September 30, 2016

Remodeling Your Bath? Read Our Q&A with Barbara Sallick on Her New Book, 'The Perfect Bath.'

View our Q&A with Barbara Sallick, Co-Founder and Senior Vice President of Design for Waterworks and Author of The Perfect Bath (Rizzoli 2016).

by New York Spaces

Barbara Sallick is the Co-Founder and Senior Vice President of Design for Waterworks
and Author of The Perfect Bath

The Perfect Bath by Barbara Sallick of Waterworks
© The Perfect Bath by Barbara Sallick, Rizzoli New York, 2016.

NYS: We are so excited to peruse The Perfect Bath, your new book published by Rizzoli. What can we expect from it?

Barbara Sallick: The Perfect Bath explores the process of designing a bath in great and beautiful detail. With the most exquisite images of favorite and esteemed baths and interviews with top designers about their work—including Suzanne Lovell, Pamela Shamshiri, Thomas O'Brien, Lee Mindel, Gill Shafer, Tim Clarke and Steven GambrelThe Perfect Bath offers important, how-to advice for homeowners.

NYS: Why did you decide to write the book?

Barbara Sallick: I wrote The Perfect Bath to encourage homeowners and designers alike to think about the bath in a different way; to present the timeless, ancient concept as a means of relaxation, reflection and restoration and help to translate it into a personal reflection of contemporary life.

NYS: Considering you founded Waterworks in 1978, what kind of wisdom do you include in the book that is truly gold for those who are trying to redesign their bathroom?

Barbara Sallick: The best advice I can give anyone is to plan your new space deliberately. I cannot emphasize the planning process enough. You can start by studying your closet for color and trends or collecting tear sheets, and then sifting through them for the images that most closely represent the experience you are trying to re-create. Finally, use the knowledge of an experienced sales consultant to find the products that meet your design and quality expectations.

NYS: How did you choose which architects and designers to participate in the section called "Point of View"?

Barbara Sallick: I wanted to consult with architects and designers with different regional perspectives; modernists and traditionalists who represent formal and casual spaces, all with different points of views on art and culture. I was interested in how their residential work informed their design for commercial projects, and vice versa. And I thought it would be interesting, in several cases, to look at the work they have done for themselves.

NYS: What does the idea of the perfect bath entail in your mind?

The Perfect Bath by Barbara Sallick

Barbara Sallick: There is no one definition of the perfect bath. It needs to express one's personal design, taste and style preferences, and the kind of experience you want to create. A perfect bath is one that has been layered with beautiful materials and installed meticulously.

NYS: Why are quality materials so important? What advice would you give to someone who has to choose wisely based on budget?

Barbara Sallick: Great bathrooms, like all interiors, result from the highest quality materials, layered and combined with proportion, grace, and personality. For someone who is building a bath on a budget, invest in a beautiful floor, which often has a small surface area, as well as quality bath fittings and fixtures, which are essential and often the most costly to fix should something go wrong. For a bath's walls, a classic white subway tile is timeless and always beautiful. Also, make sure everything is properly installed. A bad contractor can make an expensive project look cheap and a great contractor can make a cost-sensitive project look expensive. It really comes down to the details and how well everything comes together.

NYS: Why do you say the bath is the most challenging room in the house to design?

Barbara Sallick: The bath is challenging because it is a permanent installation. To either design or redo a bath is both disruptive to your daily rituals and expensive.

NYS: What do you recommend people should have figured out before they start the design process? What are important aspects to consider in terms of layout, functionality, longevity?

Barbara Sallick: The best bathrooms are the ones in which your daily rituals have been carefully mapped so that the flow of the space is fluid; towels are within easy reach, the place for makeup has bright but flattering lighting, shower amenities are not on the floor, and the materials and textures are timeless and classic.

NYS: What are some challenges when designing a bathroom that most people never consider?

Barbara Sallick: Lighting is often overlooked, as are some details such as a heated floor and a convenient location for towel bars and hair dryers. Often the flow of water into the apartment is not considered before selecting shower valves and showerheads. A design professional can often help avoid some of those potential missteps.

NYS: Why is it so important to do your homework before embarking on the design voyage?

Barbara Sallick: The bath is one of the most expensive rooms to create and everything is attached to the wall or floor. If you are not pleased with the results, it is not easily redone. I advise thoughtfully imagining the experience you want to create before you set foot in a showroom or hire a design professional. That planning process will ensure the outcome you imagined.

The Perfect Bath
The Perfect Bath by Barbara Sallick.

NYS: You mention that introducing an offbeat element can make your space exceptional. Can you give us some examples?

Barbara Sallick: I recommend that the surprise element be in an object, a work of art or the color of towels, paint or wallpaper. All of these details are not part of a permanent installation and can be changed at some point.

NYS: Is there a color or colors that you see as ideal for the bath?

Barbara Sallick: I love white so much that I have been called the 'queen of white'. White is often called the colorless color, but I find that it has incredible range, depth and infinite shading points. Farrow & Ball is my go-to brand. I love their paint pots and the quality of the paint—I have at least 20 in my basement. I have used many F&B colors but my favorite is 'All White'. It is what I call a warm neutral, and is a great bridge between all of the tile and marble and the white of the sinks and water closets. Another universal white is Benjamin Moore's 'White Dove'. I also love navy.

NYS: What was your favorite part about putting this book together?

Barbara Sallick: I was both surprised and thrilled by the generosity of the designers and architects and their clients who so generously shared their projects. Also, it takes a village to get a book to the finish line from the editor to the book designer, from my office assistant to talented people to organize lists. We were a great team and that made the entire process seamless and fun.

NYS: Where can we purchase the book?

Barbara Sallick: The book can be purchased on

NYS: Are you planning on writing another? If so, what would you focus on?

Barbara Sallick: I would love to write a companion called The Perfect Kitchen.

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