Rose Cottage’s European Delight in Afton

A small cottage bathroom, remodeled by Ispiri, blossoms into a secret Parisian garden

Photos by Spacecrafting

Decade-old buffet doors from France add a historic touch of global luxury to the bathroom, remodeled by designer Courtney Johnson of Ispiri.

In the 40 years that Steve and Debbykay Peterson have lived in their treasured Afton, Minnesota, abode—an 1880 structure built by Swedish immigrants that the couple affectionately call Rose Cottage—they’ve slowly remodeled it to emulate a French country home. Eventually, they were down to one room: the master bath.

One could argue “master” is a bit generous. The 50-square-foot room appeared even smaller with a slanted roof angle, and even though the bathroom had a skylight, the dark navy wallpaper and large white fixtures diminished rather than amplified the sunlight that poured through it. To make some much-needed fixes, the Petersons worked with Ispiri designer Courtney Johnson and her team to not only create a design that would blend with and elevate the rest of the home, but also add heated floors, plenty of storage, and more.

A motorized skylight allows sunshine to pour into this enchanting master bathroom from above.

A Charming Vision

Johnson introduced innovative changes to the space, like a pocket door and new marble shower tile, and the Petersons added personal touches with Swarovski crystal lighting fixtures and a bird-and floral-patterned wallpaper. The pièce de résistance, however, was the 100-year-old buffet doors the couple brought home from France. Hand-carved from solid walnut and featuring a beautiful design of a woman in her garden, the pieces were turned into a new cabinet and finished with a soft patina for cohesion.

A pull-out rack between the shower and doorway increases storage in this 50-square-foot master bathroom in Afton.

Accessibility with a Perk

In addition to its luxurious, zen-spa-meets-European-cottage feel, the bathroom also has accessibility features built in—with one particular decision changing the space’s storage abilities. The standard tub and shower combo was replaced with a more accessible shower that features grab bars and a door that opens both ways. The update left room for a pull-out rack (hidden behind an antique, mirror-paneled door) between the shower and doorway that provides ample space for cosmetics and toiletries.

All in the Details

No matter where you look, you’ll notice an elegant vintage garden theme: The centers of the crystal knobs are decorated with flower-reminiscent shapes, and even the shower drain is prettied up with an intricate scroll pattern surround. Final touches include a heated towel bar, polished nickel fixtures, and a motorized skylight. “There are so many beautiful things in that bathroom,” Johnson says, “but when I talk to [the clients] now, their favorite thing is the skylight. When it senses rain, it closes automatically.”

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