Design Experts

Inside design: Dee Dee Taylor Hannah

Inside design: Dee Dee Taylor Hannah Author: Style At Home

Design Experts

Inside design: Dee Dee Taylor Hannah

Dee Dee Taylor Hannah is a one-woman design force to be reckoned with. She is arguably one of Toronto's preeminent architects -- her company, Taylor Hannah Architect, designs everything from retail stores to lakeside cottages, leaving no drainpipe or doorknob unconsidered. She's also president and partner in Montclair Construction, a company she often uses to execute her painstaking plans. Finally, Dee Dee, who squeezes in cohosting HGTV's Love By Design, also lends her trademark timeless elegance to her clients' decorative schemes. It's quite a full life, but despite an enormous workload and ambitious expansion plans, she somehow manages to find time for a break, often in her own bathroom retreat. Who better, then, to inform us about the latest trends and how to translate them for our own bathrooms?

S@H: It seems that today we use bathrooms for more than just bathing -- they're more than mere utility rooms. Is that true?
DH:
They're used much more for recreation and relaxation. People are looking for restoration and family time. There's so much destruction in the outside world and so many threats to our serenity that we want to protect our families and our health. Bathrooms are a place of indulgence. We're seeing bathrooms made with more room to put a chair or an ottoman. There's a place to sit when you're watching the kids rather than perching on the edge of the bath or toilet. Or you have a glass of wine while your partner's in the bath. You steal away to the bathroom. It's a place of refuge.

S@H: How does this broader use change the look of a bathroom?
DH:
In architecture school we were taught that if you had a five- by eight-foot room, you could do a bathroom. Today, that would be considered very utilitarian. We want more space in our bathrooms. Bathtubs are also getting bigger so that families can bathe together. There are now Japanese soaking tubs available that are four feet around and very deep. There are air tubs that create a very sensuous experience with constantly percolating, bubbling water rather than the more direct jets of water in a Jacuzzi. Even showers are getting bigger. I just did one that had a rain shower coming down the middle and multiple jets positioned around the sides. It was big enough to have a bench in the stall so that you could have family shower time, if you wanted.S@H: What other trends are you seeing in bathroom decor?
DH:
There's a movement toward sculpture in bathrooms. I'll do glass or tile or even china sinks that sit on top of a counter. They're almost objects of art. And faucets are more beautiful -- you can choose from nickel, stainless steel and even chrome, which has such an interesting blue hue -- and they're wall-mounted to create sculptural lines. Walls can also be shaped and scalloped using mosaic tiles. Bathrooms have also become quite Zenlike. For countertops, I like to use concrete that has been crafted with impressions of leaves and pebbles; it looks beautiful and tranquil. Because bathroom countertops don't have to stand up to the same tests as kitchen countertops, they don't have to be so durable. That means you can experiment with really beautiful materials like limestone, onyx and marble.

S@H: Privacy is an important issue in bathrooms, which means window treatments are important, aren't they?
DH:
I always say that you have to choose window coverings that look good closed, because they'll rarely be opened in a bathroom. You don't want flowing, breezy things around sinks and toilets, so I usually go for tailored treatments. I like California shutters and pleated Roman blinds. Lately, to add interest to the windows, we've experimented with different fabrics for blinds. We've used terry-cloth banded with something really interesting, like beading or grosgrain ribbon. If you don't have a window in your bathroom, I'd even fake one using window treatments.

S@H: Is there a colour scheme that you prefer for bathrooms?
DH:
The sky's the limit, really. I often treat the bathroom as an extension of the bedroom, almost like a sitting room. So the palette can be anything. In a bathroom, I love naturals contrasted with colour, like chocolate brown and navy blue. Aqua is another one of my favourites. There's a great new tile made of resin that can be tinted almost any colour and that can create a really interesting, bright effect. The more inventive you are, the better.
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Inside design: Dee Dee Taylor Hannah