L.A. at Home

Design, Architecture, Gardens,
Southern California Living

Category: Bathroom

Dwell on Design 2012: Modern fun this weekend

Play Modern

Kohler colored sinksIt's time to play: Dwell on Design, the annual expo of furniture, fixtures and finishes for the modern home and garden, is running this weekend at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Staff writer Lisa Boone and producer Dianne de Guzman walked the convention floor on Friday to get some early impressions.

They found Misha Tome sliding down the Cuba playhouse by Play Modern, above. The modular system consists of cubes that can be configured in different BeSpoke consoleways. Indoor models are made from Baltic birch plywood with a clear finish, and outdoor models are made from marine-grade plywood with a dark finish.

MORE PICKS: Dwell on Design 2012

Above right: Lori Erenberg, left, and Saehee Simmons looked at color samples for Kohler's new sinks in a range of bold hues.

Below right: The BeSpoke Creative console throws some curves, with a sleek white exterior complemented by maple and birch plywood interior.

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Walker Zanger's new tiles made from reclaimed Indonesian teak

Teak tiles Walker Zanger
Walker Zanger has introduced a collection of teak tiles made from wood reclaimed from construction projects in Indonesia. The collection, called AnTeak, appealed to the company because it “is always looking for tiles with an interesting story,” said Jared Becker, vice president of design and marketing.

The teak grain is visible on the tiles, which come in several stains and shapes, including herringbone, hexagon and chevron. They are meant to fit into an array of design styles, including Asian, old European and Midcentury Modern. Walker Zanger, which already sells tiles made of bamboo, is working to make the teak tiles with a resin finish so they can be used in showers, Becker said.

“The wood is taken from buildings being taken down for new construction. They’re already cured, because they’ve been exposed to the elements for 75 or 100 years,” Becker said. That gives the wood “a wonderful patina.”

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'Michael S. Smith Kitchens and Baths' book

Michael Smith kitchen
"Michael S. Smith Kitchens and Baths," released this week by Rizzoli ($45), is a detailed look at the White House decorator's projects with an emphasis on the parts of the house that often require the strongest marriage of style and function. Though stressful financial times have made many readers sensitive to anything with a whiff of opulence, authors Smith and Christine Pittel speak with an unapologetic voice as they walk through high-priced commissions from Malibu to Martha's Vineyard. It helps that many of the projects are not the kinds of decorating stunts that fill show houses (and books) but, rather, Smith's attempt to deliver livable spaces for clients who have the means to execute his ideas and indulge the occasional fantasy.

Photos: "Michael S. Smith Kitchens and Baths"


"Design Sponge at Home"

"Garden Up!" on vertical gardening

"Nano House: Innovations for Small Dwellings"

 -- Craig Nakano

Photo: For a family house in L.A., Smith deployed a simple butcher-block counter and playful light fixtures whose shades were flea market finds. Credit: Scott Frances

Pro Portfolio: Small modern bathroom remodel

Bath1 XP & Architecture finished a bathroom earlier this year that creates the impression of spaciousness on a 5-by-5-foot footprint. It's the latest installment of Pro Portfolio, our feature posted every Monday in which we look at a recently built, remodeled or redecorated home with commentary from the designer.

Project: Modern bathroom remodel with a visual connection to the outside.

Location: Mar Vista.

Architect: Judith K. Mussel, XP & Architecture.

Structural engineering: Peter T. Erdelyi & Associates.

Architect's description: The design intent was to create an energizing experience: the ability to shower in nature with the comfort of a contemporary environment. You can take a "rain" shower while feeling like you're outside.

 The small space was expanded through a visual connection to the outside. A new floor-to-ceiling window, right, replaced the glass block in the old bedroom, shown before the remodel, below right. More 05_450x600_exsiting-bathroomnatural daylight can penetrate the space, and the scouring-rush horsetail planted outside provides a privacy screen.

The white walls reflect the natural light.  A wall-length mirror makes the tight space appear much bigger than it is. The safety glass shower divider, which spans from floor to ceiling as well, contributes to the spacious feeling.

The result is unusual -- a great daily spa experience on a minimal footprint.

To see more photos and get additional details about the hidden sunken bathtub, the outdoor window screen, the lighting and the German shower fixtures, keep reading ...


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Boffi's new showroom tempts L.A. modernists with kitchens, baths and now closet systems

Boffi, the high-end Italian manufacturer of kitchens and baths, will open a new showroom Thursday in West Hollywood, one that will showcase the company's latest collection: wardrobe and closet components.

That's right. Boffi, the 77-year-old firm that made sleek minimalism a dream-inspiring look of gourmet kitchens and spa bathrooms, can now dress up your dressing room. The designs include the St. Germain walk-in closet system, above, which features rectangular rods, mounted drawers and adjustable shelves. 

Solferino wardrobe det. doors byTommasoSartori_high For smaller spaces, St.Germain comes in a wardrobe version, with white sliding doors, built-in lighting and a slide-out trouser rack.

The Solferino wardrobe has a bachelor-pad elegance with its wood-paneled interior, floor and ceiling illumination and hinged doors, right.

The designs come as customizable modules. When we asked about prices, we were told they are available upon request at the showroom.

The Boffi store is in the two-story space formerly occupied by Modern Living. It was reconfigured by Piero Lissoni, the legendary architect, interior designer and furniture icon. The showroom also carries Boffi bath and kitchen products, including the stainless-steel-topped island below, which is listed at $70,000. 

8775 Beverly Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 652-5500.

-- David A. Keeps


Photo credits: Boffi


H.D. Buttercup sale

Blu Dot's new L.A. store

A home boutique called Rummage

Croft House on La Brea

At Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, innovation driven by baby boomers' quest to 'age in place'

Thousands of baby boomers are retiring every day, and much as they might not like to admit it, they're becoming the older generation, which means creaky joints, less astute vision and hearing and other age-related ailments. Last week's Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas offered a look at hundreds of possible solutions, as well as lots of luxury countertops and other products.

Toilets with night lights, sparkly grab bars for showers, kitchen drawers that open with a touch and bathtubs with sides that rise and fall for easy entry were among the ways manufacturers tried to appeal to people who want to stay in their homes as they age. Those products also work well for children, pregnant women and people in wheelchairs, among others, designers and manufacturers said.

In the photo above, Debbie Cannon and Steve Smith demonstrate an Age Explorer suit, which simulates the difficulty a 70-year-old might have picking up small objects, reaching high into cupboards, bending down or simply seeing what's in a drawer. Cannon, marketing services manager at the kitchen hardware company Blum, said her company learned of the suit through a German firm that studies aging.

Our cover story from the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show includes an in-depth article as well as a photo gallery.

-- Mary MacVean

Photo: Debbie Cannon and Steve Smith demonstrate an Age Explorer suit. Credit: Isaac Brekken / For The Times

Kitchen and bath show: New Ravenna Mosaics weaves Silk Road inspirations in glass and stone tile

When Sara Baldwin was in graduate school to be a painter, she visited the Metropolitan Museum in New York and saw some ancient mosaics. That turned out to be a life-changing moment.

She asked herself why so few were making such beautiful pieces today. After graduation, with a little help from her parents (meals, baby-sitting), she started New Ravenna Mosaics, a company that makes high-end glass and stone tiles for kitchens and bathrooms. Among her clients was Gracie Mansion, the home to the New York City mayor. Her pieces are available at Ann Sacks, among other places.

Her designs take inspiration from the Silk Road and other spots around the world. At a client's request, she also has done animals and landscapes in mosaic. Premiering at this week's Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas is an ikat, based on an Asian fabric design.

Clients can choose from among 50 colors of glass and 60 of stone for a small area of a backsplash or an entire floor. The mosaics are seamless, made like a jigsaw puzzle for the space rather than tiles in particular sizes.

"You can make your space more unique," Baldwin said Thursday at the show.


KBIS: chewable-ice maker, TV medicine cabinet

KBIS: fancy toilets, automated paper towel dispenser

-- Mary MacVean in Las Vegas

Photo credit: Mary MacVean / Los Angeles Times


Kitchen & Bath Industry Show: Sinks that speak of cool and calm, mats to protect under the sink


In these uncertain economic times, there's a tendency to emphasize function as much as beauty. That's apparent at the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show going on this week in Las Vegas. 

Which certainly doesn't mean there's nothing to ooh and ahh about. And sinks are among the beautiful objects on the convention floor. The copper sink at left from Premier Copper Products is made by hand. The company also has a copper Japanese-style soaking tub, as well as fixtures and lights, made at its facility in Mexico.


For people who want their bathrooms to have a spa-like feel, Lenova's organic-looking stone sinks would be perfect. They seem to exude calm. Made from granite, marble, travertine and other materials, they're often free-form. In some, a second, smaller stone covers the drain, adding a note of remove from the modern world of plumbing. One sink is cut from a giant geode-like stone. (Those are Lenova sinks, above and below.)


Lenova is the company that also makes sinks of bamboo, and it has a sumptuous marble sink it showed in a square shape but that can be cut in lengths up to 5 feet.

On the practical side, a few companies offered a solution to a common problem -- the drips and goop that gather on the floor under the kitchen sink. Hafele, a high-end company with U.S. headquarters in North Carolina, showed off a polystyrene dimpled mat that goes under the sink and can collect up to a gallon of water in the dimples. Keep reading for more details on the idea ...

Continue reading »

Kitchen & Bath Industry Show: Steel, glass and other materials for countertop, backsplash


There are a gazillion choices for countertops in the kitchen -- concrete and granite, quartz and marble, and many more. At the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show this week in Las Vegas, many beautiful choices are on display. One that's less common: a glass counter, above, from ThinkGlass.


The counter material above is made of quartz, from HanStone Quartz. Models in front of three slabs of the product were reminiscent of the Chinese artist Liu Bolin, who hides in plain sight in his work.

HanStone product designer Lisa Herreth said the idea was "to bring the surfaces to life." The models stood nearly still all day, and the muscles in their thighs were a testament to what hard work that is.

The three colors are among the 49 the company offers. At the show, 12 more were on display for attendees to assess. Afterward, the company will choose up to five of them to add to the collection, said Herreth, who is based in Atlanta. The 12 include navy and plum tones, trend colors this year.

Two colors -- Home Brew and Amber Frost -- contain 20% recycled glass from beer bottles, she said.

For people who want to personalize their kitchen to the nth degree, Lasertron builds stainless steel backsplashes or cupboard doors to order, with etched designs. The pieces can be as big as 4 feet by 8 feet. The price is $55 to $100 per square foot, depending on the design. They also can be used on outdoor barbecues.

Although the dignified design below is more common, Gary Geller, president of the company, said people can use a photo of their dog or whatever their heart desires.

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," he noted Wednesday.


-- Mary MacVean in Las Vegas

Upper photo credit: ThinkGlass

Middle photo credit: Isaac Brekken / For The Times

Lower photo credit: Lasertron


The ultimate in chewable ice

Early report from the kitchen and bath show

Kitchen and bath show: Chewable ice like Sonic's, a mirror with a built-in TV

Kbis 002

The Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, in Las Vegas this week, is full of such functional items as hardware, cabinets and sinks. But there are also some grownup toys.

At left is the Electric Mirror, shown at the event. What's so special is that it's not only a medicine cabinet but also a TV. An ultra-thin 15-inch HDTV is inside -- and it operates with a waterproof remote.

I had to wonder if it might be really easy to cut oneself shaving when a distracting scene is on the screen.

Then there were the ice makers. And among people who like to chew on ice, the Sonic fast-food eateries have a certain reputation. Their drinks come with comparatively soft ice, which lends itself to chomping. Scotsman Ice Systems is making a machine that produces similar ice for homes.

OK, this is definitely a discretionary item, but it's fun. All over the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show on Tuesday, people carried plastic cups of ice, and Scotsman's booth was often crowded.

The Vernon Hills, Ill., company's Brilliance ice maker looks like a narrow, slightly taller version of a dorm-room refrigerator. The ice, which it calls nugget ice, has been available since the 1980s in restaurants. "Soft" ice? The company says the ice is made of bits of compacted ice.

But, for about $2,900, a home version will be available in June that Scotsman says can be placed indoors or out. It makes about 80 pounds of ice a day.


First impressions from the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show

-- Mary MacVean in Las Vegas

Photo: Mary MacVean / Los Angeles Times



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