published Saturday, July 28th, 2012

Ultimate bathroom has thunderstorm lighting and aromas on demand

Sapelli wood is used throughout in this newly renovated upstairs bathroom in the home of Dr. Paul and Mitzi Hoffman in North Chattanooga. A one-way mirror hides a television screen.
Sapelli wood is used throughout in this newly renovated upstairs bathroom in the home of Dr. Paul and Mitzi Hoffman in North Chattanooga. A one-way mirror hides a television screen.
Photo by John Rawlston.

Mitzi Hoffman says the room is her husband's "baby" and her 4-year-old son Zachary's "party palace," but she doesn't think the family's newly renovated master bathroom in their North Chattanooga home is so bad, either.

"I'd prefer a big chandelier hanging down," she said, but "it's a cool bathroom."

Hoffman said the second-floor retreat is similar to spas in the German state of Bavaria, where they have gone to ski and where the ancestors of her husband, Dr. Paul Hoffman, hail from.

Among its features are a computerized shower/steam room, Japanese soaking tub, computerized toilet, heated marble floor, television visible through a one-way mirror and towel warmer.

Before the recent six-month renovation, the Hoffmans called on Jay Caughman of Caughman+ Caughman Architects to see what might work in the space, which is accessible via a pocket door from the couple's bedroom and a swing door from their second-floor sitting room.

"We had [the measurements] down to a science," Mitzi Hoffman said.

"We were working with half-inches," Caughman said.

Once the space was determined, Hoffman said, her husband "went online, started researching and said he wanted the top of the top [of the line]."

While the home dates to the 1920s, the renovated room is the epitome of the high-tech 2010s.

The approximately 4-foot square marble shower/steam room has 10 showerheads and an in-shower computer that affords 25 fiber-optic lighting scenarios (like a thunderstorm or a sunset), access to the home computer's iTunes playlist and the ability to add aromas to the steam feature.

The soaking tub, supported by a dedicated hot-water heater in the basement, has a quartzite countertop, sapelli wood (in the same family as mahogany) surrounds and allows adult bathers to soak in water up to their neck while being soothed by constantly flowing air bubbles. A towel cabinet in matching sapelli wood and quartzite is attached.

The vanity, also made in sapelli wood by cabinet maker Tony Cordell, has a single vessel sink and eight self-closing drawers. A long under-sink drawer provides room for curling irons and hair dryers, which can remain plugged in to outlets in the cabinet below. The sapelli wood-surrounded mirror above the sink raises to uncover a medicine chest with shelves and additional outlets.

The Kohler Numi toilet features a motion-activated lid and seat, a bidet function with adjustable water pressure, water spray pattern and temperature, an air dryer integrated in the bidet wand, deodorizer, adjustable heated seat, feet warmer and remote/music player.

"It's wonderful," said Hoffman, whose family has lived in the home since 2002.

Eventually, the walled-off niche containing the toilet will have storage cabinetry, she said.

The flat-panel television behind a one-way mirror allows easy viewing from either the soaking tub or the shower, where speakers can outdo the sound of the raining and spraying water.

Since several closets gave their life for the expanded bath, any extra space was necessarily utilized in the renovation.

"We needed all the storage we could get," Hoffman said.

Caughman said since contractor Steve Ward and his subcontractors were working in such a confined space, one piece had to wait for the next for work to go on.

Even the home's first-floor guest room got a bit of a change, its ceiling adding two exposed beams, one for supporting the undersized floor joists for the bath directly above it and the other in place to match the first one's looks.

The closet in the room also lost its nonfunctioning chimney -- from an old basement furnace -- whose flue extended through what is now the master bathroom's toilet niche.

"Crafting this bathroom," Caughman said, "was like crafting a piece of jewelry. It was incredibly detailed."

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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