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But No One Loves The Change More Than The Homeowners, (Who Had Lived With The Old Plan for 28 Years)

By John Byrd

A spacious master bath renovation in a circa 1980’s center hall Colonial has won several peer awards for Michael Nash Design Build and Homes. The recently-completed Chantilly (VA) makeover was named a Gold award winner in the residential bathrooms category ($20,000.00-$50,0000.00) by Professional Remodeler Magazine.

French doors with frosted glass separate the spa from the master bedroom. The spa bath’s interior design carefully balances textured surfaces, glass walls and a subtle interplay of colors and tones.

The project has also won a “Best of American Living” Award from the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB).

The winning interior design successfully converts a 180 square foot builder grade utility bath into an open, free-flowing spa bath. The remodel features a walk-in shower and freestanding pedestal tub artfully situated on river rock flooring. A custom-designed vanity and many original built-ins provide functional accommodations smoothly integrated into an interior that balances textured surfaces, glass walls and a subtle interplay of colors and tones.

Acknowledging the honor, Michael Nash president and CEO Sonny Nazemian, credited his design and production team:

“This is an award about outperforming the limits of a budget, “ Nazemian noted. “Our goal always is to collaborate closely with our clients, finding creative solutions that will help maximize their home improvement investment. This prize tells me we’re doing our job well.”

But for homeowners Frederick and Dawn Febo, who have occupied the four bedroom Colonial for 28 years, the award is also an acknowledgement of their commited research into many interior design considerations.

“The new space has wonderful effects; when you’re bathing, it feels like you’re outdoors,” Dawn says. “There’s much more natural light– it reminds me of the Caribbean.”

Not coincidentally, the Febos– who are both retired– decided to remodel their nearly 30 year old bathroom because they had concluded it would need a more contemporary look when they eventually list the house for sale.

“We may be here for another ten years,” Dawn explains, “but we thought– if we’re going to remodel anyway, why not create something we can really enjoy?”

         Thus motivated, Dawn soon became a devoted patron of home shows, HGTV, and selected web sites.

It was during this phase that she wandered into the Michael Nash showroom on Lee Highway room and saw a bathooom display featuring stacked ledger stone.

Having already spoken to a number of bathroom specialists, she impressed with Nazemian, whose several remodeling credentials include a certification in kitchen and bath design (CKBR).

“We hit it off immediately,” Dawn recalls, “I was looking for a creative thinker to help me develop ideas; once I talked to Sonny there was no need to look further.”

In describing design challenges, Nazemian pointed out that there are more “decision points” in a bathroom than in any other part of the house.

“Homeowners who do their homework get the best results,” Nazemiam says. “Knowing the details you’re looking for can be a big advantage.”

The overarching question for Febo though was: how do you transform a dated “tract house” plan into something adventurous and free-flowing while staying within the bathroom’s existing footprint?

         “For starters, we wanted to replace the old shower with a walk-in design that wouldn’t require a built-in curb to keep the water in,” Dawn recalls. “I wasn’t sure if this was even feasible.

Fortunately, in bathroom design inches can make a difference.

         “We raised the floor about an inch, so that the shower is lower than before” Nazemian says, “The floor bevels slightly toward the drain, so there’s no need for a built-in lip around the shower. These angles must be precise, of course. Water is the ultimate judge of whether a design works well.”

Ensconced behind two floor-to-ceiling glass walls, the 4′ x4′ open shower sits on smooth river rock flooring that connects it visually to a freestanding pedestal tub. Both bathing options are accessible from two sides. (You can shower– then treat yourself to a relaxing soak.)

The shower’s inside wall is understated granite with cubbies for personal items; the wall behind the tub was constructed out of golden honey ledger stone.

Nearby, there’s a two-plank dangling shelf designed for towels.

The riverstone abutts the bathroom’s main flooring: grey and tan poceilain tile– which picks up colors in the stacked stone behind the tub and in the vanity’s backsplash and custom-designed base.

“The effect is wonderful, like shimmering light” Dawn says. “Everything is pleasingly accentuated, yet well-ordered and tranquil. A beautiful place to relax”

Other stand-out features include:

Vanity mirrors that rise up when pushed from below—providing access to personal storage space complete with electrical outlets. The his and her sinks are frosted vessel glass mounted on a granite bianco romano counter surface. Storage? Dawn say that “everything that used to be somewhere in the bedroom now has a place of its own in the new vanity;

powder room behind frosted pocket doors The ledgerstone motif repeated on the back wall provides a niche for displayed collectibles and support for a floating wall mounted commode. The water tank is behind the wall– out of view;

Dangling hand-made wooden shelves custom-designed as a convenient towel rack; also, an eye-catching vertical accent in a visually intriquing space.

rainforest shower with many adjustable fixtures, including a 6” chrome finish shower head at the ceiling and several hand-held bodyspray options.

“We’re very pleased,” Dawn Febo summarizes. “A friend of mine described the new space as very sexy. Amazingly, the room is exactly the same size as before, but it feels much larger. That’s good design.”

Michael Nash Kitchen and Homes periodically offers workshops on home remodeling topics.
For Information: 703/641-9800 or



John Byrd has been writing about residential architecture, building and remodeling for 30 years. His work has appeared in House Beautiful, Architectural Digest, Southern Living and many national and regional publications. He has also written and produced segments for HGTV and other cable outlets. His work has received numerous Press Association awards for excellence in journalism.

He can be reached at or

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