It took a dozen goldfish to convince a building inspector that Robert and Dorothy Winegrads' new shower was watertight. But the Winegrads of Silver Run had no doubts, since the designer is their son, I. Michael Winegrad, an interior designer and owner of I. Michael Interiors in Baltimore.
The senior Mr. Winegrad filled the shower's bottom with water and set the fish free to show his confidence in the finished project. The newly remodeled bathroom passed with flying colors.
And, to the family's surprise, it was chosen as "large bath" winner in the annual Kitchen and Bath Contest sponsored by a national magazine, Decorating Remodeling.
The 12-by-18-foot master bath is featured on two pages in the October issue. The contest highlights the two most often decorated rooms in the home.
The designing Mr. Winegrad read about the competition in The Sunday Sun a year ago.
"It was a first-time entry, though I have had my work published before," said the 36-year-old designer.
"It was a confusing thing when I entered the contest. The rules said it had to be your own home, but it was my parents'. They [parents] didn't know I was submitting it. I had forgotten all about it."
The Winegrads received a letter about six months ago saying they had won the large bath portion of the contest and $5,000.
"I didn't know anything about it," said the elder Mr. Winegrad, a lawyer in Owings Mills.
"I thought it was a joke. I had a phone number to call, and when I talked to the woman, I told her the only thing missing from the letter was a picture of Ed McMahon."
I. Michael Winegrad, a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park, said it took several drafts to come up with the perfect design. The room was part of a whole house project.
He also helped to gut the first floor of the home and redesign it.
"It took about a month to conceive the design," he said of the master bath.
The entire house -- without finishing touches -- took three to four months to complete.
His style, he said, leans to the eclectic, devoid of color. Using color, said Mr. Winegrad, places a design in a time period. His approach, he said, is "neutral in flavor. Color is something I don't think about."
Featuring such materials as faux granite vinyl wall paper, a matte-finish laminate counter top, slick glass blocks around the curvy shower and porcelain tile on the floor, the $13,000 remodeled bathroom is loaded with texture.
Besides appreciating the artistic value of the room, the Winegrads now enjoy two sinks, more storage space, a bidet and a large shower replacing an old bathtub.
Fortunately, Mr. Winegrad's parents like his design tastes.
"They trusted me and knew what I was going to do," said Mr. Winegrad. "They knew I wasn't going to come in with raspberry colors. It's a very private room. I tried to make it functional."
"We're just so happy with what he has done," said his father. "Of course, he is our son, so money was no object. He did pretty much what he wanted to do."
The magazine's panel of judges said they chose the room from more than 1,000 entries in the category for its functional use, innovative design and luxuriousness.
"It's really beautiful," said Karen Saks, co-editor of the magazine, based in New York.
"What we look for is comfort, safety and good design. It solved a problem: His parents decided they wanted more space. And, when they are in the room, they could be together yet separate."
The protruding rounded shower, complete with a seat, hides the toilet and bidet from sight when you enter the room.
"It's a refreshing change," said the elder Mr. Winegrad.
"I am very critical and picky. But I don't know one thing I would change."