Cape Cod Home Early Summer 2012

Breath Taking Baths

Cape Cod Home  /  Early Summer 2012 / ,

Writer: Nancy E. Berry / Photographer:

Interior design Liz Stiving-Nichols creates serene bathrooms for a home in West Chop on Martha’s Vineyard.

Liz Stiving-Nichols creates serene bathrooms

Courtesy of Liz Stiving-Nichols

A bathroom for a getaway home should be a serene, calming space—a place to wash away the stresses of everyday life and relax into vacation mode. This approach is indicative of interior designer Liz Stiving-Nichols’ master bath and powder room designs. Owner of Martha’s Vineyard Interior Design, Stiving- Nichols finds inspiration for her designs from the natural environment. “I create a direct connection between the design and to the natural surrounding we find on this beautiful island,” says Stiving-Nichols.

For the bathrooms in a new West Chop vacation home designed by Breese Architects, Stiving-Nichols chose soothing tones and natural materials to achieve a calming atmosphere. “The powder room in the home is located right at the entry and is used when the homeowners are entertaining,” says Stiving-Nichols. “We wanted to do something special in this tiny space.” A metallic-glazed, hand-thrown sink is set into an old wooden console that Stiving-Nichols found at an antiques shop. The well-worn barn board resembles a piece of driftwood and, paired with the pottery, creates an organic feel to the space.

The walls are finished in matchstick tile—a thin stone placed vertically on the wall. “This tile is typically placed horizontally and used as an accent piece, but the effect is more dramatic when used as an overall wall surface,” says the designer.  To offset the verticality of the wall design, Stiving-Nichols introduced a circular design for the floor tile. She custom designed the floor tile with Annie Bradshaw of Martha’s Vineyard Tile. The floor material is a mix of marble and limestone. “The contrasting shapes in the same materials and palette make a strong impact in the small space,” she notes. The adjacent walls are finished in a Coco brown. “It’s a color not often seen in coastal homes.”

Liz Stiving-Nichols creates serene bathrooms

Courtesy of Liz Stiving-Nichols

The fixtures and accessories further the organic ambiance. The wall-mounted faucet has a bronze finish and its handles are round, echoing the floor pattern. The narrow pendant lighting is also by Rocky Mountain and blends with the matchstick wall surface. An old wine barrel becomes the frame for the mirror. Again the roundness of the mirror contrasts with the straight lines of the wall surface. The juxtaposition of shapes is striking.

For the master bathroom, Stiving-Nichols chose a soothing palette and natural elements to create a tranquil spot. “The look for this bath is sleek and modern,” she notes. She started by selecting an Oasis Blue marble and introducing it in various sizes and finishes.  A 12-inch-by-24-inch tile with a honed finish was used on the floors, then a flamed finish of the same stone was introduced on the walls. “Stone is an appropriate material for a bathroom because it can stand up to the high humidity,” notes Stiving-Nichols. Above the mirror, a three-eighths-inch mosaic of the same Oasis Blue stone in a tumbled finish creates a decorative element that aligns with the windows. The vertical mullions of the windows are repeated in the vertical grooves in the touch-latch vanity doors. The vanity is topped with recycled glass that when formed into a slab offers a subtle rippled texture—creating  the feeling of water. “The shower doors are also a frosted glass, furthering the use of different textures among like materials,” the designer says.

The wall-mounted nickel finished faucets have a simple, utilitarian look. The soaking tub is a freestanding oval porcelain tub by Waterworks. The wall of windows at the far end of the room overlook breathtaking views of the landscape and the water beyond. “From the tub, you can see ferries come and go in the distance,” says  Stiving-Nichols. “Motorized shades come down for privacy when needed.” His and hers porcelain sinks by Lacava mimic the oval tub shape.

“The lighting was a design challenge because the ceilings are so high,” says Stiving-Nichols, who chose pendants by Bocci that are made of several leaded glass balls each with a small LED bulb. The same lights are found on the drop ceiling above the tub. A similar small sconce mounted next to the tub evokes the feeling of candlelight.  Stiving-Nichols painted the top of the room in Wind’s Breath by Benjamin Moore. With a few interesting materials and accessories, a serene and soothing master bath is easily within reach.

Nancy E. Berry

An accomplished journalist, Nancy Berry lists “former editor of Cape Cod HOME” among many credentials. She is currently the editor of Northshore magazine which is based in Andover, Mass.

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