Spa bathroom welcomes the outdoors inside a private retreat
A fluid layout creates a relaxing atmosphere within a spa bathroom with outdoor views.
When custom builder and architect Phil Kean set out to create his ideal master bathroom for what would be his own home, he knew he wanted it to trigger thoughts of resorts from around the world. He knew it would incorporate the indoor/outdoor designs he loved and that his firm had become known for. And he knew he did not want a workout room.
The result is a spa bathroom that seamlessly flows from bath to massage room to outdoor pool — a space more reminiscent of a boutique hotel than a single-family custom home.
A breezeway divides the bath and massage areas; it also breaks off into an outdoor shower and separate guest toilet. The multiple levels of the pool and whirlpool add an organic feel.
A Fluid Design with a Nod to the Outdoors
The spa bathroom follows the aesthetic of the rest of this award-winning home: slightly Asian, slightly retro and welcoming the outdoors.
Like the rest of this Winter Park, Fla., home, the spa bathroom, which serves the master bedroom, has a pinwheel design scheme of smooth transitions; the tub stands at the center of the design, with the bathroom elements moving around the tub.
The layout of the spa bathroom is simple. At the heart of the room sits a spacious vanity with a two-person soaking tub. The bathroom has four entrance points: to the spa, to the bedroom, to the closet area and to a breezeway that leads to the outside shower and pool. Like the rest of the home, this spa space has few doors; the bathroom and massage areas were designed to merge with the outdoors. "I wanted to be able to look and see the pool while taking a soak in the tub," says Kean of Phil Kean Designs in Winter Park, Fla. "To be inside and outside at the same time is special."
Because of the indoor/outdoor design, there are no distinct spaces, yet each area can be closed off for privacy. From about October through June — before bugs and humidity strike — pocketing glass doors can stay open to offer unobstructed breezes and views of the water and yard. Neighbors won't see inside even when the doors are open because of dense landscaping. It's a sanctuary as he intended.
Details within the design lend an organic feel to what could otherwise have become too sculpted. Rather than leave the space level with the rest of the home and pool area, Kean raised the bathroom and massage area slightly above the breezeway and incorporated ledges into the pool. Because of these multiple levels, he had to guide the trade contractors more than usual, says Kean, who also planned the hardscaping. "The level changes were confusing," he says. "Some hadn't done them before."
Inside, the dressing room — an area that easily becomes unorganized or messy — retains the same relaxed feel of the bathroom and spa area, thanks to a simple layout and well-hidden storage.
Despite the natural transitions between dressing room, bathroom and massage room, every turn in this open space brings a surprise that's tucked away for privacy yet connected to the outdoors. The breezeway between the bath and massage areas leads to another toilet and an outdoor shower. Off the massage room he included an oversize steam shower to use for post-massage
Interior Designer Rob Turner specifically chose ipe wood to surround the tub because it adds contrast and warmth to the space's other materials. The neutrals of the travertine tile shower match the neutrals used throughout the spa bathroom.
There isn't a lot of fluff in the design, Kean says. "I've found that by showing people new modernism — especially with the clean lines, natural materials — the home feels minimalistic."
Kean's design has received rave reviews, but he's particularly proud of the reactions he gets: "Men actually express that they like it." Materials and color selection no doubt played a role. Soothing neutrals, which play to both men and women, mimic those in the rest of the home, colors he and his team specifically chose so they would work both inside and outside.
Kean commissioned Turner, principal of CRT Studio in Winter Park, Fla., to carry out and further define the home's interior design elements. "The only restrictions were making sure whatever we did was detailed architecturally," Turner says, "and to achieve that was fun."
He started with the position of the shower and toilet room, which sit behind the soaking tub, separated by a glass wall that transmits just the right amount of light. That served as the basis for defining the proportions and materials of the entire spa bathroom.
But Turner is quick to point out that the sizes and juxtaposition of materials played the largest role in defining the space. For example, he used ipe wood around the tub because it offers a darker contrast to the painted maple surface of the vanity. The concept for the spa bathroom was modern, which can come off as cold, but the team wanted to make sure the space still gave off a warm feeling; the darker wood helps with that.
Above the vanity, Turner positioned a square light within the rectangular mirror to pull the linear elements toward a focal point. They chose the plumbing fixtures for their stark design and detail, another contrast to the warm wood within the space. And in the outdoor shower, a teak shower platform sits within ipe, near polished chrome faucets for another contradiction.
Even the spa bathroom's finishing touches offer surprises. Within the contemporary massage space, for example, Turner chose an antique cabinet and a lantern for mood lighting instead of a lamp. And sheer drapery, which can close off the room instead of the glass doors, adds a touch of glamour to the calming atmosphere. "Again, it's something you wouldn't expect to see," he says.
While the shapes and materials vary, the layout and the color palette blend as intended.
"I love the way these three spaces [the dressing area, bathroom and massage room] flow together," says Turner. "It's just very fluid."
Both Kean and Turner note the travertine flooring, one of the main considerations because of
safety as well as design. The same flooring is used throughout the house, which enhances the seamless transition between the indoors and outdoors.
The entire home was a quick build for the firm and had a construction time of seven and a half months. Kean admits there were times when it became chaotic and he had to focus on staying on top of all aspects of the project, but when it came to the spa bathroom, everything went off without a hitch. "A toilet we ordered didn't come, but what we ended up with worked out better," he says. "Really, all the parts came together."
Turner agrees: "There were no big hiccups; it was just about the finesse and making sure the surfaces matched up to what we wanted." Not having crown molding and ornate décor — and having good craftsmen on your team — made things run smoothly too, he says.
Kean originally intended to live in the house but decided to use it as a show home instead, so he doesn't get to use the spa as he planned. As of this writing, the home is still the market, ready for a homeowner with an appreciation for relaxation, the outdoors and reinvented contemporary design.
"When people walk in, they immediately say they want to live there. That's how I knew we hit the mark," Kean says. "It really is as good in person as it is in the photographs."