Natural, statement-making wood is showing up in bathrooms. It’s all about bringing the outdoors in.
The inspiration for this new primary bathroom—located in an addition to what was the husband’s childhood home in Chevy Chase DC—came from the couple’s frequent travels and their stays in boutique hotels. “They love that kind of hospitality,” says interior designer and architect Barbara Noguera of Barbara Noguera Interiors, who took on the project.
Noguera went for a clean and elegant look, partly informed by the straight lines and simple palette of the Dewberry, a hotel in Charleston the couple loved.
The bathroom’s anchor is a 12-foot-long floating walnut vanity by Ferris Custom Cabinetry. It has drawers for maximum storage, with brass handles from Push Pull Decorative Hardware that match the Ferguson sink fixtures.
Noguera opted for porcelain slabs above the vanity instead of a typical backsplash, to keep things sleek; they’re bisected by a strip of brown tile anchoring the RH Modern mirrors and Visual Comfort lighting. (The same porcelain lines the floor.) “Bathrooms usually are all cold materials,” says Noguera. “Bringing wood in gives it more warmth.”
The goal for the refresh of this Mount Pleasant primary bathroom: Go from ’90s and outdated to light and airy, with contemporary takes on the English-vintage look that would blend with the historic home’s character.
The clients opted to keep most of the design white to let the tile, tub, and vanities shine, says architect Grant Saller of Four Brothers Design + Build. The owners worked directly with American Restoration Tile to design a custom pattern with old-school hexagonal tiles. Paired with a polished-brass Penhaglion soaking tub, the effect is very 21st-century Downton Abbey.
Unlacquered brass faucets and shower fixtures from Waterworks, gold Lucent Lightshop sconces, and circular gold pendants from Schoolhouse add to the look. Elmwood Cabinets custom-made the two walnut vanities to resemble pieces of English furniture, with unlacquered brass pulls, deep drawers, and marble counters. “The wood just responds to the changing light and has all this natural beauty,” says Saller. “When you’re touching it, when you’re up close, it’s really personal—you know that you selected that piece.”
Out of the Blue
When the owners of this Bethesda home did a total renovation, they wanted to turn the primary bath into a space that felt like stepping into a vacation. That meant something with “an indoor/outdoor vibe” that was also “very, very fun,” says Jim Rill of Rill Architects, who designed the update alongside his colleague Cara Medeiros.
Step one: covering the wall, bathtub, and counters in a rare, statement-making blue marble flecked with brown, black, and white. The stone is complemented by an eye-catching pair of walnut vanities, aligned so that the wood’s veining patterns flow seamlessly across. Sand-colored porcelain tiles, gold fixtures, and a glam Hubbardton Forge chandelier and Visual Comfort mirror sconces play off the wood’s warm tones. The outdoors are also brought in via the windows lining one wall of the steam shower, which overlooks the backyard. (Not to worry—there are retractable shades.) Heated floors and a combination toilet-bidet up the luxe factor.
Rill says he’s seen a growing interest in combining home and nature using organic materials like wood and stone—a core part of what’s known as biophilic design: “[People want to] pull the outside in and the inside out.”
This article appears in the May 2023 issue of Washingtonian.