From the August/September 2018 Issue  

Take II on Tradition

Writer Meg Fox  |  Photographer Jennifer Lavelle Photography  |  Designer Jodie O'Connor  |  Architect Katz Novoa Architects
  • Transitional Shaker-style cabinets are painted warm, pale gray, which complements the tones in the herringbone marble floors and Arctic White quartz countertops. Linear lights above the sinks suit the cabinetry’s clean-lined profile. The 12-by-24-inch white porcelain wall tiles add texture, are easy to clean and rise to the peak of the cathedral ceiling behind the vanity wall.

  • A windowed wall creates a beautiful backdrop for a sumptuous soaking tub.

  • The shower gains a calm but captivating feel from its mix of stones and textures in a neutral color scheme. A bench offers a spot to sit and shave legs or soak in the steam of shower sprays. Thermostatic valves ensure the desired water temperature remains constant for the duration of a shower.

A master bathroom project in a Short Hills center-hall colonial bridges the home’s classic roots with the owners’ more transitional taste.

Serene, streamlined and bathed in natural light, this master bathroom captures the pared-down aesthetic favored by many homeowners today. The owners of this Short Hills home “wanted a transitional, clean, simple spa-like feel to the space,” recalls designer Jodie O’Connor, principal of Jodie O’ Designs in Whippany. “Nothing trendy or stuck in one style category … something meant to endure for decades.”

O’Connor found the solution in classic, timeless materials. The vanity’s transitional Shaker-style cabinets have simple lines, notes O’Connor, a member of the International Design Association. “And you can’t go wrong with [Carrera or Calacatta] marble,” which has been used for centuries and “is still prominent in today’s interiors.”

Gray-painted cabinets, trending in recent years, are a nice alternative to white, O’Connor says. In this bathroom, where shades of white predominate, the pale gray cabinets deliver character, personality and warmth, she adds. Plus, in a shared his-and-her space, the feel is “not too feminine or masculine.”

Varying shades of white—and a mix of patterns and textures in honed and polished surfaces—amplify the interest in the calm, neutral setting. “It’s important to vary the scale of the patterns,” O’Connor says, referring to the 1-by-4-inch herringbone marble floors and the 12-by-24-inch silk white porcelain tile on the bath and shower walls, which O’Connor says add texture and are easy to clean. One of the challenges was the placement of wall tiles and whether they should extend up the angled ceiling, which rises to about 14 feet. “We opted to extend the tile from the crown molding of the vanity to the peak of the cathedral ceiling,” O’Connor notes.

Instead of a honed countertop, O’Connor chose polished Arctic White quartz to complement the cabinetry’s matte finish. “It is simply white and has no flecks or veining—something you won’t grow tired of,” she says. Nor does it compete with the mosaic floors. “People love quartz,” she adds. “It’s more forgiving than marble and easy to maintain.”

Fixtures are all in polished chrome. “There’s a cleanness” associated with the finish, O’Connor says. “People like its reflective quality.”

The shimmer and shine are repeated in the crystal cabinet knobs and chandelier above the sumptuous high-gloss acrylic tub, which is contoured for comfort. Compact, freestanding acrylic tubs “have a lighter, airier, more modern look” than their bulky platform predecessors, O’Connor says. This one is situated along a windowed wall with treetop views, almost like bathing in fresh air.

A roomy walk-in shower contains all the bells and whistles. “It’s like the carwash of showers,” O’Connor says. A large flush-mount rain showerhead supplies a drenching cascade, along with fixed and handheld showerheads, body sprays and steam. A thermostatic valve keeps water at the right temperature at all times, O’Connor says, and a linear drain not only offers enhanced drainage, “it has a modern, sleek and seamless look.”

The master bathroom project is part of a whole-house renovation and expansion designed by Katz Novoa Architects in Short Hills. “We first met with the clients before they purchased the home to discuss what could be achieved [and then] worked closely with them to painstakingly reconfigure, design and detail every old and new space in the home,” says Ileana Martin-Novoa, managing partner at Katz Novoa. “With respect to the master bathroom, we designed the entire space and produced construction details from which the space was built. We also coordinated the fabrication of the countertops, cascading shower seat, threshold and shower niche shelves.”

The homeowners, who were very involved with all the bath selections, “were extremely pleased with the end result,” O’Connor says. “They really thought it through to get all the features they wanted.”