Oh sure, you can toss in an oriental rug or hang a couple of high-priced paintings. But writer Joe Qeenan was in search of a bathroom that didn't require pricey accessories. He wanted one that was extravagantly expensive from the ground up. And it proved a challenge, even in 30,000-square-feet showplaces. I mean, toilets and sinks can only be so expensive, right? Writing in Barron's, Queenan comes upon a designer named Bill Stubbs, who explains how he did a bathroom remodel in Moscow (the client was in oil).
"It wasn't a big bathroom. The client said: 'I want you to use all your creativity; take it as far as you can go.' So I did. I used the marble flooring in the old, turn-of-the-century Plaza Hotel as a reference point, but the basic influence was Pompeian. I explained to the man that this would involve installing an all-mosaic tile floor where each of the pieces would be handcrafted; that is, a medallion of mosaic marble, with each piece costing between $3,000 and $15,000. Ordinarily, you would use a single ornate centerpiece, but in this case we covered the entire floor and the walls with mosaic marble. The bill for the tile alone -- not installed -- came to $400,000."
"To complete a project like that, you'd be thinking about solid-gold plumbing, special vanity tables, heated floors," explains Stubbs, a man who clearly enjoys a challenge. "The fiber optic lighting and the cast-bronze fixtures would run $100,000 apiece. You would customize everything. You might also have an artist come in and paint the ceiling."
Some of the toughest bathroom designs involve private planes - big private planes - because of weight considerations. Forget about marble - one assignment used specially engineered malachite. A countertop with a 28-inch width cost $50,000.