Published on January 8, 2020

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Photography by Elizabeth Lavin

Designers Brett and Kara Phillips approached their master bathroom build—part of a new house they were designing from the ground up—with a fundamental question in mind: How do you make a space as relaxing as possible? Looking to the English countryside for inspiration, they set out to create a calming oasis that would feel organic yet luxe.

The first step was to paint the walls in a soothing shade of green; next came a freestanding tub from American Standard, the focal point of the room. Mixed-metal hardware, lustrous brass lighting, and vintage textiles followed, imparting all the character and charm of a bucolic cottage. Below, the Phillipses share the standout moments from the reno.

They Made the Brand-New Look Lived-In

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Photography by Elizabeth Lavin

Spec homes that have been designed to sell are usually all about cutting down on margins, which often results in compromising on quality, says Brett. For the Phillipses, though, it was important to invest in design-forward materials: handmade glossy tiles paired with thin brick-like ones, marble with high-contrast veining, and an eclectic lighting lineup. “We don’t like things to be too matchy-matchy or overly consistent, as if it had been done all at once versus over time,” he notes. According to the couple, spaces with that “preloved” essence have lots of pattern and are thoughtfully layered but not overdone. 

They Weren’t Afraid to Mix Metals 

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Studio Undercounter Sink and Townsend Faucet,  American Standard Photography by Elizabeth Lavin

Hand-cut, mirrored pendants with black shades and brass etchings hang above the polished nickel fixtures from the American Standard Townsend collection, which themselves are timeless. According to Brett, the darker colors downplay the novelty of the shinier metals, toning down their intensity. “You always want to bring enough of something in without overpowering the rest,” he explains. The tub’s faucets and handles also reflect everything, celebrating the warmth of the surroundings. 

They Used One Color to Define the Whole Space

Armed with the intention of using hues found in nature, the couple opted for an edited palette of cool greens that would allow the plumbing fixtures and polished nickel faucets to stand out. While the majority of the space was covered with Sherwin-Williams’s Retreat—the walls, door frame, molding, and cabinets—the couple kept the 10-foot ceilings white to create the illusion of a larger area. “The tones are relatively mellow, so it’s not too bright, while the fixtures themselves are really hearty,” notes Brett. The white marble countertops with cream-colored veining and a neutral Middle Eastern rug anchor the color scheme. 

They Turned the Shower Into a Mini Room

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Townsend Bath and Shower Trim Kit, American Standard Photography by Elizabeth Lavin

While the bathtub functions as a prime spot for R&R, the shower is meant to be its own restorative hideaway. Instead of the expected glass encasing, they carved out a little nook behind a wall (bench included). “We wanted to keep it hidden away from the world so that it would feel as warm and steamy as possible,” says Brett, “A place where you can reflect and start your day with focus.” To visually connect the niche to the rest of the space, they lined the stall and one of the bathroom walls in the same Fireclay Driftwood tile.

They Gave the Bathtub Its Own Storage

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Coastal, Serin Freestanding Tub, American Standard Photography by Elizabeth Lavin
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Photography by Elizabeth Lavin

A built-in shelf becomes a landing spot for candles and various trinkets—an open-concept medicine cabinet, if you will. The Phillipses also installed a larger cabinet aside the vanity for the essentials better kept concealed. Behind the tub, a marble-topped ledge doubles as a chic display for art, books, and a glass of wine for when the mood strikes. 

In the end, it came down to achieving a balance between something proper but comfortable—a place where, as Brett puts it “you’re not afraid to wash your face and make a splash.”