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Bathrooms, Tiles and Design Ideas

April 22, 2012

What can make you feel more privileged than designing a new bathroom?  Not much, perhaps designing a new kitchen?  Luxury, spa, relax, retreat, comfort are all words that we use today to describe what we want in a new bathroom.  Gone are the days when replacing chipped fixtures, or a defective faucet, and painting the vanity were considered an update.  If the bathroom today doesn’t have the look and feel of a spa or luxury hotel ensuite, it misses the mark.

Excessive consumerism, or just reward?  I think for most clients, working long hours, and meeting the demands of children, a retreat-like bathroom is not only well deserved, but neccessary.  A beautiful and efficient bathroom may help you to achieve a happier home—well worth the investment.  Not to mention that it will increase your home’s value.

I have the privilege of designing new bathrooms often, since this is one of the most popular renovations that my clients undertake.  I am currently working on the re-design of no less than seven bathrooms for 3 different clients, so I thought it would be a good time to write about the process, and show you what’s interesting in tiles, a large part of the selection process.

Marble, marble, and more marble; we can’t seem to get enough of it for our water closet updates.  Marble is both luxurious and classic, and adds soft texture and pattern to a space, giving it a timeless quality.  Limestone, Travertine, Carrara, Calacatta, and Saturnia Ivory are some of the more popular marbles for floor and wall tiles.  They are all light neutrals, in shades of sand, beige, grey, cream and white, with veining in grey, beige and brown.  Because they are neutral there is lots of opportunity to add pops of colour in art and accessories, a wise way to decorate, because you can easily change the accessories when the mood strikes.  Remember the days when we committed to pink tiles for ten to twenty years—not any more–thank goodness!

It can be challenging to coordinate shower surround tiles, counter top and floor.  Here is an easy formula:  start with a large tile on the floor, such as 12” x 24”, or 18” x 18” in the marble of your choice.  Then use the same marble for the counter top and shower surround, only in different formats.  The counter top will be a solid slab.  The wall tiles can be a combination of smaller tiles:  12” x 12” tiles can be used for the background, or field, and then a panel of ½” x ½” mosaics can be framed using a border, or marble moulding tile, creating a picture frame effect for a feature area.  There are many other shapes for the feature area, from hexagons to basket weaves.  See below.

There are many great alternatives to marble as well, including combinations of marble with glass and metallic tiles, crackle finish ceramic, and the classic and economical subway tiles.

Stand alone tubs are taking centre stage in larger bathrooms, and walk-in showers with heavy glass are now standard.  Faucets are the jewellery of the bathroom and very important to the design.  Polished nickel has taken over from brushed, but watch for satin and brushed brass to come on strong as an alternative, while oil rubbed bronze has all but disappeared.

 Light fixtures need to be selected thoughtfully; they add another layer of decoration and warmth while doing the important work of illumination.   Pot lights alone don’t cut it.

Cabinets look like furniture, and details are important, such as louvered doors, pictured above.  Shaker style, flat panel doors are still very current, but extra levels of mouldings are being used, such as a second step, or bevelled moulding. Beautiful hardware is a must.  Squared off handles seem to be overtaking knobs, but glass knobs in faceted or round shapes add nice sparkle.

Look up.  Coffered ceiling treatments, elaborate squared sections of beams and mouldings, or lovely deep crown moulding and sky blue paint will insure that you have something beautiful to focus on when you luxuriate in a long warm bath in your new soaking tub.

Don’t forget to include a terry cloth upholstered chair , and small table to hold a candle, a glass of wine, and a book. Ahhhhh….

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About Adele Barrett

Adele Barrett is a consulting interior designer in Hamilton and Dundas. Over twenty years of conferences and continuing education classes keep Adele Barrett Interiors design practice both on trend and timelessly classic. She started collecting paint chips from the local lumber yard when she was 3 years old, and a seed was planted that grew into a career. Continue reading...