A polished Carrara marble floor features an inlaid chevron motif in Calacatta marble.
Santa-Cruz designed the arched entry to echo the window in the master bath.
The shower boasts a built-in marble bench.

Sexy Sanctuaries: Quiet Luxury

A modern twist gives a classic bath life

For working parents with two young children, the master bath in their hundred-year-old Chevy Chase home is an oasis of calm. Soft gray walls envelop them like a cashmere sweater as they unwind in the claw-foot tub or the marble-clad steam shower.

Things weren’t so serene before designer Nestor Santa-Cruz overhauled the space. A previous renovation had given the bath an awkward tub enclosure, outdated vanities and gold accents throughout. 

Santa-Cruz envisioned a plan that would embrace the home’s traditional architecture, but from a modern point of view. He first enclosed the once-exposed toilet inside a private water closet; it and the shower that faces it are now screened by frosted glass. The designer created an arched entry to echo the window already in place and defined the new tub with thicker walls and a dropped ceiling. “I wanted the room to look as if it had been done in the 1940s,” Santa-Cruz says, “and to have that sense of tradition.” However, elements such as the 1960s-style Poul Kjaerholm stool and the Art Deco-inspired sconces by Restoration Hardware add an eclectic touch to “help make sure that this isn’t a ‘period’ room.”

In a nod to Dior Gray, he painted the walls Farrow & Ball’s Skimming Stone. Well-crafted natural materials—including Carrara marble tiles and countertops, polished nickel accents and hand-blown pendants from Waterworks’ Henry collection—lend the bathroom a timeless quality. And the sense of calm is sublime. 

“It’s wonderful,” Santa-Cruz muses, “when you can have the opportunity to glorify a functional need and also feed the mental element of taking a bath.”

RENOVATION ARCHITECTURE & INTERIOR DESIGN: NESTOR SANTA-CRUZ, IIDA, LEED AP, Nestor Santa-Cruz Decoration, Washington, DC. CONTRACTOR: BETHESDA CONTRACTING, Chevy Chase, Maryland.