Bathing Beauty

A spa-like bathroom overlooking the Ashokan Reservoir offers the homeowners a place to luxuriate that’s almost as splended as the view

Americans like their bathrooms big, and Jay and Laurie Andretta are no exception. But their master bathroom didn’t start out quite the extravaganza it is now. The plan called for a cozy sitting room attached to the bathroom, where Laurie could do — well, whatever ladies do in cozy sitting rooms. But when the Andrettas stood inside the framed-out rooms-to-be, they made a wise executive decision: Make the whole thing one space.

Now the 18-by-20-foot bathroom occupies one end of the couple’s roomy house, its windows facing south, west and north. With dramatic mountaintop views over the Ashokan Reservoir, it’s something of an Accu-Weather center. Here, storms can be seen gathering and departing, rainbows arc across the sky in their entirety, and lightning shoots straight from heaven. “This morning,” says Jay Andretta, who spends time second-guessing the divine plan from his bathroom, “we were above the cloud deck.”

The marble was another case of the Andrettas getting carried away. “I’ve always liked marble, but I didn’t envision as much as we have,” admits Jay. Marble floors, marble countertops, marble steps to the tub, marble window ledge, marble panels climbing up the walls to meet the Brunschwig & Fils wallpaper: nice look if you can get it. And with an Italian-American designer, Sam Cerasaro, working for Italian-American clients, you might say marble was practically the bathroom’s birthright.

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And the fireplace? “Putting in a fireplace was whimsical,” Jay agrees. “But it’s really nice to have.” In winter, après ski or workout, he turns on the gas jets (real logs could defeat the purpose of bathing), climbs into the Jacuzzi, puts on some music (a button beside the tub turns on XM radio, or a CD, or the couple’s player piano), lights some candles, sips a glass of wine, and feels — pretty pleased with the world, one imagines. Often he’ll hear the wind howling through the Ashokan Valley, but with an Energy Star house, no cold penetrates the double-paned windows.

Double sinks sit in a counter long enough to house several more, giving the couple plenty of elbow room

The designer used simple Roman shades, in fabric that matches the wallpaper,
to leave the spectacular views unobstructed

Laurie Andretta says she’s more of a shower person. The shower stall was custom-made, and it’s roomy enough for two, but in a sensible departure from the all-out approach, there’s only one nozzle.

Designer Cerasaro, now retired in Palm Springs, says he loved working for the Andrettas. For one thing, they were amenable to all his choices. “I always say, ‘It takes good taste to be able to appreciate good taste,’” he declares. Cerasaro bought everything from local businesses — cabinets from Hickory Meadows Custom Woodworking in Saugerties; brass fixtures and twin sinks from N&S Supply in Kingston. The marble and the tile for the fireplace came from Best Tile in Wappingers Falls, the mirror over the vanity from Rondout Glass in Kingston. The designer took a minimalist approach to the window treatments, using Roman shades throughout. “They have a million-dollar view, so I wasn’t about to cover it up with draperies,” he says.

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After everything else was in place, Cerasaro found a pair of small upholstered Classical-style settees to go under the windows. He takes a wild guess at the total cost of the room: $100,000. (Laurie guesses $75,000.)

We have the Romans to thank for the notion of lavish bathrooms — and it’s nothing new that such luxury comes at significant cost, either. Even back in the 1870s, after installing seven bathrooms in his house in Hartford, Mark Twain remarked: “We have a little cash left over, on account of the plumber not knowing it.”  â—


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