When the homeowners of a 1990s ranch style home sitting on a sprawling 46-acre property in Driftwood wanted to update their master bathroom without sacrificing its original rustic charm, they called on Deborah Downes of Downes Interiors. The home, featured in Kathryn Ann Samon’s book, Ranch House Style, is surrounded by beautiful country views, several horses and dogs, and a variety of wildlife.
From the onset of the project, Downes honed in on the homeowners’ lifestyle to refresh their master bathroom without diminishing the original ranch style vibe. “My client is very earthy and eclectic,” recalls Downes. “She wanted her bathroom to be her place of refuge. She likes to take baths and she loves her clawfoot tub.” Read on to find out how Downes married some of her client’s existing favorites with thoughtfully-selected elements for a revamped and relaxing space that’s not out of place.
UH: What was your main inspiration when updatingthis master bathroom?
DD: I was inspired by the house itself and the existing elements like the salvaged long leaf pine wood featured throughout the home. The horse picture she already had was an important element for me to incorporate because she loves her horses and the picture just speaks to you. I feel it anchors the room. My client purchased the clawfoot tub in the ‘90s before they built the house and the house was designed with it in mind. The clawfoot tub was an extremely important element to work with and the only updating needed was painting the legs black because they had started looking a bit aged.
UH: There’s a nice balance at play between the more masculine, rustic elements and the softer, feminine touches. What were the key design decisions that helped blend them?
DD: The space has a warm feeling with all the wood combinations. The use of earthy organic materials gives it a sense of time and beauty yet it is romantic with feminine elements. I completely removed everything in the room except for the cabinets, floor and the tub. Originally the cabinets and mirror were the same long leaf pine as the floor, but I thought it was too much of the same color and I felt it needed contrast. To bring in something warm, I suggested faux finishing the wood cabinets and mirror in the dark color. At first she was hesitant, but she trusted me and I am glad she did because I don’t think the room would have the same feel if we hadn’t done this. It also provided a masculine feel in the room so from there I had to play up the more romantic, feminine side of the design. Working from the existing clawfoot tub, I put crystals in the lighting over the mirror and a chandelier over the tub. On the windows, long sheer draperies made out of a natural fiber bring in some romance while candles, soaps and some of her treasures help accessorize.
UH: Tell us about the faux finished walls and the art selections you incorporated.
DD: The walls originally were faux finished but darker and bluer. I did them with a faux finish, several glazes, added some texture and I changed the color to bring in a green color. There is an ever so slight brown/bronze color on the walls which pulls in the wood elements nicely. From the beginning, I knew where the stunning horse picture should go. The oil painting with the trees was an existing favorite, and the gold background, wooden branch and little white flowers complement the space. These two pieces of artwork were all the room needed.
UH: The chandelier above the clawfoot tub adds elegance to the space — how did you find the right piece to go above the tub?
DD: The chandelier took the longest to get approval on but it is now one of her favorite elements. My client expressed to me that she wanted her bathroom to be romantic but not in the “typical chandelier with crystals hanging” sense. She is a very unique person with very eclectic ideas so it had to be different. I selected this piece because it is interesting with the bronze iron anchoring the dangling features. The pieces are made of tiny, very fragile shells, stones, beads and crystals — it took me over two hours to put them on the chandelier.
UH: Tell us your process for selecting the countertops and the backsplash and shower tiles.
DD: I wanted to keep everything unique so I selected granite that looks like stones that could have been collected in a river or watershed running through someone’s property. I ran across it at a granite yard and knew it was perfect, and the client loved it. Installing chisel stone sinks which are polished on the inside but have a raw natural stone on the outside really completed the look. The faucets come out of the wall with cross handles to provide more of a ranch period feel. The backsplash tiles and the shower ceiling were one of the first things we started with. When I first met my client she had a picture of these Tabarka Tiles which are handmade terracotta, and she wanted me to incorporate them somewhere in the bathroom. I helped her narrow down the color and placement. It took eight weeks for them to be made –– they are very unique and the patterns are inspired by countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, influenced in pattern and color from seaside villages in Italy, Spain, Turkey and Greece. I think they provide a wonderful element to the room.
UH: Standing inside this master bathroom now, why does this space work?
DD: I think the space works because all the elements work together. Far from boring, the space is warm and inviting and every element installed has an interesting story. In the end, the master bathroom has an updated look without compromising the style of the house.
512.897.7808 | Downesinteriors.com