Natural Beauty

Claudia and Dan Esposito loved their spacious midcentury house in a wooded section of Potomac. But their master bathroom, while large, smacked of the 1970s. “It was terribly dated stylistically, with laminate counters in a dusty rose hue and a huge tub surround,” says designer Leslie Roosevelt of Gilday Renovations, the Silver Spring-based firm the couple hired to renovate the space in 2013.  

“Leslie had recently helped us redo our kitchen in a clean contemporary style, and we wanted to bring our bath in line,” Claudia says. On their wish list were calming colors, a smaller tub and a private toilet area. Roosevelt considered expanding the space to improve the room’s flow, but in the end, clever features such as a floating vanity and a walk-in shower fronted with clear glass kept the space feeling—and living—large.

Photo by Morgan Howarth.

“The original shower was a two-headed one, which sounds romantic, but it wasn’t very practical,” Dan says. In addition, the entrance to the old metal-framed shower was directly across from the toilet, making it awkward to enter and hampering privacy. Roosevelt replaced the shower with a larger walk-in version that’s lined with Daltile porcelain tile that looks like marble. “Now it feels very open, and when you walk into the room, your eye doesn’t stop because of the clear glass,” Roosevelt says.

Photo by Morgan Howarth.

The old bathroom lacked storage, so Roosevelt incorporated multiple alder cabinets into her design, including a tall one in the center of the double vanity. “It’s their version of a medicine cabinet,” she says. Two features near the sink trick the eye into thinking the room is larger than it is: unframed vanity mirrors reflect more light than framed versions, and a floating vanity gives the illusion of more floor space.

Photo by Morgan Howarth.

Roosevelt replaced the old tub, which had a huge tile surround, with an oval model by Hydro Systems. The perimeter of the new curved tub features small, slate tiles from Daltile. “We considered covering it in marble, but this tile has no maintenance and was moderately priced,” Roosevelt says. An oil painting that was a gift from Claudia’s parents hangs over the tub.

Boho Chich

Before moving to Chevy Chase, D.C., Ingrid Smith and her father restored an early 20th century Brooklyn, New York, row house, putting in a country-cool kitchen, adding a roof deck and rehabbing the façade. “I love a fixer-upper, so when I moved to D.C. and started a family, I decided to do it again,” says the lawyer by day, amateur interior designer by night. When she and her husband, Gerardo Lapetina, bought their 1936 colonial in 2007, the couple knew they wanted to expand the midsize home to make more room for themselves and twins Charlie and Cecilia, now 9 years old.

Photo by Justin Tsucalas

The 2011 renovation that Smith planned with help from contractor Jose Villalta-Claros of JVC Construction added a sizable master bath. “Before, our master bath was essentially a closet,” Smith says. Working with Villalta-Claros, she incorporated exotic elements and vintage touches. Now the space, like the rest of her house, reads as boho-yet-functional—think a sleeker Anthropologie catalog come to life.

Smith traveled to Turkey after graduating from law school, and she fell in love with the many colorful bathrooms she saw there. “Incorporating Turkish tile became an obsession,” she says. The new blue and white tiles on the wall and in the shower complement and play off of the simpler white tiles on the floor. An antique claw-foot tub, scored for $200 on Craigslist, is a nod to the home’s age. “When I’m in here, I feel like I’m somewhere else,” Smith says. “It’s exotic.”

The funky pendant light over the tub? It’s vintage, and Smith purchased it for $35 on eBay. “I like older fixtures because they’re more interesting and attractive than ones you find in stores now,” says Smith, who suggests looking for vintage pieces at estate sales. She liked this fixture’s pale blue shade, and thought its 60s vibe provided a nice contrast to the tub and Turkish tile.

Smith bought the dark wood vanity and matching storage cabinet on eBay, pairing the vanity with Venetian-style mirrors from Lowe’s. “We spent a bunch of time measuring what would and wouldn’t fit, and these pieces really utilize the space,” Villalta-Claros says. “You have to maximize the floor plan in these older homes, even with an addition.”

Photo by Justin Tsucalas

Designer Tip: Pay Attention to the Details

Smith and Villalta-Claros used river rocks on the bottom of the walk-in shower. “I love the way they feel on your feet,” Smith says. “It’s very spa-like.”


Just Like Paris

Tamara Lyons’ Darnestown house reminds her of the good times spent there with her late husband, Brian, and her now 9-year-old son, Asher. “But the master bathroom was so dreary,” she says. “It had Formica countertops that always looked dirty, and a giant two-person tub that was like the world’s most expensive drying rack.” So Lyons decided to transform her master bath in 2014. “You know how you walk into the bathroom at a fancy hotel, and it’s so clean, white and modern? I wanted that,” she says.

To achieve the herringbone floor, Case fabricators cut 18-inch-square “Carrera Mist” matte tiles from Architectural Ceramics into 6-by-18-inch rectangles. “The pattern ends up nicely balancing the feminine-modern look of the room,” Shaut says. “It was more work, but worth it for the effect.” Radiant heating installed under the tiles ups the luxe factor. “My cats love to sleep on it,” Lyons says with a laugh.

After admiring a Euro-sleek bathroom by Case Design/Remodeling at a show house, Lyons enlisted the help of the Bethesda-based firm. Project developers Colleen Shaut and John Audet suggested a slight expansion of the space’s footprint by taking over a linen closet in the bedroom. Lyons’ large walk-in closet became part of the room, too, thanks to frosted-glass French doors that separate it from the bathroom and create a getting-ready suite.

Lyons wanted a true water closet—a separate toilet room with a mini sink for washing her hands. Inside, an 8-inch-deep medicine cabinet provides storage, while a frosted-glass pocket door keeps the enclosed space as sunny as the bathroom beyond. “Frosted glass feels so organic and light,” Shaut says.

Custom mirrored cabinets, marble-look ceramic tiles laid in a herringbone pattern and a Sherwin-Williams pale blue-green paint called “glimmer” on the walls help create an “are we in Paris?” vibe. A walk-in shower and a dramatic (but smaller) freestanding tub by Victoria + Albert both boast views of the tree-filled property. “We wanted it bright, and the mirrors help reflect the light from outside so well,” Shaut says.

Resale Tip: Incorporate a Tub

Shaut says many potential homebuyers feel strongly about having a bathtub in their master bathroom, so she often advises against creating a master suite with only a shower.