Illustrious Boston interior designer Frank Hodge had been working with favorite clients of his, redesigning their house a bit at a time, for six years, when they got to the master bath. When the couple said they wanted the room to be "round," Hodge and his draughtsman decided to apply the rounded corners of Art Deco as a design principle that would soften the room into the desired contours. The result was, naturally, stunning, and the room found a worthy place being highlighted as Bath of the Month in the March 2015 edition of House Beautiful. In the center of the ceiling, tying in perfectly with all of the design elements at play in the room, is our Middlebury flush mount. Flush mounts don't often have the drama or glamour of chandeliers and pendants, but Hodge's selection of our Middlebury shows how their fine details and supple proportions can bring a room together just as much.
Frank Hodge was kind enough to indulge us in an interview, where he leads us through the thinking behind the space. With nearly twenty years of experience and an immaculate eye for antiques (just take a look at his home in Boston's South End), Hodge works with his clients' budgets and preferences to deliver elegant, timeless rooms. His design erudition, sophisticated taste, and creative thinking not only make for breathtaking rooms, but also for great conversation. Enjoy taking a peek into his mind below.
Hudson Valley Lighting: In the article, the famous luxury liner Normandie is named as a reference point for this bathroom. Was that something the clients brought to the table, something you wanted to integrate, or a happy coincidence? Where did you find material on this storied vessel?
Frank D. Hodge: The Normandie was used as a reference point, as she was the most magnificent of all Art Deco era ocean liners. When my clients and I first started to discuss this master bathroom project my client asked for a round bathroom. The room was, of course, square and we did not have enough space to afford us to build a round bathroom. I imagined that we could get the same effect by adding curvilinear elements to the room. By eliminating most hard edges, we could give it a sense of softness. I discussed these idea with my expert draftsperson Mark Stem, who then drew up this very successful design.
HVL: Art Deco is aging very well. Our perspective, just from observing how people respond to what we put out, is that Art Deco has made a serious comeback, if it ever truly went away. Do you often draw from Art Deco design principles when putting together a space? What do you like most about Art Deco? Is there a particular designer or artist from the period whose work you really admire?
FDH: Art Deco design is timeless and very sophisticated. When designing modern or transitional spaces, I always tend to add a few pieces with an Art Deco flair. Whether it be a lamp, a piece of furniture, or a vase, the form of an Art Deco-inspired object will always lend an air of sophistication to a room. Erté, Ruhlmann, and Edgar Brandt are three of my favorite Art Deco artists. Erté for his lavish designs for theater sets and costumes. Ruhlmann who epitomized the glamour of French Art Deco-style furniture-building. And Edgar Brandt for his iconic metal work.
HVL: Did one piece really start the discussion? For example, did you have the BainUltra Ellipse tub or the Nouveau Knob Basin Set or the Pyrite mirrored tile first and then one of those things lead the rest of the selection? You mention in the article how that luxurious marble gave you a palette from which to select a paint color to match.
FDH: The first item to be selected for the project was the Sherle Wagner Nouveau collection of bathroom fixtures. Its crisp lines and sensuous curves are elegant and very modern. The Nouveau collection carries the elegance and refinement of the Art Deco era into design today. The Athens Silver Cream tile and the Pyrite tile from Ann Sacks were the next selections to be made. The Athens Silver Cream tile was selected for its very warm coloration and subtle veining. This stone set the tone for the bathroom, a soft and inviting environment. For the focal wall we then selected the Silver Pyrite. The Silver Pyrite has a wonderful reflective quality and adds a lot of visual interest and light to the room. We then designed a nickel-plated mirror and a pair of custom Lalique wall sconces for the focal wall. Lalique glass and pyrite were both used extensively in Art Deco design.
HVL: What's your usual approach to picking the ceiling lighting? What do you consider its place in a bathroom?
FDH: A ceiling fixture holds a very prominent position in any room, not just a bathroom. The fixture that is selected needs to reflect the design and style of the room. When looking for the ceiling light for this bathroom, I scoured the internet looking for the perfect fixture and the Middlebury was it! The Middlebury echoes the tub surround perfectly.
HVL: Are you often looking to make echoes and complements like this in a room? It’s not the only thing in this bath that adds to a wonderful sense of unity, which in turn helps to create the calming effect one’s bathroom should possess.
FDH: When designing a room, I think about cohesiveness. Every item selected is of the utmost importance. This bathroom design has many elements to it, each carefully thought out. There is nothing in the room that jumps out at you, all the items work together in perfect harmony to create a very welcoming and restful master bath environment.
HVL: Thank you for your participation and for taking the time to chat with us! We really loved what you did with the space.
FDH: Thanks so much!
*All photographs of the master bath by Michael J. Lee. Please credit if sharing.
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