Designing a Dream Bath

The area’s top stores for tile, stone, sinks, faucets, and more. Plus—designers who know bathrooms.

By: Kate Nerenberg, Lynne Shallcross

Top Bathroom Designers

These firms have designers who specialize in bathrooms and who are recommended highly. Keep in mind that a good architect or interior designer can also design a beautiful bathroom.

Bath & Kitchen Creations, 43671 Trade Center Pl., Suite 112, Sterling; 703-996-8600; bathandkitchencreations.com. This family-owned design/build firm has a bath designer and handles lots of traditional bathrooms. Owner Bob Clements says they can work within existing walls to make a bathroom seem larger; techniques include using light colors, closet systems, mirrors, and glass-enclosed showers. Ceramic tile, safety features, and glass shower doors are common features of this firm’s baths.

Case Design/Remodeling, 4701 Sangamore Rd., Suite 40, Bethesda, 301-229-4600; 14301-C Sullyfield Cir., Chantilly, 703-803-2273; 701 Park Ave., Falls Church, 703-241-2980; casedesign.com. The seven bath designers at this nearly 50-year-old company lean toward traditional styles and are experts at navigating small condo units. For a simple, streamlined bath upgrade, Case offers an Express Bath service with packages designed to fit existing floor plans. Senior designer April Case Underwood and three others are certified green remodelers.

Dee David & Co., by appointment, Falls Church; 703-560-6601; deedavidandco.com. Dee David has more than 30 years’ experience and works only in Virginia. She incorporates safety into her designs and makes sure the products fit the user and the room: “The scale of the space as well as the scale of the clients are always considered.” Function does not preclude form; David and her assistant designer have degrees in interior design. Projects have a $15,000 minimum.

Design Solutions, 1598-D Whitehall Rd., Annapolis; 800-894-7349; dsikitchens.com. Joni Zimmerman has been designing bathrooms for 30 years. She likes classic with a twist: She remodeled a powder room in her own home using Italian glass mosaic tiles. Another recent project included a steam shower with a liquid-fuel fireplace between walls of glass and a shower bench contoured to the owner’s body. What you won’t see in one of her designs: “typical tile that screams bathroom.”

Harvey’s Kitchens & Baths, 22560 Glenn Dr., Suite 115, Sterling; 703-444-0871; harveys-kb.com. Certified bath designer Kara Reinertsen creates custom baths ranging from traditional to contemporary. The 31-year-old firm’s designs often include such indulgences as multiple showerheads, air baths, and heated floors.

Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath, 6935 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda; 301-657-2500; jennifergilmerkitchens.com. Bathroom specialist Carolyn Thomas strives to create bathrooms that will make clients feel “rejuvenated,” because, she says, “it’s the first thing you see in the morning and the last thing you see at night.” In December, she renovated a 20-year-old bathroom in the principal suite of Blair House, where guests of the President stay.

Kitchen & Bath Factory, 4624 Lee Hwy., Arlington; 703-522-7337; kbfactory.com. Before joining this 29-year-old company, designer David Doughton worked as a drafter for architects and engineers. He and fellow designer Russell Hawkins emphasize functionality and specialize in achieving more counter space and storage in small bathrooms. Doughton says they stay away from designer products because “they look pretty, but they aren’t functional.” Baths run from $12,000 to $23,000.

Kitchen Guild, Northwest DC, 202-362-7111; Fairfax, 703-323-1660; McLean, 703-893-8900; Alexandria, 703-518-5006; kitchenguild.com. Three years ago, Kitchen Guild created BathExpress, a predesigned package that can be installed in less than a week. At its four showrooms, customers can mix and match accessories, colors, and styles. BathExpress services run from $10,000 to $20,000; custom design from $18,000 to $80,000, with powder rooms typically $5,000 to $10,000.

Reico Kitchen & Bath, Bethesda, 301-654-6000; Falls Church, 703-748-0700; Springfield, 703-914-4900; Annapolis, 410-571-8400; reico.com. This company is the exclusive distributor of Harborview, a custom-look bath-furniture line that comes in three styles: traditional, cottage, and contemporary.

Shreve/McGonegal, 212 N. West St., Falls Church; 703-385-9441; 1800smworks.com. This design/build/supply firm opened in 1915 and does gutting and restoration of bathrooms. In addition to designers, it has licensed plumbers, carpenters, and electricians on staff plus “reference rooms” at its showroom that teach about bath-design options. What would you never see in one of its bathrooms? Something that doesn’t function, says Jim Lynch, a certified bathroom designer: “When I get through, these rooms work.”

Tunis Kitchen & Bath Showroom, 7032 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda; 301-652-5513; tuniskitchens.com. Mark Watson, the bathroom expert at this highly respected firm, has 15 years of design experience as well as training in construction and drafting. Tunis specializes in contemporary baths that usually run between $10,000 and $30,000.

Great Bath Showrooms, Tile Shops, and Other Resources

Ann Sacks Tile Stone Plumbing, 3328 M St., Georgetown; 202-339-0840; annsacks.com. This national chain manufactures its own line of tile. It specializes in art tile, offering more than 300 colors. The store also carries high-end stone, glass, and mosaic tiles. Two staff designers help create custom plumbing and tile.

Architectural Ceramics, Rockville, 301-762-4140; Bethesda, 301-718-8343; Alexandria, 703-299-6200; Falls Church, 703-714-0161; architecturalceramics.net. A favorite of architects, interior designers, and homeowners, this local chain’s huge tile selection includes custom, hand-painted, and ecofriendly tile.

Arena Stone, 9020 Edgeworth Dr., Capitol Heights; 301-499-2100; arenastonemd.com. This large showroom carries natural stone including granite, limestone, onyx, and slate.

Arlandria Floors, 1800 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria; 703-548-4848; arlandriafloors.com. This 40-year-old firm offers a large selection of laminates, tile, linoleum, and ceramic.

Best Tile, 11601 Boiling Brook Pkwy., Rockville, 301-984-3399; 8196 Terminal Rd., Lorton, 703-550-2352; besttile.com. This importer specializes in tumbled and antique stone as well as porcelain, glass, metal, and ceramic tile.

Boffi, 3320 M St., NW; 202-333-7555; boffi.com. This Georgetown showroom offers Boffi’s Italian line of contemporary fixtures and accessories. Design services are available for its products, which include tubs, cabinetry, and faucets.

The Brass Knob Architectural Antiques, 2311 18th St., NW, 202-332-3370; the Brass Knob Back Doors Warehouse, 57 N St., NW, 202-265-0587; thebrassknob.com. These two shops specialize in antiques and salvage. The Adams Morgan showroom offers accessories and lighting from the late 19th to mid-20th century. The Warehouse stocks antique clawfoot tubs as well as toilets and sinks from the same period.

Classic Floor Designs, 2120 L St., NW; 202-872-9860; classicfloordesigns.info. In its 5,000-square-foot showroom, this company offers hardwood, vinyl, stone, rubber, and even leather flooring. It sells an ecofriendly wood-flooring line and has done floors for the Oval Office and the Vice President’s residence.

Concrete Jungle, 4510-J Metropolitan Ct., Frederick; 301-874-1001; concretejungleonline.com. Artisans fabricate and install custom concrete vanity tops, shower surrounds, shower benches, sinks, and floor and wall tile. They also offer ecofriendly concrete.

Design Tile, 8455-B Tyco Rd., Vienna; 703-734-8211; design-tile.com. This showroom’s wide selection of tile is arranged by color and composition for easier selection. It specializes in tile, stone, and glass and has interior designers on staff.

Donna Marie Collection, 6931 Arlington Rd., Suite C-2, Bethesda; 301-913-9113; donnamariecollection.com. Formerly Bartley Tile Concepts, the store has a wide selection of high-end stone, glass, and hand-painted ceramic tiles, both imported and its own line.

Ferguson, dozens of area locations; ferguson.com. Designers recommend this national chain for sinks, toilets, tubs, and faucets in all price ranges.

Firuze, 5650 General Washington Dr., Alexandria; 703-663-1190; firuzetile.com. This 22,000-square-foot showroom carries a large selection of tiles imported from Turkey, owner Fatih Guner’s native country. Glazed porcelain tiles are the most popular. Tiles range from $3 to $24 a square foot. The shop also carries bathroom and kitchen furniture.

Marble Systems, 2737 Dorr Ave., Fairfax; 703-204-1818; marblesystems.com. Natural stone—including granite, slate, limestone, marble, and travertine—comes in a wide variety of surface finishes including polished, rustic, chiseled, and antique.

Marblex, 2926 Prosperity Ave., Fairfax; 703-698-5595; marblexinc.com. A fabricator, importer, and installer specializing in custom stonework for counters, floors, shower walls, and seats. The showroom features marble, granite, limestone, and quartz as well as ecofriendly recycled stone.

Marmara, 1125 Okie St., NE; 202-635-4292; marmarausa.com. The only stone fabricator in the District, Marmara carries granite, marble, limestone, onyx, travertine, soapstone, and environmentally friendly materials such as recycled glass and locally quarried stone. The 20-year-old business does design and installation.

Mosaic Tile Company, 8400-E Hilltop Rd., Fairfax, 703-280-4300; 14801 Willard Rd., Suite 400, Chantilly, 703-631-4848; 11724 Parklawn Dr., Rockville, 301-881-2520; mosaictileco.com. In business nearly 40 years, Mosaic offers a large selection of tiles from Europe and Central and South America. Among lots of mosaic choices, there are 47 ecofriendly tile lines.

Noland Co. Bath & Idea Center, 4972 Boiling Brook Pkwy., Rockville; 301-881-4225; noland.com. This local showroom features plumbing, sinks, lighting, shower doors, and more.

Porcelanosa, 725 Rockville Pike, Rockville; 301-294-8193; porcelanosa-usa.com. Specializing in porcelain and ceramic tiles from Spain, this family-owned company has an 8,000-square-foot showroom in the Rockville Marlo store. A staff of four designers helps customers. The shop also has toilets, showers, and vanities.

R. Bratti Associates, 401 E. Glebe Rd., Alexandria; 703-549-1135; rbratti.com. This fourth-generation firm has worked on Washington landmarks including the Pentagon and the Kennedy Center. It specializes in granite, marble, and limestone for custom vanities and showers.

Renaissance Tile & Bath, 816 N. Fairfax St., Alexandria; 703-549-7806; renaissancetileandbath.com. This national high-end chain carries an extensive collection of decorative, limestone, and marble tiles as well as basic plumbing and bath products. Customers can make an appointment for a free consultation with one of four staff designers, who can do everything from matching tile to existing pieces to mapping out a full remodel.

Restoration Hardware, Georgetown, 202-625-2771; Alexandria, 703-299-6220; Tysons Corner Center, 703-821-9655; Columbia, 410-772-8070; restorationhardware.com. Shoppers can outfit an entire bathroom at this national chain, where fixtures, towels, furniture, and lighting are defined by a soothing, spalike design.

Stone Source, 1400 16th St., NW; 202-265-5900; stonesource.com. The DC outpost of this Manhattan-based chain stocks mostly high-end porcelain in its 2,500-square-foot showroom.

Thos. Somerville Co., full showrooms include 6535 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church, 703-584-1500; 2349 Solomons Island Rd., Annapolis, 410-266-1122; and 99 N. Langley Rd., Glen Burnie, 410-760-2801; tsomerville.com. The 12,000-square-foot Falls Church showroom is one of the largest in the Mid-Atlantic. Browse through working displays of tubs, toilets, and sinks to find everything from exhaust fans and mirrors to design-your-own faucets and digitally controlled showers.

The Tile Shop, 6715 Spring Mall Rd., Springfield, 703-971-0169; 15142 Frederick Rd., Rockville, 301-610-5070; tileshop.com. This Minnesota-based company has more than 40 massive showrooms nationwide; the one in Springfield measures 30,000 square feet and features dozens of vignettes. The shops carry everything from natural stone to do-it-yourself tools.

Union Hardware, 7800 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, 301-654-7810; 7505-M Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, 703-893-4444; unionhardware.com. A third-generation family business, Union Hardware—a top choice of designers and architects—stocks sinks, toilets, faucets, furniture, and mirrors.

Washington Design Center, 300 D St., SW; dcdesigncenter.com. Among the 55 showrooms in the Design Center, open to the public, you’ll find high-end and cutting-edge cabinetry, flooring, tile, and fixtures. Showrooms include Studio Snaidero (202-484-8066) for contemporary European styles; DeZahra (202-234-7287) for handcrafted tile—particularly mosaic, limestone, semiprecious marble, and reclaimed ceramics; and Clive Christian (202-314-5700) and Wood-Mode (202-266-0600) for beautiful woods.

Waterworks, 3314 M St., NW; 202-333-7180; waterworks.com. The Georgetown branch of this national retailer has modern, high-end bath fixtures, sinks, and tubs. The store also carries a wide selection of accessories such as stools, bathside tables, washstands, and medicine cabinets.

W.T. Weaver & Sons, 1208 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-333-4200; weaverhardware.com. Since 1889, this fourth-generation business has carried decorative hardware, plumbing, fixtures, and accessories that run the gamut from classic to contemporary.

More Information

American Institute of Architects, 800-242-3837; aia.org. Its educational Web site has a searchable database of architects, sample contracts, and questions to ask before starting a project. The three local chapters—DC (aiadc.com), Northern Virginia (aianova.org), and Maryland (aiamd.org)—also provide information on finding and hiring architects.

National Association of the Remodeling Industry, 800-611-6274; nari.org. This Web site’s homeowners section has lots of free advice on remodeling, including budgeting and choosing the right professional. There’s also a database of contractors.

National Kitchen & Bath Association, 800-843-6522; nkba.org. In addition to a searchable database of designers, this association’s Web site offers lots of information on trends as well as ways to maximize space and cut costs. The Inspiration Gallery—a slide show of sleek kitchens and baths—is a good place to get design ideas.

This article first appeared in the March 2009 issue of The Washingtonian. For more articles from that issue, click here.    

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