If a space can feel both hip and serene at the same time, this bath pulls it off with panache. Old-school features such as shiny chrome, exposed plumbing, classically detailed cornices, and an elliptical groin vaulted ceiling blend with decidedly modern elements—the centerpiece being a dramatic “floating” frameless shower cube. The shower backs up to an enclosed water closet (mechanicals were plumbed up through a shared wall partition) and can be accessed via a frameless glass door on either side. The cube creates a peninsula effect that delineates his-and-hers areas of the bath, but its translucency keeps the overall space from feeling compartmentalized.

Try to put your finger on what makes this design a winner, and much of it boils down to a supreme balance of weight and levity. Take the alcove hugging an oversized tub, where a rounded wall of iridescent tiles mimics the tub's sensual curves.

“We could have stayed true to form and gone with one of those leggy clawfoot tubs from the 1920s, but the one we picked seemed more interesting and substantial,” says Stephen Yeonas, also a principal with Artisan. But heft wasn't appropriate everywhere. On the flip side, he says, closed cabinetry underneath the custom, 8-foot marble vanity tops would have felt too blocky. The team opted instead for slender chrome legs with an open towel bar to keep the aesthetic light and airy—a combo that feels just right.

See more 2007 Watermark Award Winners

Entrant/Builder/Developer: Artisan Builders, McLean, Va.; Architect: Harrison Design Associates, Atlanta; Kitchen and bath designer: David H. Mitchell & Associates, Washington

TILE STYLE How do you keep a 340-square-foot master bath from having the cavernous feeling of a locker room? Tiles by Waterworks were an important part of the solution in this home outside the nation's capital. Designer David Mitchell specified subtle variations in tile color and pattern to create visual hierarchies and intimate interludes within the context of the larger space. For example, 4-inch-by-4-inch slate-blue glass tiles are used only on the shower wall, while iridescent gray mosaic tiles appear exclusively in the tub alcove, making it another discrete niche. A geometric floor pattern of brilliant white and moss green tiles unifies the entire room.