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You may know it as the bathroom, restroom, water closet, WC, lu, or privy… but no matter what you call it, we all need one from time to time! While the bathroom/restroom may be one of the most functional and potentially utilitarian rooms in your residential or commercial space, that doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful too.

Since moving indoors, there have been many advances in plumbing, and there are a variety of design opportunities to create character defining details and spaces of repose.

Privy. Tyler Plantation, Charles City, VA

Privy. Tyler Plantation, Charles City, VA

Let’s take a look at flooring. Use of large tiles can be problematic when it comes to sloping-to-drain. Consider installing a trench drain at one end with a decorative grate. This is especially useful for commercial projects that are subject to frequent and heavy cleaning.

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Trench drain. Virginia Tech Visitors and Undergraduate Admissions Center, Blacksburg, VA


Walls present a variety of options including painted gypsum board, stained or painted wood wainscot, or decorative tile and accents. When niches are provided in shower walls, additional storage can be added.


Tile accent. Presidential Suite, Pinehurst Resort, Pinehurst, NC


Tile storage niche. Presidential Suite, Pinehurst Resort, Pinehurst, NC

Toilet partitions are another opportunity to provide character. If the budget allows, consider wood or stone partitions rather than phenolic. A row of toilet stalls can be enhanced with a bit of decorative trim work as well.


Wood partitions, trim work, and mirror. Meeting Pavillion, Boar’s Head Inn, Charlottesville, VA

Consider a statement piece such as a large mirror with decorative trim or a beautiful stand-alone mirror.


Statement piece: Luck Stone Design Center, Richmond, VA

The vanity area is yet another focal point where there is an opportunity to create beauty with function. Consider a metal sink rather than the traditional porcelain and add a matching faucet…


Metal sink. Private residence.

…Or a large scale stained wood console with stone countertop.


Stained console. Private Residence

The same idea can be applied in a commercial setting as well, where a built-in vanity can appear to be a piece of furniture.


Vanity as furniture. Meeting Pavillion, Boar’s Head Inn, Charlottesville, VA

Attention to detail can turn a utilitarian space into a memorable one, and maybe even one in which you choose to linger, spend some quiet time, or simply take in the view. There is opportunity for design in every living space.


Tub alcove. Presidential Suite, Pinehurst Resort, Pinehurst, NC


Freestanding tub with view. Private Residence

Jennifer Wimmer






Hotel & Home Studio Director