designing an escape

interior designer brings work home to remodel her master bath

Story by Randi Jo Gause • Photos by Photo Arts by Janna

General Contractor
Scott McRae of Alaska Summit Construction
Interior Designer
Valerie Rizzo, ASID, CKD
Seagrass limestone 12x12 tile, furnished and installed by Alaska Marble & Granite
Limestone in seagrass, furnished and installed by Alaska Marble & Granite
Inset door style, cherry with nutmeg stain, Omega Cabinetry
Cast Bronze Collection, Top Knobs
Sconces, Restoration Hardware; recessed lighting by Juno
Mirrors and Shower doors
Capitol Glass/Northerm Windows
Ladena under-counter lavatory, Kohler
Gabrielle comfort height toilet, Kohler
Produits Neptune Ruby freestanding tub, Activ-Air jets and chromotheraphy lights
Kensington Collection with Swarovski crystal handles, Grohe
Shower System
Rustic shower set on adjustable arm, Grohe
Shower flooring
3x3 seagrass limestone tile furnished and installed by Alaska Marble & Granite
Shower wall
8x16 seagrass limestone tile furnished and installed by Alaska Marble & Granite

Valerie Rizzo spends her professional career fulfilling customers' interior design visions. So, when it came to remodeling her own bathroom this year, she knew just what needed to be done. Her 17-year-old space was dated, inefficient and lacked a cohesive theme.

"The only positive was that the bathroom was large and had great views out the windows," explains Rizzo.

She envisioned transforming her lackluster space to an elegant, breezy retreat. "I wanted the space to feel like a spa…a place to relax after a long day and get a breath of fresh air," she describes.

To facilitate her vision, Rizzo teamed up with Scott McRae, owner of Alaska Summit Construction. Using the same design and aesthetic tenets that Rizzo teaches in her own profession, she began by altering the bathroom's unflattering mauve and pink color scheme.

"Designing a space that is monochromatic makes the space look and feel larger," Rizzo describes, "and limiting the use of multiple finishes creates a soothing environment and aesthetic atmosphere."

To anchor the room's new palette of colors and materials, she selected an avocado green shade for the walls, and chose an understated seagrass-hued limestone to replace the corian countertops, linoleum flooring and the shower tiling.

Rizzo further maximized the space and minimized clutter by integrating lots of storage for necessities, including a cabinet above the toilet. She not only integrated standard under-sink cabinetry, in cherry oak, along the entire vanity, but she also took advantage of the vertical filler space by adding 3-inch pull-out shelves on either end of the vanity. Inset cabinets above the vanity are cleverly disguised with mirrors that lie flush with the vanity wall.

Using 24-inch deep kitchen cabinetry in the bathroom allowed Rizzo "to place reduced-depth wall cabinets above the sinks, which added tons of storage," she explains.

For continuity throughout the vanity area, standard porcelain sinks were replaced with contemporary rectangular under-mount sinks, while crystal faucet fixtures add just a hint of shine. Three vertical mirrors were installed across the vanity wall.

Hollywood-style lights above the vanity were replaced with sleek wall sconces flanking all three mirrors, while the existing overhead can lights were enhanced with a silver trim to offer more light reflection. All of the bathroom lights feature a dimmer switch to enhance the ambience of the space.

At the focal point of the room, beneath the existing scenic window, "we removed the very large jetted tub and reframed the space to allow for a crisp white, freestanding air-jetted tub with a remote motor, which we located in the crawl space for noise reduction," explains McRae.

Although the footprint of the neighboring shower could not be expanded, they raised the ceiling from seven feet to eight feet to create a more spacious, airy vibe, and integrated two hand-held shower heads for maximum functionality.

Radiant heat throughout the bathroom floor provides the final touch of relief from the blustery winter weather.

What Rizzo ended up with is a space with a more unified look and functional design to provide an oasis from the day's stresses – a space that clients and designers alike would be delighted with. Who says you can't mix business with pleasure?