What I like most about the master bath at my weekend house in North Sea, New York, is that it is a space that embraces its surroundings. The room faces a bird sanctuary, so I can shower and see the bay or take a bath and look at an apple tree in a courtyard. The home's magical site is on a remote dirt road seemingly in the middle of nowhere on Long Island. Opening the bath to the land makes it special.
When the house was designed with the help of my dearest friend from Harvard's architecture department, Reed Morrison, we decided it was paramount to create a second-floor master suite where you could watch the path of light from sunrise to sunset. The views are what's important, as experienced through a floor plan that connects the study, dressing space, bedroom, and bath to the outdoors. When you look from one end of this open-plan space to the other—sections can be closed off for privacy if desired—you are especially aware of the landscape.
The bath materials, consequently, take their cue from their environment. The gleam of the quartzite floor references the sky and water. Nature's perfect imperfection is evidenced in the veining of the marble, which resembles the shadows the oak trees project when they've lost their leaves and are silhouetted against the winter sky. The sinks, one of the walls, and the built-in bench, however, are made of DuPont Corian. Even that man-made material takes on a natural character here as it interplays with light. And for people with crazy-clean tendencies like me, Corian is wonderful—going over it with a little dab of Soft Scrub results in an almost preternatural white.
Peter L. Shelton—he's my partner in our design and architecture firm —and I worked together on an extensive bath and fittings collection for Waterworks, which has been deployed throughout the space. The fixtures are inspired by straightforward utilitarian objects—the kind of things you might find in a janitor's closet. The thermostat on the tub, for example, almost looks like a steam valve. The chrome fixtures are a cool interplay with the warm elements—the light as seen through the glass, the rich texture of the towels, and the palette of nature. Sometimes things that are cool are best appreciated when placed near things that are warm. And colors often are more poignant juxtaposed against a neutral palette. There really is no color in this room. Instead it offers an oversize porthole from which you can watch the seasons change and the movement of the tides. The tub is a womb with a view.
The best thing about the bath is that the space distills the architecture and the landscape down to their essences. I also think the room transcends fashion and style because it defers to the site. Like the inhabitants of the bird sanctuary it overlooks, I feel at home perched in this sparkling lookout. It's a nest of sorts.