A seldom-used soaking tub makes way for a supersized spa retreat


There are people who cherish a long soak in a warm bath with a candle or two flickering nearby. And then there are those who haven’t taken a bath in ages and think a shower is the finest way to come clean.

Members of the latter segment of the population, Cindy and Mark Humphreville of Hilliard, decided that it was finally time to bid adieu to the whirlpool tub that held center stage in their master bath for more than a dozen years.

“It’s hard to justify the tub taking up that much space when you hardly ever use it,” says Mark.

Out of the corner

Even though they are the home’s original owners, the Humphrevilles acquired the bath as part and parcel of a builder’s spec package. At the time, luxurious tubs were the focus of a master bath, often positioned under a large picture window while showers were relegated to a small corner of the room.

If you’re a bath person, that configuration still works. If you’re a shower person, there’s good news in your world. Responding to consumer demand, designers have created numerous ways to enhance your daily shower experience with innovations such as steam showers, chromatherapy and multiple function-specific showerheads.

While you can start small—the National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends that a 36×36-inch shower as the minimum for comfort and safety—it’s a lot more fun to dream big.

Cindy and Mark knew from the start that they wanted to create a larger shower space in general. Specifically, they wanted to lose the framed door and use materials with a rustic feel to create a soothing retreat. For additional inspiration, the two perused books and magazines, marking pages with their remodel in mind. Plus, Mark picked up a few design ideas during his extensive business travels.

Getting busy

When it came time to hire a contractor, the Humphrevilles visited the National Association of the Remodeling Industry of Central Ohio’s website (nari.org/centralohiochapter). They followed a link to award winners and came to an entry by Dave Fox Design-Build Remodelers that caught their eye.

“We knew Dave Fox had a good reputation in the community,” Cindy says. After meeting with Keith Sharrock, a designer with the firm, she says, “We liked what he said and didn’t feel the need to talk to anyone else.”

From there the design was formed through a collaborative effort between the homeowners and Sharrock. Together they arrived at the perfect solution—doing away with the tub and creating a shower along the whole back wall of the bathroom. The new shower would consume an incredible 6×12-foot area.

Light my fire

The plan was to place showerheads at each end of the massive space until Mark came up with the idea of including a fireplace.

“We wanted something that was a little unique,” says Mark. “We kicked around a few ideas, like a water feature or pool, then the idea just came to me. I hadn’t seen it anywhere else. After that, the team at Dave Fox took over, did some research and figured out a way to make it work.”

According to Sharrock, the challenge was in keeping the cost in line with the budget. Traditional gas fireplaces need piping and exterior venting which made that option extremely complicated and expensive. Knowing Mark wanted to add a bit of ambience rather than a dramatic heat source, Sharrock and his team found a small manufacturer in New Zealand who had what was needed.

The two-sided fireplace is inset into a wall that runs between the bath and bedroom. While it does provide added warmth for the shower, Mark especially likes the effect it creates at night from the bedroom.

A long, low bench in a dry area near the fireplace is a perfect place for toweling off and resting a morning cup of coffee. This is a spot that makes great sense to Sharrock. “It’s great to have a place to towel dry and never get any water on the main floor,” he says. “That’s the way they do it in Japan.”

Above the bench, a window made of a vertically-patterned rain glass diffuses the view from outside, while a clear upper section lets the Humphrevilles enjoy glimpses of backyard treetops.

No cold feet

Although most of the focus was on the shower, the rest of the space got a bit of a facelift as well. Since the existing cabinets were high quality and in great shape, they stayed. Countertops were swapped out, lighting was changed and vessel sinks and mirrors were moved in. New floor tiles hide radiant heat technology.

“I love the floors,” says Cindy. “It’s nice to not hit cold tiles with bare feet in the morning.”

World class

Despite its size, thanks to a careful selection of materials and features, the new space has a lock on warmth while not missing a single functional beat. It’s the Humphrevilles’ favorite room in their home. And Sharrock is just about as pleased with the results as the homeowners.

“Mark travelled the world,” he says. “I like the fact that we were able to give him a space better than what he’d experienced in all those beautiful hotels.”


Designer: Keith Sharrock, Dave Fox Design/Build RemodelersContractor: Dave Fox Design/Build Remodelers;Project Manager: Greg Reis; Tile work: Nancy Kennedy Company; Flooring: Multi-colored slate, The Hamilton Parker CompanyShower: Custom base in tile and stacked stone, The Hamilton Parker CompanyCountertops and shower bench seat: Cambria Quartz, Konkus Marble & GraniteSinks: Kohler Turnings® VesselsFaucets:Delta Victorian lavatoryHansgrohe shower fixtures-body sprays, hand-held unit and showerhead; Lighting:Shades of LightVentless fireplace: EcoSmart, The Hamilton Parker CompanyHeated flooring: Warmly Yours;Frameless shower glass: Eastway Supplies

This article appears in the June 2011 issue of Housetrends – Columbus

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Source, (page consulted July 9th, 2012)