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gulf coast special magazine



Why Stop at Function When a Bathroom Can Be Glamorous and Luxurious
By Katricia Lang

First and foremost a bathroom must be functional: solid plumbing, sufficient storage, counter space for the toothpaste. But it also can be so much more. It should be your favorite place to start and end your day, says designer Cindy Aplanalp-Yates, founder and principal designer of Chairma Design Group. She believes your bathroom should also make you feel good. It should excite you.

Designing a perfect bathroom depends on how the client wants to feel in the space. She considers whether or not they are a shower or tub person and how they use either. Are they an in-and-out person or is bathing and showering their leisurely pleasure? Better yet, are they looking for a place to enjoy a favorite book, glass of wine, and a deep soak?

Everyone has an ideal way of relaxing, says Aplanalp-Yates. Some of her clients even add a television to the bathroom. And some want to have more than just fun. They need a place to get dressed and check email. “Bathrooms tend to be sort of a work space for busy tech people and those who travel a lot, so we look at what can be easily and quickly accomplished in this multi-tasking space.”

Once she learns what a client wants, imagination takes over. In one remodel, Aplanalp-Yates outfitted the master bath with herringbone hardwood floors, fishtail mullion cabinet facing, a recessed vanity with mirrored doors, and gold hardware. She chose the herringbone pattern because of the way the wood grain intersects from plank to plank, creating movement in an unexpected way. “The tension tingles your mind and engages your senses.”

She took the same approach with the mosaic wall tiles in the bathroom. The floral pattern feels random, says the designer. She is also a fan of the multiple tones that add just as much texture as the rivershell, marble and limestone found in the tile. But there’s a practicality to her choices as well. Unlike wallpaper, the material is easy to clean and stands up to the heat and moisture from a steamy shower or hot bath. If used on the floor, the tiles are also slip-resistant due to the grout in between.

The grand dame of a bathroom remodel could be an Italian inspired multi-tiered chandelier with brass arms and finish, similar to the one she selected for this project. The exposed bulbs gave the fixture a slight edge, says Aplanalp, and choosing polished nickel or brass creates a contrast shine to matte tiling.

Aplanalp-Yates uses lighting to extend the design statement in the home. She and her team usually incorporate mounted sconces, always on their own dimmer, in conjunction with recessed LED lighting. And, whenever possible, they install a chandelier. “Even in a man's bath,” says Aplanalp-Yates. “Doing so elevates the space and gives it more personality and a feeling of 'specialness.' There is typically detail and grandeur in a master bath ceiling so this is the perfect way to extend the architectural design.”

In two projects — a 2017 Southern Living showcase home and a spacious Southern home in Bellaire — she made use of clerestory windows and stained glass windows. They added another layer of opulence. Both are as much at home in these modern bathrooms as they are in ancient Rome or a centuries old Gothic cathedral. And the natural light they pour into their respective rooms provides the warmth, comfort, and profundity found in the spiritual spaces that inspire them. Natural light is healthy and rejuvenating, a fundamental element that connects us to the energy of creation, says Aplanalp-Yates.

Each bathroom her company designs has an air of refinement. This is especially true in a tale of two bathrooms, one for the mother, the other for the daughter. For the mother, Aplanalp-Yates chose a leaf mosaic for the bathroom floor, bath and shower wall, and a vintage chandelier. For the daughter, she installed a glittering, chic chandelier. “[The daughter’s chandelier] is slightly formal, yet friendly which is in line with the client’s personality.”

Aplanalp-Yates credits this polish to her love of order. “I’m the kind of gal that makes my bed before I get into it,” she says with a laugh. “I make it all smooth and crisp.” But she also brings the sheen because the bathroom is a hardworking space. Life is chaotic. It can be messy. Her goal is to safely tuck away the clutter of life; for everything to have its place; to simultaneously elevate function and beauty.



Chairma Design Group
16535 Hollister
(by appointment)

Accent Cabinets
16535 Hollister
2024-A Airport, Conroe

Artistic Tile

Hudson Valley Lighting



Matt Powers Custom Homes
Traditionally Chic
8505 Technology Forest Place, The Woodlands

Morning Star Builders
Southern Living Showcase
12777 Jones Road

Stone Acorn Builders
Spacious Southern
5403 Bellaire Boulevard, Bellaire   

Houston Web Design Company