Dream Bathroom Unveiled in New York
Sally and I are so excited to finally be able to share the dream bathroom we designed for this year’s DXV Design Panel! Drum roll, please…
A year ago, Wilson Kelsey Design was selected by DXV as one of four design firms from across the US and Canada to participate in this year’s DXV Design Panel. Upon selection we were all challenged to design a dream bathroom or kitchen around the theme of “Art – The Masters”.
DXV divides their product range into four Movements – Classic, Golden, Contemporary and Modern. With our love of Paris and things classic, we were delighted to learn we were assigned the Classic Movement, 1880 – 1920. Impressionism, and Monet in particular, quickly became the inspiration for our dream bathroom.
THE DESIGN CHALLENGE
Our design challenge was to create an appropriate background for DXV fixtures based upon an art movement from 130 years ago. How do we take Monet and make him “contemporary?” How do we make Monet exciting for today’s world?
Sally and I would like to share how we approached and thought through the challenge we had given ourselves for this dream bathroom.
Why Impressionism? Why Monet? There were three reasons.
1) Sally and I were profoundly moved by the two oval rooms Monet designed to display his water lily paintings when we visited l’Orangerie several years ago.
Here was an artist who cared so deeply about how viewers experienced his work, that he designed the rooms for their display! We HAD to design a classically inspired oval bathroom that would immerse you in the art in the room, as Monet had done!
2) While Impressionism may seem traditional today, at the time it was considered avant garde. The late 19th century was a time of transition and flux. Impressionism was part of the movement away from classicism and realism toward expressionism and deconstructionism. In fact, impressionism was the modern movement of the period. The potential to create visual tension and excitement around that “moving away” was very inspiring to us!
3) We found ourselves asking each other, might there be a way to express this “moving away” from traditional forms of classic impressionism toward modernism via today’s technology and materials? Could we design a classical envelope to show how classicism and modernism could complement each other in this dream bathroom, as we did in the Paris Inspired Bathroom proposal we submitted for consideration during the selection process?
We started with Monet’s oval floor plan, to immerse you in the art. We placed the tub in the middle the room, putting you in the middle of his pond. For classic symmetry, we placed his and her vanities on the long axis of the space. On the short axis, are the entry and walk in shower. Access to the private water closet rooms is via concealed doors in the French style paneled walls we designed.
As you sit in the soaking tub in the middle the bathroom, the classically inspired French paneling and the wallpaper mural’s riff on Monet’s Water Lilies, created by Zoe Design, totally immerse you in a watery landscape.
The shower opening frames the view of the beautiful modern mosaic tile water lily. Artaic’s computer designed and robotically manufactured mosaic tile water lily reminds us of pixels, the 21st century’s version of pointillism’s little dots of paint from the tip of a paint brush. The blue tile on the shower wall becomes a river, flowing across the bathroom’s floor, creating a pond around the tub.
We always try to finds ways to surprise and delight when we design a project. Here the surprise is behind the concealed doors. His and her gold-walled water closets!
We continue to magnify the pixels with Nappa Tile’s padded vinyl tile on the wc walls. Be sure to check out the cool custom lily pad table Sally designed, with its hand painted top.
Incidentally, there is a glass wall between the wc rooms and shower to prevent overspray into the wc’s. With the flip of a switch, the glass becomes frosted for privacy.
By the time we worked through these decisions, Sally and I were feeling pretty good about our dream bathroom design. But how do the smaller elements fit in? Lighting, hardware and of course, DXV’s fixtures?
Consistent with our classical/modern dialogue, we selected a modern chandelier and sconces for over the tub and by the vanities from London based Ochre. The crystal is reminiscent of 17th/18th Century crystal chandeliers, but their forms are abstract and watery, with no hard edges.
Inside the wc rooms we turned the tables, selecting a ginko leaf shaped sconce from Charles of Paris reminiscent of the forms of lily pads in the mural, and continuing our naturalistic theme.
Now we’re down to the “devil is in the details” – the hardware. They are the jewelry of our dream bathroom. Get them right. They make the ensemble, needing to be organic, with soft edges and profiles. When touched, easy on the hand.
Sally found sculptural pulls from French manufacturer Serie Rare for the custom vanity’s doors.
The point of a concealed door is to not draw attention to itself. We needed something small and delicate. Our time spent in France and Belgium meant I knew exactly where and what to look for – Van Cronenburg Hardware. Their hardware is sand cast and hand finished. Exquisite!
We still needed a mirror. No self respecting French classically inspired room is complete without mirrors at each end, reflecting into infinity. We turned to our friends from Uttermost, selecting the Petra mirror. Contemporary – but oh, the bevel at the edge of the glass…
Finally, what about the DXV fixtures? The beauty of their fixtures is they are comfortable being front and center or playing the role of supporting cast. With its soft round curves, the Contemporary Tub Filler is the perfect statement piece to accompany the oval Lowell Tub.
The REM faucet set at the vanities feels like a small water fountain, spouting water.
When we get into the shower, the mosaic water lily plays first violin, and the REM shower head and controls know just how to play second violin! We placed the valve control off to one side, so you don’t get wet when you turn the shower on, and also to not detract from the central mosaic lily.
In the wc’s we truly needed a space saver, and the wall hung Modulus toilet does exactly that.
Oh, I almost forgot the paint color. There was a bit of a debate about the paint color. We had two options – a soft French sea foamy gray green and a strong but slightly chalky blue. Sally is the color wizard in the office and the decision was made to go with the blue. Besides, it’s watery. The color we used is Benjamin Moore 804, Chicago Blues, Semi-Gloss.
Overall we had several goals for our dream bathroom.
1. Design a classical space that was intertwined with modernism, taking Monet and making him exciting in today’s world.
2. Celebrate art in a way that elevates a person’s life. What better way than being immersed in it three dimensionally?
3. Create a place of refuge and healing. There is so much stress and pressure in our lives today. Computers, emails, texts, the two hour commute to work, the two hour commute home. We saw this bathroom as a place one could go to recoup and recover. Imagine a hot soak in that rowboat in the middle of the pond or a steaming hot waterfall of a shower to unwind and relax at the end of a long day!
Sally and I are profoundly grateful for the opportunity given us by DXV, to spread our wings and create – whatever we could imagine. This is our true voice.
Look for DXV ads featuring our dream bathroom this fall in Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, Elle Decor, Veranda, and Traditional Home!
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