For a primary residence overlooking Lake Austin, interior designer Robin Colton had to fit both private and public uses into a singular master bath. In addition to being a retreat for homeowners, this bathroom is the only one available on the second floor, which is where key living spaces are located to capture water views. To delineate personal bathing areas from guest bathroom functions, Colton defined semi-private zones using architectural elements that help the space strike a balance between airy, opulent master bath and cozy, sheltered powder room.

The designer also wanted to fulfill her clients’ request for modern design with a casual lake house feel. “My mind immediately went to the idea of outdoor bathing,” Colton says. Showering outside is a contrast (a private act done out-of-doors) so it fit the dual use for the space. Using outdoor living also worked as a way to mix rough-hewn materials with minimalist forms.

Bringing the Outdoors In

“That concept of bathing outside is where the curvilinear structure above the tub originated,” Colton explains, “and that established the atmosphere for the entire space.” Colton describes the custom aluminum and ipe edifice as a “kind of pergola that you’d stand underneath when you’re rinsing outdoors.” A wall-mounted shower fixture with exposed piping adds an industrial edge contrasting the pergola’s sleek shape and natural wood. Linking the walk-in shower with a separate soaking tub is a series of ceiling-mounted spray heads positioned above an elongated tub deck/shower bench. The arrangement allows owners to opt for a trio of spalike experiences: a roomy shower with adjustable oversized handset and integrated Bluetooth speaker, immersion in a bubbling tub complete with chromotherapy and a high-tech mirror/TV, and reclining beneath a horizontal shower with massaging jets.

Hand-troweled plaster walls enclose the lavish ablution area and partially obscure it from guests. A double vanity occupies the opposite wall and features twin cast-glass sinks. Cream-colored solid surfacing—also used for the tub deck and shower bench—makes up the 10-foot-long countertop. A 4-inch lip gives it a crisp, contemporary finish. A single high window frames treetop vistas and is flanked by slender, counter-to-ceiling mirrors. Colton wanted the sinks to be the focus here, so everything else was selected to fashion a quiet backdrop. “The sinks are really just big slabs of glass,” she says, “but they have movement and texture, so it’s like looking down into a stream.”

Double the Function

Both doors leading into the room are on same wall. This allowed Colton to produce a defined flow for the separate uses as master bath versus powder room. Upon entering, a wall of open storage intersects with a wall containing a ventless fireplace. Those freestanding walls screen the toilet area, making it more secluded and cozy for users within the 215-square-foot space. The shower and tub are on the opposite side of the room where just a glimpse of the pergola and shower can be seen behind a partial wall. “I wanted to create very distinct zones while maintaining a sense of openness,” Colton says. “The bathing area is probably 10 feet across, but because of the pergola it doesn’t feel exposed, plus that structure also creates a more intimate feel when you stand at the vanity.”

Repeated use of materials and employing screening walls in lieu of full enclosures keep the zones tied together. The vanity storage elements as well as the asymmetrical fireplace surround are both made from raw steel with a waxed finish. Natural wood is seen in the pergola and again as the interior finish material for the vanity wall in the form of reclaimed barn siding. Such an uninterrupted expanse of natural wood called for a focal point, says Colton. Her idea of a full-sized tree silhouette was executed by the builder and the homeowner using a giant plywood template and a blow torch. The tree draws attention upon entering the room and reinforces the modern lake house vibe.

Project Credits:

Designer: Robin Colton Interior Design Studio, Austin, Texas; Builder: Greentex Builders, Austin; Bathroom Size: 215 square feet; Resources: Countertops and tub surround: Caesarstone; Flooring: Chilewich; Plumbing fittings and fixtures: Kohler