One on One With Frank Pitman


Achieving Breathtaking Bathroom Design

By Gina Dostler

FrankAchieving the style and desired features in a bathroom, typically a home’s smallest room, can present a challenge. Designer Frank Pitman brings both form and function into the bathroom and layers it with beauty. A native of California, Pitman’s passion finds its outlet in interior design where he creates spaces unique to each individual.

Q: How do you approach designing a bathroom?

A: With any design, whether for a kitchen or bathroom, I address the client’s needs. They usually have in mind what they want so I start by listening, piecing together the environment they want to create by bringing their personalities and dreams into focus. I also like to provide renderings to the client so they can get a visual for what is being constructed.

Q: A bathroom is a big factor in the resale value in a home. Is this a consideration in the design?

A: Talking to the client and asking the right questions is going to get answers that explain their needs and desires. If the client foresees a near-future sale, it is a good idea to keep a couple of things in mind. Popular right now is the “spa” bathroom and large scale showers with multiple showerheads. Space is usually limited so the bathtub is sacrificed for the bigger showers. Unfortunately in most cases, lacking a tub in the master devalues a home. Also when buying a home with large spa showers, be aware there are specific building codes that aren’t always met and could put a damper to your sale.

Q: What specific codes do you mean?

A: There are new water conservation laws in effect that limit the amount of showerheads in a shower. There are ways to meet the code and have multiple showerheads by utilizing diverting valves, etc., so designing the bathroom the right way the first time is always best for everyone. Saves time and trouble. I’ve never had a problem with any city in getting a design to pass code. A good experienced designer can do that.

Q: So redoing a bathroom can get a bit complicated. Is choosing the right designer the deciding factor?

A: There is always a good designer behind a beautiful bathroom. I like to do the complete design from top to bottom and that includes bids from contractors. It gives me the leverage to make sure the design is built correctly since I’ve already worked with the contractor. I understand how some clients prefer their own builder, a contractor they have worked with before and did great work for them. I value that and encourage people to provide sources they like to use.

Q: So you are willing to utilize other contractors?

A: In fact I welcome meeting new contractors since good sources are always a changing factor in this field. But for the design we created to manifest as planned, we supervise every aspect of the build. An elaborate design with large modifications can present challenges in reading the blueprints correctly. Normally a seasoned builder has garnered the experience and can execute with no problem. Yet even a seasoned builder is always learning from every job and we provide that type of atmosphere making sure every little detail gets finished properly. It’s a team effort with communication a key component.

Q: What are some good pointers to keep in mind when redoing a bathroom?

A: Budget is the key to any design. Most people are reluctant to discuss the budget with a designer. They are worried that discussing it means every bit of that budget will be gone. But what happens is you hire an interior designer and without a budget, there are no guidelines to what can be done. The design plan is made and what happens many times is the cost is too much. So it is back to the drawing board and money chipped away at the budget. By providing the correct budget, a designer can create a design that is beautiful and fits your cost. There are many different ways to remodel the bathroom. For instance to keep costs lower, the less plumbing moved the better. Moving toilets, sinks and walls are costly. New cabinets and surfaces also add to the cost. All this is taken into account before the design is created.


Q: How do I light a vanity the right way?

A: I use the best of both worlds, decorative and task lighting. Task lighting is important for any bathroom yet most people are more concerned with decorative lighting around their vanity. Yes they are wonderful and look beautiful. But I like to use recessed or canned lights. I’d rather see the bathroom lit properly with an even tone. You also have to consider the safety issues. Appliances need to be out of reach of the tub/shower and that can be difficult with a small space. In other words a chandelier cannot be above tub and showers need special lights. Hiding plugs all over the place can also be a challenge. I like to place cabinets strategically where we can store the plugs inside.

Q: So does it come down to sacrificing function for beauty?

A: Absolutely not. It’s all about thinking out of the box, creating the right design to function exactly how you want. For instance towel warmers aren’t the prettiest in my opinion. I like to use a warming drawer instead where the towels are stored for warming up towels. And right now larger bathrooms are incorporating a morning kitchen where a coffee station is right there ready with your morning coffee. Finding the perfect function for your needs can be challenging, but making it beautiful is the easy part. If it’s not breathtaking, you are wasting your money.


Frank Pitman Designs, Inc.

22086 Esplendor

Mission Viejo, CA 92691

(949) 768-3943

Photos: Frank Pitman-designed bathrooms that combine function and beauty.