Someone fortunate enough to have, or build, a home where natural stone is a structural component in bathrooms understands the appeal of living with a surface that’s tactile and textured, has integral color, and is as old as the Grand Canyon. Where I live, many stone houses date back to pre-colonial America as I detailed in my tour of Ulster County Stone Houses (though that was limited to exterior views). The maxim is that rooms with stone walls stay cool in summer and warm in winter, subject to efficiency of the heating system. Warmth, or the lack of it, is especially key in bathrooms where — while undeniably gorgeous — stone walls are not without certain challenges. Perhaps that’s why we don’t see them very often.
A gently renovated bathroom [top] preserves the character of a very old building while providing updated utility. Rather than a wood vanity, whitewashed stucco is used as the base for an antique marble sink with lovely carved details set into the bay of an old window. Note that the sink is pushed forward so that the windows can open in. This reminds me of Italian houses in pre-Renaissance buildings with curved, tiled ceilings similar in style to the vault over the window – a telltale architectural feature.
A more contemporary approach mixes stone in a bathroom with horizontal painted wood planking. This is an expansive bathroom with a separate wet room (below). Stone walls on the ends of the narrow sink area are mostly decorative. So wood is used behind the cantilevered pair of Kohler Bannon utility basins. Love those sinks but I do find the mirrors hung in the center of unshaded awning windows a bit bizarre. Even with a glimpse of roof overhang outside, this set up can be murder for shaving or applying makeup. Note the low storage hatch to the left and right of the sinks in lieu of medicine cabinets and additional storage provided by a dark wood vintage dresser opposite the sinks.
With stone walls, a skylight over the tub, windows on two exposures and a wide doorway into the sink galley, the wet room has the look and feel of outdoors. A cast concrete tub anchors one wall with an open shower (note the drain in the floor) to the right of the doorway. As rustic and atmospheric as bathrooms get, this one might well be a challenge in a climate with cold winters. But I wouldn’t want to bang my leg against the sharp corner of the tub or do a slip ‘n slide on that floor.
A custom home in Montana ski country used the Western stone and timber vernacular for a modern bath with a freestanding tub. Painted stucco over stone keeps the bath from ever looking to “dungeon” and wide-plank flooring with a weathered finish has a hospitable feel during winter months.
(Source: adetailedhouse, ryannford, onsitemanagement)
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