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The Spa Moves In-House

The Haute Hamptons Bathroom is all About Wellness

Eco-Lapistone Tub from Perlato that is a molded stone composite and 100% recyclable.

The bath has a long and rich history dating back to 3300 BC ranging from a sacred religious ritual to the scene of a crime. Whether it was filled with the milk, honey and sandalwood oil credited for Cleopatra’s beauty or prohibition gin, its mystical powers are legendary. Images range from the ancient roman baths as the place of socializing, business, and illicit sex to the nearly one million dollar 18-karat gold tub at the Kominato Hotel in Japan that was stolen by thieves in 2007. The world’s most expensive bathtub, Le Grand Queen, comes in at a cool $1,700,000. Designed by Simon Krapf the tub is made from caijou, 180-million-year-old petrified wood known for its healing properties. 

While a luxurious primary bathroom has been a key selling point for Hamptons homes, the pandemic has created even more demand to bring the spa experience in-house. Alicia Murphy of Alicia Murphy Design who founded her Amagansett-based firm in 2014 states, “With everything going on in the world clients want something calming. The biggest change that I’ve noticed is that people are creating their own ecosystem within the home. People are adding these upgrades to their house which is fun to design.” These elements can range from steam showers to infrared saunas to chromotherapy tubs. While it might not reach the million-dollar mark, the architectural freestanding tub is the jewel in the Hamptons luxury bathroom crown. Murphy’s favorite is the Waterworks Clothilde freestanding oval copper tub. “It’s next level,” Murphy says. But for those not up for the $57,000 price tag, Murphy was able to create a similar custom look for her clients using a firm in Tennessee. 

The high-end shower is not to be forgotten with Murphy’s choice of a Dornbracht Rain Sky M overhead rain-shower which sits flush in the ceiling for $15,000 with separate spray areas for head spray, body spray and rain curtain with precise temperature regulation and atmospheric light. With supply chain issues designers face new challenges. Murphy notes, “It’s not just one but four or five selections for design elements with the client. It’s much more complicated for designers because you are reselecting in rooms that are finely tuned.” Her key to success in this environment? “Stay positive and be able to pivot.”

Robert Bakes of Bakes & Kropp Fine Cabinetry is rising to the moment. “There’s a clear trend towards ultra-luxury bathrooms with some as large as medium sized kitchens. In design we are very centered around the cabinetry which is our forte and creates a real richness. Walnut is such a soft looking material and when we add a light stain, it has a real delicate feel about it.” These are not only custom statement pieces but key for storage with details like charging stations in drawers and plug in hair drying stations. Bakes also delivers high tech where a flick of a switch turns a mirror into a TV or privacy glass from clear to frosted. Especially with more time spent at home, Bakes sees the master bath as a destination. “Clients can get everything they want from a single room right off the bedroom that can even include a coffee/bar area.” 

For designer Anna Cléjan of Modern NetZero which focuses on conscious luxury living, the haute Hamptons bathroom is all about wellness. The building and design firm focuses on energy efficient, comfortable homes connected to the natural landscape. “One of the best things is a large soaking tub which is about wellness and ritual and the importance of detoxing,” says Cléjan. “Having a big window in the shower also brings that feeling of indoor/outdoor to incorporate nature.” They often include an actual outdoor shower off the primary bath with room for a massage table to create the spa-like experience. Serenity is also reflected in color choices. “I like the tones to be muted and natural to mimic the outdoors. Nothing too new or shiny or fake.” And while heated floors are all the rage, by the nature of their energy efficiency she comments, “Our houses are so well insulated and with geothermal heat that our bathroom floors are never cold.” 

Not to be left behind in the smart home movement, the luxe Hamptons bathroom is fully connected. Mirror, mirror on the wall takes on whole new meaning with not only auto defogging but a built-in display letting you know the time, weather, news, appointments or even make up tips. And with the Kohler Numi 2.0 for $7,000 the toilet operates with voice commands for heated seats, lighting, open lid and close as well as Amazon Alexa so you can even order TP from the loo. 

Jacquelyn McGuire of By Jacquelyn Design works not only on the building side but in the art of refreshing existing space. “Without going for a full renovation, you can bring in new rugs and towels and accessories to make the bathroom feel more spa-like. Adding new hardware such as brass Waterworks faucets or wallpaper or even new light fixtures revitalizes the space.” She adds, “People are at home even more and things pile up so getting organized is key to the bathroom design.” In term of the color scheme McGuire comments. “For bathroom design the bright white will always be there as it’s crisp and clean but I’m seeing more brown and neutral tones. Natural wood, or even dark greens make it separate from the house and gives a warm feeling.”

Cynthia Walker of CLW Interiors who has worked on both coasts and can make a bathroom shine whether it is a pool house or a magnificent master, comments, “Some of what we are putting into high end homes we have used for some time. It’s not about trend but about quality and longevity. In the end it is about the client’s needs and personality. Our goal is to design spaces that bring a sense of calm and connection to nature.” Walker finds that health consciousness is a priority and uses items such as EPA registered paints, high tech toilets with no need for hands or TP, and the Eco-Lapistone Tub from Perlato that is a molded stone composite which is 100% recyclable, 30% lighter and naturally antibacterial as well as retaining heat longer. “We also look for materials and elements from nature that reflect the local ecology/geology to create a distinct sense of place.” For Walker it is all about the statement piece whether it is the freestanding tub or light fixture that hangs like art, uniquely elegant hardware from Samuel Heath, Brizo Faucets from Delta Faucets or antique textured tile hand-picked for maximum impact.

Anna Cléjan Designer-Image Modern NetZero. Photo: Lena Yaremenko

So whether it is futuristic talking toilets or ancient essential oil baths, the Hamptons bathroom is the ultimate in luxury, even if it isn’t made of gold.