Let This Jewel-Toned Bathroom Complete With Jungle Animals Be the Design Inspiration You Need

Seeking a way to embrace a saturated palette, designers Britt and Damian Zunino created a vintage-inspired design that’s a calling card for colorful bathrooms.

A handmade de Gournay mural was installed in the bathroom as a nod to a painting by Charles Baskerville. The painting was installed in a home rented by Marlene Dietrich in the 1930s.

Britt and Damian Zunino knew they had their work cut out for them when they signed up to outfit a project happening on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. As the principals of Studio DB, an architecture and interiors firm that oversees residential and commercial design, they’ve perfected a traditional-meets-modern aesthetic throughout New York City for a range of clients. But this project was different. In this case, there were no clients—so there was no one to tell them what to do with just 225 square feet. 

“Because this was for a show house, it was an opportunity to push the number of design elements in the space beyond what we would normally propose for a residence,” Britt says. “It was also challenge to tie together so many moments within a small space.” 

A handmade de Gournay mural was installed in the bathroom as a nod to a painting by Charles Baskerville. The painting was installed in a home rented by Marlene Dietrich in the 1930s.

A handmade de Gournay mural was installed in the bathroom as a nod to a painting by Charles Baskerville. The painting was installed in a home rented by Marlene Dietrich in the 1930s.

Photo: Matthew Williams

The opportunity and the challenge were presented to them as part of the 47th annual Kips Bay Decorator Show House, a highly coveted exhibition where 23 design firms put their mark on 22 rooms throughout a palatial Georgian mansion. The event took place last spring, and was open to the public as a fundraiser for after-school programs. Britt and Damian knew that the bathroom could be seen as an underdog in terms of potential—as is the case with most homes—and they liked their odds of making spectators stop and stare. 

“Since we didn’t have a client, we had to create our own set of design criteria and a narrative,” Britt continues. “One of the main jumping off points was the classic ‘Climbing Leopard’ rug by Diane von Furstenberg for The Rug Company. We have always loved this rug but hadn’t been able to convince a client to use it yet.” 

Custom Alison Rose of Artistic Tile completes the decadent scene, with marble accents on the floor and walls.

Custom Alison Rose of Artistic Tile completes the decadent scene, with marble accents on the floor and walls.

Photo: Matthew Williams

The rug features an aerial view of a leopard’s back, and it appears to be in mid-stretch at the center of an emerald green backdrop. The inspiration made for a lush canvas, and Britt and Damian sought to use its saturated shades as two-fold departure. One, they craved figurative distance from the typical palette of neutral bathrooms, and two, they envisioned more literal time away from life itself. 

“The room was designed as an escape from the constant pressures of the day-to-day. It was clearly a reaction to our own life of raising four kids, running a business, and trying to juggle it all in the city,” Damian adds. “We wanted to create an adults-only room to unplug—and the cocktail bar doesn’t hurt.” 

"We were inspired by a vintage piece of furniture and loved the idea of reinterpreting it as bar and vanity combination,

“We were inspired by a vintage piece of furniture and loved the idea of reinterpreting it as bar and vanity combination,” Britt says. “The exterior is clad in blackened steel and lined with faux fur, which was a nod to the original vanity’s fur exterior. Marlene Dietrich would have been right at home!”

Photo: Matthew Williams

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