Balancing Act

A master bath combines natural materials and modern luxury

Balancing Act SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

The master bath designer Jana Abel created in a Mid-Century-Modern Bethesda home looks nothing like its predecessor, which still had its original Formica counters intact when she gutted it. During the renovation, says Abel, principal of J. Abel Interiors, the goal was to design a spa-like retreat balancing natural materials with modern luxuries and technology.

Abel used the space wisely. To preserve a wall of windows, she placed the shower and tub along other perimeter walls. As a focal point, she designed a floating, back-to-back his and hers vanity. Its walnut drawers conceal toiletries and electrical outlets and are sheathed in a marble surround.

Organic materials, from the wall tiles from Ann Sacks to the lava stone floors, pay homage to nature. Meanwhile, automated features abound. One TV is built into the shower while another is mounted opposite the bath. The shower is equipped with steam, dual showerheads and multiple body sprays; a ceiling-mounted showerhead rains into the oversized air-jet tub. 

Every dimension, says Abel, was carefully calculated to make the project a success—down to how the wall of mosaics meets the marble slab in the shower. But behind all the precision, the designer celebrates the room’s natural elements, including the handmade wall tiles—no two of which are alike. “Their imperfections,” she says, “are what make it beautiful.” 

INTERIOR DESIGN: JANA ABEL, IIDA, J. Abel Interiors, Ltd. Potomac, Maryland.

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