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Clean it up: How to make a small bathroom feel luxurious

bathroom remodel
Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
A newly remodeled bathroom features two sinks, “floating” cabinets and a mosaic wall of tiles in the shower. The shower is wheelchair accessible because it’s curbless, and the clear glass makes the room feel bright and spacious.

When Caryn Wiseman steps into the master bath in the Mountain View home she shares with husband Ben, she said she feels like she’s in a “high-end hotel.”

This is thanks to the expertise of Los Altos interior designer Sherry Scott, Cassalto’s vice president of design, who’s responsible for the bathroom’s new look.

Despite being remodeled some years ago, the small master bath in the Wisemans’ mid-’60s rancher was in need of what Scott called a “functional and aesthetic upgrade.”

“The children are grown and we just decided it was time to make some improvements,” said Wiseman, who is not alone in wanting to upgrade.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, bathrooms top the list of home improvement projects and provide some of the highest resale returns.

At the start of the project, Wiseman made a wish list.

“I wanted more light and more storage, and I wanted it to look elegant,” she said. “Sherry listened to me and elevated my tastes.”

According to Scott, design and functionality are paramount when working with a small space. So, she began by reconfiguring the bathroom, basically moving everything, including the door. Her objectives: more counter space, a second sink, more storage space and upgraded lighting.

The toilet now faces a new direction, the single-sink vanity was replaced by a new shower and the old shower was replaced by a dual-sink vanity and storage cabinet, fully utilizing wall space.

Elegant elements

Here’s a look at some of the features that might be helpful to homeowners looking to remodel a bathroom.

“Floating” cabinet installations allow for easier cleaning of the floors and visually expand the space. There are no handles, offering a sleek appearance. As Scott said, “There’s nothing to bump into and they’re ergonomically helpful because the disposition of a hand can open a drawer. No fingers involved.”

The vanity cabinet is comprised only of drawers, with storage space around the plumbing, so space is maximized. The drawers extend fully and close softly.

The custom cabinets were manufactured locally by Cassalto. The material, which has a thermo-structured surface, has the appearance and texture of wood, but it is more resistant to scratches and is easy to wipe down. The vanity countertop is Silestone quartz.

A highly functional medicine cabinet is recessed into the mirror above each sink. Each contains integrated electrical outlets (no need to interrupt the backsplash with power outlets), a magnifying mirror and magnetic strip for items such as tweezers. And each is mirrored inside.

The shower is a work of art with its mosaic wall of vertically installed textured metallic glass tiles. But, more importantly, it is curbless because of the linear drains. This not only allows the space to appear larger and more elegant, but also provides access for wheelchair users.

Schluter strips edge the shower bench, which give it a clean look. There are two shower heads, one of which is a rain shower.

The plumbing fixtures (toilet, faucets, shower heads) are all CALGreen compliant. The faucet levers have knurled or textured detailing, making them easy to grip, even with wet hands.

Overhead recessed LED lights in the shower ceiling and bathroom are wet-listed (wet-rated). Vertical LED fixtures on each side of the vanity sinks provide cross-illumination, thereby eliminating shadows under a person’s eyes (for applying makeup) or under a person’s nose (for shaving). A supplemental LED wall sconce above the toilet is accented with walnut to harmonize with the warm tones of the vanity. All of the lighting is California Title 24 compliant.

The “commercial” wall covering is easy to wash, flame resistant and protects the walls from absorbing moisture.

“It adds texture and light movement in a subtle way,” said Scott, who is known for making spaces functional as well as beautiful.

She earned a degree in interior design from the Art Institute of Philadelphia, is the recipient of seven ASID awards and has been featured on two HGTV shows. She has more than 25 years of experience in commercial design, residential interior design and furniture design.

This background serves her well at Cassalto, named in part for her and partner Steve Crain. The  “Ca” is for California, “s” for Sherry, “s” for Steve and “alto,” Spanish for “high” or “top” – apropos because of the high quality of their modern cabinets and furnishings.

Cassalto is located at 169 Main St. For more information, visit

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