Neal Schwartz, AIA, describes the original master suite in this Bay Area Mission-style house as “a weird warren of rooms where you had to walk through the closet to get to the master bath.” He replaced the maze with an open, multifunctional room for sleeping and bathing, and infilled it with a mahogany chamber containing water and clothes closets. “I tried to solve everything with a single box that you can walk around or through,” Schwartz explains. “It gives you a lot of bang for your buck.”

On the sleeping side of the 525-square-foot room, the floor-to-ceiling box serves as an oversized headboard that echoes the size and shape of a facing window wall. Concealed within the box is a walk-through closet and separate toilet room. Three sets of sandblasted glass doors offer visual privacy or open up to a tall mirror at one end with reflected views of leafy birch trees outside. A matching double vanity with flat-front cabinets, a soaking tub, and a frameless glass steam shower occupy the bathing area on the back side of the box.

With the exception of the divided-light wood windows, which suggest the home's Mission exteriors, the revamped master suite is a showcase of contemporary detailing. “The words our client used to describe what he wanted for this space were much more modern in concept,” Schwartz explains. An open layout, a strong connection to nature, and a lavish, spalike retreat were top priorities. “By keeping the perimeter more like the rest of the house, we had the freedom to create a different world inside.”

project: Ross Circle Residence, Oakland, Calif.
architect: Schwartz and Architecture, San Francisco
general contractor: Lawrence Construction, Richmond, Calif.
custom window and door fabricator: White Owl Woodworks, Oakland
resources: ceramic floor tile: Ann Sacks Tile & Stone; fixtures: Duravit USA