Bath photos

mrblandingsJuly 31, 2004

My current obsession is designing a kitchen, but I thought I'd share some photos and the story of our bath project from a few years back.

Link to photos


DW wanted to do contemporary and I wanted a more traditional look. So we compromised and did a contemporary master bath and a traditional guest bath.

Guest bath: tile is Original Style glazed wall tile and unglazed encaustic floor tile. I had a lot of fun with the floor tile pattern -- I saw the pattern in a design book but with the tiles set square to the room. I decided I liked it better with the rows of dark squares square to the room, which places the tiles themselves at an angle. (I liked the pattern so much I repeated it as a design motif in the shower.) I spent many hours using Trig formulas to calculate the non-square angles, and even made a template, but the tiler just laughed at me and said he'd done a few of these before, he could just lay it out by hand -- so much for my "original" idea.

We created the shower alcove by poaching space from the adjoining bedroom -- the original bath had a 4' long "mini" tub at the far wall. We needed a way to get air to the Bain Ultra in the master bath, and didn't want to disrupt the visual continuity of the tub's tilework with an air grate, so we installed the motor remotely in the guest bath with a removeable cover with air slots. The lav is a Duravit Happy D with Dornbracht Madison -- the wall mounting let us minimize the projection of the basin into the very narrow room. You may notice there is NO counter space for storage of toiletries -- our guests have noticed this too! We are still looking for the right piece of furniture to go next to the sink, and also plan on replacing the mirror that is there now with a medicine cabinet/shelf combination.

Master: we sacrificed a bedroom for the master bath. The mosaic tile is from Briere, floors are Mexican concrete tile. Story on the floors: the tiler decided on his own initiative to use 1/4" grout lines after we had specified 1/8". He thought it "just looked better". He had laid the entire floor before we found out. We contemplated making him tear up the floor and buy us new tiles, but the tiles had taken 3 months to order, and the project had been going on for so long, so we gave in. Still think the 1/4" is too wide, but so it goes. Vanity is honed absolute black, faucets and thermostatic shower set are Dornbracht Tara. The vanity support was custom fabricated for us -- it connects to "L" brackets that are bolted to the studs -- it's VERY sturdy. The metal fabricator thought I was crazy when I told him to just polish the raw steel and clear-coat it instead of paint it.

The shower detail photo shows how we built a "ledge" for shower supplies, as an alternative to a tiled-in nook. For those comtemplating a doorless shower: I love it, DW tolerates it but misses the "steam room" effect of a traditional shower enclosure.

The side of the tub has a "secret" access panel that is actually grouted in place, but can be removed in case of emergency, if you know which grout lines to grind out.

The whole project took about 9 months from demo to completion. The biggest delay was in getting a tiler (the original contract did not include tile, since we had not selected our tile at that point). The GC told us he had a great tiler lined up for us -- he had been featured numerous times on "This Old House". That should have been a warning sign. We met with the tiler and went over the designs...he'll have a price for us in a week. Two months later, the price came back...20k for the tile job, labor only. Well, what do you expect for a TV star? So, back to the drawing board. Eventually found an excellent tiler to do the job for 8k plus materials. Seems expensive, but actually I think he underbid -- the job took him and his assistant 3 full weeks. We had a concrete "mud job" poured over the subfloor before the tile was laid -- this allowed us to create a level floor (both floors were originally off level by 1" or more).

We did all the design work ourselves, with consultation with the GC's designer, who told us when we had really stupid ideas (neither of us has any design background). I used Broderbund's Home Architect to do floor plans and elevations for the tile design.

We call these our "dot com" baths because they were done in 1999 when we were giddy with tech bubble insanity (I worked for an Internet company at the time). I won't say what we spent, but it was a lot, or at least it seems like a lot now as we are trying to design our kitchen for MUCH LESS than the cost of these baths.

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Really beautiful work. I especially love the master shower tile detail. But everything is beautiful in both bathrooms. Great job.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2004 at 8:14AM
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I love both bathrooms a lot. They're both extremely stylish and look like they function beautifully. I love to see creativity and style in home design!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2004 at 7:33PM
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Wowza! Both the baths are absolutely fantastic but I love your Master Bath. Its so well put together that it looks huge and spacious and well-lit. Everything is just so well thought out - this is going to be the bathroom that I base the design of my much smaller MB on.

I'm also in Massachusetts and am curious, as I'd like a walk-in shower as well. Do you think that if you had a pane of glass that extended further out along that wall that you'd be warmer? Am loosely basing a shower on yours but thinking that since there's no way I could have this huge stretch of shower area that you have, that maybe we could have a 2 foot deep recess (borrows from a closet in the room nextdoor) but maybe a 4 foot pane of glass to collectively define the shower area and then the 3 foot "walk-in". Do you think, based on your experience that that may be less draughty?

Love your honed Absolute black counters. Where do you keep your bathroom cleaning supplies and toiletries, may I ask? I love how clutter free your bathroom is, but I don't see any storage and am wondering how you fare.

Thanks so much for these beautiful pics.


    Bookmark   August 3, 2004 at 4:05PM
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I have added our floor plan diagram to the photo album.


The floor plan should give you a better idea of the dimensions and layout. The main shower is 3' wide by 5'2" deep, and the 'landing zone' between the shower and tub is 3'2" x 3'. The recessed section (with the shower head) is 2' deep. I can't comment on the draughtiness of alternative layouts since I have only used the shower we have!

re: clutter free counters. OK, I cheated for the photos -- we are not really neatniks most of the time. But there is plenty of storage space -- recessed medicine cabinets behind the mirrors, and a closet and more shelves in the passage between bath and bedroom.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2004 at 10:15PM
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mrb, I like both baths a lot. Very clean, and your 'trig' ideas make me think of my own dh who is an engineer and once seemed to be reinventing the wheel for our gc. We soon learned that he 'knows' his stuff even if it is not thru book-larnin'.

Love the small glass? tiles, but know the cost is beyond our plans. I still enjoy looking and am glad you can enjoy them.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2004 at 2:43PM
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MsAdzi: the mosaic tiles are ceramic, not glass. At $10/sf they were on the highish end of ceramics, but nowhere near the cost of glass.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2004 at 7:24PM
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mrblandings, both bathrooms are stunning! How very luxurious.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2004 at 7:21AM
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mrblandings, Love the screen name! Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, and a Dream House, what more could you want!

(Unless it's your real name, then please excuse me, *lol*)

Also in MA :)

    Bookmark   August 19, 2004 at 3:24PM
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I adore both of your bathrooms. You've beautifully captured my favorite style which is a blend of contemporary and traditional. Both baths look very classy and very stylish.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2004 at 2:44PM
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Your bathrooms are absolutely beautiful! Our guest bath was supposed to be a black and white retro look. The installer mutilated the tile job so badly(despite their very high prices.) I am thinking of having it torn out and starting over. Can you tell me what color grout you used in your guest bath on the black tile? They used black grout on ours, next to the white tile. The black grout seems to have run and they were very sloppy. It looks like a first grader did the bathroom. I was told it is possible to color over all of the grout - yours looks so perfect - was wondering what you used.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2005 at 3:07AM
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RSMB: we used a gray grout everywhere, in both bathrooms. We hadn't even thought about grout color, so we just went with the tiler's recommendation. I'm sure using a single color made his work easier, but in retrospect I think that using a single color (as opposed to different colors for different tiles) works well to unify the tile job.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2005 at 8:46AM
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Beautiful bathrooms! Gives me something to aspire to.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2005 at 11:22AM
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Incredible floor tiling. Love it!!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2005 at 11:42PM
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Congratulations for a superb design job, both bathrooms are worth a magazine feature....

    Bookmark   February 6, 2005 at 6:23PM
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Beautiful bathrooms! Great use of texture and color. Kudos!

    Bookmark   February 23, 2005 at 6:28PM
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I love your master bathroom! Thanks for the information on the beautiful blue tile, I'm planning on getting samples. We want a blue mosaic like yours for our bath surround, but the samples of glass mosaics we saw either looked too much like plastic, or were too expensive. Thank you so much for suggesting the alternative of colorful ceramic mosaics from the Briare company.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2005 at 9:39PM
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Is there anywhere in this forum where I can see lots of finished bathroom. I need some inspiration!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 11:14AM
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Would you be so kind to re-post your bath pictures,please. I have not seen them and after reading these posts, would love to I am sure many others would, too.
Thank you,

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 8:43PM
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