When a Home Depot opened up in Omaha, Neb., it sparked a subversive idea in local architect Randy Brown's mind. "You can buy a bath there and basically plug it into your house," he says. "We decided to do the opposite."
After gutting the first-floor bath in his own residence, a 1950s farmhouse, Brown got to work. He purchased conventional materials from Home Depot--cement board, metal piping, and concrete--and proceeded to use them in completely unconventional ways. The cement board, sealed with epoxy, forms the finished shower walls. The exposed, continuous piping serves as a towel rack, shower-curtain rod, toilet-paper holder, light-fixture holder, and, of course, as actual plumbing pipes. And Brown fabricated a concrete sink that doubles as a countertop. "Ambitious and remarkable," the judges said. "This is a big idea for a little budget."