By Marsha Fottler, Sarasota Herald-Tribune
After her husband Burt died three years ago, Lorraine Kaplan deliberated for a long time before she decided to stay in the couple’s 3,400-square-foot split-level home on Longboat Key.
The couple had built the contemporary home in 1987 as a vacation destination, while they were living in New Jersey. In 2008 they sold their northern home and took up permanent residence in their custom Longboat Key residence. It was ideally suited for two people who accommodated frequent guests and visiting family with a spacious master bedroom suite on one side of the house and the two guest rooms and bath on the other side, up a short flight of stairs.
“We opted not to have a formal dining room and instead designed a huge outdoor living area,” said Lorraine. “My eating-entertaining area is the enclosed porch with an outdoor kitchen. Then there’s a terrace, pool, hot tub, garden, deck and the bayou with the water birds and mangroves. The lot is kite-shaped and very private. It’s why we bought the property. Then we configured the house and the outdoor living space to maximize the views and the setting. My favorite room is the porch.”
Well, almost. Actually, now it’s her new master bathroom. A few months ago, after successfully redecorating the master bedroom in a sophisticated feminine style, Lorraine decided to do something about the spacious master bathroom.
“I had hated that mauve and dated room for years,” she admitted. “But, I was unsure what I wanted to do with the space except that I hoped it would be chic, somewhat feminine and luxurious with touches of glamour — a girl retreat. I wasn’t sure about materials except that I wanted to keep the brass fixtures because they are of good quality and I like them. But, I wasn’t against having another kind of metal in there too. Basically, I had vague ideas and needed help.”
A friend put her in touch with interior designer Lea Jackson, and she in turn called in Tim Macksey of Old World Master Builders. The three of them conferred and decided the bath should take its cues from the bedroom, and eventually they found their inspiration piece online in a copper free-standing bathtub that fills from an opening in the ceiling.
“The minute I saw that tub and how it fills with water, I knew we had a starting point for the bathroom decor,” said Lorraine. “It’s totally glamorous and certainly a luxurious personal indulgence. I actually stayed in a hotel in Seattle that had this kind of tub. I had to call down to the front desk to ask them how to use it. Then, on another trip to Seattle, I went back to the same hotel just to use that bathtub again. Now I get to enjoy my copper version every day.”
Once the trio introduced the copper tub into the room, they settled on a warm neutral color scheme, sophisticated and enveloping. The glowing walls are two-tone Venetian plaster, the floors are porcelain tiles that look like weathered wood and the color matches the maple plank bedroom floor. The cabinetry is stained maple.
Most of the light fixtures were acquired locally at Franklin Lighting. The lacy light sphere that is suspended from the skylight is especially dramatic in moonlight. All the lights are on dimmers so that Lorraine can change the mood in the room. The artwork came from other rooms of the house.
The designer did not alter the footprint of the original bathroom; it was always spacious. But Tim Macksey and Lea Jackson completely reconfigured the room, making it an elegant spa for one person.
“Every time we deal with plumbing and electricity in an older home, we always encounter problems,” said Macksey. “It was the same here, and we had to do some updating that we initially didn’t plan for. But our three-month time frame is about average for a complete redo of this size. So much of the success of this bathroom is in the details, things you don’t see right away or don’t see at all because it’s all about engineering and expert craftsmanship.”
For Lorraine Kaplan, the master bath renovation is one more step in creating a comfortable home for one person that reflects her personality and her commitment to staying in the place and she and her husband built together. It’s full of happy memories as well as new beginnings.
“Tim thought I should include two basins in the bathroom, but I resisted,” said Lorraine. “One person just needs one basin. I didn’t do this bathroom for resale, I did it for me and for me alone. The room is unquestionably the most luxurious thing I have ever done for myself. It came out exactly the way I wanted, and I love using it every single day. It’s perfect for me, just me.”