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a taste for the exotic

From Habitat magazine - issue 22

Rich timber and moody colour gives this ensuite a soulful aura.

Ensuite slatted timber walls
The impressive shower area with its slatted timber walls is a centrepiece of the bathroom.

Good often comes from bad, and this serenely decadent ensuite is a great example. The unpleasant discovery of extensive but hidden damage caused by a slow-leaking pipe, led homeowners Fraser and Sandy Gillies to virtually gut the room and start again.

The result is a space with a zen-like peacefulness that would look at home in a Pacific Island resort. As Fraser, an architectural designer, says: "So many bathrooms have a standard look, and lack atmosphere. We wanted this bathroom to reflect our personalities."

The layout of the room didn't need to change much. The vanity, painted in Resene Black Sheep, was retained but given a new top made out of floor tiles. The round top-mounted basin has an almost ceremonial feel. The vanity is set into a bay window with glass on three sides. Above the basin, a mirror actually slides to one side, to connect through a slatted panel to the spa pool outside, while a door to the right of the vanity leads out to the deck and spa.

But the centrepiece of the room is the shower; it's now more like a timber sculpture, clad in macrocarpa slats stained in Resene Colorwood Mahogany Says Fraser: "I wanted to create a sense of enclosure in the shower, to feel sheltered and protected. It's the antithesis of glass."

Timber ensuite
The ‘lightbox’ wall shelf echoes the style of the shower with its slatted timber frame, finished in Resene Mahogany stain from the Resene Colorwood range.

It's a look that was very labour intensive to achieve. First, the showerbox was formed out of water-proof sheeting, with battens added to the outside. This was painted in Resene All Black, then the battens were carefully measured, cut and pre-fitted to ensure they lined up at the corners. Each timber slat was stained with Resene Colorwood Mahogany then finished in three coats of protective Resene Aquaclear on all sides. The slats were then re-installed. Sandy and Fraser prepared the slats themselves. It was a labour of love but well worth the effort, they say.

Mosaic tile shower
Ensuite decorations
The interior of the shower is finished in narrow mosaic tiles from Jacobsen.

A long slatted box shelf, dubbed the 'lightbox' by the couple, sits on the opposite wall to the shower and was equally tricky to make. Inset with LED lights and a reflective stainless steel back, it appears almost see-through.

Walls in Resene Black White are a quiet counterpoint to the rich timber slats, and the original plywood 'wing' that hovers above the vanity and hides an ugly bulkhead. The inside of the shower is finished in rectangular mosaic tiles that are reminiscent of bamboo, and the opening of the shower is set near the main bathroom door, rather than at the other end. The ensuite is part of a master bedroom wing, where a glazed-roofed hall painted in Resene Cougar and Resene Double Mondo runs between the bedroom and the ensuite. Light shafts through the hall roof, through the frosted glass of the main bathroom door and into the shower to create a relaxing, mystical effect.

The view of the shower from the master bedroom is of an elegant slatted wall that appears to be free-standing. Add some tribal masks, a potted orchid and exotic sea-shells, and it's hard to believe this is suburban Auckland.

Did you know... You can rejuvenate old timber or add colour to new timber with Resene Colorwood wood stain, while still allowing the beauty of the grain to show through?

Accessories: Designer: Fraser Gillies, Lines Design Ltd, ph 0274 764 372.

words: Sharon Newey
pictures: Frances Oliver

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