Natural materials and simple, straight lines contribute to the overall calm-factor of this primary bathroom in Los Angeles’s South Bay. The homeowners had renovated both their kitchen and children’s bathroom already, but because the primary bathroom was newer at the time of purchase, they felt they could wait awhile before making any updates. “But,” interior designer Brooke Abcarian says, “they always wanted to make the primary bathroom more modern, and more in their personal aesthetic.”

The clients had a vision in mind—nearly ten years in the making—before reaching out to Brooke’s firm, Carian Design. “They really wanted it be a peaceful, organized space that they’d look forward to using,” Brooke says. “They wanted to get rid of some items they had accumulated over time and just start fresh. They wanted it to feel high-end, use natural materials, and clean lines.”

However, the most important element was to have a continuous space for showering and bathing. The couple has strong familial ties to Taiwan—both having been born there, while she was raised in Australia and he in the South Bay. “We had a lot of experience with the Taiwanese culture, where the Japanese ‘Onsen’ ritual is very popular,” the homeowner explains. “It is a must-do ritual whenever we are in Taiwan or Japan.”

“Bathing is a longer process than is typical here in the US, and therefore the sanctuary-like bathroom design was top priority,” Brooke explains. “People will often shower first to actually get clean but then soak in the tub afterwards. It’s a time to just unwind.” 

The layout of the room was the biggest challenge. “We changed it around a few times,” Brooke admits. They took square footage from the adjacent closet and found the perfect placement for the shower and tub. “Then, once we thought we had settled on a layout, the general contractor told us that it would require a lot more time and money in the construction budget because of having to add a structural beam,” Brooke recalls. “We ended up going back to the layout the GC had originally suggested…and yes, he did say ‘I told you so.’”

Details brought the design together. A skylight was added to the shower to bring in more natural light, which reflects beautifully on the bold marble. The walls were painted in Benjamin Moore’s White Dove. The backsplash tile is from Fireclay (Daisy in a 1″x4” mosaic), the floor tile is honed marble from Tilebar, the shower floor is a honed Calcatta Viola penny round from Country Floors, and all plumbing fixtures and cabinet hardware are by Brizo. As the perfect finishing touch, the shower bench was crafted in hinoki wood from Japan. The material is naturally antifungal and is considered sacred in the Shinto religion with cleansing and purifying properties. “When it’s immersed in hot water, the wood’s earthy scent is activated so the whole space smells good,” Brooke says. 

The homeowners agree that the renovation was worth the wait. “This bathroom transformation went from a room where we did not want to dwell in, into a sanctuary where the morning light made it the perfect environment to start a calming day, and the perfect environment to wind down and wash away all the stresses of the day,” they say. “The mental health benefits from this bathroom are priceless.”