Q: I need some cool ideas for a new master bath I'm planning for my husband. We're renovating. I've engaged a professional bath designer, but I want to meet her armed with some ideas. What can you suggest?
A: First, fasten your seatbelt: The 21st-century bath has become the most active, innovative and exciting room in the house!
Why? Credit our universal interest in health and fitness, and our collective enchantment with our most liquid asset: water. As a result, the design world is high on H2O — as both an essential element and a creative medium. Tubs, faucets and even toilets have become sculptural works of art, and the bath, once a place of personal privacy, is now a social center, complete with such living room-like amenities as comfortable seating and special light fixtures.
Bath design has also undergone a dramatic technological upgrade. New technology and new materials offer new freedoms for modern designers, whose tool chests now include such wonders as ceramic tiles that glow in the dark, LED lamps (bulbs) that can be built into cabinets, and faucets, showerheads and other plumbing fixtures that bring out the sheer beauty — and pleasure — of water.
In the high, wide and handsome bath we show here, California designer Katrina Stumbos (fourdsigninc.com) took Brizo's new "Sotria" faucets as her inspiration for a room that's sleek and cool, but not cold, thanks to her use of familiar materials. The wood vanity, wood-look ceramic tiles, and glass are familiar, yes, but used in surprising new ways, like that large pane of tempered glass that sets off the shower in a single, brilliant stroke.
Brizo, by the way, has raised the style bar in the faucet industry, infusing its fixtures with high-fashion ideas, first with apparel designer Jason Wu (who often dresses the first lady), now tapping talents like Stumbos'. See more at www.brizo.com.
More for your design research: Check out other out-there manufacturers that are upping the ante on fashion-forward bath fixtures: from Germany's Black Forest, Duravit offers the latest ideas of the slightly mad French architect Philippe Starck (duravit.com). And from the U.S., American Standard is marking its l5th decade with a totally new division, DXV (get it?), which fast-forwards bath design from the l9th century to tomorrow (DXV.com).
Q: We're new homeowners, so now I have a big file of legal stuff we need to keep forever. Which do you recommend: a safe deposit box at the bank or buying a safe for the home?
A: Personally, I've always rented a box at the bank for vitals, like the deed to my house. But at a recent home media event, I received an instant update on how global warming now threatens home safety: With the dramatic uptick in tornados, hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters, it's making more and more sense to protect such valuables at home.
Who else would so raise my consciousness but the ambassadors from Sentry Safe, the Rochester, New York-based company that's been making home safes for three generations? Never mind if you don't have diamonds to store: For under $100 you can protect whatever is priceless in your life, from wedding photos to baby's first shoe. Added bonus: a better night's sleep.
Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Manhattan Style" and six other books on interior design. To find out more about Rose Bennett Gilbert and read features by Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website and www.creators.com.