The 2003 Watermark Awards: BUILDER's first kitchen and bath contest Bath Class

Wiss Residence Master Bath, Boulder, Colo.

Best master bath in a remodeled home

This master bath is part of a major renovation of a 30-year-old house that was in horrible shape, says architect Robert Moore, president of Habitat Design Group in Boulder, Colo. The house was in such bad shape, in fact, that the client, a recently single developer with a young son, moved in with nothing but a suitcase; he knew he was going to gut the entire house.

Moore tailored the bath's layout and style to suit the client's modern tastes, but he was sure to consider market appeal. The owner planned to live here less than five years.

The first thing the architect did was tear out the plastic, jetted tub with a carpeted staircase. "It would take an acrobat to get in and out of that thing!" Moore says. He replaced it with a more classic-style acrylic jetted tub. A focal point of the bath, the tub fits perfectly in an alcove and does not protrude into the circulation path. Two large walk-in closets with etched glass doors flank the tub.

Renovations to the 345-square-foot space were mostly cosmetic. Two, 8-inch-deep cabinets were added adjacent to each pedestal sink. The walls were glazed with traditional 3-by-6-inch white ceramic "subway" tiles. The floors were covered in honed natural stone.

"This bathroom feels clean even if it's dirty," laughs Moore. A pair of porcelain pedestal sinks with traditional faucets adds to the feeling of cleanliness. They supplanted heavy oak vanity cabinetry and a wall of mirrors from the 1970s. Moore also rebuilt the steam shower, adding a large seat and a showerhead, 12 inches in diameter.

Moore, who wears many hats, including lighting designer, installed lights in an adjustable recessed fixture behind the glass doors that flank the tub. The lights spot the back of the doors to make them glow. Long, narrow glass sconces frame the lavatory mirrors. "Light on both sides of the face eliminates the shadows," says Moore, who also installed a sconce with an up-light for soft light on the ceiling.

Moore credits the homeowner for allowing him to be creative and follow through on his vision of a clean, contemporary, and sophisticated master bath. "He was my only client who had both wealth and taste!"

Entrant/Architect/Interior designer: Habitat Design Group, Boulder, Colo.; Builder: Doug Allen Contracting, Denver, Colo.

Mod Sensibility

Gillespie Residence Master Bath, Kiawah Island, S.C.

Best master bath in a custom home

One of the easiest decisions faced in designing this custom home was where to locate the master bath. With magnificent views available from the third floor, it was easy to imagine what it would be like to soak in a tub from this vantage point and look out on the sun-drenched landscape.

It was more difficult to find cabinet space. The owners asked for minimal cabinet storage to create a more modern look, says Linda McLain, of Charleston, S.C.-based Signature Kitchens & Baths of Charleston.

Dickson Dunlap

McLain's solution was to build white-painted cabinets around two pedestal sinks. The corner display/storage pieces flank the sinks, while a dual-purpose cabinet in the middle serves as a linen storage unit and laundry shoot. The designer also tucked in two walk-in closets and his-and-hers dressing areas.

Copious light filters into the suite via two large half-round windows at either end. This allowed the designer to use darker paint on the walls, Benjamin Moore's Olive Branch. Limestone flooring, wall cladding, and tub surround finish the space.

The suite, McLain says, shows how contemporary elements such as the paint colors can exist in harmony with traditional elements such as the cabinetry and pedestal sinks.

Entrant/Architect: Signature Kitchens & Baths of Charleston, Charleston, S.C.; Wayne Windham Architects, Charleston; Builder: Steven J. Koenig Construction, Johns Island, S.C.; Interior designer: KDM Interiors, Wando, S.C.

European Dandy

Sturm Master Bath, Atlanta

Best master bath in a custom home--merit

Gregory L. Palmer's clients wanted the best of both worlds. They desired a European-style bath, but they also sought the flow and function of a 21st-century bathroom, says Palmer, an architect with Harrison Design Associates in Atlanta.

Palmer established the European theme with barrel-vaulted ceilings, niches, and columns. "We also used the vaulted ceiling to give some punch to the room," he says. "It gives a nice feel to the symmetrical space." Tumbled travertine floors and Jerusalem stone walls, tub surround, and counters complete the Old World feel.

Underneath the vaults, Palmer tucked modern amenities--his-and-hers vanities, a walk-in shower, and a soaking tub with south-facing views to the outdoors. Because the woman of the house wanted a second level of privacy, the architect added a dressing area with counter space and mirror for applying make-up.

Fred S. Gerlich

"The cabinetry is a rejection of the stark and sterile look of traditional cabinetry these days," says Palmer. The clients wanted the cabinets to feel like furniture, so Palmer made sure the pieces did not touch the side walls. Each piece features an antique glaze, with scalloped and recessed toe-kicks. The architect carried the same look to the tub surround.

Entrant/Architect: Harrison Design Associates, Atlanta; Builder: Bildon Construction, Atlanta; Interior designer: Interior View, Atlanta