From the August/September 2021 Issue  

Soothing Simplicity

Writer Marirose Krall  |  Photographer Regan Wood  |  Designer Samantha Polkow and Samantha Lax  |  Location Saddle River, NJ

Two designers, two bathrooms, one stress-free aesthetic

Wood tones and streamlined furnishings create a simple and stylish natural aethestic in the primary bathroom.


The concept was a modern barn,” Samantha Polkow says of the interior design of this home in Saddle River. The clients, April and Bill McEntee, “wanted a home that exudes warmth through materials but also keeps a modern, streamlined look.” Designers Polkow and Samantha Lax worked on this project under the auspices of their former company, Handin Browne. Polkow is now the owner of Studio HB in New York City and Lax is now the owner of Westport, Connecticut-based Handin Homes.

Lax says that, in these spaces, the homeowners were looking for practicality along with sleek style. “They were clear that they didn’t want any room to feel too precious, so every space had to be beautiful but livable.” In particular, the bathroom off the mudroom needed to be supremely functional. “It doubles as the indoor/outdoor bathroom,” Polkow explains. “Our clients love to entertain, so they wanted a space that looks refined but could withstand mud and dirt from their outdoor gatherings.” In addition to making cleanup fast and easy, the room’s minimalist design keeps the small space uncluttered, ensuring that design elements such as the black inset window frame and the custom wood vanity draw all the focus. “To give credit where credit is due, our client actually found the inspiration for this vanity while thumbing through a magazine. We were all on board!”

The minimalist bathroom off the mudroom features high style in a small space.


The look of natural wood continues in the primary bathroom, though this time it’s in the form of a wood-look porcelain tile on the walls. The designers added texture to the room with a hemp runner. In addition, Polkow says, “the concrete-like floor makes the room feel casual and lived in, and the Carrera vanity top brings in maturity and elegance.” The standalone bathtub underscores the simple, natural look. “The matte texture of the floating tub helps carry out this organic feel,” Polkow notes. “We incorporated elements very similar to those in the bathroom off the mudroom to keep a cohesive design throughout the home.”

Like the downstairs bathroom, the primary bathroom is practical and livable. “Primary bathrooms are often very personal,” Lax says. “And because our client is a minimalist at heart, she needed storage to make sure every item has its place.” The long vanity’s large drawers and the inset shelf next to the bathtub ensure that the room stays tidy even while necessities are within easy reach. The vanity’s placement takes advantage of the illumination from the windows, which are bare except for inconspicuous roller shades. Lax notes, “April likes to do her makeup in natural light, so we added an area to the custom vanity for her to sit, relax and prepare for the day. Bonus: This allowed us to incorporate that adorable stool!”

Those carefully selected accessories add interest to these spaces without disrupting the peaceful aesthetic. The process of creating these serene spaces was “pretty seamless,” according to Polkow, “thanks to clients who had a clear design aesthetic and trusted our suggestions.”