fb-pixel Skip to main content
Your Home: Kitchens & Baths

Industrial chic

Steel, metallic finishes, even a bit of chain mail set a dramatic tone in this South End town house’s master bath.

The custom vanity is made of industrial-grade steel, while an inset mirror, a family heirloom, adds a touch of the feminine. Michael J. Lee/Michael J Lee
A band of Greek-key pattern tiles adds interest in the shower, big enough for two. Michael J. Lee/Michael J Lee

Forget spare, white, or feminine. The owners of this South End town house wanted their master bathroom to have an industrial feel that was heavy on metal elements and dark hues. “They also wanted it to be chic,” says Boston-based interior designer Michael Barnum, who worked closely with the husband and wife to execute their unconventional vision.

The floor’s large charcoal-colored tiles set a distinctive tone. Made of porcelain, they have a metallic finish that mimics the look of old steel. Industrial-grade steel was used in the custom vanity and framework suspending mirrored panels behind the marble vessel sink. “It has a patinated finish, so it won’t change as time goes on,” says Barnum. He stumbled on a remnant of zebra granite — black with white stripes — that seemed ideal for the vanity top.


When it came to illuminating the sink area, Barnum looked for fixtures that had an unusual wow factor. He found it in Fuse Lighting’s Boa lights. The fixtures, made of chain mail, recall a suit of armor. Small metal rings are linked together to form mesh that encases filament bulbs. “Since they are dry-mounted on the wall, it’s possible to appreciate the scope and shape of the fixtures,” he says.

With its shiny, galvanized facade, the freestanding oval tub is a scene stealer. Constructed of cast iron, it had to be lifted by crane to the fourth floor. Behind the tub, a stretch of original brick adds a “little bit of rusticity,” says Barnum. A mounted steel shelf provides display space and storage for bathing essentials. A bar tucked under the shelf holds the bathmat.

Since the tub is positioned in front of the windows, screening was essential. “But we were going for the masculine industrial look, so the last thing we wanted was window treatments,” says Barnum, who encouraged the homeowners to have a textured film applied to the windows. A combination of three textures, the film offers dimension without diminishing the light.


The bathroom isn’t large, and Barnum made sure that every square inch of it was used. “The utility of kitchens and bathrooms is very important,” he says. “Form should always follow function.” A floor-to-ceiling medicine cabinet has an electrified makeup mirror. A tall closet shelters the hamper while providing storage; a second closet contains a built-in ironing board.

You can find a subtle touch of femininity centered between the steel-framed mirrored panels over the sink. A floral motif swirls around the edges of this beloved family heirloom — an antique Venetian mirror.

Send comments to magazine@globe.com.