The $1 million bathroom

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.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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