Bathroom of the Week: A Spa-Style Refresh for a Modest Bath in Melbourne, Before and After

We recently featured An Undulating Wood Kitchen that Kim Kneipp designed for two sisters whose Victorian house in the Melbourne suburb of Kensington had been slated to be torn down. When the planned freeway ended up bypassing the sister’s place, Kneipp stepped in and gave the quarters a remarkable refresh. Today, we’re spotlighting the house’s lone bathroom and its transformation. Without breaking the bank—or getting glitzy—Kneipp ushered the tight space from late 20th century builder special to private spa, Japanese-style soaking tub included. Scroll to the end to see the Before shots.

Photography by Lisa Cohen, courtesy of Kim Kneipp (@kim.kneipp).

kneipp describes the upgraded bathroom as “humble by design and lux 9
Above: Kneipp describes the upgraded bathroom as “humble by design and luxurious by finish.” The custom-built cedar tub, made by The Cedar Bath Company, replaced a 1980s corner jacuzzi. The wood is unfinished: “cedar has naturally rot resistant oils; it expands and contracts when going from wet to dry and gives off the most beautiful aroma,” says Kneipp. The tin ceiling is also a new addition sourced from Pressed Tin Panels; it’s a reference to the house’s 1890s origins and provides something interesting to gaze at while soaking.

The tub is paired with a curved wood vanity—that’s a small brass Fog Linen towel bar on the end—and has a floor of Metztiles’ Montana Flamme Green porcelain tiles that mimic Belgian bluestone. The next-door neighbor’s house is right outside the window; a new white privacy fence enabled Kneipp to draw in much-needed natural light.

the vanity is built from salvaged wood and topped with a sink by tasmania based 10
Above: The vanity is built from salvaged wood and topped with a sink by Tasmania-based ceramic artist Lyndsey Wherrett, who specializes in wheel-thrown hand basins. The brass fixtures are from Consolidated Brass Tapware, which does all of its manufacturing in Australia. Kneipp had the circular mirror custom made, and notes that it’s mounted in front of the windows for “the most flattering makeup lighting.” The Dioscuri wall lights (visible in the previous photo and here in the mirror) are from Artemide.
a plank of cedar serves as a handy tub shelf.  the single potted fern adds 11
Above: A plank of cedar serves as a handy tub shelf.  The single potted fern adds a powerful botanical note to the space.

the square tiles are from artedomus’s sugie series made in japan by 12
Above: The square tiles are from Artedomus’s Sugie Series made in Japan by Inax. Kneipp describes their textured glaze as having “sand-like granules and the loveliest matte finish” (the company notes the tiles are designed to be as easy to clean as smooth tiles). The brass shower head, like the other fixtures, is from Consolidated Brass Tapware.
kneipp used speckled white (su2031 ) and olive (s7736) sugie tile in the show 13
Above: Kneipp used speckled white (SU2031 ) and olive (S7736) Sugie tile in the shower, and included a built-in shelf. The ceramic pitcher is the Raawii Strøm Jug, available from the MoMa Design Store in six colors.

As for the toilet, Kneipp moved it to its own adjoining space, so it can be used separately.


“it was a late 1980s/early 1990s bathroom dominated by a large co 14
Above: “It was a late 1980s/early 1990s bathroom dominated by a large corner spa bath,” says Kneipp of the existing space. “The toilet was on display and the cubicle shower was tucked behind a door.” A dark window frame and latticework outside blocked both the view and the natural light.
what kneipp classifies as “mock heritage fittings and fixtures& 15
Above: What Kneipp classifies as “mock heritage fittings and fixtures” had been installed to give the space a Victorian look.

Browse our Bathroom of the Week archives for more ideas, and go to our Bathroom Resource Guide if you’re planning a remodel.

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