Pro Portfolio: Small modern bathroom remodel


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XP & Architecture finished a bathroom earlier this year that creates the impression of spaciousness on a 5-by-5-foot footprint. It’s the latest installment of Pro Portfolio, our feature posted every Monday in which we look at a recently built, remodeled or redecorated home with commentary from the designer.

Project: Modern bathroom remodel with a visual connection to the outside.

Location: Mar Vista.


Architect: Judith K. Mussel, XP & Architecture.

Structural engineering: Peter T. Erdelyi & Associates.

Architect’s description: The design intent was to create an energizing experience: the ability to shower in nature with the comfort of a contemporary environment. You can take a ‘rain’ shower while feeling like you’re outside.

The small space was expanded through a visual connection to the outside. A new floor-to-ceiling window, right, replaced the glass block in the old bedroom, shown before the remodel, below right. More natural daylight can penetrate the space, and the scouring-rush horsetail planted outside provides a privacy screen.

The white walls reflect the natural light. A wall-length mirror makes the tight space appear much bigger than it is. The safety glass shower divider, which spans from floor to ceiling as well, contributes to the spacious feeling.

The result is unusual -- a great daily spa experience on a minimal footprint.

To see more photos and get additional details about the hidden sunken bathtub, the outdoor window screen, the lighting and the German shower fixtures, keep reading ...


The bathroom before the remodel: The room received little natural light through the glass block opening. The tub and the sink filled the space, which felt small and cramped.

The rain shower is built into the ceiling. All the fixtures are built into the wall, so they take up little space. The fixtures are Dornbracht, high-end and imported from Germany. They are low-flow, using less water than conventional American fixtures. Maintenance can be done through a service door in the wall.

Reverse view: The greenery is reflected by the shower glass. The toilet is cantilevered from the wall. The water tank of the toilet is hidden behind the wall.

For additional privacy while the greenery grew in, an all-weather shade was mounted on the outside of the window. It screens the glass while still transmitting light.

All lights are recessed in the ceiling to give the impression of more height. Four warm fluorescent lights are tucked along the edges of the ceiling and wash the walls with light. The bathtub is sunken into the ground. When the space is used as a shower, a wooden grate made of hardwood sealed with teak oil prevents slipping. When that grate is removed ...

... the sunken tub is revealed. Sit inside of it, and the 8-foot ceiling appears higher.

Floor plan of the bathroom.

Side section.

The bathroom as seen from the outside, with the horsetail in an early stage. The exterior shade can provide additional privacy.



Cory Buckner’s Brentwood modern

From barren yard to outdoor screening room

Mar Vista family home made colorful

Turf swapped for drought-tolerant plants

1968 Airstream Ambassador remodel


-- Compiled by Lisa Boone

Photo credits: Judith Mussel / Gunther Schatz

Pro Portfolio appears on this blog every Monday. Submit projects to