A Primary Bath Gets the Royal Treatment

Published: June 25, 2024

After completing the first phase of a home renovation – adding more bedrooms and areas to accommodate the clients’ college-age kids when home for visits – San Diego-based Jackson Design and Remodeling turned to Phase 2, focusing more on everyday living spaces. Five bathrooms were part of the brief, and the primary bath, appropriately, sets the tone.

“This is a big, traditional Rancho Santa Fe house; it’s very formal,” said Jen Pinto, senior interior designer. “And they essentially wanted to continue that formality here, to bring in more of a spacious, high-end spa feeling to scale with the rest of the home.”

The new bathroom, designed by Jen Pinto of Jackson Design and Remodeling, takes its cues from a striking tile mosaic pattern, set against an elegant marble backdrop and subdued, spa-like color scheme. The tile “rug” features a custom border and echoes others like it throughout the house. The cabinetry, sinks and vanity now share a wall opposite the shower. Photo credit: Jackson Design and Remodeling

The original layout of the primary bath was an awkward five-walled space with a vaguely Tuscan-style aesthetic that didn’t mesh with the rest of the house. To kick-start the design vision, the clients showed Pinto a photo of a mosaic tile pattern they liked and emphasized a preference for polished-brass plumbing fixtures and hardware. Overall, Pinto said the goal was a space that felt “royal” and communicated luxury.

BEFORE: The previous bathroom was a hodgepodge of disparate elements with an undistinguished style. The clients wanted to streamline the layout and elevate the space to fit the elegance and scale of the rest of their home. Photo credit: Jackson Design and Remodeling

Getting in Line

The first step was to simplify the bathroom’s footprint and optimize the space. The clients wanted to maintain separate shower and tub areas (but swap out the jetted tub and deck for a freestanding model), and they didn’t like the way the seated vanity was separated from the sinks.

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Thanks to an addition from Phase 1 that allowed for reconfiguration of rooms, the design team was able to square off the primary bathroom walls and streamline the cabinetry along one side. They also removed a couple of arches to visually gain ceiling height, make the shower feel more spacious and better suit the new design language.

The new layout shaved 70 square feet off the bathroom. But what it lost in size, it makes up for in grandeur and cohesion.

“The square footage is smaller, but it’s a much better use of space,” said John Kavan, Jackson’s architect on the project.

Avoiding Over-the-Top Styling

Luxury is one thing; ostentation is another. Pinto took care to strike the right balance, using the clients’ design inspiration as a jumping-off point. The mosaic tile that the clients wanted was arranged in beautiful bursts of leafy, petal-like patterns.

“It’s very busy, with several different colors in it, and very small-scaled,” she said. “It had the potential to be overwhelming.”

The material choices elsewhere in the bathroom are thus more subdued: pale walls and window trim; softer, less-intense veining in the marble tiles and countertop; and subtle, gray-painted cabinetry with hints of green and blue. The mosaic covers the wall behind the vanity mirrors but is otherwise limited to a roughly 8-inch band beneath the wainscoting and in the shower recess.

And then there’s the floor. The house features inlaid marble “rugs” in the foyer and other public areas, which the clients wanted to incorporate in the primary bath, as well. Choosing subtly veined gray marble tiles for the center, Pinto needed a border that would complement rather than compete with the mosaic on the walls.

“This was custom made, specifically for the color palette, too,” she said. “You can still find some borders like this, but they’re more in beige and red tones, more of a whirled Italian look. A swirly leaf border in this color palette was a unique challenge.”

Letting in the Light

To properly incorporate the requested polished brass finishes, again, Pinto thought about balance. “Polished brass is not super popular, so your options are a little bit limited,” she said.

A spacious shower area features high horizontal windows to bring in natural light and maintain privacy. Mosaic bands under the wainscoting provides and in the shower recess provide visual interest. Photo credit: Jackson Design and Remodeling

They started with the plumbing fixtures, where the choices seemed most narrow. Once those were selected, Pinto looked to bring in simpler, more modern lines through the rest of the brassware.

“I was able to find some light fixtures that looked very elegant and were a bit more minimal,” she said. “I felt that the combination of that with some of the more traditional curves in the plumbing fixtures was a nice counterbalance.”

While the light fixtures do their part to elevate the space, natural light from new windows add an essential element of warmth.

“With so many marble surfaces and complex materials in the bathroom, it was important to include natural light for a more softened, humanized feel,” said Pinto.

High horizontal windows above the new tub and inside the shower bring in light without sacrificing privacy. A skylight installed above the small vestibule between the primary bedroom and bathroom provides indirect daylight from another angle.

Attention to Detail

Jackson Design and Remodeling was fortunate to have a generous budget for the primary bathroom’s renovation, allowing for a level of quality and finesse that delivers on the promise of royal treatment.

“The abundance of exquisite marble and meticulous tile work was a technical challenge; each area had to line up perfectly,” said Pinto. “That attention to detail and craftsmanship are a highlight of the design.”


Designer: Jen Pinto, Senior Interior Designer, Jackson Design and Remodeling; Architect: John Kavan, Jackson Design and Remodeling; Photographer: Jackson Design and Remodeling; Cabinetry: DeWils Custom Cabinetry; Chair Rail, Shower Floor & Wall Mosaic: San Diego Marble & Tile; Countertops: Tutto Marmo; Faucets, Shower Fixtures & Tub Filler: Newport Brass; Flooring Tile, Shower Wall, Tile Rug Floor & Wall Tile: BDG Design; Hardware: Huntington Hardware; Lighting: Rejuvenation; Mirrors: Discount Glass & Mirror; Sinks: Kohler; Tub: Hydro Systems

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