Bathroom designs from Decorator Showcase

Showcase house overflows with ideas for the one room we all need

Designer showcases often take the average homeowner on a flight of fancy, presenting overflowing libraries, oversize parlors and overstocked exercise rooms - none of which fit the footprint of the Bay Area's space-challenged cottages and condos.

Every home has a bathroom, however. And this year's San Francisco Decorator Showcase showers visitors with eight bathrooms and three powder rooms, all of them remodeled in different ways.

The one constant for the 11 bathroom design teams is Ken Paige, father of house owner Matt Paige and supervisor of the renovation. He worked with all of the designers and took full advantage of his "in" with Paige Glass - he owns the 98-year-old San Francisco company - to secure the latest and greatest in glass and mirrors at cost.

"But not all of the bathrooms have glass showers," Paige says. "Ben Dhong's (third-floor Faux Bois Bathroom) shower has a fabric curtain. Our only direction was, let's have one of everything, so there are different treatments in fixtures and on walls and on floors in all the rooms."

The results provide a few lessons, innovations, techniques and tips (asterisked below) that might enhance even the basic 5-by-8-foot San Francisco space.

Not that there are many of the latter in the house. Well, one, maybe - on the ground floor, the bathroom assigned to Home Office designer Matthew Leverone. It's your typical layout, with the mirror-sink-cabinet complex just inside the door, the toilet next to that and then the shower/tub tucked into the end. (*Most of the house's toilets are basic Totos, with a few Kohlers tossed in - "good, functional toilets," Paige says.)

Leverone created an uncluttered, streamlined space with white subway tile and an organic wallpaper of trees (*Woods from Cole & Son) on the walls, light stone tile on the floors and a modern Deca sink over a small cabinet, the darkest piece in the room.

It's a long way from the floor's other bathroom, Darlene Jurow's very black-and-white Spa Bathroom, which has a floor of gray pebbles (*flooring like this starts at about $8 a square foot online) and walls of Starfire glass back-painted white (*glass walls = no grout lines). To one side of the central sink is a glass-enclosed toilet, to the other a glass-encased steam shower. The glass has Michelangelo art figures sandblasted on it.

"The room next to it is going to be an exercise room," Paige says. "So you can look at the solar plexus on the figures and decide maybe you should go and work out some more."

Artfully sandblasted glass appears in many of the house's small windows; in Kathleen Navarra's Powder Room, the glass is sandblasted to match the white swirls in her chocolate wallpaper. (*Paige said that just about any window can be decoratively sandblasted for just "a few hundred dollars.")

Navarra covered the top half of her walls in tall, antiqued mirrors of about 7 feet. Paige says that antiquing a mirror increases its price by about five times but notes that in this case that was offset by framing the mirrors. (*Hanging framed mirrors minimizes labor, which can get expensive for gluing, fitting and shaving custom mirror installations.)

Most of the showcase bathroom walls were covered, not painted. Kitchen designer Shelley Gordon used a greenish-yellow grass cloth from Zoffany in her powder room, and Val Fiscalini's Guest Bath was covered in pleated fabric that would seem not to be a wise choice where moisture would prevail. Fiscalini was smarter than that - water beads up and wipes off this covering because it's coated with Teflon. (*Lori Weitzner's Syncopation, for Bergamo.)

Fiscalini had some other cutting-edge products in her room, which begs for visitors in its many-jetted tub. Her glass sinks glow when lit from below (*Crystal by Vitraform) and her Italian faucets of polished chrome are making their first appearance in the United States (*Mimi by Gessi).

She mounted four prints on the mirrors over that tub. The bathrooms in the showcase are full of interesting, valuable art, hanging on walls, mirrors - even in showers - but that's all for show, not for real life. (*Art does not belong in a bathroom where showers and baths will be taken; one designer said he would not even keep sculptures in such a place.)

A safer way to splurge in a bathroom is to install a lavish silk window treatment. After all, bathroom windows tend to be small and viewless. (*Window treatments won't require much fabric, and they don't necessarily have to be operable.)

Sometimes bathrooms have no windows at all, but who would notice in the His Master Bath, created by the two women of Hershon Hartley? They went all out after Paige was able to get them a deal on hand-blown art glass sheets (*made in Oregon but marketed out of New York as Amber Pearl) that could be cut into 4-by-8-inch tiles for the big steam shower. (*Like Jurow's shower, it has a transom that can be opened to release steam.)

They finished the crown molding and mirror in tortoise and installed a large, round shower doorknob (*Lightspann in Oakland), all to complement the art glass. And their wallpaper is canvas covered with seven layers of paint, the last a cracking agent. (*Silk Dynasty Porcelain Collection.)

That's His bath. Across the hall, the centerpiece of Her Master Bath, by Melanie Coddington, is a supersize tub under an ornate chandelier and surrounded by honey onyx and glass back-painted to match. At one end are French doors to a balcony, at the other are a glass shower enclosure next to a glass toilet enclosure.

The latter seemed to beg for some sandblasting, but, Paige pointed out, "It's not a public place - you're in there by yourself."

And you could be in there for a while. For most of us, this bathroom represents quite a flight of fancy - there's enough floor space to do yoga. (*If there's a really big bathroom, it's for Her.)

Decorator Showcase

Where: 2820 Scott St., San Francisco.

When: Through May 26. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Tues.-Wed., Fri.-Sat.; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Thurs., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sun. and Memorial Day. Closed other Mondays.

Benefits: San Francisco University High School.

Tickets: $30, $25 for seniors.

Contact: (415) 447-3115, www.decoratorshowcase.org.