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Raising the Roof

Writer Marirose Krall  |  Photographer Meghan Balcom  |  Designer Joanna McLean  |  Location Summit, NJ

A bathroom renovation in Summit uncovers interesting architecture

Dark walls accentuate the gambrel rooflines in this primary bathroom. “Once we found the beautiful floor tile, we were able find the perfect complement to the darkest charcoal color in that tile. “Kendall Charcoal” from Benjamin Moore & Co. worked beautifully as a contrast to all the white and taupe in the space,” designer Joanna McLean says. | Photo by Meghan Balcom

Architectural alterations included removal of the arch, the built-in bathtub and the half-walls and floor in the shower. | Courtesy of Lois Schneider Realtor in Summit

Chris and Molly Paiement had a goal in mind when they renovated the primary bathroom in their 1923 Summit home. “My clients’ hopes and dreams for this space included a modern, clean aesthetic along with a pedestal tub and dark, moody walls,” says Joanna McLean, owner of Chatham-based Joanna McLean Designs.

But before McLean could make that dream come true, there was construction to be done. “We knew the layout would basically stay the same,” the designer says. “But we couldn’t wait to demo the walls and that arched ceiling to see what we could do.” The demolition revealed some interesting, if challenging, architectural elements. “There were gambrel rooflines to consider.” The designer also had to consider the stature of her clients. “Molly is 5 feet 2 inches and her husband is 6 feet 2 inches, so that made for some unique design decisions. We needed to create a bathroom that was functional for both of them.”

Removing the arch over the tub provided space for a higher ceiling — and created an unexpected aesthetic asset. “The new ceiling features awesome angles that are captured in the vanity mirrors,” McLean says. The shower area received the same treatment. “We opened the ceiling, removed the half walls and raised the height of the rain shower.” Because the Paiments requested a zero-entry shower, further construction was required. “We had to redo the radiant heat in order to pitch the flooring in the shower area to accommodate the curb-less shower,” McLean explains. The alteration was worth the extra effort; the new shower boasts simple, clean lines in keeping with the geometry of the room. Another plus: “Chris no longer needs to duck under the shower head.”

The double vanity is tucked into an alcove. Dual mirrors reflect the angles on the other side of the room. | Photo by Meghan Balcom

The water closet kept its place next to the shower, but McLean swapped out the swing door for a space-saving pocket door. “We added frosted glass to ensure privacy while keeping the natural light flowing into the space.”

“Molly loves to take baths,” McLean says of the homeowner. “So the bathtub had to fit her specifications. We tested out tubs, taking into consideration several factors, including water height. Those details matter.” | Photo by Meghan Balcom

“Molly and Chris really wanted to regain the space taken up by the arch and built-in tub.” The tub and its surround were removed in favor of a more contemporary, cleaner pedestal tub. | Photo by Joanna McLean

The striking angularity of the room is balanced by the curves in the floor tile design. “Molly and Chris knew they wanted a patterned floor tile and when we found this one, we knew it was perfect. We furnished the rest of the room pulling the colors and tones out of that tile,” McLean notes. Accent walls in a deep gray coordinate with the dark detailing in the floor. The lighter tones of the floor are mimicked in the shower. “Molly really wanted an accent wall in the shower with a unique tile layout, so we chose a basketweave pattern. The back wall is a beautiful light taupe shade and the side walls, along with the ceiling, are white.”

McLean says, “Molly loves the large shower niche that we added for her hair products to keep things tidy and off the floor.”

The new bathroom suits the homeowners beautifully. McLean says, “The clients have a very eclectic, cool and modern aesthetic in their home. They’re not afraid of taking some big swings to achieve designs that speak to them and make their home representative of them and their unique style.”