Kinnelon, NJ — At first glance, it’s the luxurious finishes and features of this Kinnelon, NJ, master bath and dressing room that capture attention. In the shower, oversized European-style porcelain tiles complement smaller, vertically laid Danby marble tile accents and a marble-covered bench. In the tub/vanity area, rich custom painted and natural walnut woods mix with a custom Murano Glass chandelier and elegant iridescent Kappa Shell tile that frames the mirror above the tub that is topped with Danby marble.
In her dressing room, a purple velvet Christopher Guy chair with lavender silk trim and silver leaf curved legs coordinates with Chanel-inspired ‘necklace’ sconces, wire-wrapped chandelier and wire-front cabinets.
“There are many focal points in this space that make it stand out…the luxurious finishes, the design that captures your eye, forcing it to bounce around to catch every angle. It is definitely a treat for the eye,” says Marlene Wangenheim, AKBD, CAPS, Allied ASID and principle of Interiors by Design in Morristown, NJ, who worked with Zimmerman Architects (architect), New Castle Construction (general contractor), Lazarus & Williamson (walnut vanities/island) and Creative Kitchen and Bath/Peter Albanese, CKD/CBD (painted cabinetry/panels) to transform the original footprint into this all-inclusive hideaway space.
“It is also very tactile. You want to touch everything…to run your hand over the marble around the tub, the tile in the shower or across the velvet chair,” she adds.
While aesthetics were certainly top of mind in the renovation, of equal – if not greater – importance was function and the ability for the new master bath to fulfill the couple’s needs as they moved through their 50s and beyond. “The foundation of the design is all about aging in place,” she says. “It’s about designing a space that, as they got older, could accommodate a wheelchair or walker as well as diminished eyesight and balance. Everything refers back to aging in place. It all had to be adaptive to their lifestyle now and later.”
As such, the curbless shower with linear drain is long enough and wide enough for a wheelchair to completely turn 360 degrees, while the heated bench provides a place to sit if needed. Radiant heat flooring, which runs throughout the entire space, adds a touch of luxury, and dual-temperature controls make it easy to control shower functions from inside or outside the shower.
All doorways and hallways are 36″ wide, including the one that connects the tub/vanity area with her dressing room. Wangenheim also tucked a toilet/bidet room off this hallway, concealing it with a sliding shoji door made of mahogany and laminated rice paper that provides soundproofing while allowing light to pass through. A pedestal sink and built-in storage complete the room.
In the tub/vanity area, Wangenheim paid attention to even the smallest of details related to aging in place, such as rounded corners on the air jet tub deck, lever faucet handles and oversized vanity hardware. At one end of the tub, the designer also included a heated towel drawer that is topped with a cushion that gives her client a place to sit and, if needed, swing her legs into the tub from a sitting position. “As we age, we lose our balance,” she says. “Now she won’t have to worry.”
Wangenheim placed a thermostat control for the floor directly above the towel drawer, at a height that can be reached from a standing or seated position. “It is lower than usual, but it – as well as all of the controls – are placed so they can be accessed from a wheelchair, if needed,” she explains.
Other amenities include a tilt-out hamper at the other end of the tub, which is wrapped in custom paneling to beautifully conceal it. An island designed to resemble an apothecary chest bridges the gap between his/her vanities. “There was eight feet of space between the vanities,” she says. “And because of the way the front of the house angles, I wasn’t able to include medicine cabinets above the vanities, so the island gives her some extra storage space.”
One of the biggest challenges for the entire space was the ceiling in the tub/vanity area. With assistance from the architect, Wangenheim lowered it, changed the direction of the rafters and added coffers. “The previous ceiling was a poorly done contemporary ceiling that went from 8 to 10 to 12 feet,” she explains. “We dropped it to 10 feet and added mouldings. Those changes allowed us to do more with lighting – which is imperative as people age – and it gave the space a little more intimacy because it brought down the ceiling. It also helped with the acoustics, which is important because we included a TV and music system.”
Another challenge was to make the vast space intimate and warm while keeping it open and spacious. “They wanted it to be beautiful, to be a private hideaway where they never had to leave if they didn’t want to,” she says. “But they also needed it to be ready for them to live out their life if they encountered any challenges with eyesight or movement.” KBDN