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For The Home

A Place with Purpose

Author: Leah Soto
Issue: April, 2018, Page 34
photography by William Lesch

The Smallsreeds’ pool bathroom is a study in contrasts: Dark countertops and cabinets play off sand-colored floors; vivid orange accessories blend well with cool silver accents; and sleek, durable materials are offset by touchable textures.
Durable materials, eclectic accents and vibrant color combine to create a convenient and functional pool bathroom

Moving from the Midwest to Arizona can be a bit shocking, especially for those who are unaccustomed to our region’s nearly year-round pool weather and the ample opportunities for outdoor recreation that come with it. When Patty and Mark Smallsreed relocated from a high-rise apartment in Chicago to a spacious custom home in Marana, just north of Tucson, they were also surprised to learn that their new abode presented a design challenge they never expected.

While looking at their home’s architectural plans, the couple was dismayed to see that guests would have to walk from the pool to the opposite side of their house to reach the powder room. They immediately decided they needed a bathroom dedicated solely to the backyard, and they enlisted Tucson-based interior designer Lori Carroll to help make their vision a reality.

According to interior designer Lori Carroll, quartzite flooring is perfect for a pool bathroom due to its durability and low maintenance. Recycled glass-and-concrete countertops, pebble shower flooring and porcelain wall tiles all boast the same easy characteristics.
“Practicality, of course, is first and foremost in a pool bath,” explains Carroll. “The space is going to be heavily used as a barrier between the outdoors and indoors, so the materials needed to be durable enough to withstand the frequent influx of users enjoying the backyard living spaces.”

Because the primary purpose of a separate pool bathroom is to protect the main house from the outdoor elements, such as chlorine, grass, dirt and pebbles, every part of it needs to be designed with a degree of durability. In this case, Carroll selected desert quartzite for the floors because it is versatile, easy to maintain and not particularly slippery when wet. For the vanity and adjacent bench, she used recycled concrete and glass, an environmentally sustainable choice that is more resistant to chips and scratches than granite or marble. In the shower, pebble flooring maintains the room’s organic appeal, while the porcelain field tile applied on the walls was chosen because of its lightweight, durable and easy-to-install nature.

While the building materials were influenced by the great outdoors, the interior design was inspired by a treasured mirror the couple had purchased more than a decade ago in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Crafted of bronze and silver with alabaster and turquoise stones, the accessory embodies the quintessential Southwestern style the Smallsreeds were looking for while providing a launching point for the rest of the design choices. “It’s an eclectic piece that represents what we were trying to create—function with a bit of whimsy,” Patty states. 

Subtly Southwestern in feel, a silver mirror decorated with bronze, turquoise and alabaster served as the design inspiration for the room’s aesthetic.
Used as a focal point, the mirror also influenced the textures Carroll chose for the room, including the eye-catching wall treatment. “As an extension of Patty and Mark’s beautiful backyard, the pool bathroom needed natural finishes, detailed patterns and subtle textures to elicit that contented feeling after a day outdoors,” she explains. “Because of the beautiful details of the mirror, I knew I was looking for a wallcovering that looked simple at a glance but is uniquely complex up close.”

The winning pick was a fun, colorful paper made of recycled newspaper, which the couple instantly fell in love with. The vivid design subtly matches an eclectic collection of textures found throughout the main home without being too flashy. Though Patty describes the pool bath as the most “cutesy” space on the property, Carroll says it mirrors the rest of the residence’s palette: neutral with pops of color. The room draws on a balance of dark and light tones, a combination that exemplifies its playfulness. “Contrasts make a space interesting, so mixing different shades was only fitting in this bathroom,” the designer explains. “Finding the right tone and texture for each element—both light and dark—was important to ensure a cohesive look.”

With a fun and practical finished product, Patty and Mark are delighted with their bathroom, noting they often receive compliments from guests. “I give Lori the credit for taking our vision and need for utility in the room, along with an existing element like the mirror, and pulling it all together,” says Patty. “She was a master at translating our needs into beautiful, functional space.”

Playing off the variety of textures, colors and patterns in the space, Carroll selected a wallcovering made from recycled newspaper to add unexpected interest and whimsy. The handwoven material is treated with a water-resistant finish to suit the functional nature of the bathroom.

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