Cindy McClure on bathrooms and the 2014 D.C. Design House | Home Front

Apr 10, 2014

Cindy McClure is a A Washington-based designer at Grossmueller's Design Consultants and a featured designer in this year's D.C. Design House. Her career began more than 20 years ago after graduating from the University of Maryland. While still in school she worked for an architectural firm in the United Kingdom and designed a flat in Piccadilly Circus. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets and participated in the 2011 DC Design House. She currently is the President of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI)-DC Metro Chapter.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. Got a question about decorating? She's happy to whip out her paint chips and suggest the perfect hue, call a retailer to help track down a hard-to-find accent piece or offer some do-it-yourself. Built on years of reporting experience, Home Front is an online conversation about the best way to feather the nest. We invite you to submit questions and share you own great tips, ideas and, yes, the occasional complaint.

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Hello everyone and welcome Cindy. Cindy McClure is with Grossmueller's Design and she has done over two of the bathrooms in this year's DC Design House. The Master Bath is featured in our article today in Local Living. Please check it out and there is a video tour of the show house as well. Cindy is an expert on bathroom design and has lots of other renovating and decorating ideas and experience. So let's get going with your questions. And please go to our DC Design House coverage to cast your vote for your favorite room.

Good Morning and thank for taking the time to join us and ask questions!  I have worked with a lot of homowners on their bathroom projects and there are a few ideologies for those types of spaces...there are those people who want pure function and those that are looking for a place to add a bit of luxury.  In both there is room for creativity!

I'd like to remodel my very small master bedroom, removing the tub and replacing it with a universal design walk in shower. Will this affect selling potential down the road?

What I am finding is that more owners are looking for more luxurious showers rather than tubs in the master.  In speaking with real estate agents that I know, so long as there is another bathroom with a tub, it doesn't hurt resale and can even help to have a great shower!

We have a bathroom without a fan. It has a window but we never open it (it's in the shower - that is the last place I'd want to open a window). Anyways, I always see framed artwork in bathrooms in shelter maganzines. How practical is this in rooms with sinks, showers, etc.? And how do you protect the artwork from getting destroyed by the humidity in a bathroom?

It really depends on the type of art, how much steam you generate with your shower and how much air flow you have in the space.  The spaces you see in magazines will have a fan in the bathroom and therefore eliminate the excess steam and moisture.  Art in a bathroom is a really great way to bring in visual interest and set the tone for the space.

Hi Cindy, What changes can I do that would impact a small powder room? Would it be paint, fixtures, accessories, etc? What's a good nuetral color?

All of those are great things!  In the Guest Bathroom #2 we used a really dark and vibrant purple on the walls, contrasting the black made a great impact.  Fixtures are a more costly change but can have big impact and accessories are a great inexpensive way to make a change!

Good morning. My husband and I have only a small shower (no bath) in our master bedroom. Do you have any recommendations for storage in there? It's tight as it is, but we need something for the shampoo, soap, etc. Thanks!

Ginger makes a wonderful line of accessories including corner baskets, hotel towel bars and other accessories that should help with storage in the shower.

Here is a link:

While in Europe, I noticed the wall-mounted towel warmers, and I thought this idea was genious. I have no idea why these aren't more popular in the States. Where can I find I good one for my home? And, can it be installed in very close proximity to a shower?

I agree, they should be more popular--I love be wraped up in a warm towel!!

 The challenge with them is that they range wildly in price.  There are also two types.  The one we used in the Design House is actually a hydronic one that is tied into the heating system, therefore, it works like a radiator and doubles as a towel warmer.  No problem having this near a water source as there is no electricity to it.  

The second is an electically heated towel bar which offers the flexibility to warm a towel at any time of the year.  Most of the better ones will require a dedicated circuit and you will have to follow code about proximity to the water source.

You can get these online or locally at Fergisons or Atlantic Bath and Brass. 

What's the best route to find a chandelier in the dc/va/md area? If possible, I'd prefer something vintage as opposed to pottery barn, restoration hardware, etc. (I recognize this could mean add'l costs for re-wiring). Thanks!

Try Brass Knob in Adams Morgan. Check out some of the new flea markets on weekends - the DCistrict Flea or U Street Flea. The Georgetown Flea is always a good place to look.

Are there any other suitable flooring materials, other than ceramic, for bathroom floors? (No tub in the bathroom) Engineered wood, cork? Carpet and linoleum are unthinkable.

It really depends on how you use the room.   I understand that there isn't a tub but if there is a shower there is the possiblity of a lot of water...tile is really the best.  There make a lot of tiles these days that represent wood or cork so you can create a much different feel.  In a powder room we take a lot of liberties and use whatever we like!

Hi Jura! Love all the wonderful advice I've received from this chat over the many years! I finally have an opportunity, next week, to paint a room in my house that is becoming my craft room and a guest room. I know certain colors make people feel happy or even calm, but is there a certain color or tone that is helps people be more creative? I have a blank slate at the moment -- we painted it white when we moved in, in September 2012. I am thinking either a soft grassy green, or a periwinkle like hydrangeas. I want to feel fresh and energetic and creative when I'm in there, but at the same time it has to work for a guest room too and be easy enough for someone to sleep well. Thanks very much, from Your Biggest Fan

Thank you for all those kind words! How nice you will have a place to create things and also a place for guests. This should be a pretty, cozy space and I think you picked two very good colors that would encourage creativity and growth. Green is always the color in feng shui that they suggest for positive energy. Benjamin Moore Sundance is a very happy green.  For that hydrangea color I like Benjamin Moore Jet Stream. Enjoy your project and the results.

What tiles did you use for the master bath floor and shower walls? Also, do you know what tiles were used in the Butler's Pantry?

The main floor and wall tile in the Master Bathroom are from Altas Concord, Sunrock-Travertino White and are a porcelain. 

Good morning! I am starting to collect ideas for the shower in my master bathroom, and I was wondering if you could tell me what type of tile you used in the shower of the master bathroom shower? Also, have you ever used Caesarstone for a shower floor (1 piece for ease of cleaning)? Thank you.

I believe that Ceasarstone is a slab material.  I don't know that I would use it for a shower floor as it needs to have drainage and slip resistance which this type of installation would not offer.

Our main bathroom and powder room desperately need to be freshened up (think wallpaper borders!). But the last year was very difficult for us financially (many medical bills) so we have almost no money to do anything. Having said that, I think that doing something to these rooms would help give us a fresh start and make us feel better about life in general. What's the absolute minimum we could do? Clearly remove the wallpaper boarders and paint. Anything else?

You will be amazed at what a change those two small things will make!  Not knowing exactly what is in your bathroom, I recommend changing vanity hardware, luxurious shower curtain (if applicable) and a new light fixture!  The devil is in the small details and ususally those are the little changes that make a big impact. Good luck!

Our long and narrow master bathroom (6'W x 14'L) has a double vanity and a tub/shower combination. We are open to the idea of keeping both sinks and repacing the tub/shower combinaiton with a luxurious shower. However, we could also replace one of the sinks with a small shower (3'x3'). So, what do you think is better: Two sinks with a luxury shower or one sink with a separate tub and shower?

That is an easy one!!  Go with the bigger more luxurious shower and two sinks.

Currently our 1st floor powder room has the same flooring as the main living space (a decent not going to be replaced any time soon laminate). We want to change out the original 1978 vanity which would then result in a need replace the flooring as the same exact fit would be unlikely and limit our choice of vanity to a box. So do we go with the box approach keeping the flooring in tact, or maybe a tile?

It sounds to me like you aren't happy with the vanity approach, however, I think you might be surprised by what you can find out there as a replacement.


Another thing to think about is potentially taking the doors off of the old vanity (keeping it in place) and getting creative with a replacement.  In the Design House Master Bathroom we wanted to hide the old radiator so an inexpensive painted cover was constructed but it was made interesting by installing burlap in the opening so that the heat could still warm the room.  The same (or something more to your liking) can be done with new doors on a vanity cabinet.  Without having the cost to replace the floor, you then have the freedom to do what you want with the vanity top, sink and faucet!

We live in a 50 year old split level and want to remodel our 5’ x 8’ master bathroom. Big issue is to keep or expand already limited storage space. We’d like to remove the tub and replace that with clear glass enclosed shower. What type of showerhead or spray system do you recommend? Should we tile the entire room? What size tile? It already has little beige square tiles midway up the wall . What type of vanity/sink combo would you recommend? Wood grain cabinetry? Pedestal sink would eliminate undersink storage. Are the raised bowl type sinks a good idea? And what type of faucets do you recommend? The ones we have now are difficult to clean. We have a large oak colored cabinet hanging above the toilet. Should we keep it or have the remodeler put in a built in type cabinet? Ditto on the medicine cabinet? Built in? Right now things are lined up from windowed wall on the right– toilet, sink/vanity, then tub/shower combo.

There are so many "it depends" answers here.  When aproaching a renovation of any size, determining what works best for you and how you live is the starting point.  Taking into consideration components that could make it a white elephant is important, however, expaning or not expanding, tile the entire room or a portion, pedestal or vessel will depend on how you want to live, what you are trying to accomplish and what your budget is.

We need to have both the master bath and hall bath shower/tub areas retiled but cannot afford to break the bank. What size tiles are most people using these days, and is just a straight on pattern the most appealing to buyers?

If your question is geared towards retiling for resale, my advice would be either pattern is appealing but keep the color pallate neutral and add your punch of color/style in something that can be changed by the next owner.  If your questions is geared towards just not making a mistake, remember that there isn't a right or wrong.  A good tiler can make either pattern work and can even minimize uneven walls.  Both bathrooms at the Design House have different tile patterns (one is offset and one is stacked) and they both work!  My personal favorite is offset--it has more interest. 

I hung several pictures in my bathrooms (vintage prints) and they look great. However, they're ones that I don't care about particularly, so it wont' matter too much to me if they get damaged from humidity.

I have the same philosophy on this.

We had not considered the option of changing out the doors. Paint we considered and rejected due to the condition of the doors (warped and ugly). Thanks so much! a great and more cost effective solution!

You're welcome!  Good luck!

I love those bath floor tiles that are pebbles. Are they uncomfortable to walk on in bare feet?

They don't have to be but it is a matter of preference.  I personally find that the pebbles that are cut and have flat tops or are smaller in size are easier on my feet than those that are rounder and larger.  My best advice would be to get a sample or two (they typicaly come on a 12" x 12" backing) before you buy a lot of them and stand on them for a when you are brushing your teeth....and see how they feel to you!

My husband the contractor insisted on a one piece shower floor and I'm so glad we did. No grout lines and no worries about it leaking. I think it was a composite material that is a close color to the tiles of the shower wall. Remel is the name of the company I used.

Thanks for sharing this.

I have painted tiles as art in my bathroom. Never need to worry about excess humidity with them.

Great idea!

We have one of those non-fan bathrooms that gets plenty humid, but we use one of those oscillating tower fans that sits on the counter. It doesn't clear the steam so much as move it around (plus with the heater on in colder weather it's quite nice) -- and we have a couple of prints on the walls that haven't displayed any moisture damage. They are mounted on pretty heavy paper stock, so there's no wrinkling.

Good to know.

We need to replace the carpet in our basement walk out. It is currently a lovely stained covered beige. Given the walk out is directly to the mulch filled woody back yard, there is constant dirt. Dark dirt. The space makes for a nice family room, fireplace, full bath, play room, and guest suite. I love the feel of plush carpet, but it is just so very dirty. Engineered wood seems risky due to pontential scratches from rocks and mulch. What are your thoughts on faux wood laminate versus a dark carpet that would hide stains?

Have you considered some of the wood grain porcelain tiles?  They look terrific, are made in long strips like wood, clean up like a charm and are really durable!

(I realize that this might not be the best week to ask this; but, I'm going to ask anyways) I have finally saved up for some new living room tables (side table and coffee table) and the ones that I love have a travertine top (parsons from Crate and Barrel). I know that it's a porous stone, so is sealing it a good idea? If so, can I seal the tops at home (apartment with balcony)? Or should I take it somewhere to have them seal the table tops? Any recommendations for products or providers greatly appreciated.

I would recommend you contact a stone top fabricator for your answer.  I can't speak to the specifics of travertine but any company that fabricates stone topes for kitchens or bathrooms would have the answer to travertine sealing!  As a starting point, try Counter Intelligence in Silver Spring.  Good luck.

You might not love them so much when the initial charm wears off and it's time to clean them every few weeks. Flat surfaces are much more swiffer friendly...


And thank you to Cindy for the great information. Check out today's Local Living for full coverage of the DC Design House and online you can catch a video tour of the house and vote for one of the 29 design spaces. The house will open to the public for a month long run this Sunday. Thanks again to Cindy.

Thanks for having me!  Great questions and a lot of fun!

Hi all, thanks for joining us today! If you have not read Jura's story on the D.C. Design House or voted for your favorite space, here's the link.

In This Chat
Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering, organizing and DC retail.

Home Q&A archive
Cindy McClure
Cindy McClure is a A Washington-based designer at Grossmueller's Design Consultants and a featured designer in this year's DC Design House. Her career began more than 20 years ago after graduating from the University of Maryland. While still in school she worked for an architectural firm in the United Kingdom and designed a flat in Piccadilly Circus. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets and participated in the 2011 DC Design House. She currently is the President of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI)-DC Metro Chapter.
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