Design Reveal! Modern Neutrals in a Tranquil San Francisco Bathroom

Calm, relaxing, warm, peaceful… These words describe the atmosphere inside this newly designed San Francisco bathroom.  As the mother of a 3-year-old, I find even the briefest moment of  bathroom privacy to be an absolute luxury. If I could enjoy a moment of privacy in THIS bathroom I would feel like I was being pampered at a day spa.Heather Zerah modern neutral bathroom-008

Many San Francisco homes appear to be two stories from the outside, with a garage door at the ground level and a set of stairs leading up to the front door. Once inside, you realize that the entire livable home is on the upper level. The ground level is an unfinished garage and storage space. My client undertook the major task of turning the entire back half of her garage into a master suite / den, along with a finished laundry room and interior stairs leading up to the entryway on the main level. My help was enlisted for the bathroom design.

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Having done her homework on Pinterest, my client had a clear idea of what she wanted. She loved the look of clean, modern, large-format porcelain tiles. If you have ever shopped for porcelain tile, you know the range of options is huge. We looked at an assortment of patterns, textures, and geometries (circles, squares, ridges!) in shades of charcoal, beige, and bright white. As we considered various options, my client’s thoughts kept returning to a particular image she had seen during her research: a bold horizontal stripe constructed out of contrasting tiles. Of course, like most trends, a bold design choice can quickly become outdated. She feared that the bold contrast stripe would grow tiresome within a few years. I made it my mission to find the perfect balance of contrast and neutrality. And we did it!

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The solid, matte, mocha-colored tile has a smooth but slip-proof finish and is a lovely complement to the mix of cream and beige tones in the polished “marble look” tile. It stands out without screaming “look at me!”  With the perfect tiles selected, our next challenge was finding the exact sizes we needed. Both tiles were available in the large 12×24″ size that we liked, but they didn’t have many sizes beyond that. Luckily, our skilled contractor was able to cut the porcelain tile down to the dimensions required for our design. He trimmed the solid tile down to 6×24″ for the wall stripe and 6×6″ for better traction on the wet shower floor. He then trimmed the 3×24″ surface bullnose down to a quarter round for the trim, and created baseboard using the through-body matte tile. *Side note: Through-Body means that the color pigment runs through the entire material, rather than just resting on the surface. This allows you to cut and polish the tile yourself and still have a finished, color-matched edge.

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We looked at a variety of paint colors in shades of blue and green, ultimately selecting the tranquil Bali color from Benjamin Moore for the walls. For fixtures, we considered polished nickel and dark, oil-rubbed bronze. Once again, my client looked past the trendier bronze option in favor of the classic, timeless look of brushed nickel. For the shower floor, my client opted for a curbless shower, which slopes down towards a slim drain along the far wall. The curbless entry and bench are fantastic features. Although they are comfortable for people of all ages, they add resale value, particularly among older buyers with decreased mobility.

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This fairly compact bathroom had to be built to fit within a typically narrow San Francisco footprint. But once inside, compact becomes cozy. And this bathroom proves, once again, that small spaces can have big style.

Photo Credits: Frederic Zerah

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