Bathroom Renovation by Moto Designshop

  • Meg

    I really like this project. The size and organisation mean that there’s adequate drying off space, there’s good storage in the shower and in the vanity. The only thing that’s missing is drying towels.

  • James Scott

    Hi Adam,

    What a terrific project, I’m sure most of us can visualize living in this space and being part of it. John is doing a great job opening up the minds of home owners such as myself and connecting us with the ideas of many talented people such as yourself and the many posters to this site. Thank you for allowing John to showcase your work.

    Most of us approach a renovation by looking at the floor plan and the fixtures, hoping all will fit together. How have you been able to develop a more multi-dimensional approach to your work to allow address from all perspectives?

    Thank you again.

    James Scott

    P.S. Go to Youtube and type in ‘John Brown Slow Home’. I found a treasure trove of interviews the John did with other designers and architects. They are so interesting I almost missed the NHL playoffs.

  • Brad W

    Adam – a beautiful bathroom, the combination of the materials is outstanding.

    What was the inspiration for this design?

  • Adam Montalbano

    Good morning to everyone! I’ll start out with a little history on the project and then follow up with answering some questions/comments after i get back from a quick meeting. Speak with you all shortly!

    Our office received a call from the client to renovate just their master bathroom. We were initially skeptical about the project due to its small scale, however we invited the client to our office for a meeting to learn more. Once we started discussing the project and had a better understanding of the client, we realized this is a couple we must work with. The young couple had bought the house a few months earlier and was planning to move down from the New York area a few months later. We could tell they were very forward in their thinking and really understood the benefits of good design & planning. They did not limit them selves by a particular budget, but knew when to spend a little more or less in order to strike the balance they were looking for…this was to be their private sanctuary in the house. The clients extended a level of trust and design freedom allowing us to propose several concepts with various levels of intervention. The final scheme focused on creating a spatially open room using various materials and objects to differentiate space.

  • Doug Roberts

    Hi Adam

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us on this exceptional project. What particularly strikes me is the simplicity, elegance and functionality of the shower area. I love the barrier-free design and the fact that there is almost no glass to try to keep clean. In fact, cleaning the shower would appear to involve little more than wiping the teak floor grate and putting the shower curtain in the washing machine periodically.

    My only question relates to the choice of rosewood for the vanity. While beautiful as a stand-alone piece, it doesn’t exactly tie in with the rest of the wood in the bathroom, which all appears to be teak. Was any consideration given to using teak for the vanity as well, or were the homeowners intent on making the vanity stand apart from the rest of the bathroom?

  • Louis Pereira

    Good Day Adam – Thanks for taking time out of your busy day to discuss this project.

    I love the design and found it very interesting that you were able to confidently assimilate multiple finishes into a small space. Details i particularly appreciated were the barrier-free shower and the subtle demarcation in the floor and wall surfaces.

    I also noted in the Floor Plan, the existing and adjacent (wood-burning?) fireplace, which distends along the teak bench and shower. Was the intent here to provide thermal warmth to those areas, if at all possible?…


    Louis (

  • Adam Montalbano

    Thank you all for your questions and comments. I’ll try to remark on each one throughout the day.

    The client really wanted an open shower that didn’t break up the room. This was a little difficult functionally in dealing with the wet/splash area so we pitched the entire bath just slightly to the integrated shower pan. They are barely visible but there are 2 small towel hooks on the wall to the right of the shower area…see attached image.

    Thank you for your kind words. I am with you that John is doing a terrific thing here. I think his comment about going past the flash of a project like this and really getting in there to see the organization of space was “on point”! Many people know when something feels right but have a hard time understanding why. John does a great job at explaining the why. Hats off to John!

    In this project, there was no separation in thinking between plan and material. The delineation of the spaces were directly related to the material quality and how they could be used to work off each other. The real challenge was how to define spaces without using walls.

    Brad W:
    In a way, the client was the real inspiration for this project. We had some terrific discussions about openness and a quality/feel to the space that they wanted to achieve, so if we created this bath without the client it would have turned out quite different. I think a good project reflects the level of trust and understanding between client & architect.

    Doug Roberts:
    Let me answer this by talking about material palate and area definition. The rosewood vanity and glass tiled was intended to be a piece that caught the eye while the rest of the bath was a little more subtle. The rosewood provides contrast while the glass tile provides a bit of a different reflective light quality to the floor which reflects a diffused light. This helped to set the sink area apart from the rest of the room. The overall palate of materials accentuates coordination of color & texture. The Teak used through out is Figured Teak, which has a dark grain pattern which is very close to the rosewood. The bench has inlayed rosewood to match the vanity. The tile around the toilet is a mosaic of green, blue, beige and brown which tie all the colors & materials together. You will also notice a 4 scales to the tile (large 2′x2′ floor tile, the 4″x8″ glass wall tile, the 1.5″x8″ stone wall tile, & the tiny mosaic tile) which also help to define the space.

    John Brown:
    The plywood you see at the beginning of the video was a temporary fix they made to cover an old window that had some issues. They knew they were going to renovate so it was a quick fix until they did.

    Ok…I’ll check in again later! Thanks again to everyone for your comments!


  • Adam Montalbano

    No this was an existing condition from 2 stacked fireplaces in the house. 1 on the first floor and 1 in the adjacent master bedroom. Both are working. One of our proposed schemes modified the fireplace opening to face the bath as well and create a soaking tub adjacent to it. Ultimately this was abandoned to maintain the openness of the space.

  • Terri

    Hello Adam,

    I noticed this bathroom in the Slow Home project catalogue yesterday and was immediately drawn to it–probably because of the tub–but I admired more the toilet cubicle (perfect height for the pony wall) with the extension of wood inset in the floor to further delineate the areas of the room. Beautifully simple, open and light room. The placement of each element is very well planned, as well as the allowance of light flow through the space and into the hall/closet area.

    Seeing the previous bathroom photo and floorplan was informative too. John pointed out that part of the previous walk-in closet was “taken away” from the bathroom. I’m curious what room got that space on the other side of the room.

    Thanks for your input to our discussion.

  • Paul C

    Thanks so much for being available. Great project. I like the simplicity of the shower. I am curious to know if there is much if any runoff from the shower base given that the grate is flush with the tile. I notice that the shower curtain is just off the floor slightly which helps to minimize splashing. A lot of techniques used very well to expand the sense of openness. Such as, the removal of most walls, floating vanity, large pattern floor tiles, singular wall finish, free standing tub and an open shower. Great job. Thanks again for sharing Adam.

  • Paul C

    I see that me run-off question was answered in a previous post.
    Wow, I need to type faster I guess…

  • Christopher Rawlins Architect

    Adam was my student at Lehigh University and I have followed the work of he and his design partner Roman Torres over the years. They are terrific guys and, as you can see, their work is poised and confident. Hire them!

  • Robert T

    Nice detail in this bathroom. I immediately liked the closet configuration very much.

    I do think the shower area, ringed by the curtain, appears too small. I prefer a bit more room to move around.

    The rolling door is very elegant but I think I would prefer something that seals better and also has a lock. Even though this bathroom is the couple’s own sanctuary, there are times when a person wants their own private time.

  • Brad W

    Adam – I am curious about the window above the tub. I notice no view is provided when using the tub. What were your considerations regarding its size?

  • Adam Montalbano

    The closet area used to be a hallway with a long vanity/sink with a small walk in closet at the end which was opened up to get the long line of wardrobe space. If you were to break through the wall at the end, you would be into the adjacent hallway closet, which we considered but in the end, this provided the client with enough storage space.

    Thanks for the kind words! You’ve been a great influence over the years for us!

    Yes, there is a bit of a trade off in the shower. With the curtain deployed it would serve only 1 person. The client uses the curtain occasionally, mostly for warmth, if the air is a little cold. The sliding door is as you mentioned not locking or sealed the way a traditional door would be. We examined a few options there and in the end, the client didn’t need such a secure level of privacy.

  • Anonymous

    This is not about this particular project, although I do love it, particularly the shower.

    There is an amazing house in Japan designed by Sou Fujimoto. This post was on a blog I read, but I would love more information, and thought that you would love the openness of it.

  • Adam Montalbano

    Yes, I’ve seen that project and it is stunning. We are admirers and influenced by many Japanese architects…particularly Tezuka Architects.

  • James Scott

    Hey Adam,

    I know it may be late in the day, but what are some of the other inspirations and influences that drive you and your team?

  • Doug

    I think I missed the comment boat, but I hope to get a comment or two, perhaps from John if he has time. It would be great to get Adams comment, but I may be too late. I love the design, ascetically its beautiful, but I think it has some challenges functionally. The shower itself appears to be two feet in total width, that quite tight, the curtan that cant be nice to use in that small space. Cleaning a curtan is not as easy as glass. The other concern is having water on the floor after every shower. The floor does not appear to be sloped and that curtan wont contain it particularly after its been hit by an elbow. Assuming my observations are accurate it begs the question of the balance between function and design. Fantastic design my come at the cost of function, where does a good slow home balance this?

  • Anonymous

    Good evening,
    I also need to add that this renovation is great.
    John is absolutely correct in stating that expensive finishes do not automatically make a well designed bath.
    If we were to strip this bath to its bare elements we see that its design is still strong. The configuration is clearly both functionally and aesthetically driven. The finishes are not mere icing on the cake- they add a great warmth and textural quality that properly elevate and balance the pristine cleanliness of the space. I see that the grout lines are also aligned nicely among the fixtures. The tile is not arbitrarily rolled out by any means.
    I think that the shower concerns may not be an issue. As John described, there’s the left zone for bath, shower, and bench, and the right for sink and toilet. It looks that it’s location allows for the floor area to be wet outside of the curtain, without interferring with someone who needs to use the toilet or sink. And hey, if they want, the client may have an assistant to wipe it dry!
    I do have a question- what tile is surrounding the toilet?

  • Oscar B. Morales

    I have enjoyed all of your posts immensely, but do have an issue with the location of the water closet in this bathroom.

    Although this is an en suite situation there is still a certain amount of privacy that exists or should exist. I feel that the shower area could have been swapped with the location of the w. c. and the design could have still worked and still maintain the integrity of the “ordinance” (datum lines) that are so strong in this design.

    Other wise, I love the quality of the space.