From the December/January 2013 Issue:

Growing Up

    Writer: Janet Purcell | Photographer: Wing Wong | Designer: Gwen Nagorsky, Professional Member ASID |

Inventive use of space and materials meets the changing needs at a Morris County home

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enlarge | A 36-by-33-inch shower with a curved front edge fits snugly into one corner. Nagorsky gained space by pushing the shower seat and vanity nook into attic space above the sloped living room ceiling below. She also created a coffer in found space above the eight-foot-high ceiling. A non-operable octagonal window brings in natural light.
As families transition from toddlers to tweens and beyond, so should their living spaces. Girls begin to wish for privacy, and they want their private place to be whimsical and cool. Boys may be more comfortable with something rustic, more guy-like.

That was the case for designer Gwen Nagorsky, whose clients wanted to turn a 5-foot-8-inch-by-5-foot-5-inch walk-in closet in their Morris County home into a bathroom for their 12-year-old daughter so she would no longer have to share with her two brothers.

Several builders said it couldn’t be done. But Nagorsky came up with a workable concept by expanding slightly in two directions. She removed a wall to take advantage of what had been a small slice of attic space that extended over the pitch of the living room ceiling. The closet was big enough for a toilet and small shower, and the additional space allowed Nagorsky to add a shower seat that’s positioned above the pitch of the living room ceiling. “The seat didn’t increase the footprint of the shower but added volume that makes the bathroom look three times its size,” says Nagorsky, a professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers and owner of Directions in Design Inc. in Long Valley.

Adds the homeowner: “Curved shower doors come together to open and close so there is not a bulky door opening into the room. This makes the space (seem) even larger when my daughter gets out of the shower. She has plenty of room to move around.”

Nagorsky also designed an alcove for a 48-inch-wide vanity in the former attic space. “The front edge of the vanity follows the edge of the former closet and then recesses into the former attic,” she says. By pushing into the attic space, the bathroom ended up measuring 6 feet 6 inches by 5 feet 6 inches.

The center of the bathroom ceiling was raised nine inches, visually expanding the space. “Gwen painted this inset ceiling lime green to match my daughter’s room and the walls pool blue, making the whole room appear bright and airy,” she says.

She also replaced the door from the bedroom with a sliding door and moved it slightly to allow room for a shelving unit for towels.

To make up for the lost closet space, Nagorsky added a reach-in closet on one side of the room and took an 18-inch strip from the adjoining master bedroom to create an alcove for a custom bed and additional built-in storage units on both sides. The homeowner says her daughter “loves sleeping in the little alcove with pillows surrounding her.”

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enlarge | A slate-and-beige palette and oil-rubbed bronze faucets and hardware give the boys’ bathroom a masculine feel. The full-width mirror is outlined in tumbled marble pencil-strip tile and a 3-inch tumbled marble and glass border. Diamond-shaped accents in the backsplash are inserted into the bottom row of 9-inch tiles that continue to the ceiling. The privacy partition is covered in 2-inch tiles.
Guy Time
When the family’s two sons, ages 9 and 15, wanted their bathroom brought up to date also, Nagorsky designed one to function better for growing boys. The new taller vanity fits their growing frames and allows space for more drawers; the double sinks also have been a blessing. “No one fights anymore about who has to share their sink!” the mother says.

A wall-mounted light above the vanity replaced soffit lights, recessed lights were added down the center of the ceiling, and a light was installed in the shower.

To give the room a clean and updated look, Nagorsky removed the soffit above the tub so the new tiles rise to the eight-foot ceiling and also chose a large mirror for over the vanity, both making the room look larger. The oak vanity ends at a privacy partition separating it from the toilet area, which is lined with the same 16-by-24-inch tile as used on the floor rather than the smaller tile behind the vanity.

Incorporated in the tub/shower design is a cubby to hold bath products. The cubby is actually a budget-friendly prefabricated fiberglass insert available in home improvement stores. It’s made to fit between studs, after which an installer tiles over the frame.

Such details turned a once adequate bathroom into one updated to suit the needs of a maturing family in a style that is open and welcoming to guests as well. “This bathroom reminds me of a spa, very calming,” the homeowner says. “Both jobs are exactly what we had hoped for—even more.”


Overall: design, Gwen Nagorsky of Directions in Design Inc. in Long Valley; contractor: R.K. Construction Inc. in Long Valley. Daughter’s Bathroom: sink, shower and sink fixtures, shower doors, medicine cabinets, Ferguson Appliance, Kitchen, Bath & Light Center in Rockaway; Diamond vanity doors, Tewksbury Kitchen and Bath in Oldwick; vanity top, Artistic Marble and Granite Surfaces in Hawthorne; mirror, Cutting Edge Glass in Rockaway; Daughter’s Bedroom: custom bed, J&R Custom Woodworking Inc. in Denville; wall poster,; lamp, Walmart; decal above bed, Dali Decals in Jacksonville,?Florida. Sons’ Bathroom: bath fixtures and hardware, vanity, shower sliders, vanity, vanity top and toilet wall sill, Ferguson Appliance, Kitchen, Bath & Light Center; mirror, Cutting Edge Glass; lighting, Circle Lighting in Somerville.

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