Books

The Bathroom of Your Dreams Awaits

Barbara Sallick Rizzoli book The Ultimate Bath interior designer Gachot bathroom

In her introduction to her just released Rizzoli book, The Ultimate Bath, Barbara Sallick recalls a realization she had some 35 years ago after staying in a suite with a luxurious bathroom at London’s Claridge’s hotel. 

“What the experience taught me,” she writes, “is that there is a difference — a notable one — between a bath that fulfills your basic needs and one that provides a heightened, indelible experience.”

The focus of the new book, which brings together photographs of bathing spaces created by more than 100 top architects and designers, is very much on the second category. As well it should be. Sallick, after all, is the cofounder, together with her husband, Robert, of luxury bathroom outfitter Waterworks. 

Barbara Sallick Rizzoli book The Ultimate Bath interior designer Philip Gorrivan bathroom
Waterworks founder Barbara Sallick’s new Rizzoli book, The Ultimate Bath, features this space by designer Philip Gorrivan, which Sallick likes particularly for the wallpapered ceiling (photo by Joshua McHugh). Top: GACHOT designed this Manhattan townhouse bathroom for a pair of contemporary art collectors (Nicole Franzen).

The featured baths are the furthest thing from washrooms or WCs, especially those presented in the first chapter, “High Style.” Consider the two-page spread on meatpacking mogul Lester Armour’s Lake Bluff, Illinois, bathroom, designed in 1931 by David Adler and Frances Elkins — and now in one of Miles Redd’s homes. It is an extravaganza of antiqued-mirror walls, marble sinks, polished black-stone floors, oval-backed Louis XVI bergères and a grand Venetian mirror. Or look at the one designed more recently by Ken Fulk, with Gothic arches, marble pedestal sink (“reminiscent of a baptismal font,” Sallick writes) and a Sputnik-style chandelier. 

Barbara Sallick Rizzoli book The Ultimate Bath interior designer Ken Fulk bathroom
This high-style space by maximalist master KEN FULK impresses with GOTHIC arches, a marble pedestal sink and a SPUTNIK-STYLE CHANDELIER.

Not everything is this lavish, of course. Chapters are usefully arranged around such themes as “Color Fields” (baths in every hue, not least a verdantly tiled shower by M Interiors and a pleasingly pink one by 1stDibs 50 designer Summer Thornton); “Tightly Tailored” (modernist-leaning bathrooms, including a Gachot one with clean mid-century lines); “Novel Graphics” (spaces sporting riotous patterns, like the abstract motifs ZoË Feldman had painted on walls); and “Plein Air” (focused on both interior environments that maximize a view — like McAlpine and Susan Ferrier’s black soaking tub on a slate floor in front of a barely-there wall of glass — and actual outdoor retreats in which to shower and bathe). 

The variety is noteworthy, and extensive, making this an essential idea book for anyone contemplating building or renovating a bathroom.

Sallick sprinkles interesting historical information throughout. Color, for instance, only began imbuing these spaces in the 1930s, before which white was preferred for its inferred cleanliness and purity. There are some interesting historical baths, too. In addition to Armour’s, the book contains images of the Parisian lavatory of fashion designer Jeanne Lanvin, crafted in 1925 by none other than Armand-Albert Rateau.

Perhaps to avoid detracting from these sumptuous sanctuaries, no contemporary designers are mentioned in the generous captions. Instead, Sallick lists them in the back of the book, as a sort of handy guide for anyone wanting to hire some very exceptional talents to create a pampering pleasure palace devoted to healthy hygiene.

Barbara Sallick Rizzoli book cover The Ultimate Bath interior designer Summer Thornton bathroom
RIZZOLI released THE ULTIMATE BATH earlier this month. The room on the cover is by 1stDibs 50 designer Summer Thornton.

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