In designer Michaela Scherrer's Pasadena, California, house, white is the only paint shade welcome, and the guest suite comes with the ultimate minimalist spa bath—ancient Greek-style sunken bathtub included. Michaela is a member of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory and we got to know her when we photographed her surpassingly calm quarters for the Remodelista book. Her style is meditative but far from monastic: she's a master at using textural materials and layering pale tones (she mixes all of her own paints and tests them directly on the walls). "Living with all white doesn't take a lot of discipline," she says, referring not just to her walls but her objects. "If you have different colors and things are in disarray, it's obvious. If you have one color and things are in disarray, it just looks artistic."
Photographs by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.
Above: The guest room has a wall of custom MDF cabinets built around the window—"the window seemed very lonely in the corner and needed something around it. The cabinets also created a nice ledge." The doors have pencil edges and magnetic closures; they offer enough storage that nothing needs to be left in the open except by choice. The chair is a design of unknown heritage that Michaela modified—"I pulled off the back bar, lowered the seat, and then recovered it in white leather." The pouf is by Dosa.
Above: The desk is the Pyramid Table, a vintage piece by Dutch designer Wim Rietveld, son of architect and designer Gerrit Rietveld of the De Stijl movement.
Above: Initially designed for a show house, the bed is covered with a white leather blanket stitched from Italian hides. Leather, Michaela points out, is relatively animal proof: it can be sponged off when her dogs leave paw prints and resists her cat's claws. The wall art is one of Michaela's mood boards (learn more about her technique and materials in our recent DIY Pinboards post).
Above: A silvery bedside vignette—the low metal table is a Cassina design that Michaela has had for years; the sconce is by New York designer David Weeks. A metallic tote hangs on the wall.
Above: Michaela gutted the original bathroom—an ornate French design—and created the ultimate minimalist spa bath. To get the desired shade for the room, she mixed a pastel white base from Fine Paints of Europe with black, umber, and yellow pigments, a process that takes many trials. "I wanted a nuanced cool white," she says. "But if I'm in a hurry, I use Decorator's White from Benjamin Moore." What looks like a niche above the sink is a piece of mirror inset into the wall.
Above: The sink is by Como and is made of a stone resin; the fixtures are Vola designs in matte steel.
Above: The room's most arresting feature is its tub made of cast concrete tinted to "look like aged stone" and detailed with Vola fixtures. Inspired by a sunken bathtub in ancient Crete that Michaela spotted on a postcard, it has a square opening, but extends for an additional 18 inches under the floor, so that the bather's legs are partly subterranean. To get the design exactly as she envisioned it, Michaela sat down in the dirt when the room was a construction site and figured out the dimensions. "I didn't want it to feel like a big hole in the room," she says. "I wanted to keep the tub as minimal as possible while still being practical. The Greek one was submerged as well. It was a sliver in the floor."
To see the rest of the house, go to pages 150-161 of the Remodelista book. Also have a look at our Designer Visit with Michaela Scherrer. Looking for the right shade of white for an exterior? On Gardenista, see 10 Easy Pieces: Architects White Exterior Paint Picks.