By Becky Harris, Houzz
When this Arizona homeowner asked for a bathroom that would make her feel close to nature, she hadn’t imagined just how close her designer would get her. “My client wanted her bathroom to feel like a spa with lots of natural elements and light,” interior designer Luz Marina Selles says. This inspired her to incorporate a private shower patio off the bathroom so that her client could shower under the palm trees and the stars. “She hadn’t thought of an outdoor shower, but when I showed her the 3-D plans, she said, ‘That sounds really nice,’” Selles says. And really nice it is.
Photos by Mike Small Photography
Room at a Glance
What happens here: Besides the usual bathroom stuff, rain showers and star showers
Size: Indoors: 121 square feet (11.2 square meters); outdoors: 158 square feet (14.6 square meters)
Designer: Luz Marina Selles of Allure Designs
“The old bathroom was terrible. They didn’t really think too much about bathroom space back in the 1950s, when this house was built,” Selles says. The main door to the bathroom was opposite an opening to the formal living room, offering no privacy. There was a washer-dryer in the bathroom as well as an awkward linen closet that had doors that banged into the bathroom door. The 78-square-foot space was cramped and dated.
After a full gut job and shower addition, beautiful maple cabinets topped with granite and a combination of quartz-like porcelain tile and pebble tile were added to update the look. Because the designer added a private walled patio for the outdoor shower, it allowed her to open up the view to the outdoors with glass doors and sidelights while still maintaining complete privacy.
“The bathroom was so awkward before,” Selles says. Here you can see the way the old entry lined up with an opening to the living room, how removing the hallway linen closet made a separate washer-dryer space and how there’s a new more private entry into the bathroom. Previously that space held a dresser, which Selles made room for in the renovated bathroom. You can also see the awkward door situation on the bathroom linen closet.
The new indoor shower is housed in a new addition. Because the lot is large and there was already a generous patio, Selles and her client had no qualms about taking some of the space for a completely private outdoor shower patio.
“Because my client wanted to bring natural elements inside, I chose pebble tiles and wanted them to represent a creek or a river that cascades down the walls and connects from indoors to out,” Selles says. They begin on the backsplash and then spill down the wall on the left onto the floor.
The designer also included a lower counter with a stool here for doing makeup.
The pebbles add a natural touch, but the straight lines make them look modern. They lead through the new shower stall out to the patio and up the wall. The walls outside are 7 feet high, so the new shower is completely open to the outdoors yet private.
The tile-covered ceiling beam at the threshold of the indoor shower is structural. Selles mimicked the look on the other side of the shower at the exterior entrance for balance.
The designer also added a few more cascades of pebbles down the indoor shower walls. Here they are on one side, behind the faucet for the rain shower …
… and here they are up the wall directly across from it. She even used them to cover half of the shower bench.
“I always advise my clients to add a handheld shower when they can,” the designer says. “It’s easier to use when you don’t want your hair to get wet, for shaving and for cleaning.” In addition, she encourages clients who want to age in place to install the handheld next to a bench so that they can sit when they need to. She also made the entrance shower curbless and wide enough for a wheelchair.
Looking back into the bathroom, you can see a new custom cabinet that replaced the linen closet that was removed.
“Because of the climate in Arizona, you can use a shower like this nine to ten months out of the year,” Selles says. She insisted on saving the locust tree you see here, incorporating it into the design and supervising construction to make sure the contractors were very careful of the roots when installing the footings. Potted plants add more greenery on the patio, and there are views of the tops of palm trees and a grapefruit tree over the walls.
The walls are concrete masonry blocks, and each block has a side that has a porcelain glaze — no tiling required. The other side of the wall has been stuccoed to fit in with the rest of the exterior of the home.
The walled patio is completely private — the only way to access it is through the bathroom. A lounge chair and pole light provide a nice space to enjoy a glass of wine, a book or, when the lights are off, the desert sky.