A Bathroom in a Kids' Suite Gets a Playful Makeover
Even a well-seasoned interior designer, like Andrea West, can still encounter career firsts. This past year she and her husband, Aaron, the Utah-based design duo behind Andrea West Designs, were asked to work on the bathroom and bedrooms belonging to a young family's two sons. Neither Andrea or Aaron had taken on such a project before, but both were up for the challenge and excited to do something youthful and fun.
The couple that hired them lives in Pleasant Grove, Utah, with their eight and 12-year-old sons. Each boy has his own room, but they are connected by an adjoining "Jack and Jack" bathroom. Though West designed each of the kids' bedrooms—and is now working on the rest of the home—the boys' bathroom is where the real "transformation" took place.
At first, West wasn't sure how much the boys would want to participate, but they ended up being a big part of the process. "It was the first time we ever really talked to kids [for a project]," she says. "They were incredibly polite and sweet." The designers asked each boy what colors they liked and what hobbies they were into, and their answers guided them when they drafted up the proposal. They first presented it to the parents, who then showed it to the kids, to make sure the entire family was on the same page. "It was quite fun," says West. "I think the boys really enjoyed it as well!"
Ahead, West walks us through the amazing bathroom transformation.
After West chatted with the two boys, she discovered the younger one loves nature. His room centered around an outdoor theme, with a hand-painted mural of mountains on the walls and stars on the ceiling in his favorite color blue. The older brother loves "Star Wars," so she went with geometric shapes in his favorite color green.
For the bathroom, Andrea tried to meld the themes from each of the rooms to make a cohesive space both boys would love. She chose deep teal (a mix of blue and green) geometric tiles and a melamine cabinet (a kid-friendly material that is "basically indestructible") designed to look like textured wood. "Star Wars" meets outdoorsy, indeed.
To open up the small space, West knocked down a wall and a large cabinet that originally divided up the bathroom. But since she was bringing a lot of pattern into the design—which can make a space seem crowded—shey wanted to find even more ways to open up the room.
West decided to bring the floor tile up the wall and onto the ceiling. "This keeps your line of vision continuous and makes it feel bigger—and makes the shower a really cool focal point," she says. West also chose a linear pattern that seems to move upward, drawing the eyes up with it.
Bring in Color
"We like to have something bold and dramatic in a bathroom to really bring in personality," says West. But that can be difficult in an area where you don't have textiles to play with. West went with cement tiles—which often have bright colors and bold patterns—to do the trick.
Embrace the Fun
When the parents came to the Wests for their initial design consult, one of the things they insisted on was a tub inside of the shower. "It's more of a luxury feature in a bathroom," says West. "But it made a lot of sense because the boys like to have water fights!"
They enclosed the back half of the bathroom in glass, which can become a wet room or a steam room, depending on whether you keep the window above the door open. It can also easily be sprayed down and cleaned with the handheld water sprayer after the fun dies down.
Though the bathroom is not huge, it does have tall ceilings, so West leaned into that. She made the patterned tiles go up the walls and onto the ceiling and chose modern black and gold pendant lights for an extra pop overhead.
Keep It Clean
West wanted the bathroom to have a contemporary feel, so she chose fixtures with simple clean lines in black. "They are elegant and modern, but masculine," she says. The countertop was a remnant slab of Macaubas Quartzite, a rare marble she was excited to find.
"It is very linear in the veining but very modern," she says. "It has so much movement—as soon as I saw it, I knew this was the slab." The square tub also complements this aesthetic. Plus, it's a bit shorter than the standard freestanding tub, which is perfect for kids.
Break Up Heaviness
Another way West expanded the bathroom visually is with an open shelf on the bottom of the vanity. She chose slats and baskets, so it breaks up the heaviness of cabinetry without losing any storage. "It doesn't feel so closed and gives some visual interest to the space," she says.
Don't Forget Entertainment
One final must-have feature was a television the boys could watch while they take baths. "This was a challenge because we had so many other things going on and very limited wall space," says West. After much deliberation, they came up with the idea to turn the mirror into two-way glass and put the TV behind it.
West explains that when the light behind the mirror is brighter than the light in front of it, like when the TV is on, it becomes clear like glass. But when the light in front of it is brighter, or the TV is off, it turns into a mirror. "It's a really cool feature we worked hard to implement," she says. "It's pretty incredible!"