Story: Diane Carroll | Styling: Mandy Keener |
Wellness is not just a buzzword for Dr. David Lipschitz, a geriatrician, author and award-winning television host of programs on aging, and his wife, Dr. Francie Wilson, an otolaryngologist. Following the advice they give their patients to reduce stress and maintain a healthy lifestyle, they sought to create their own spa-like space in their inefficient master bathroom.
Once a sunroom adjacent to the master bedroom, the area had been converted to a bath by previous owners of the couple’s early 1900s-era home in Little Rock’s Hillcrest neighborhood. While the bones of the converted room appealed to the physicians—abundant windows, adequate space, and tile walls that blended with the historical style of the house—functionality was an issue, with little storage, an unused vanity seating area, and an outdated shower and tub.
The pair enlisted the help of designer Garry Mertins, seeking his advice for freshening up the room and creating a more soothing retreat. Mertins began with the color palette, creating a custom wall color to match the existing tile and cover the room in a tranquil shade. Keeping the molding and other architectural details of the space intact, he opted for a more modern built-in vanity with contemporary hardware and fixtures, including Lefroy Brooks square counter-mount basins. “Clean lines, elegant, not fussy or ornately detailed,” says Mertins. “That kind of straightforward and simplified look is soothing in its orderliness.”
Topping the vanity with travertine marble to match the existing floor kept a narrow color palette—another secret to a soothing space, notes Mertins—and he added a wall of mirrors above to reflect the soft shades of the walls and ceiling, enhancing the play of light through the space.
Reworking the existing shower with a seamless glass surround increased the room’s airiness, and removing a small bathtub and replacing it with a spa-like soaking tub provided the final means for rest and relaxation. “It’s the kind of room that is easy to decompress in now,” says Mertins. “Having a functional master bath that takes advantage of some of the features that are out there is an important way to take care of yourself.”
Professional Advice from Garry Mertins
You can find a soothing bathtub in a range of styles, and you don’t have to go top of the line to find a good product. Spa features can be wonderful, but straightforward soaking tubs, such as this one from Kohler with a built-in overflow edge so you can fill it to the top, are good choices as well. Older homes can’t always accommodate the added electrical needs of some models, and that’s an important consideration.
Interior design Garry Mertins Design, Little Rock
Contractor/cabinetry Distinctive Kitchens & Baths, Little Rock
Counter, tub surround Advanced Bath & Kitchen, Little Rock
Fixtures, tub Falk Plumbing Supply, Little Rock
Light fixtures Light Innovations, Light Rock
Paint Pratt & Lambert, locations statewide