Bright Spot

A modern makeover gives an ’80s bathroom a shiny new look

Photos by Karen Melvin

Interior Design: LiLu Interiors

White and light gray tones, matte lacquered wood, and indirect lighting create a spa-like atmosphere in the spacious new master bath.
The preexisting master bath.

The bathroom was tired and the homeowners were tired of it. Over the years, the couple had remodeled most of their residence in the north metro, but the room that was most invisible to visitors—the master bath—remained untouched. It smacked of the 1980s, featuring golden oak cabinetry, recessed can lighting, Corian countertops, beiges, and browns. The couple’s young kids had gradually taken over the space, but the parents were determined to reclaim the room. “They wanted a lighter, more open space with a boutique-hotel feel,” says Lisa Peck, of Minneapolis-based LiLu Interiors. “They wanted a space for the adults in the household.”

The couple hired Peck and her business partner, LuAnne Silvia, at the suggestion of a contractor. The designers saw lots of potential in the space but remaking it into a spa-like environment would require a complete gutting, Peck told the homeowners. Starting with a blank slate would also allow some corrections in the layout, which had an awkward flow and organizational arrangement.

To create a brighter space, Peck sought to maximize the daylight provided by a bathroom window. Whites and light grays replaced the beiges and browns. A shower stall that was previously walled off was reclad in low-iron glass (which tends to be clearer and less green), making the entire room feel brighter and more spacious. Can lighting in the ceiling was replaced with dimmable LED lighting that was carefully calibrated to deliver a warmer feel (rather than the cold, often harsh look produced by many LEDs). In most cases, Peck hid the lighting behind the edges of mirrors, creating indirect illumination.

A built-in cubby next to “her” vanity provides space to store beauty tools and keep them off counters and out of sight.

The old master bath had two closets but still seemed to lack storage space. Peck combined the two units into one larger one, and installed flat-faced gray-painted cabinets that conceal space for linens as well as a laundry sorter. A cubby next to “her” vanity keeps hairdryers, curling irons, and other often-used beauty tools off the countertops and out of sight. A towel warmer and heated floors are among the additional touches that add to the spa-like comforts of the space.

An inset panel of black tiles adds interest in the shower.

Light gray is the dominant hue—reflected in the porcelain tile that lines the floor and shower walls. But small touches included by LiLu give the space additional character: An inset panel of black tiles with a flower design adds interest in the shower, and matte lacquered wood is used sparingly throughout the space—an idea pulled from elsewhere in the house where reddish wood is used.

“The homeowners love the new space,” Peck says. “It’s comfortable and relaxing, and they even got the kids to stop using it—giving them a space that’s all their own.”

Joel Hoekstra is a writer based in Minneapolis.

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