Be my Guest
Well-designed baths make guests feel right at home
Anyone who has built or remodeled bathrooms knows that choosing the fixtures and finishes can be overwhelming. And when multiple baths need attention, chances are good that it will be the guest baths that drop to the bottom of the priority list, after both the budget and design fervor have run dry. If walls could talk, a guest bath is more likely to say, “We’ve fit you in, but don’t get comfortable,” than “Glad you’re here.”
Not so the guest accommodations at the summer homes Connie Prince and her husband, Florida State Senator Jack Latvala, own in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Here, the guest digs are designed to be every bit as luxurious as those of the owners.
Prince trusts her style sense and that of her designer and contractor. “I am not trendy,” Prince says. “I like updated modern conveniences in my kitchen and baths, but I would quickly get tired of trendy. I like classic. I look forward to coming here and seeing rooms that are appropriate to the feel and the age of the original 1920s house.”
Though the baths are all different, they are united by Prince’s aesthetic: elegant and refined, with a touch of sparkle—think glass accent tile—or a dash of whimsy.
Yet function always came first. “Everything is easy to use,” she says. “I personally tried everything in every bathroom to make sure it all worked. We even added a heat booster to the one bath that was farther away from the water heater, so it wouldn’t run out of hot water.”
Prince made sure to get it right the first time. “I want to come here and enjoy my house,” she continues. “I didn’t want to put in something basic and decide three years later to redo it. This is a family home we’ll have for generations and I wanted my children to love it as much as we do. And they do.”
The jewel in the crown of the guesthouse is the stunning second floor bath, nicknamed the “Honeymoon Suite.” Siena Silver Light travertine tiles flow to a dramatic claw-foot tub set beneath a window. Above, a glass bubble chandelier floats from a vaulted wood ceiling.
“It’s a long, narrow bath, and I wanted to minimize that effect,” Steinberg says. “I wanted to draw people’s eyes right to the tub and vaulted ceiling. We were so excited when we found the bubble chandelier. It’s exactly what we wanted. It’s like champagne bubbles coming out of the tub.” The Wanderlust chandelier is from Fogg Lighting in Portland.
“Growing up in Kansas City, Missouri, my grandmother had a claw-foot tub and I always loved it,” Prince says. “I’m not a tub person, but I knew I would need a tub in one of the houses, especially for the grandchildren.” Like most of the bath fixtures in the two houses, the classic Iron Works Historic tub, model K-710-S in white, is by Kohler.
“The shower is tucked away to the right when you first walk in,” Steinberg says. “You don’t realize there’s a spectacular shower there. There’s a separate toilet room, too, but you don’t see that, either, because your eye is focused on the tub centered on the window.”
“Sometimes people try to do too much with tile, mix too many things, and it doesn’t look right,” Prince says. In the “Honeymoon Suite,” “we did the 12-by-24-inch tiles with a small border in the shower. The tiny, iridescent tiles draw the eye so the big tiles aren’t overwhelming.”
The Siena Silver Light tiles and one-by-one-inch Creme Brulee Blend accent tiles are from Old Port Specialty Tile in Portland, and the Crema Marfil honed marble countertop with ogee edge detailing is by Morningstar Stone and Tile in Topsham. Both companies supplied tile and countertops, respectively, for all the baths.
On the first floor of the same house, the kids’ bath has a different feel. Adjoining a room with trundle beds designed for children, its yellows and blues are a bit brighter than the crisp whites and sandy beiges used in the other baths. The hand-painted star tiles by Cider Press Tile in Keene, New Hampshire, inspired the design and are a perfect touch of whimsy. Wall and floor tiles are Crema Marfil marble. The recycled countertop is Curava’s “Savaii.”
This is also the primary bath for guests during parties and get-togethers. “This room is not serious and elegant, but fun and durable,” Steinberg says. “It’s the perfect bath when you think of summertime. Summer is about being casual and laid back and on vacation. People are in shorts and flip-flops and having fun. This bath reflects that.”
As with the kids’ bath, tile was the springboard for the design of the guesthouse first floor en suite. The blue, green, and gray border around the room is Bubble Listello tile in Moonstone. The effect is sophisticated and of the period of the original house. “The pale seafoam-green and white is a more elegant, more adult take on the beach feel,” Steinberg says.
The room is large and handicap accessible, with a wide doorway and a zero-threshold shower. Perfect Pebble Mosaic in Flores Green on the shower floor lends a beachy vibe. The mahogany cabinetry in this bath and the cabinetry throughout the guesthouse was designed and built by AJ Keating Construction. The countertop is Calacatta Oro honed marble, and the floor and shower wall tiles are 12-by-12-inch Cavalli honed marble.
In the main house, directly inside the back door, is the pool bath. When Prince bought the house in 2012, this section was unfinished and used as cold storage. She divided it into a bath and a laundry room. It is not by accident that the room, with its recycled glass countertop, walk-in glass shower with Leonardo Genesy tiles, and Desert Sand floor tiles, looks sturdy and durable. This is the designated bathroom for the swimming pool and garden area, and, when necessary, the scrub down station for Cooper and Parker, Prince’s dogs. The walls are painted Benjamin Moore’s “Wales Gray.”
The upstairs guest bath is called the “Heavenly Bodies” bath, after the name of the custom mosaic in the shower. The blue-and-white color scheme was inspired by the Blue Bahia countertop. Bright blue and soft beige penny rounds in the shower and on the floor look casual yet align with the age of the house. The blue bubble glass knobs are a fun touch. “The trick to making a small bath interesting is in those little details of tile and hardware,” Steinberg says. The bathroom cabinetry in the main house is by Wright-Ryan Construction of Portland. The walls are painted in “Muslin” by Benjamin Moore.
Prince’s own master bath was the most challenging of all due to its odd rooflines and different ceiling heights. It was originally a long cedar closet with a fireplace run and no plumbing. Its present spaciousness is a combination of smart construction and clever design tricks that rely on mirrors to give the illusion of depth.
“I told Sarah I wanted classic with a bit of romance,” Prince says. “We used every inch of space and it worked out perfectly.” Even with double vanities and a makeup area in between, “The bath feels light and airy,” she says.
Prince chose glass knobs for the bath cabinets to echo the glass doorknobs on the doors in the main house. The wall color is Benjamin Moore “Muslin.” “Jerry Rippetoe of TJ’s interiors did all the window treatments,” she says. “He’s a master at beautiful fabrics.”
The result is a room that is quietly luxurious, with the serene hues of a beach at dusk. The floor, shower walls, and countertop are Crema Marfil marble. The floor tiles are a custom Djinn pattern mosaic. The shower floor and accent tile is Vihara half-inch square mosaic in Karuna Silk. Rohl faucets and bath fittings are from Redlon and Johnson in Bath.
By intention, every bath shares the warm, comfortable aesthetic of Prince’s own master. One reason is because as a designer, Sarah Steinberg notices the subtle messages living spaces send. “Your guest accommodations tell people how long you want them to stay,” she says. “It sounds funny, but when you put a pedestal sink in a guest bath, it’s like saying, ‘If you could just maybe make it one night, that would be great. I don’t really want you to unpack.’
“What Connie has done says, ‘I’m glad you’re here; I want you to have a wonderful time and relax. I want your bedroom and bath to be so enjoyable that you want to stay.’ As a guest you wouldn’t feel slighted in the least to be given any one of these bedrooms or baths. That speaks volumes about Connie, how she treats all her friends and family,” Steinberg says.
Some design tips for bathrooms from Sarah Steinberg of Steinberg Custom Designs in Cumberland, Maine:
• “Find one thing that you really like and build from that. If it’s a beautiful mosaic tile and it’s expensive, then use just a little and design around it. Use what makes your eyes light up, so you can say: I loved this the first time I saw it, and every day when I see it, it makes me happy.”
• “What will the bathroom be used for and who will be using it? The bath that is right inside the back door of the main house is the bath for the swimming pool. It needed to be hard wearing, so we gave it an indoor/outdoor feel with earthy, textural materials.”
• “For a ceiling with a lot of unusual angles, use soft, muted paint colors that don’t draw attention to the angles. In the typical rectangular bathrooms that most people have, however, fun colors and bright, whimsical accents can make a plain rectangle more interesting.”
• “If you’re designing for guests, make sure you’re not using materials so high maintenance that people hesitate to use the space. Everything should be easy to maintain and keep clean. If you must have high-maintenance materials, save them for your own bathroom.”
• “When it comes to tile, I’m a big fan of penny rounds. They add texture, fun color, and keep people from slipping. They’re easy to use in virtually any bathroom. People can find them anywhere, usually at a good price point.”