From the August/September 2016 Issue  

One, Two, Three

Writer Meg Fox  |  Photographer Courtney Apple  |  Designer Jenny Madden  |  Location Short Hills, NJ

A Short Hills couple—now empty nesters— take on a trio of bathroom renovations in succession.

“I love designing bathrooms,” says interior designer Jenny Madden, principal of Jenny Madden Design in Jersey City, NJ. “They are like little jewel boxes where you have the opportunity to make a big design impact.”

Madden did just that when she took on three successive bathroom renovations in a Short Hills, New Jersey home using a variety of materials to optimize style and function. Her clients, busy doctors who raised their children in the home and are now empty nesters, “saw an opportunity for a fresh look and to experience the home in a new way,” says Madden, an allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers and LEED-accredited professional.

Design NJ showcases the changes that took into account the couple’s preference for a more modern aesthetic as they plan to age in place gracefully, add value to their home and accommodate visiting family members and guests.

Everyday Escape

Master Bathroom, 61 square feet.

Key Design Components: The first task was to create a more functional layout for the clients, who preferred a luxurious shower over a rarely used bathtub as well as a larger vanity with more countertop space. Eliminating the tub enabled them to increase the footprint of the shower and relocate the toilet. “This allowed space for a larger cantilevered wall-mount vanity, which makes the room feel more spacious” because of the open space underneath, the designer says.

Natural materials such as 18-inch square travertine tiles and ipe wood flooring in the shower help to create a calm, soothing environment. “I’m completely crazy about the wood floor…it feels so great on your feet and like you’re at some far-away resort,” the wife says. When she became temporarily disabled with a broken foot, she was ever more appreciative of the room’s adaptable design features: a low-threshold shower, wide doorway, hand-held shower sprays and bench, which made the space safer and easier to navigate.

The uplift medicine cabinet is a “workhorse,” Madden notes, because of its storage capacity and other features: LED interior lighting, electrical outlets, nightlight and defogger.

Venetian plaster covers the perimeter walls and ceiling. “It’s a great low-maintenance, water-resistant finish for a bathroom,” Madden says. “I find it provides the interest of natural stone while conveying a warmer feel than tile.” Multilight pendants “almost look like suspended balls of water, which felt very fitting for a bathroom,” Madden says.

Into the Woods

Second-Floor Bathroom, 39 square feet.

Key Design Components: “I transformed what had been a lighthouse-themed children’s bathroom into a more sophisticated yet still playful space,” Madden says. The vanity, with its straight lines and sense of openness, was the jumping off point for the room’s black-and-white palette. A more streamlined bathtub and toilet replaced outdated bulky models, and a cumbersome and narrow glass-enclosed shower door was removed to improve access and make it easier to bathe the next generation of kids.

Cole & Son’s iconic “Woods & Pear” wall covering makes instant impact. “I adore the whimsical wallpaper,” the homeowner says. “It makes you feel like you are up in a tree house.” Floors were upgraded with radiant heating and covered with 12-by-12-inch charcoal-toned porcelain tile. In the shower, the designer incorporated two vertical panels of Oxo Line Blanco tile to produce a waterfall effect. “Juxtaposed against the flat tiles, [and used with restraint] it has a lively fluidity to it,” she says.

Less Is More

Guest Bathroom, 40 square feet.

Key Design Components: Wallboard and tile dominated the shower enclosure in the old guest bathroom, making it feel cramped and divided from the rest of the room. “I opened up the space by replacing tiled walls with glass and using a bright white palette,” Madden says. She also gave the small space its swagger by using slabs of Venatino marble on the shower walls, book-matching the corners to produce a mirror image effect. “Eliminating the grout joints allows the material to be appreciated in its natural form and keeps the small space simple,” Madden says. Sight lines remain uninterrupted thanks to a marble storage shelf that runs through the shower to above the free-floating sink/vanity. The shower is “fantastic,” and the room “feels so much bigger,” the homeowner says. The contemporary style of the Duravit vanity and TOTO toilet balance the more traditional elements of the room, while chrome finishes add sparkle and keep the space feeling bright.