"The sinks were pink cultured onyx. The shower was a prefabricated plastic insert," said Keith Wood, remembering its disconnect in a multi-million-dollar home. A glass block wall prevented natural light from entering, and its vanities were long white wooden cabinets with a laminate top.
Despite the bathrooms and other oddities, the Woods saw the possibilities of the house, which is at the end of a cul de sac in the neighborhood west of Old Blackhawk Road in Danville. It was built in 1994 on a 1-acre lot and had been vacant for a year. They knew the uniformly pale walls could be repainted, crown molding could be added, and the window coverings could be improved.
"He built a great shell," Wood said of the original owner.
They moved into the home in 2002. Rebecca's brother, Cincinnati designer Beau Bolce, helped them upgrade the entire house, a spacious Mediterranean that features 14-foot ceilings and large windows that open out to the lush back yard and sweeping views.
Then they began to tackle the bathrooms.
"The powder room was an experiment," said Wood. Next they did the guest bathroom upstairs. Those two baths now have upscale fixtures, travertine floors and showers, all in browns and golds.
But they put off remodeling the master bath, wanting time to think about it.
"We lived with it for four years," said Wood. "We wanted it to make sense."
A couple of weeks in Tuscany began to give them ideas.
"The bathrooms were all stone and beautiful woods," he recalled. "We wanted that warm and rich feel."
When they stayed at the St. Regis Monarch Beach last summer, they found their true inspiration.
"It had the feel and flare for what we wanted," said Wood. "Stone, the dark furniture. It was the closest realization of our vision we'd seen to date."
That decided, Keith and Rebecca were walking in downtown Danville soon afterward and happened into the Kitchen and Bath Gallery. Two vanities caught their eye - hand-carved dark cherry wood with emperador marble sinks.
They'd already been working with contractor Dorin Buzatu out of Hayward, who first came when they were replacing the washer and dryer. They'd begun to talk about putting crown molding throughout the house, and soon formed a working relationship, along with Bolce, who came from Cincinnati to lend his expertise.
"My brother-in-law and Dorin, with our input, worked together on types of stone for the bathroom," said Wood. "They took out the glass block wall and took off woodworking around the windows, recreating molding around the new windows."
They knew they wanted a large shower, which now has double heads and a decorative travertine element to break the expanse. After using the shower while waiting for the door to be ordered, they decided to leave it open.
The spacious bathroom is 285 square feet with 9-foot ceilings.
"We decided not to move any walls, we just moved everything around," Wood explained.
"Almost everything came from Danville except the stone, which came from Oakland," he noted. "The light fixtures came from the Light Source."
They began the project last October and it took about two-and-a-half months, with a wait for the specially ordered skirted jet-air tub.
The bathroom's beauty is not just in the eyes of beholders Rebecca and Keith. It won the 2008 Bathroom Beauty contest in Diablo Publications' Design for Living magazine.
"We discovered the contest about the time the bathroom was being finished," said Wood.
A letter in April notified them they'd won, and it was featured in the spring issue.
"The Woods were able to create an inviting Italianate look without spilling over into fussy opulence," commented the jury. "The bathroom has both an elegant and contemporary edge."
A friend who recently house-sat agreed the bathroom and the entire house are fabulous.
"When we got back, she said, 'Why would you guys ever want to leave this house?'" recalled Wood.
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