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a fresh start

From Habitat magazine - issue 15

A striking green wall echoes this home’s hillside bush setting.

With its fresh-toned wall of Resene Pacifika green and curvaceous bath taking its dress circle position in front of the window, this bathroom is now a haven for its Auckland owners.

Striking green bathroom wall
Bathroom vanity
Wall and bath: The Resene Pacifika wall and sculptural bath echo the owner’s love of resort-style interiors.  Vanity: The rosewood vanity is wall-hung to increase the feeling of space. Get the look with Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen tinted to Resene Pacifika and Resene Lustacryl tinted to Resene Black White on trims.

Unsure what to do with the small L-shaped bathroom of their 15-year-old house, Sarah and David Morton turned to friend and interior designer Liz Kerby. She suggested increasing the size of the room by incorporating part of an adjacent linen cupboard and embracing the house’s location on a slope of native bush adjoining a harbourside reserve by bringing some of that green inside. The colour also echoes Sarah and David’s love of the subtropical resort style.

Other walls and the ceiling in the room were kept neutral in Resene Black White, so as not to overpower the space. The only window in the room is small and tucked around the corner, and with the mix of subtropical and native bush outside, any light that does come in is quite diffuse and soft.

Another problem was that the bathroom could be seen as soon as visitors walked in the front door. When the room was increased in size, the door was relocated to deflect that sightline. Now, any glimpse is of the luscious green wall and a peek of curved bath.

The green wall highlights the outline of the bath in a way a neutral colour could never do. That bath has been a key component for the owners after Sarah spotted it at a local bathroomware showroom. “I had to have it,” she says. It was the sort of conviction necessary considering the lengths the couple had to go to. Their house has no drive-on access, just a timber boardwalk winding down to it amongst the trees from the road above. The heavy bath had to be carried down by about eight men, and the floor of the bathroom had to be reinforced to take its weight. “It’s not just the bath of course, but once you fill it with water and put my husband in it, it’s seriously heavy,” says Sarah.

The bath is positioned for a view of the treetops and sky outside the bathroom window. While these baths are often seen as centerpieces in large spaces, in this situation the free-standing bath makes this more compact space seem larger. A boxed-in bath would be much more visually and physically intrusive.

Liz used other visual devices to make the room appear more spacious, such as a wall-hung vanity, large floor tiles and a glass-walled shower. The toilet and glass-walled shower are tucked discretely behind the door. The shower is larger than normal with a normal showerhead as well as a rainhead.

The vanity is custom-made out of rosewood veneer with a top of black granite. The oval top-mounted basin echoes the shape of the bath, as does the simple mirror on the wall above. Liz chose an unusual ochre-coloured grout for the floor tiles to echo tones from outside the window, namely the rust-coloured undersides of the leaves from a large magnolia.

Says Sarah: “It’s a magical place, with the candles lit, a real haven.”

Did you know... Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen Kitchen & Bathroom and Resene Lustacryl Kitchen & Bathroom combine anti-bacterial silver protection and MoulDefender mould inhibitor, perfect for minimising unwanted nasties in kitchens, bathrooms and laundries.

Accessories: Ladder towel rail, from Kalessi Bathroomware. Orange Tunisian Cotton towel, wooden candlestick, from Republic Home. Designer: Liz Kerby, Workspace Design.

Mirror mirror

Although Sarah and Dave’s oval mirror looks great with this scheme, Sarah plans to replace it soon with something more decorative. These tips from Christchurch-based Trendy Mirrors could help:

  • For darker and smaller areas use a large mirror to add light and the perception of space.
  • To get an idea of the size and shape you need, cut a template out of newspaper to hold against the wall. For size symmetry, compare against the vanity width, window framing or shower height for alignment.
  • How high should a vanity mirror hang? Measure up from the basin 150-200mm and add sufficient height to accommodate all members of your household. Normally about 900-1000mm is enough.
  • For double basins, use two individual heated mirrors for a contemporary finish. If you want to increase natural lighting and the perception of space, one long mirror is best.
  • Shaped mirrors add character and balance, and are especially suited to a pedestal vanity and a bathroom with square lines.
  • Vertical side lights give the best light reflection and effect. For more information, see

words: Sharon Newey
pictures: Frances Oliver

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