Our client had very specific instructions for our design team for the lower-level powder bathroom: “Design and build a space that inspires conversation.” Initially this seemed like a strange request, but it began to make sense as our client explained her motivations further. Being a big entertainer, the powder bath (located adjacent to the kitchen towards the back of the living room) might well receive more traffic than any other area of the house over the years. She wanted a unique bathroom that would prompt guests to ask questions about the materials and design – her recommendation was towards super contemporary styling.
After presenting several options (wall mounted toilet, pedestal sink, translucent glass tiles, pendant lights etc.) we seemed to be no closer to achieving the “conversation starting powder bath.” Neither our design staff nor our client was satisfied with the conceptual drawings and material selections.
And then, almost by accident we stumbled upon our solution. During the course of another remodeling project we were removing a massive oak beam that had been installed in the 1980’s as a rustic fire place mantel. Initially salvaged from an early 20th-century post and beam constructed barn, the beam was over 19 feet long, and still had the wooden pegs and mortise and tenon joints intact. Most of this beam had already been designated to be used as a decorative support beam for another remodel, but we were left with an 8-foot off cut. Why not use this beam on which to mount a vessel sink in the powder bath? This would provide a truly unique look, and allow the wooden flooring to transition seamlessly from the kitchen and hall into the powder room. (When the contemporary design was in play, we were thinking of tiling the floor in the powder bath.) To complement the rustic look, we would leave the brick party wall exposed and unpolished, and include a stately transom above the door.
Although initially skeptical, our client warmed up to this idea quickly. She loved the oak beam, and also the fact that the design would maximize the available space (storage is generally not a concern in powder baths). Once the vessel sink and single-hole faucet arrived on site, our carpenter bored the beam for the plumbing hookups, and mounted it on the wall. Once the beam was in place, our plumber hooked up the toilet, sink and faucet.