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From Steam Room Design To Full Home Remodel

This article is the first in a three-part series detailing the full home remodel that Mr.Steam Vice President of Marketing Martha Orellana became immersed in when she began a steam room design project for her guest bathroom. It will provide you with a professional perspective on home remodeling, how to incorporate steam and how to handle the unexpected...

The Vanity That Launched 1,000 Ships; Or, How A Steam Room Design Became A Full Home Remodel

Ever look around your house and think to yourself, those curtains have to go

Then, seemingly without warning or a clear memory of how you got there, you’re tearing down drywall and laying down new flooring in four different rooms?

We’ve all been there, and being a professional, licensed contractor doesn’t make you any less susceptible to this “might as well” syndrome.

Take Martha Orellana, for instance. As VP of Marketing for Mr.Steam and a licensed contractor, Orellana knows a thing or two about home renovations while also being a leading expert in the field of steam and steam room design. So when her guest bath needed to be updated, two things were clear. First: that room was just the tip of the iceberg. Second: this renovation was going to include all of the therapies available from Mr.Steam (Steam, Chroma, Aroma, Music and Body therapies).

“It started out with, ‘Let’s replace the vanity in the powder room,’” says Orellana. "Then the tile comes out…that’s connected to the hall…which is connected to the kitchen…and we’ve never liked that particular stove, so…” Might as well. We’ve all been there.

Professional Design Help Means Easily Transitioning From Smaller Steam Project To Full Remodel

Professional Design = Easily Transitioning From Smaller Steam Project To Full Remodel

Standing at the base camp of a virtual “remodeling Everest,” it was clear to Orellana that she’d need a sherpa to guide her to the summit. In this case, that sherpa was Lori Gilder, an award-winning architectural interior designer based in Beverly Hills.

>> See What do Builders Need to Know About Steam Shower Installations?

Although many people have undertaken a remodeling project, few of us feel instantly comfortable calling on an interior designer. Why is that?

“I felt the same way many people do, at first,” admits Orellana. “I’m going to pay someone a lot of money to choose a color and tiles for us? Come on.” But as her project unfolded and expanded to encompass every space in her West Hollywood condo, Orellana started to appreciate the value of a design professional. “Lori led us by the hand. She met with us and learned our lifestyle. She took all of that learning into consideration and then she gave us a sketch. We looked at it and said, ‘Oh my goodness – that’s exactly what we wanted.’ It's not just colors and pretty things. It's how to make our home better. She had a vision, and she saved us so much time and money.”

From Gilder’s perspective, steam was always a part of this vision. “It started as a smaller project – redo her bathroom and incorporate Chroma, Aroma, Music and Body therapies as well as steam – because she enjoys a steam shower every day. She’s a huge advocate for it.”

>> See Steam Bathing 101: Seven Steps For an Effective Steam Bath

Gilder started there, and so she and Orellana began selecting materials for cabinetry, tile and fixtures. Carrera marble, oak cabinets…the space was starting to take shape.

While plans for the steam showers were underway, Lori started pulling materials for the rest of the design. She narrowed down hundreds of options for carpet, tile and other materials, presenting two to three choices for each that best fit the space and her client’s taste.  “She has a true designer’s eye,” saysOrellana, who was able to narrow her focus and choose from Gilder’s expertly selected options.


Turning Challenges Into Design Assets And Steam Bathroom Possibilities

Of course, every project presents challenges, and the condominium’s limited square footage was one of the first. Lori made sure that her designs highlighted the beauty of the space, while taking into account its smaller size.

“For the kitchen, we had to scale down the appliances to make every inch count,” she says. For instance, “We swapped out the larger integrated cooktop for an Italian red range.” In a black and white kitchen, the results are striking. “It’s a small space,” says Gilder, “but it’s big on style.”

Orellana was able to use her own background in steam and her contractor’s knowledge of building materials as they overcame challenges in the master bath. Because the home is part of a condo, choosing the right steam room ceiling finish was important to prevent rotting and water damage. “I knew exactly what I wanted - the best ceilings, shower surround and base with no water penetration. I knew I wanted the closed cell foam system from wedi®, and I introduced that to the contractor.”

>> See Is Your Bathroom Big Enough For A Steam Shower?

>> See How To Design a Steam Shower Bathroom: Corey S. Klassen Explains


Cross-section of the wedi closed cell foam system

No room was left untouched as the project grew to ultimately include a bedroom, office, loft, kitchen, foyer and two bathrooms. But as with all remodel projects, not everything proceeded according to plan. As it came time to get down to the nitty gritty of the planning stages, Orellana would experience her first bump in the road… 

In the meantime, let us know what questions you have about remodeling your home and incorporating a steam room design into the project. 

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Topics: Benefits of Steam, Installation & Maintenance