Materials in this Houston master bath are not unusual: marble for wet areas, slate floors for slip resistance, and warm walnut cabinetry protected by marine-grade polyurethane. The layout is straightforward: steam shower, soaking tub, and toilet in a row with vanities along the opposite wall. It's the details—the way materials intersect and meticulously align—that grab the eye.

“It takes a lot of patience to make something this complicated look so simple,” says architect Shane Cook. One example is the quirk-miter joint used to connect horizontal marble slabs to vertical pieces. The joint's telltale groove highlights the stone's 4-centimeter thickness. It also facilitates alignment for the front panel on the bathtub, which attaches with industrial Velcro for easy pipe access. Another unseen detail hides above the steam shower. A stainless steel ceiling (pre-cut with channels to accept glass panels and holes for recessed lights) continues down two walls to meet marble tile. The steel is painted to look like the drywall, so the only hint of its true identity is a thin cap where it abuts tile.

Cook went to extremes to guarantee alignment was exact throughout. Part of creating serenity, he postulates, is ensuring that nothing jars the eye. Consequently, the tops of windows match the edge of vanity mirrors, which extend seamlessly into partial walls around the shower, closets, and toilet.

According to Cook, the cabinetmaker caught the symmetry bug, too, visiting at least four different suppliers to find pieces of walnut that matched in grain and density. Framing was also replaced in several places. “The new design required everything to be clean and crisp,” he says, “and even the bones had to be plumb and nearly perfect.”

architect: Shane Cook Designs, Houston

general contractor: Robertson Construction, Houston

cabinetmaker: Southwest Millworks, Houston

resources: hardware: Forms+Surfaces and Rockwood Manufacturing Co.; lighting fixtures: Cooper Lighting and Lucifer Lighting; plumbing fittings: Brasstech, Hansgrohe, and Vola; plumbing fixtures: Aquaware and Duravit