Thursday, November 1, 2012

Al Dente, well done!

I started this blog a few years ago as I was generally dissatisfied with commercial bathrooms, primarily restaurants. They were too small, not clean, even if it was only paper trash and generally seemed to be an afterthought when it comes to the design. Yes, I am a female and when I tell a friend about the content of my blog, I always get an affirmation, and "What a great idea." My theory is that the restrooms are a reflection of a the kitchen’s cleanliness. Owners know restrooms are a necessity, but treat them like an afterthought, as if to say how small can we construct them, and as long as we meet codes we are OK.  Do you agree?

Al Dente
I choose to evaluate Al Dente in Morristown, New Jersey because as I was leaving my job as a kitchen designer, I noticed they were boarding the windows in anticipation of “Sandy” the monster storm heading to South Jersey and surrounding states. 

 Al Dente's interior is well thought out and lot of effort was put into the design not just the floor plan, but the elevations and ceiling. Great architectural detail with the beams and scrollwork panels.

Sloan Faucets
The Ladies room did reflect the character of the dining area and given the seating in the restaurant, a third stall would probably be need during busy times, but codes probably said two was sufficient. The Sloan Solis  faucets, Sloan Solis, work are solar powered by natural or artificial light.

An optional control lever on the side of the one-piece faucet allows restroom visitors to set the faucet to the desired temperature. when your hands are placed close and the hot / cold option was on the right side, somewhat obscure perhaps to maintain the sleek design. The would trim on the tile walls mimicked the restaurant, though I question the pink grout that was used. More than likely the same grout color was used on the floor, but it had darkened over time. The porcelain tile had a “slate” look and is a much better option than natural slate.

I am participating in the Bathroom Blogfest 2012
During the annual Bathroom Blogfest, bloggers from around the globe write about the importance of bathrooms in the customer experience. Their posts come from a wide range of perspectives that include sociology, marketing, research, psychology, environmental, and customer experience. Blogfest 2012

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Private Bathrooms Go Public - Part One

Italianate Villa
Rear entrance to formal center hall.
I am going to try a different approach today and showcase private bathrooms open to the “public”. I feel, given their public status, that they are qualified to be reviewed here.  All of the bathrooms featured were part of this year’s Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County’s 37th Annual Town and Country Tour. I have included a photo of the home’s exterior to give an idea of how the exterior relates to the interior. It was a great line-up of houses, really too many to see in one day as their were five in town and four in Leipers Fork in the southern part of Williamson County. I attended with my friend and partner in design, Kathy Newton Chappell. She was photographing the tour and for Your Community Magazine, a local magazine that promotes life in and around Franklin, Tennessee. It was a great day and the weather was fabulous. 
Of the four homes I visited, three were historic and last one was part of the new Brownstones, 16 homes built to look historic. Franklin located south of Nashville is the go to destination in middle Tennessee for small town shopping, dining and entertainment. The original 15 block downtown dating to the early 1800’s has a mix of Federal, Greek Revival, Victorian, Italianate, Queen Anne, Four Square, Tudor Revival, and my favorite Bungalow.
Kathy and I visited four homes, of which two were owned by music industry people. This is the first and I will follow in the next few days with the other three.

Magnolia Hall 1860, 600 Boyd Mill Avenue, Franklin, Tennessee

The light fixture should have been period.
Magnolia Hall built in 1860 in a Classic Italianate Villa style and was is the jewel in the crown of all of the houses on the tour.  It has been featured in national magazines and has been visited my many famous people including Bob Hope and Slyvester stalone. The current owner was on site and was able to answer any questions. 

The photograph above shows the door that we entered for the tour and was technically the back entrance. The house was designed with a formal center hall that ran  front to back. I just love the architectural detail, cream paint on the walls and Robin egg blue on the ceiling.

This was an extremely small bathroom, the only on the first floor, but it was lovely and was finished with high end materials including marble on the floor and walls. The pattern on the floor worked despite the small size, and I would have only suggested a more period fixture, orignal rather than this big-box fixture. The art on the wall gave the bathroom additional character and draws attention to the marble finishing at the substantial chair rail. High-end materials can make a bathroom feel huge.
The prints added character.
The pedestal sink is the perfect scale for this small bathroom

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Jackie O can spice up a restroom.

Casual Dining doesn't have to mean boring decor and that is true for the Restrooms as well. The color scheme and original local art make the difference and when you add Jackie O, you've added the spice. Casual can be cool. 

Each restaurant in the J. Christopher's a chain which is based in Atlanta, Georgia has its on personality accented by local art work. The main restaurant walls are accented with a huge selections of art in all mediums and the restrooms are paced as well. 
The tile on the floors and walls works well and compliments the "spice" paint color, but I noticed the grout used here and in the main restaurant was too dark. The theory is the darker the grout is the less it will show stains, but it eventually looks dirty and it does. The wall tile is capped with a piece of trim finished natural. 

The granite countertop is a great accent and the only complaint and I am assuming the tile was installed first, so why was the countertop installed at that height with 2" of wall tile showing? Think people, or should I say countertop installer. The laminate stall doors were a poor choice in color as they were too light in faux wood grain to complement the medium tone floors and walls. Liked the mum in the vase. As "they" say it's the little things that count.

This is a great feature in a relatively small bathroom, a frosted translucent glass door. You can see someone approaching the door, no surprises. The hall from outside the bathroom is also flanked with original art.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A perfect reflection of Nero's, Warm & Cozy

Nero's Grill in Green Hills prides itself on historic signature dishes and comfort food favorites and the Woman's Bathroom is a reflection of that style. It was also especially large given the size of the restaurant. In my opinion the bathroms in most restaurants are undersized even if they do meet codes.  I was in the bathroom with a friend taking the photographs for this post and subsequently starting talking to another woman who was at Nero’s for a Rodan & Fields meeting. There was plenty of space to conduct a conversation without feeling crowded and she loved the idea of my Public Bathroom Blog. Yes, another follower.       
Although the style was dated, it was well done. It has louver doors, my favorite,  because when you close  louver doors they stay closed. Bet this style of door is a challenge for Graffiti Advertising as they place their ads on the back of the stall door. In this application the Graffiti ads were placed on the sidewall in the ADA stall which was logical.  The tile pattern  in front of the double bowl vanity could have been more effective had it encompassed the entire bathroom floor. As it is it makes the bathroom seem smaller.  Also, it looks as though someone said to the tile installer to create a pattern within the border without much direction. In outcome was boring. 

The opening in the granite countertop allowed trash to be disposed precisely and unobtrusively, though I’m not sure the purpose of the door in front of the trashcan as the right and left sides of the vanity were open. Kinda prompted one to open the door to see what was there.  

Absolutely loved the frosted glass in the bathroom door. No  doubt where the Woman’t Bathroom as I approached even though the adjacent hall was dimly lighted. The The Barbie Doll prints were a cute touch, but were hung too high and were dominated by the bold tile border, still cute though. I didn’t ask if Ken was in the Men’s Room. Certainly the stained trim and doors contributed to the overall feeling of warmth in the space.

Overall I rated it a 4 toilet (out of five). The standouts are the size and warmth.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Swanky’s restrooms are very swanky

Cool Springs, Franklin, Tennessee

Design: The Art Deco scheme of ivory and white with touches of gray and silver was very attractive and presented an upscale flair for a casual restaurant. The tone on tone wallcovering added to the elegant feeling and kept the look from being too harsh.

Tile: Emser Tile's stylish new Strands™ Series Click Here.
Strand, takes its design inspiration from fabric with a linear pattern, was used on the floors and walls. It features an eclectic color palette ranging from light to dark, and its refined aesthetic makes it well suited to use on floors or walls. I did notice the “strand” texture was starting to show dirt in the perimeter of the stalls. This series is offered in sizes 12x12, 12x24 and 24x24, so I’m not sure why only the 12x12 was used for the floors and walls, albeit in two colors: Oyster and Pearl.
The use of the tile on the walls up to the wallpaper was an elegant touch, but a plastic strip was used as a finish element when a Schluter transition could have been used. I also noticed the floor tile at the door finished to carpet but that left the edge unprotected and subjected to damage over time. Another solution would have been a Schluter edge protection strip and that will prolong the life of the tile.

The vanity was wall-mounted with countertops in a black granite and the sinks are a white porcelain rectangular undermount. The hot and cold faucets were set almost to the corners of the sink and it looked odd. I noticed a skimpy wood baseboard was used in the sink area but was not repeated in the stalls.
Love when doors in restrooms are constructed of wood, use real door hardware and are set on hinges, thereby giving a customer confidence that the doors will close securely. This design also makes the bathroom feel less industrial and more upscale.s
Cleanliness: Very, except for the collecting water at the faucet. 

Ventilation: Perfect
Size/Spaciousness: Very spacious with two stalls: one ADA and one standard and each is spacious. There was a fixed wall between the stalls. Otherwise there is plenty of room at the vanity.
Accouterments:  Appreciate the black & white photographs featuring men as the subject. Wonder if the men’s bathroom has photos of women? The toilet paper dispensers were more of a residential design and therefore easy to use. There was plenty more stored in the stall on column style holder. 

With three locations and counting, Swanky’s prides itself as an upscale, quick service restaurant specializing in what they’d like to call TN-Mex cuisine. They pair fresh food, prepared in house daily, with a laid back atmosphere and accommodating staff to help make your visit as enjoyable as possible.

Swankys RESPECTS the margarita. So visit Swanky’s Taco Shop in East Memphis,  Germantown or Franklin and while you’re there, don’t forget to:

Eat. Drink. Chill.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Cool Springs Welcomes Buffalo Wild Wings.

Buffalo Wild Wings (BWW) officially opens Monday, January 16th, but we got a “sink peek” at their bathrooms the other day.
Design: The black and yellow bathroom color scheme definitely reflects the the Buffalo Wild Wings theme.
I liked the use of Dal’s Porcelain Continental Slate in 13” x 13” on the walls and floors with a darker cove base as an accent.

The three lighting fixtures at the vanity had an industrial look, but the one in the center wasn’t lit, a problem? or it just wasn’t in an on position. 
The solid surface countertops in a bright yellow (possibly a custom color for BWW) included two integral sinks, and a rectangular opening with a trashcan placed below. No overflowing trash cans at BWW.
Cleanliness: Very, of course it was new, but the servers are responsible for 20 minute bathroom checks and the supplies they need are stored under the vanity. The hostesses are responsible clean mirrors, disinfect toilets and spot clean floors as needed.
Ventilation: Perfect
Size/Spaciousness: Very spacious with three stalls: one ADA and two standard and the ADA stall was huge. There were actual walls between the stalls with vents at the base to facilitate ventilation and to make it easier to clean.
Accouterments: The full-length mirror was a nice touch as well as the black and yellow stripe that ran across the floor and up the wall. (whoops, didn’t capture that in the photos). Might have to visit again.
I’ll be back in a couple of months to see if the 20 minute bathroom checks remain in force. Best Regards, The Bathroom Master.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Aloft is Cool but the Bathrooms are Bland

Aloft Hotel, Cool Springs, TN: A little surprised as I expected a bathroom a little more panache for this hotel,  I mean check out the logo, that’s cool. 
                       The wall tile was original, but that originality was minimized by the brick shape quarry floor tile in a mustard color that didn’t work with color or the pattern of the walls. The quarry tile was also used on the back wall of the stalls and it looked no better there. There was no cove base tile either, which makes it more difficult to clean as dirt tends to collect in corners. The adjacent flooring in the hall was stained concrete, why not continue it into the bathroom?
I thought it was a bit strange to have the baby changing accessory installed just inside the door but it was a stainless stell version. 
The countertops was done in white solid surface with two porcelain undermount sinks, but there was plenty of room for a third. The faucet controls were a bit undersized.

The best design element was the floor to ceiling frosted glass panel and door and what made it interesting was it absorbed blue light from the inside the bathroom and yellow light from outside the bathroom. 
Cleanliness: Excellent
Ventilation: Perfect
Size/Spaciousness: Three stall: one ADA and two standard.
Accouterments: The textured stainless steels stall doors had working full-sized handles hinges, very substantial. 
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