asked Eoyang for more details, and she was happy to oblige.

How does the design of the bath relate to the design of the rest of the house?

We melded the principles of Shaker simplicity with the ethos of modern detailing, allowing us to create a sophisticated, minimalistic look that is evident in both the design of the bathroom and of the house.

Did the clients have any particular ideas in mind?

The clients wanted to meld their modern tastes while still remaining in harmony with the estate’s New England heritage. To achieve this, we pared things down to their essential materials, utilizing clean detailing and an absolute economy of embellishments. For example, we eschewed standard under-mount sinks and instead built a custom ramp-sink vanity that appears formed from a singular block of stone. Also, the loose stone tub surround differentiates in texture only, employing the same color and material used throughout the rest of the bathroom.

Eoyang used a single block of stone, from Daltile, for the sink. The floor and wall tile is also from Daltile. The fixtures are from Dornbracht. Photography by Bob O’Connor Photography/courtesy VIF Studio.

When you say you brought the space down to a human scale, what specific steps were taken to do that?

Bathrooms can be places of relaxation, intimacy or privacy. Previously, the 300-square-foot bathroom was far from that: dark color palette, uncomfortable ledge-face river rock floor tile (extremely unsettling in bare feet), and so oversized and sparsely populated that the space, be it water droplets or footsteps, echoed cacophonously throughout. As a result, we re-organized the footprint, adding a two-person shower, a toilet compartment, and the statement tub area. An adjoining, inefficient 50-square-foot closet was reduced and the remainder was re-appropriated to create a powder room for an abutting suite.

What inspired the pebbles around the tub?

In creating something beautiful and serene, we felt it was also important to prioritize the realities of living. While the pebbles bring the outdoors in and harken back to the environs, we also chose them for a very functional purpose: to prevent slippage. The loose stones around the tub were integrated to avert puddles of water pooling when their young daughters play in the bath. Water drains through the stones into a copper pan and out a secondary drain, keeping the surface relatively dry.

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