Contemporary clean lines gives this bathroom its timeless look and spa-like feel.
Contemporary clean lines gives this bathroom its timeless look and spa-like feel.
A soothing palette gives this master bathroom its spa-like feel.
"Balance" was the operative word when Sophie Burke and Jennifer Millar created the master bathroom in this new-build Vancouver house. The homeowners wanted the space to emulate an airy retreat – something spa-like but not too fussy. So the designers injected the room with traditional character and contemporary clean lines – a timeless combination showcased throughout the home, which the duo designed as well. They also incorporated equal amounts of sleek and textural elements and functional and decorative features for an interesting yet well-balanced result.
The vanity’s open shelves and extra counter space provide spots to place decorative items and bath-time essentials.
The free-standing bathtub is a sculptural, contemporary element. “It’s large enough to relax and bathe in, but it’s not so big that it overwhelms the space,” says one of the homeowners. The simple linen café curtains offer privacy while keeping the tops of the windows uncovered, allowing for pretty treetop views.
Steel-framed mirrors and simple sconces, which are actually picture lights, inject a retro-industrial vibe.
In lieu of the usual two sinks, designers Sophie Burke and Jennifer Millar used one oversized basin with two wall-mounted faucets. “The sink is shallow enough so that the top drawers of the vanity actually open,” says one of the homeowners. Wainscotting, created out of ceramic subway tiles that continue from the shower, offers texture and character. “We used dark grout and added a chair rail detail throughout, which contribute to the space’s vintage look.”
Forgoing a curb in the glass-enclosed shower, made possible by sloping the floor toward the drain, creates a streamlined feel. “We were able to do that because the house is a new construction,” says Sophie. This application also lets the herringbone marble-tiled floor run right through without being interrupted. “It’s a really nice detail,” she adds.
Buying guide: The truth about thread count
Is there anything better than sliding into a bed laden with good quality sheets? At the end of the day, I can't wait to stretch out under my fresh, soft covers and nestle my face into a good cotton-covered pillow. We spend a third of our lives in bed so quality sheets are key, but how do you get quality for your money? There's no doubt that most consumers believe the higher the thread count, the better the quality, but this isn't entirely true. With the help and expertise of Joanna Goodman, owner of Au Lit Fine Linens, we expose the truth about thread count and what it takes to find quality bed sheets.
What is thread count, really?
Simply put, thread count is the number of threads woven into one square inch of fabric. This number is based on the threads woven horizontally ("weft") and vertically ("warp"). Extra threads can also be woven into the weft threads to increase the thread count. These added threads are called "picks" and are added in the overall count, which is how some sheets end up having thread counts in the thousands. This is why the idea that high counts equal better quality isn't really accurate. Consider this: Joanna says most weavers will say the maximum number of threads that can be woven into one square inch of fabric is 500 to 600. Though the number is arguable and, according to Joanna, "depends on the mill you deal with," it gives you an idea of where the line is between single-ply, unpicked weaves and ones that add threads here and there to bump up the count.
What to look for when buying sheets
Joanna lists three things to look for on the label: if it's Egyptian cotton, where it's woven and, lastly, the thread count. While thread count is a bit misunderstood, the buzz around Egyptian cotton is true. "The very best cotton in the world is grown in Egypt. So Egyptian cotton will be of a better quality," Joanna says. She also recommends pima cotton, which is grown in America, "though not quite as exceptional as Egyptian." When it comes to weaving, however, she swears by the Italians as being the "master weavers of the world" due to their "long tradition of weaving" and use of the best Egyptian cotton. Be sure the label says 100% or pure Egyptian cotton though, otherwise it may only contain a small percentage of the good stuff. As for the thread count, look for a minimum of 200. From there, it's all about preference!
What to avoid when buying sheets
Joanna's one key piece of advice is to watch out for extremely low priced, high thread count sheet sets. A complete sheet set with a high thread count for $100 or less is probably not the dream bargain you think it is. As Joanna believes, "you always get what you pay for." The price tag for bed linens will vary depending on the sheet size and what items you're buying, such as a duvet cover, sheet sets, or pillowcases. "A superior quality 200 thread count queen set (including flat, fitted, two pillowcases), made of Egyptian cotton and woven in Europe, could retail reasonably for about $150-$250," says Joanna.
What do you prefer?
After going through the quality checklist, go with what feels best for you. If you're looking for a durable linen, Joanna recommends any percale from thread count 200 to 800. Percale is any cotton woven with a 200 thread count or higher and will be more durable than a cotton satin of the same thread count. It's also less likely to pill than cotton satin because it has a denser weave. Love the feel of a cotton button down shirt? Joanna advises a crisp, dense 200 thread count percale. Prefer a silkier sheet? Go for a 300 to 600 cotton satin. If you want lighter sheets, Joanna says, a 400 thread count sheet can be soft and light, while an 800 percale would be soft and dense. The higher the thread count, the more likely multiple-ply thread is used or picks are added, making the fabric denser and heavier.
Now you know that quality is not just about the number, so don't let numbers rule your bed! Remember what to look for on the label and be wary of too-low prices for supposedly high quality items. Beyond that, go with what you prefer. Get a good feel of the sheets before buying. Whether you're unzipping the packaging or lying down on a display bed, make sure the fabric feels good against your skin and soon you'll be having sweet dreams!
Find out how to keep your new linens crisp and clean with our tips to whiter-than-white sheets.
Unique holiday hostess gifts she will actually love
Chocolate and peppermint are a classic combination during the holidays and these bite-sized candies are a charming hostess gift to give this season. Each peppermint candy square encases a thin, bittersweet chocolate centre. Packaged in a square glass jar with a screw-top lid, this gift comes ready for giving! Chocolate-Filled Peppermint Snaps, Williams-Sonoma, $26.95.
Assuming the hostess you’re visiting also loves to cook, then she’ll love this simple and minimalistic piece, made with marble and mango wood. It will not only look wonderful on the table but will also ensure that she always has her favourite gourmet cooking and seasoning salts handy in the kitchen. Marble and Wood Salt Cellar, Indigo, $32.
Well, who doesn’t love heaven in a cup? This rich and decadent hot chocolate mix might not last all season long but it’s a pretty sure bet that it will be enjoyed down to the very last drop. And if you’re lucky, you might even be invited over to have a cup of this delectable dark chocolate delight! Deluxious Dark Hot Chocolate, Dean & Deluca, $19.
We love the idea of showing up with something totally unexpected and these wood and citrus coloured scoops are just that! They can be used to scoop ice cream, in candy jars or even to scoop bath salts. Whatever way she decides to put these pretty pieces to use, you can guarantee she’ll remember you every time she uses them. Chevron Scoop Set, Brika, $16.
You can’t go wrong with a pretty tea gift set. This lovely duo comes with an eight-ounce tin of pumpkin spice brulee tea and a white holiday contour tumbler. It’s the perfect gift to warm up cold winter nights. Winter White Tea Set, Teavana, $62.90.
Made with Meyer lemon essential oils, this hand soap and lotion duo will add a delightfully refreshing and revitalizing fragrance to the hostess’ kitchen. The hand soap is made with a blend of olive oil, aloe vera and glycerin and the nourishing hand lotion with natural shea butter and botanical oils. Hand Soap & Lotion Set with Caddy, Williams-Sonoma, $29.95.
These linen and cotton blend tea towels will add a pretty artistic flair to the hostess’ kitchen! Printed with dye, the colour is long-lasting and won’t fade. We love this abstract dot pattern and the pastel hues that will easily match many a kitchen colour palette. Watercolour Tea Towels, Yao Cheng Design on Etsy, $35.
These adorable stoneware plates are an Anthropologie exclusive and are a truly unique gift idea for a special hostess! There are 26 plates in this collection, each featuring a letter of the alphabet. Choose the hostess’ initials or those of her family members for a sweet and thoughtful gift she will always remember. Calligrapher Canape Plate, Anthropologie, $32 for set of 4.
At Christmastime, even a bottle of wine deserves to be dressed to impress! This pretty canvas wine tote is the perfect accessory for that bottle of wine you’re giving and the receiving hostess will be thrilled to have it on hand come New Year’s Eve! Gold Dot Wine Tote, Kate Spade, $20.
A bottle of wine might be a traditional gift but this set of two bottle stoppers is a winner for the wine lover! Each stopper (one round, one rectangular) can be monogrammed at an additional charge for a truly personalized gift. Bottle Stoppers, Pottery Barn, $29.
12 winter cleaning ideas
Get a head start on spring-cleaning