Relax~Refresh~Renew: SETTING SAIL

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Setting the tone for the beginning and end of your day starts with the sanctuary known as the master bathroom.

Story by Ann Butenas   |   Photos by James Maidhof




Homeowner Desmond “Des” Poirier is counting his blessings, as his ship has truly come in…in the form of a newly redesigned master bathroom that sports unique nautical influences. This head-turning oasis is certainly making waves and is notably “see-worthy!”

A Kansas City native, Des wears many professional hats including those of musician, artist, and instructor within the Continuing Education Department at the Kansas City Art Institute. He’s a busy guy and when he comes home, he now has a place to relax and unwind, far away from the rest of the world. A fan of the industrial nautical influences associated with two of his favorite cities – Seattle and San Francisco – Des wanted to apply that type of design element into his bathroom, creating a themed master bathroom based on the look of a 15th century sailing ship.

After collaborating with Terry Skilling and the team of experts at Rhino Builders, Des’ dream bathroom in this turn-of-the-century, two-story brick home overlooking downtown is ready to set sail, and all he has to do is simply come home at the end of a long day to experience the feeling of being out on the high seas.

“I am an active person and I enjoy spending time in my new bathroom, not only because it is comfortable, but also because I love the new steam shower with the fold down teak bench. When my muscles ache, this is the place to be,” he smiled.




With the help of Elizabeth Rishel of Orion Design, the mood, feel and ambiance of an old sailing ship took shape with her artful design blend of old timbers, antique iron and original brick with modern tile, blue glass and quartz. LED shelf lighting, a large window view and pieces of Des’ own nautical collection add to the overall appeal.

However, intense work was required to achieve this look.

“Layers of old wall plaster, tile and floor finish were removed, leaving just the original brick wall and existing plumbing and electrical element,” noted Skilling. “The most difficult part was  getting the new mechanicals and plumbing in the right places. The floor also had to be reframed.”

In order to secure the optimum view while bathing, the 150-gallon tub and steam shower were framed in specific spots to achieve that goal. A reclaimed antique porch floor was used to comprise the ceiling; the brick was cleaned, repaired and finished with some tuck pointing to give it that charming “old” effect; and a maple door outfitted with a port hole and set with antique hardware – a surprising warehouse find – adds the perfect touch to the space. Custom wood trim was designed to partner with the existing trim and was installed around the windows, door and floor base.




It is truly the details in this design that bring the theme to life, and several items used to complete the effect were salvaged from old buildings, barns and warehouses.

“The leg from the vanity came from an architectural salvage store downtown,” noted Skilling. “It used to be an old oak bracket from which movie theater ropes hung.”

The shelf brackets held up old industrial plumbing pipes, and the vanity top is made from salvaged white oak. The brushed chrome sink partners perfectly with the custom made cabinets created by Brian Dirks, Owner at Cabinet Designs, LLC.

The custom-made glass doors by Westport Glass help set the tone for the warm appeal of the shower, with its combination of porcelain tiles and morocco blend large penny mosaics. The Happy Floors chocolate tiles in the shower are accented by blue glazzio eclipse glass tiles and the floors within are of the same chocolate tile, which was also placed on the tub deck and accented with little blue and brown glass pencil lines. A lighter color 10×10 porcelain tile from Sunderland Brothers comprises the main floor.

“When you begin demolition on a home like this, you never know what you might find underneath it all, but we were able to keep Elizabeth’s design within the existing space,” said Skilling.


Project Designer:

Rhino Builders


Interior Design: Orion Design    |    Shower Door: Westport Glass    |    Cabinetry: Cabinet Designs LLC    |    Granite: Canaan Stone Works    |    Plumbing Fixtures: Ferguson Enterprises    |    Tilework: Eddie Cummings Tile    |    Tile: Sunderland Brothers    |    Plumbing: Diamond Plumbing LLC    |    Electrical Work: Vanover Systems LLC

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