When Chris Brigham, founder of Knife & Saw, discovered water damage in the master bathroom of his San Francisco home, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The furniture maker and his wife had never loved the space, and Brigham took the opportunity to renovate with the help of designer/builder Fidel Archuleta of ArcSon Design. Together, they planned out a complete overhaul of the room that features no shortage of custom built-ins. The end result: a welcoming, clean-lined setting in warm wood and cool concrete.
Brigham works primarily with wood and Archuleta had recently been exploring the potential of glass fiber reinforced concrete, so those disparate but complementary materials became the main focus of the project. Together, the warm wood and the clean, minimalist concrete create a “warm and serene space, reminiscent of a spa,” says Brigham.
In order to give the redesign a seamless feel, Brigham and Archuleta carried the use of wood throughout the room—including the shower. Archuleta researched types of wood that can withstand a high-moisture environment, and the most visually appealing was coastal redwood. He came across an unlikely source of reclaimed redwood: old pickling vats from a company called Trestlewood.
Experience in working with reclaimed wood taught Archuleta that “wood that’s been exposed to liquid for long periods of time pulls in minerals that it wouldn't naturally have access to in its living state.” In this case, the iron bands and nails that held the barrels together reacted with the pickling liquid, leaving behind a rich, dark patina.
The focal point of the room is a glass fiber-reinforced concrete sink that weighs 460 pounds. The material is stronger then regular concrete, so the overall thickness of the sink is a mere two inches. By using GFRC, Archuleta was also able to create a more uniform surface with almost no pinholes—important both for maintaining the minimalistic appearance of the room and to avoid leaks in the areas that would be in direct contact with water. Concrete is also incorporated into the bathtub and shower bases.
The existing master bathroom was “perfectly nice,” but uninspiring. Brigham and Archuleta salvaged as many of the original fixtures as possible to cut down on waste, choosing pieces that would blend effortlessly with the new design. The bath was re-set in a concrete base to give it new life.
The entire bathroom is based on a grid, informed by Brigham’s background in graphic design. The 4” redwood slats form the base measurement; the height of the sink, the bath, and all other features are built in multiples of four. Each piece was designed to either project from or recess back into the wall, continuing seamlessly into the next fixture. Everything from the medicine cabinet to the planters floats off the ground, opening the space.
Lighting in the bathroom is provided by San Francisco-based Aion LED’s modular fixture system. The linear lighting mimics the redwood siding.
Replacing the old toilet with a wall-hung Duravit model continues the floating theme, which is echoed by the custom recessed magazine caddy. The room’s sole freestanding piece is a glass-sided cabinet from Restoration Hardware. The diamond-shaped tile is from the Dwell collection at Heath Ceramics.