Designing a bathroom is harder than you think

Take a look around your bathroom.  Without thinking too long, how many decisions would you say went into it? Like, maybe 12, tops? You are wrong.

Here’s another question: what color do you think your toilet is? Oh, “white,” you say? But is it Cotton White or Colonial White?  Or could it be Bone? Linen? Are your fixtures traditional, contemporary, or “transitional”? Polished Chrome or Satin Nickel?


Maybe this can help.

I could not even tell you the number of hours I’ve spent planning these bathrooms (a full master upstairs and 3/4 on the 1st floor), or the many, many iterations they took in my brain. Unlike the kitchen, for which I had an early, clear vision, I had almost no bathroom opinions going into this. All I knew was that although I like the modern minimalist look for a lot of things, ultra modern bathrooms mostly struck me as boring and hotel-like. I wanted something with a little character.

But what kind of character? If you have eclectic tastes like I do, you can’t just pick your number one favorite of each thing you need for your bathroom and expect it all to work together–my thought was that I’d pick one totally amazing feature and then build around that. But which feature?

Originally I was like, “Floors! I’m going to have AMAZING, SHOW-STOPPING floors!”

Which brings us to tile. If there is one item out of an entire renovation that is guaranteed to reach through your chest, rip out your heart, and pull a full-on Daenerys Targaryen, it is tile. A girl could really spend a lot of money on tile. A girl could really consider importing tile from Sweden because it is so jaw-droppingly cool and mathy in all the many ways it can arrange itself.

dandelion tile (2)_601

“Dandelion” tile from Marrakech. Love.

A girl may also become obsessed with the idea of a golden maize fish-scale floor in an otherwise all-white powder room.

yellow mosaic

Fleurs 14-18 from Mosaic House

In the end, Feature Floors™ were just way outside the budget, so we decided to keep our hardwoods in the downstairs bathroom and go with a classic white penny round in the master. To compensate, however, we went with FEATURE WALLS™ in both.

For the downstairs 3/4, I found a gorgeous, mod wallpaper that had that same great yellow in it at B&Q, which appears to be the British equivalent of Home Depot. I lurrrve it. I almost had a major sad when I learned  they don’t ship to the US, but I found a colleague in the UK who agreed to buy it and send it university-to-university, which means free. Best thing? I could buy enough to do the whole bathroom for just a little more than what a single square foot of that tile would have cost.


Orsino wallpaper from B&Q

And upstairs….remember how we salvaged that incredible old-growth wood from the floor joists? One of the bathrooms that always struck me in my many, many searches, was this one:

wood bathroom

Those laundry-style sinks are super weird (do they give anyone else a Clockwork Orange Korova Milk Bar vibe?), but there is something about those giant white mirrors against the wood paneling that I can’t take my eyes off of. I must have it. So, our woodworker is making us a wall, made from parts of our old house, to go in the new house. AND, we bought this mid-century dresser on craigslist for $75 that our woodworker is going to paint (normally we wouldn’t do this to a vintage piece, but the wood is beyond a simple sand & stain, plus I want the salvaged paneling to star!) and turn into our vanity.


Here are my adorable PowerPoint drawings of the master bath.

Screenshot 2016-05-11 21.32.13Screenshot 2016-05-11 21.32.30

(If you’ve forgotten what the layout will be like, see “What’s the Plan?“)

As you can see: large-tile marble walk-in shower, freestanding tub, and a custom linen closet that conforms to the sloped ceiling (also made by woodworker [this guy is THE BEST]). For the mirrors, our plan right now is to buy the 31.5” Stockholm mirror from IKEA and paint them white.  Still in search of the perfect light sconce.

I know this post is long, but I can’t resist a little teaser of the house’s progress. The inside continues to be disappointingly unfinished, but the outside is starting to look mighty fine and EXACTLY like the beachy cottage I dreamed of. Here is the view from the back:


Isn’t that color divine?


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