Nature Calls

How a master bath in Rhode Island got a feel of Florida.

Written by Haley Grant

When David and Janet Tasca decided to remodel their master bathroom, they knew they wanted to bring a piece of their Florida getaway to their home in Wakefield, Rhode Island. For interior designer and project manager Michelle Lee, this meant combining New England living with the coastal vibe that attracts her clients to Fort Lauderdale six months out of the year.

Lee’s creativity is inspired by the colors she finds in the outdoors. “I take my inspiration from nature, which always provides vibrant colors, whether I’m staring at a sunset, taking a walk through a garden of flowers or sitting on the beach looking at the ocean,” she says. This idea is behind the mantra for her award-winning company, Michelle Lee Designs: bringing color into your life. “Nature is not afraid to be bold with color, so I feel I shouldn’t be either,” she says.

Upon first meeting with the Tascas to observe their master bathroom, Lee had an extensive conversation with the couple to understand their preferred design style. “I’m not a designer that seeks to impose my own vision while disregarding the desires of my own client,” explains Lee. “I do research and provide them with photographs and options that work within their budget.” Only when the designer is certain of what her clients want does she move forward with the designs.

Lee found the original master bathroom in the Tascas’ condominium to be lacking color and functionality. She and her team approached the design layouts with the intent of transforming the dark and dated space into a coastal contemporary oasis. “Imagine you’re sitting on the beach looking at the water, the sand, the sky and the shells,” describes Lee. “That was my color palette inspiration for the Tascas’ master bathroom.” It turns out that infusing coastal colors and accents to transform the room’s ambiance was not the most demanding aspect of the remodeling process. The biggest challenge for Lee was relocating the toilet to create more space for a sit-down makeup area that Janet had always wanted.

To bring her clients’ dream to life, Lee and her team laid out two possible design options. The first layout called for moving the toilet from its original closet space and transforming that area into Janet’s makeup vanity. If the team could not move the toilet due to plumbing complications, the second option was to leave it in the closet and design the makeup vanity as a drop-down from the bathroom counter space. “Thankfully, and without any issues,” says the designer, “the plumber was able to relocate the toilet so we could go with the first option.”

Michelle Lee Designs is committed to creating spaces that reflect the unique lifestyle of its clients. As such, Lee’s design process entails substantial research to find the products that she believes will meet the desires of each client. “I do my best to ascertain my client’s taste and then come up with the best possible design to execute what my client imagines,” she says. To bring the Tascas’ vision to life, Lee consulted with Dana Breggia from Supply New England.

Lee and her team met with Breggia, who started by conducting a field measure before proceeding with the design layout. “This was when the space really started coming together,” says Lee. She and her team selected Cambria countertops, KraftMaid cabinetry, a Mr. Steam teak shower seat and the toilet, cabinets and Artifacts from Kohler. One of the most striking features in the remodeled room is the Lunada Bay glass tile in the shower, a material known for creating a shimmering effect, like sunshine reflecting on the water.

It was important to Lee that each material she selected embodied the coastal vibe her clients desired. “The accent tile for the back of the shower reminds me of a shell that you would open up, with iridescent colors of greens and blues,” she notes. For the opposing two shower walls, Lee opted for colors resembling sand, seafoam and pebbles. The Cambria countertop is a stunning sparkling blue, green and white medley, and in between the two medicine cabinets is a delicate white floral accent tile that stretches to the ceiling. The designer selected a custom vanity with a washed-out driftwood tone, a lovely contrast to the Interesting Aqua wall color by Sherwin-Williams. Compared to the original bathroom’s peach-colored walls, dark brown granite countertop and tan floor and shower tiles, this color palette beautifully personifies the sought-after Floridian feel.

“Ultimately, the use of these materials made the bathroom brighter, more functional and aesthetically pleasing,” says Lee, describing the bathroom as a combination of functionality and flair. “The Tascas have said over and over that this is their favorite room in their home.” With the massive walk-in shower, the gorgeous glass shower tile and the custom makeup vanity, Lee and her team have brought the Florida seaside to the shores of the Northeast. It seems that David and Janet no longer need to journey far to bask in the coastal ambiance that draws them to Florida. “The Tasc’s love Fort Lauderdale,” Lee says, “and with the right color palette and use of materials, we brought Florida to Wakefield, Rhode Island.”

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