herbert lewiskruse blunck architecture, des moines

The wet spaces become a piece of sculpture ... something completely different ... it speaks to a broader view of what you can do in a bath," were some of the praises showered on the renovated bath (the only bathroom) in this 1,500-square-foot home. The clients asked architect Paul Mankins to create a room that lived larger than the rest of the house. And that's just what he did. By grabbing space from a rarely used sun porch, he generated 180 square feet of uninterrupted space marked by a single "cleansing object" in the center.

He used a closet to compartmentalize the toilet and trimmed the larger room to match its "meticulously maintained 1924 Craftsman bungalow" setting. Lowering the vanity to window sill height keeps the solid forms close to the floor, accentuating the unit's illusion of floating. "It changes your sense of scale," says Mankins. "Plus, you can actually sit comfortably on the counter."

Builder Chaden Halfhill managed to squeeze pipes and vent lines into the 2-inch-by-4-inch stainless tubes that support the open shower's glass partitions. An extra piece of drywall drops the ceiling height just enough to define the cleansing object. Says Mankins, "You have this minimalist piece of art that you wash yourself in every day."

principal in charge/project architect: Paul Mankins, FAIA, Herbert Lewis Kruse Blunck Architecture
general contractor: Chaden Halfhill, Silent Rivers, Des Moines, Iowa
project size: 180 square feet
construction cost: $200 per square foot
photographer: Cameron Campbell