Reclaiming a Powder Room
A Perfect Mix of Old and New
1980s Desert Contemporary Home
Designer Lori Carroll was asked to remodel the powder room in her client’s 1980s home using reclaimed and treated wood from the Midwest. The Geberit in-wall tank system she chose allowed for maximum use of wood in the design space, while also meeting or exceeding water conservation requirements.
The owners of an early 1980s home in Tucson approached Designer Lori Carroll, of Lori Carroll & Associates, to help them remodel an outdated, 29-square-foot powder room. The home is considered “Desert Contemporary,” which intertwines a home’s interior and exterior. Desert Contemporary style offers a sense of tranquility with a simple, bold aesthetic and rich, warm design elements. That natural style had to be reflected in the powder room.
“One of the owners of the home wanted to bring the ‘outdoors in’ by using reclaimed wood from her childhood home in the Midwest in the powder room,” says Carroll. “The distinctive allure of reclaimed wood is its uniqueness, with no two boards alike and a warmth that can’t be replicated with modern finishing methods. Anything unnecessary that blocked the overall pattern of the wood – like tanks or floor mounted toilets – had to be eliminated.” Using the weathered planks was a definite departure from typical wall treatments like paint or tile.
Strict water conservation requirements in the desert region made it necessary to replace the existing 3.5 GPF toilet in the powder room with a more efficient model. This would help the homeowners save money also, as water rates in Tucson have been increasing rapidly in recent years, on average 9% per year. The clients needed a toilet that would meet all plumbing codes for water-flow rates and for new construction and replacement fixtures. They also wanted the toilet to take up less space and offer a comfort-height seat.
To keep the look of the powder room current and to minimize interruptions in the wall surface, Carroll chose the Geberit in-wall toilet system and a Lacava Suave white wall-hung toilet with built-in LED lighting in the seat. The wall-hung toilet is easier to clean than a standard toilet and has a sleek, contemporary look that contrasts beautifully with the rustic look of the powder room walls.
“As a designer, Geberit gave me the flexibility of being able to specify a compatible toilet from a wide range of manufacturers, allowing me to select the best toilet for the overall design aesthetic.” – Lori Carroll
Carroll chose a Sigma50 flush actuator plate in polished chrome with brushed stainless-steel buttons to operate the in-wall toilet system. With the dark surfaces of the powder room for a backdrop, chrome looks vibrant and clean, creating a statement rather than blending in or clashing. It also complements the chrome-highlighted sliding glass mirror and other decorative elements in the space, including a vase, the sink faucet, and door hardware. The Sigma50 allows the user to choose between a standard 1.6 gallon flush and a water-conserving 0.8 gallon flush, helping Carroll’s clients achieve substantial water savings.
“Torn out of structures built decades ago and shipped directly from the Midwest site, the wood had leaded paint that had to be professionally removed,” Carroll says. “The hand sawn lumber was then cleaned with a hard bristle brush, scrubbed, and dried thoroughly. Because the reclaimed wood was going to be used in a wet zone, a clear sealer was applied that would not affect the natural beauty, but protect it from moisture. We used a total of 78 square feet.”
“Our client was extremely excited that we were able to transform her ordinary powder room with the reclaimed wood that helped evoke memories of her childhood. Thankfully, with the help of Geberit we were able to,” says Carroll.
“We learned of Geberit at trade shows,” Carroll says. “The flexibility of being able to specify a toilet design from a wide range of manufacturers was critical as well as the opportunity to choose between 2x4 or 2x6 construction, which helped in the initial buildout process. The easy access to internal components though the decorative flush panel instead of an additional access panel streamlined the look of the powder room and sealed the deal.”