• Samia Verbist

Adding Custom Luxury to a Master Bathroom in California

Once a renovation project comes together, it looks like it was always meant to be. But in the beginning, sharing that vision with clients is key. And one of my most important jobs as a designer is finding solutions to anticipated and surprising challenges. That is what happened in this spacious en suite master bathroom in California.


The bathroom started life in the late 20th century. It bore the marks of that era: beiges and browns on the stone tile floor, a glass-enclosed shower with stone walls, a drop-in tub with a large space-wasting tub deck, and a builder-grade double vanity. A big arched window framed in wood was at the back of the space.


The goal was to take this master bathroom in California from dated to sophisticated. And I had a few specific requests to fit in — a steam shower, a free-standing tub that had already been chosen, and enclosing the shower and tub together behind a glass wall.

Gold and white master bathroom in California

My client had seen that last idea on Pinterest, and it was my first time doing it – just the type of experience that allows me to grow continually as an interior designer.


After strategizing how to incorporate these requests and make them work within our available space, I created a rendering to share with my client. It showed clearly what was possible so that we could move forward. Best of all, she would get the truly customized bathroom she wanted.


The Master Bathroom In California: How It Started

The first step in this master bathroom remodel was to demo everything. Nothing in the original space spoke to the luxurious design I had planned.


That included the arched window, which might seem like a feature worth saving. But because we were adding a steam shower encompassing the entire back half of the bathroom, we needed a vinyl window.


So it was goodbye window framed in wood and hello horizontal vinyl window with frosted glass for privacy. The new window is much smaller. And while we could have had a large one custom-made, the project was completed during the pandemic, when material shortages were a constant challenge, so we decided not to wait.

Tub under small window in master bathroom in California

The soaring shower enclosure is glass that extends from floor to ceiling and from wall to wall to capture all the steam. Can you believe the seamless glass doors are 10 feet wide and 108 inches tall? They are gorgeous with golden fixtures and offer a full view of the dramatic zero-entry shower, elegant bathtub, and dramatic walls behind them. It’s like a display case for beautiful objects.


Design Decisions for the Steam Shower

When it comes to beautiful objects, there is plenty to talk about in this bathroom. And the most noticeable is the Magnifica Encore polished porcelain slab in Calacatta Antique. For the walls of the shower area, I wanted a surface that would bring serious drama. And when I saw the Bedrosians slab, I knew it would do so.

It took five large-format slabs to cover the walls and shower bench. The ceiling has white porcelain to protect it from the steam, and the floor tile also is white, with a delicate hexagon pattern inside the shower area. By making everything else white, the Calacatta walls are the focal point, and the dramatic effect is inspiring but not overpowering.


My client had already purchased the freestanding Whirlpool Hydro Systems tub, and I needed to find a way to fit it behind the wall of glass where there was not enough width to place it perpendicular to the side wall.


It would have fit flush against it, but then the tub would have been hidden by the vanity, which would not take advantage of its lovely sculptural shape. Instead, I put it on a diagonal, and it fit perfectly.


You would never know that figuring out this bathtub installation was challenging – it looks right at home in its niche.


A Custom Bathroom Vanity and More

When I saw the Calacatta porcelain, I knew it would be a major player in this bathroom. I wanted to style everything around it to make the most of its warm, gold veining.


I designed a custom vanity with the cabinetmaker and chose an equally warm white oak with a sleek flat-panel door. I knew the cabinetmaker could do inlay, so we added that in brushed brass. The vanity was topped with the same porcelain used in the shower, which looks like an antique piece of furniture from another century.


Throughout, the fixtures are Vibrant Brushed Moderne Brass. You’ll see it from the rain shower head to the sink faucets and the Roman tub filler. The linear drain in the shower is gold, and the steam shower control is brushed brass.


The mirrors and sconces repeat this finish, and it all works together to celebrate the drama of the porcelain. Keeping the elements within a narrow palette made it possible to use so much of the striking pattern without creating a space that is too busy. After all, we want a bathroom to be as soothing as it is breathtaking, and we achieved both here.

Orange County interior designer Samia Verbist standing in master bathroom in California

Let’s be dramatic. Let’s be bold. And of course, let’s be beautiful.

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