A small but challenging design-build project with some difficult constraints. We were tasked with converting a peculiarly proportioned room (5’x16’ with a 10’ ceiling) into a full bath with enough storage for a household of six. It also needed to be light and airy while maintaining harmony with the existing 1970’s timber frame and fieldstone residence.


Instead of viewing the proportions as a downside we decided to embrace them. The space had similar proportions to that of a train car, which in turn led us to consider the arched ceilings of England’s Victorian train interiors. These luxurious cabins from the era when train travel was king demonstrated that such a narrow space could be designed to be beautiful, but we also wanted to create something with a more modern sensibility and honest materiality.


Accordingly, we limited our material palette to oiled soapstone, venetian plaster and white subway tile. We replaced the rear wall with an arched window to provide as much natural light as possible.  In order to maximize the amount of unobstructed space, we also recessed the linen cupboards, medicine cabinet and shower niches into the walls. For the floor, tub surround, and window ledge we used several varieties of 1 1/4” soapstone in a non repeating rectangular tile pattern. By using different types of soapstone the subtlety of the tile work is only revealed upon closer inspection.

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The result is a bright crisp space with clean lines and tactile surfaces. The 4’ deep window ledge provides the perfect place for a jungle of house plants that form a natural privacy screen.  This is complimented by the reflective quality of subway tile and venetian plaster. Together the large window and reflective surfaces create a dynamic color scape that changes with the time of day and season outside. We believe that all spaces have the potential to be beautiful with a little thought and attention to detail.