Natural Home Bath of the Year 2008: Stress-Free Zone

This spa-like bathroom pampers its owners—and the planet.

| September/October 2008

  • Previously, the bathroom had no tub. Now the Zenlike bath space is surrounded by natural light and recycled-content tile.
    Photo By Michael Shopenn
  • Designed for tranquility, the steam shower features a pebble floor, limestone benches and Johnson’s take on a natural waterfall.
    Photo By Michael Shopenn
  • The CaesarStone countertops and custom-built, formaldehyde-free cabinets make for peaceful
    Photo By Michael Shopenn

Open to an adjoining bedroom and closet and with no door for privacy, Christy Clark and Cliff Shaw’s Boulder, Colorado, bathroom needed help. “There was no door to the bathroom, no privacy and no tub,” Christy says. “And the space was very small.” With help from architect Andy Johnson and Clay Dusel of Dusel Custom Builders, Christy and Cliff gutted and reworked the space to create a restorative, earth-friendly bathroom.

The team began with broad strokes, enlarging the bathroom to include a soaking tub, a steam shower and a sauna, and delineating it clearly from the master bedroom with a wall and double doors. “When you enter through the double doors, the first thing you see is a wall of stacked white river rock, which is the back wall of the steam shower,” Johnson says. Located in the middle of the room, the steam shower can be entered from either side.

Sunlight floods the bathroom through windows and skylights. The lighting, compact fluorescent or dimmable, creates a peaceful mood. “It has a very Zen feeling,” Johnson says.

Christy and Cliff support the serenity with a few house rules. “Every morning when I wake up and get in the shower, I feel like I’m going to a spa,” Christy says. “We even have a rule that when we’re in there, we don’t talk about anything stressful or work-related! The space is free of those topics, so we can really relax. It’s a haven.” 

The Challenge : Although the bathroom was gutted and completely reshaped, Johnson saved money by reusing all the existing plumbing locations, which created some design constraints. Cliff says the biggest challenge was trying to fit a lot in a small space without making it feel crowded.

The Joy : Johnson and the homeowners found the remodeling process joyful. “It was a very integrated design process,” Johnson says. “Clay was on board from the get-go, and we worked really well as a team. We had a load of fun.”

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