We Can’t Decide Which of These Two Bathrooms We Love More

Tali Roth schools us on the art of the bathroom reno.

Photography by Claire Esparros; follow on Instagram at @clairesparros

There is little we love more than a truly beautiful bathroom. And when we come across not one, but two, stunning bathrooms—in the same home, no less—we pay attention. In addition to upgrading the master bedroom and dining area in a client’s downtown Manhattan apartment back in 2016, New York City-based interior designer Tali Roth was also tasked with renovating the home’s bathrooms. The result? Two incredibly different, yet equally-fierce, spaces that defy the ordinary.  

“What excited me was that she had an interesting aesthetic and that she wanted to approach it with a lot of artistic integrity. It was like we were speaking the same language,” Roth tells Domino.

That language was style. Spanning polar ends of the design spectrum, the two bathrooms—one swathed in a bold terrazzo pattern, the other a graphic, gridded oasis—offer a dynamic snapshot of her client’s mixed perspective. “She lived out her two aesthetics, her two ideal bathrooms. They are just so different. But that’s what’s so similar about the two of us: We don’t really believe in interior design rules.”

Roth replaced the family's dark farmhouse table with this light oak piece with brass legs that she designed in collaboration with Boles Studio in Brooklyn. To top off the contemporary desert aesthetic, she sourced new plants for the space, as well as a stunning landscape by Jordan Sullivan.  
Photography by Claire Esparros

Without changing the footprint, the designer set out to create two ultra-chic spaces while also maximizing space for storage. Though they were able to avoid a full gut job, Roth made a number of major cosmetic (and minor structural) changes, like replacing the glass partition in the master bath with a solid wall, installing a sliding wardrobe in the bedroom, and swapping out the table and artwork in the dining room.

The space pre-renovation. Courtesy of Tali Roth
Courtesy of Tali Roth
Courtesy of Tali Roth
Courtesy of Tali Roth

“In terms of design, my approach is keeping it simple. Sometimes people overcomplicate things,” says Roth of her one key renovation takeaway. Here, the strength of each finished bathroom lies in their singularity and simplicity.

“I don’t like more than two materials in a bathroom. I hate going into a bathroom with, for instance, a mosaic tile feature wall, subway tiles, and large-scale slate tile on the floor. I find that really unsettling and not effective. My advice is to always keep it simple.”

Photography by Claire Esparros

In the master bathroom, Roth stuck to a strictly linear scheme inspired by a pattern her client had seen in a hotel bathroom in Paris. “The challenge was obviously lining up the lines because we wanted it to be a trippy kind of grid.”

Drama was also key to the success of the space. Having originally chosen a grout that was too light in color, Roth admits that the design team had to go over the lines again with a darker option for added definition.

Photography by Claire Esparros
Photography by Claire Esparros

In addition to the fresh tile work, Roth also expanded the recessed cabinet space above the vanity for added storage. An extra set of mirrors further contributed to the checkered nature of the space.

“I felt like it would really reflect the grid of the space, yet it wouldn't impose on the design and it would give her double the storage,” explains the designer. “We didn’t want anything too decorative in that space. We just really wanted it to be black and white.

With zero color in sight, it wouldn't feel like a stretch to suggest that most would rightly fear that an all-white, one-note bathroom like this has the potential to feel cold.

“I think a lot of people would find that bathroom too sterile, but she’s owning it. I think it becomes unwelcoming and unattractive when you warm it up using other materials that actually make it look more cheap. It’s such a strong bathroom because it’s the repetition of the same material. People might not like it, but they can say she committed to it. If you’re going to do something like that, you either do it or you don't,” says Roth.

Photography by Claire Esparros

In the same minimal manner, Roth kept things uncomplicated in the bedroom. Given that her client produces fashion shows and events for a living, Roth’s main objective was finding a spot to hide all her clothes and clutter. “There was just an alcove with nothing but a tiny credenza with a little TV on it and I was like, ‘That’s a whole opportunity for a wardrobe,'" she recalls.

For added intrigue, Roth dressed the ceiling in a semi-psychedelic wallpaper. “We both really wanted this kind of 1965 vibe with a low bed and big bedspread and a very minimalistic approach to art,” adds the designer.

Photography by Claire Esparros
The terrazzo pattern was designed by Max Lamb.
Photography by Claire Esparros
Photography by Claire Esparros

Unlike the master, the guest bathroom—a space shared by the homeowners’ two teenage daughters—strikes a seriously specked note. Proof that investing in your tile is in fact worth it, this all-over terrazzo look makes a spectacularly fun statement.

“We both just happened to know that material, that specific terrazzo, and love it,” shares Roth. “Once we priced it out, it was expensive." But that was the one big expense in the space, so they moved forward.

Between picking out tile and selecting hardware, it’s easy to stress out over every minute cosmetic detail when you’re renovating a bathroom. Roth’s words of wisdom?

“Step one is planning. Make sure you plan appropriately and go to show rooms because often what you see online is very different,” says Roth. “The only real rule I have, is make sure you have storage. Having crap everywhere ruins the design. You have to have a place to put everything. I think that’s really, really, really important. It doesn’t matter if you have super aesthetic or not.”

Photography by Claire Esparros

Another valuable design lesson? There is too little time to have everything be the same.

“I think an architect would be like, ‘That’s really tacky to not have continuity,’ but I look at it like—we live in New York City, the spaces are tiny. We don’t have the same opportunities as other people to create spaces from scratch. While I like the idea of all bathrooms being similar in a home, this is a bathroom renovation in a space she’s had for eight or nine years. I think you should live out your dreams. You should smile when you walk into your bathroom.”

See more bathroom ideas:
Two-Tone Bathrooms Are Having a Moment - Here Are Our Favorites
How to Upgrade Your Bathroom Without Spending a Fortune
How to Make It Rain(forest) In Your Bathroom

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Published on June 28, 2018 - 5:00am EDT

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