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Home design inspiration: Bringing bold, Japanese style to a Needham bathroom

Graphite-colored tile and concrete-like finishes are the stars of this moody color scheme.

“We distilled the sensibility of the other rooms for an adult version of the look,” says architect Katie Flynn. “That resulted in a bold, black bath.”GREG PREMRU

Realizing that the redesign of her client’s first floor would include an addition, architect Katie Flynn proposed creating a primary bath above it. Flynn, principal of Hisel Flynn Architects, collaborated on fixtures and finishes with Rachel Reid of Reid Design. Playing off the bright, graffiti-style graphic tiles in other parts of the Needham house, the team devised a moody scheme that the adventurous homeowner adored. “We distilled the sensibility of the other rooms for an adult version of the look,” Flynn says. “That resulted in a bold, black bath.”

1 Flynn maximized window sizes while ensuring there would be a solid zone behind the tub so bathers would not feel completely exposed. A film offers additional privacy without blocking light. “The backyard is wide open and sunlight pours in,” Flynn says.


2 To accommodate a tub without skimping on shower size, Flynn located it in a comprehensive wet room/steam shower. Keith Tower of Design Plus Construction recessed the frameless glass enclosure into the floor so it’s nearly invisible. The organic shape of the tub eases circulation.

3 Reid used stacked 3-by-12-inch tiles for the walls and hive-shaped mosaic tiles for the ceiling and skylight. “The different shapes keep the black from seeming oppressive,” she says. “To maintain the same glaze color, both are from Ann Sacks’ Savoy collection.”

4 Cylindrical sconces by Hudson Valley Lighting are easy to clean and provide evenly diffused strips of light on each side of the mirrors.

5 The plumbing fixtures and hardware have matte black finishes that recede against the walls. “I didn’t want them to stand out against the tile,” Reid says. “If you’re going to use black tile, let that rule the space.”

6 The countertop and the large-format, porcelain floor tiles resemble concrete, while the floating walnut vanity keeps the room airy. “The room took on a Japanese feel and walnut enhanced that vibe,” Reid says.


Marni Elyse Katz is a contributing editor to the Globe Magazine. Follow her on Instagram @StyleCarrot. Send comments to