The challenge: Turn a small, dated, dilapidated bathroom into a restful master bath, while blending with the decor of an early 1900s Prairie-style home.

The designer: Tracy Hains, Che Bella Interiors, Burnsville, 952-239-0961, www.

An inconvenient truth: Homeowners Kristine and David Matenaer had previously lived in a newer home in the suburbs and were accustomed to a big master bathroom.

But in their current St. Paul house, the cramped bathroom had little storage and a no-frills combination tub and shower. It also was down a hallway from their bedroom.

"The goal was to have a more pleasing, comfortable place that we wanted to spend time in -- but fit the style of the older house," said Kristine.

Design for living: Hains removed two walls and a hall closet in order to add space to the existing narrow bathroom. The remodeled bathroom features two doorways, connecting it to the bedroom and a sitting room -- creating a seamless private suite.

Period style: "We used materials that you would find in a house back then," said Hains. The cabinets have exposed hinges, the floor is an old-fashioned basket-weave tile, and the shower walls are covered in subway tile. Hains also designed updated accents, such as a brown-toned border to break up the white subway tile in the shower. "Use different size tiles to create a look that has lots of interest and is timeless," she said.

Cues from the home: In the remodeled bathroom, Hains repeated architectural details that existed in other parts of the home, including crown molding and light-painted woodwork. She modeled the furniture-style custom vanity after the home's built-in buffet in the dining room. "It's important that the space is an extension of the one you just walked through," she said.

Nice shower nixes tub. "The clients couldn't have a tub and a large shower within the small space," said Hains. "So they chose an oversized shower with two shower heads." It's also outfitted with his-and-her shelves to hold bath products. After a shower, the homeowners step onto a heated floor.

Elegant vanity. The built-in single-sink vanity offers ample upper and lower storage cabinets with hidden outlets to keep grooming tools out of sight. (The couple decided storage space was a higher priority than a second sink.)

Calming color: Hains used creams, tans and browns, following the "nature-inspired" color scheme of the rest of the home's decor. The fixtures are finished in an oil-rubbed bronze.

Automated ambiance: Kristine and David control music, heat and a variety of light sources from a wall-mounted touch pad.

The result: "We like having a modern bathroom in our old home," said Kristine. "Now we have to figure out where to put in a big walk-in closet."


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