The Home Front: avant-garde bathroom design


Interior designer Josie Smith shares her conscientious and enduring approach to bathroom design

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When it comes to design and decor, your bathroom should receive as much love and attention as any other space in your home, says interior designer Josie Smith, founder of studio illa.


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Smith recently completed a major bedroom and bathroom makeover in Metro Vancouver for a couple who wanted to convert their ’90s square-style rooms into something modern that would suit their lifestyle for families. years to come.

Smith opened up the rooms so that the bedroom empties into the bathroom, in a light, airy and open design, which involved raising the ceiling to its original rafters.

“It was a forward-looking project. They are a couple who have lived in the house for 30 years, and they wanted to stay there for a long time. The idea of ​​aging in place is very important to them, but it is also an idea that also attracts young people, ”she says.

Modern shower designed by Josie Smith of studio illa, large enough to accommodate mobility considerations.
Modern shower designed by Josie Smith of studio illa, large enough to accommodate mobility considerations. Photo by Jon McMorran /PNG

Vancouver can be such a transitory city, says Smith, and there’s something more appealing to young people about being able to stay in one place for a long time.


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The open-plan design allows for the use of mobility aids, such as wheelchairs or walkers, should they ever be needed.

Smith also added a special bracket in the bathroom walls (like in the shower), so grab bars can easily be added in the future.

“They don’t need it yet, but we have planned for the future, just in case,” she said.

Smith also touched on some common bathroom design annoyances in this project, such as the way shower handles are often located under or next to shower faucets, causing a blast of cold water before it sinks. water does not heat up.

Mirrored medicine cabinets have made a comeback.  Bathroom designed by Josie Smith from studio illa.
Mirrored medicine cabinets have made a comeback. Bathroom designed by Josie Smith from studio illa. Photo by Jon McMorran /PNG

To prevent this, she placed the on-off shower handles at the entrance to the shower, so owners could turn it on and let it warm up for a few seconds before entering.

“There is also an advantage for guards on the road if they help someone with washing. Not that cramped, in a way, ”she said.


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Choosing the right materials for your bathroom is key, Smith says, and that involves going with what you love and are comfortable to maintain as well.

Some materials, such as natural stone, require more cleaning and maintenance, and for some people, the effort is well worth it. Knowing how much maintenance is needed for any product you’ve chosen before you buy it is a good idea, she says.

Lighting is another critical area of ​​bathroom design that is often overlooked, Smith adds. In recent years, lighting has come a long way, she says, with LED strips now available that can be integrated behind mirrors or under joinery, allowing for different layers of light.

“When you take a bath, you don’t need to have a ceiling light on, you can just turn on the dimmer on your hidden lights, and that makes a huge difference in the feel,” she says.


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Smith says she also likes the return of old-fashioned mirrored medicine cabinets in bathrooms, which are now available in beautiful shapes (such as ovals) and provide ample storage, which is often the case. fault in the bathrooms.

Designing your bathroom for your future needs is a sustainable approach to remodeling, says Smith.

Waste is always generated when people redo their bathrooms (or any room in the house), so the less you do, the better. It’s also a more sustainable choice to go with locally produced materials, Smith says, like natural stone.

  1. Wish Dry Bar in West Vancouver, designed by Peter Wilds Design.

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  2. Bedding from Vancouver-based luxury bedding company Somn.

    The Home Front: Designing to turn off the lights



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