Arabasque tile: too much for a small bathroom?

zen4dJuly 25, 2012

I have a 7 x 8 bathroom and wanted to use Arabasque tile over tub - on all 3 sides. My contractor, whose work I treasure, has suggested that the look of arabasque for such a small bathroom would be overpowering. He believes a good quality subway and glass backsplash would be the way to go. My house is an old country house in CT, and I need to work with the country feel of the home while loving a soft contemporary/eclectic look. I thought this was a good compromise.

here are two links:

http://www.houzz.com/photos/bathroom/arabesque-tile

second photo down:

http://cotedetexas.blogspot.com/2012/05/readers-kitchens-series.html

Please help me decide. Thanks in advance.

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kmcg

I love the look of arabesque tile - especially that light blue shower on the houzz link. But I would hate to clean that grout for the rest of my life!

I do think it can be heavy-handed if you use too much, but that's true of many types of tile. What about subway tile on the bottom half of the wall, with arabesque in a color above a chair rail? Check out the link below from home depot - page 12 in the pdf - for a great cobalt blue tile scheme.

Here is a link that might be useful: blue bathrooms

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 2:31PM
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Fori is not pleased

I think it's fine to treat a smaller bath like a jewelbox. Go just a little over the top on everything. I don't think arabesque is a pattern you can do halfway. All or nothing! Perhaps even on the entire wall behind the vanity. Up to the ceiling!

I don't think it'll be too much if you get enough.

I also don't want to clean it. :P

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 4:22PM
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writersblock

I don't see why it would be too much. Incidentally, the second photo is Beekeeper's Wife's kitchen from the GW kitchen forum.

If you really want to soft-pedal it, HD now carries an arabesque tile, but it doesn't have the nice beveled edges of Bee's tile. But I agree with fori--go for it.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 5:27PM
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pricklypearcactus

Personally I love the arabesque tiles and I think the links you provided show some beautiful examples. I disagree that the size of your bathroom makes the arabesque a problem, and I think it could be very beautiful over a tub in a standard bathroom size like yours.

However, you said:
"My house is an old country house in CT, and I need to work with the country feel of the home while loving a soft contemporary/eclectic look."

Honestly, the arabesque shape does not read country at all to me and I'm a little concerned it could be disjointed with the style/feel of your home. However, I am not an architecture or historical expert, so perhaps I'm wrong.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 11:19AM
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zen4d

Thank you. I was concerned about the cleaning too. And I do want to go with white in this bathroom - or ivory for the tile (although I love the light blue on houzz.) Fori: I agree with you - I really do - but I'm afraid to make a mistake that I will have to live with for a long time. Writer's block: I think I might see what HD has, and hold up a sample in bathroom. Pricklypearcactu: I thought the arabasque might blend. My home is an old CT colonial, I should say, but it has a different kind of vibe than strictly country. Like me ( I grew up in small town NYC and moved to CT) so my style is sort of city/country if you can picture that. Oh, i'm so confused!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 1:32PM
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williamsem

While not white, beige is also a good neutral. I love this Allen + Roth Spanish Tile wallpaper from Lowes. If I had seen it before I painted our bath I would have used it on the blank wall and picked a matching paint color for the rest. Plus no grout! It looks much better in person if you can get to a Lowes.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 3:47PM
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writersblock

I realize that my previous post wasn't very clear. I meant that the lack of a bevel on the HD version of the tile makes it stand out less than the beveled version, so if you were a little uneasy about the shape it's not as marked. But I prefer Bee's tile for sure if you're going that way and budget isn't a strong consideration.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 4:09PM
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kmcg

Great wallpaper!

zen, I think the HD lantern tile is an online only kind of thing. If you find it in the store, I hope you'll post.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 7:48PM
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writersblock

FWIW, I'm in FL and our stores have sample boards, although it is special order tile.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 8:03PM
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williamsem

Forgot to mention that wallpaper is not flat, there is some texture and dimention to it. I think that makes it look better than a flat printed pattern, but that's a personal preference.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 9:59PM
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michoumonster

I am struggling with this exact same decision myself! i would say go for the arabesque, but maybe figure out how much of it to use. i am worried it may be too busy too, so i am going to do my shower with it, but then do some very simple tile for the floors. i still am trying to figure out exactly how much of the arabesque to use in the shower..

this is my inspiration pic from houzz, which has it on every wall, and all the way up the wall, which i think looks great.

Contemporary Bathroom design by Other Metros Interior Designer Andrea Schumacher

My DH wants to do the arabesque tile this way-- creating a focal panel on the wall and plain tile everywhere else.

if you are going to do white or cream, i don't think you need to worry as much since it is such a neutral color. hope this gives you a few more ideas!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 1:09AM
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zen4d

I love that Houzz light blue but I already have a light blue bath in house so I'm opting for white. As for the focal point, my contractor suggested I do something like you have pictured, but I find it a little busy and prefer a clean, simple look. I still may go for the subway but EVERYONE has subway these days - i may be dating it sooner than I would prefer. By the way, my contractor just told me cost of arabasque tiling is more expensive too, by a few hundred dollars.

One more thing: Misison stone and tile will have a reduced price if 5000 people facebook like it.

I have wood mahogony floors (thin planks: old house), and will have to make decision within the week on tile. I will choose white though.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 10:32AM
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Sophie Wheeler

If this is a stand along tub and not a tub shower, from a functionality standpoint, arabesque could work. If this is a tub/shower, then it doesn't work from a functionality standpoint. Waaaaay too many difficult grout lines to try to keep clean and mold free.

It does NOT work at all from a style standpoint given your description of your home.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 11:33AM
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kmcg

Actually, I think the style can work in a traditional home. It's a bit like the old hex tile in that it gives a kind of quilted effect. And certainly the designers are using it (en masse, it seems) in more traditional decor styles. For a good example, open the link and scroll down to the entry labeled tidbits.

Here is a link that might be useful: walker zanger ashbury tile

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 12:06PM
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zen4d

Hollysprings and kmcg, thanks for your input. I am worried about the grout lines. I may not be describing my style of house accurately, but from a style standpoint, I think it would work. I find that tile works well if you are going for an eclectic look or like to reinvent the old. I love it in light blue, and I think the light blue pictured in Nest Egg gives it a more traditional-blend eclecticness that works with many different styles. However, again, the grout may be the determining factor here.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 12:54PM
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zen4d

Here is another website on Arabesque: http://tiletramp.com/2011/05/10/arabesque-tile-here-to-stay

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 1:50AM
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kmcg

Now you guys have got me obsessing about Arabesque tile for my new shower. I went to a showroom yesterday and saw the WZ Ashbury in person; it is gorgeous! The shadow blue color is the same color as Restoration Hardware "silver sage," which has always been one of my favorites. It has a crackle finish. They have several colors, some of which are plain and some crackle. The scale of the tiles is larger than I had expected (4" tall and 3" wide), so I'm less worried about the grout issue if I'm not doing top to bottom in the intricate shape.

I don't know the pricing yet, but I'm afraid it's going to be too high for me to use much. So I'm thinking maybe doing the focal point approach - a framed in area of the blue ashbury on one wall in the shower.

Back to zen - I know you want white, which I think gives you an opportunity to use the focal point approach with different textures of white tile. If you use trim pieces to frame a section of arabesque, then use subway or field tile in the rest of the tub alcove, that could be really nice. You could even do a framed inset on each of the 3 walls. The framing would create a more vintage feel, I think - almost like wainscoting.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 2:03PM
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michoumonster

kmcg, i am going to use the walker zanger blue shadow. i love the crackle finish! hopefully it will hold up in the shower. i asked the walker zanger saleslady and she said that it can be used in the shower, just not on floors. i am not sure why the grout lines would be a concern for arabesque since they seem like they are roughly the same size as subways? the WZ line called tuileries in the brown/white arabesque pic i posted above, has larger arabesque tiles, but doesn't have the nice blue shadow color.
another company that sells really large arabesque tiles is arto brick (but these are concrete). but they are very affordable.
pricewise, the beveled arabesques from mission tile are about 20% more than the WZ ashbury from the quotes I got. HTH!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 2:27PM
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kmcg

Oh, that would be great if WZ prices out at less than the beveled arabesque from Mission. Thank you!

I think the general worry about grout lines is that there are more lines per square foot of tile, and that there are lots of corners and curves in the grout. But since the Ashbury tiles are fairly large, it's not nearly as worrying for me as with the smaller lantern tiles, like Home Depot sells.

michou, I look forward to hearing what you decide about how much of the blue to put in your shower. What size shower are you working with? Are you thinking of using the Vibe field tiles? (I'm smitten by those, too!) Or do you plan to combine the WZ with something plain? My shower is 3'x4' using a Kohler Purist cast iron base. My husband wanted the plain base because it will be so easy to keep clean, so I think I can get away with a bit more detail work on the wall tiles. I'm probably doing faux marble 12x12 tiles on the floor, so now I need to figure out what will work well with the Ashbury inside the shower.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 2:54PM
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michoumonster

kmcg, i am not sure which ashbury tile you are looking at, but the ashbury ones that i am using are about the same size as the home depot lantern tiles. they do have a larger arabesque but not ashbury. i believe the tuileries line.
my shower will be about 5x4. i am planning on using the WZ on the 5' wall. the WZ field tiles are really nice too, but i was thinking of going with something larger format for the other walls. so i think i will do something very plain in a similar blue/gray color. the issue i am having is DH wants to do the panel look but i think it will not look as modern, which is the look i am going for.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 2:22PM
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kmcg

michou - I have to admit I've only seen the HD tiles online, so I thought they were smaller.

I agree that the panel look does read traditional in all the examples I've seen. I actually think doing one full wall would look more modern.

I'm trying to design something for my 3x4 space, and have basically come up with 2 options for using the Ashbury. (1) a large framed panel on one wall, or (2) a 2-foot high band around all three walls, at about the midway point. I'm thinking of large-scale faux cararra marble on the bottom, and plain white subway on the top. It's a tough call, and no more creative ideas have percolated yet! Suggestions, anyone?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 6:42PM
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zen4d

I'm still undecided and have to make a decision quickly. Tile America has a simple white arabesque. What if I did a band of Arabesque on all three sides a little higher than midway, and subway above and below? What do you think?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 7:15PM
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kmcg

zen - I've been sketching out that design, and I think it looks pretty good. Can you find some trim pieces to go above and below the band of arabesque?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 8:50PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Crackle tiles are not suitable for a shower install. The cracks in the glaze lets mold spores into the body of the tile and they will grow there and you won't be able to get them out. All of the curves and crevices in the arabesque will also be extremely mold friendly as well. You want to minimize grout lines in a shower and the goal should be that when you squeegee off the water after showering, you don't want any droplets remaining in those crevices.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 12:48AM
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kmcg

Thanks for pointing that out, holly! It led me to find a bunch of posts on this point, both here and on the John Bridges forum. People seem to think the crackle finish tiles can be used if they are diligently sealed twice a year. I'm not crazy about that idea, and even then, there are still risks. I'll have to research this WZ specifically, though. The surface has a glossy sheen, and all the crackling seems to be on a layer underneath that top glaze. Maybe that wouldn't have the same tendency to allow water in?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 11:30AM
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kmcg

Big sigh... just off the phone with WZ main office, and was told it's not a good idea to use the shadow blue in a shower. Back to the drawing board for me!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 12:17PM
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michoumonster

hollysprings, thanks for the info. i decided to take the risk anyway because i am too tired to look for a new tile. (I chose all the other tiles to work with this particular color and already installed the floor tiles, sigh...). hopefully i will not regret it later.. knock on wood!

kmcg, i had talked to WZ previously and they told me that it was fine to use the crackle tile on the shower walls, just not the floors. at any rate, i can't imagine it could be any worse than marble, which requires some upkeep and sealing, but doesn't prevent people from using it anyhow. but maybe i am just rationalizing my own decision, LOL!

FWIW, the vibe crackle tile seems to have a thick and durable glaze over the top and sides, so the surface is completely smooth. i have left my sample tile in a bag with a bunch of stones and other tiles and taken it around with me to various stores and no scratches on it at all, though the bag actually put a huge scratch on my table when i set it down! HTH!

zen, one idea i think i am going to do for my shower now, is instead of a panel, do a fat vertical stripe of the arabesque down the wall. if i can find some pics of this design, i will post for you. good luck!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 1:29PM
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kmcg

zen - sorry to hijack onto the WZ discussion again :) but I wanted to respond to michou - After my post, I got a call from a different person at WZ, and she said this tile is fine for the shower wall, if sealed, but not the floor. It is porcelain, which makes a difference, according to the various posts I've read. I searched for technical data and found that the moisture absorption rate is 0.4. I'm assuming that means 0.4 % and not 4 or 40%! If I'm reading that correctly, it would be rated as "impervious" - anything 0.5% and lower. I agree that the glaze looks very durable and - to my eye - intact, with crazing just under the surface. In fact, I have no idea how sealer would even be able to penetrate the tile. So you are probably just fine. I'm torn; I think it would work, but do I really want to worry about whether it would fail. Still, it is the most gorgeous color I've seen, and the only way I'll avoid having a white on white bathroom!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 3:10PM
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zen4d

michoumonster: Don't feel like you're hijacking at all. The comments help me too. Every time I think about some other tile, I'm returning to the arabesque. I really do think it's a style that is very flexible and works in almost any home. Kmcg: I am pretty sure I can find some trim pieces. Would you mind posting your sketch?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 4:52PM
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kmcg

zen - I can't post my sketch because I don't have a scanner. But I'm basically just playing around with how wide the band of arabesque would be, and what the proportions are for the upper and lower sections. In my plan, I would be doing large-scale faux marble tile on the bottom, arabesque in the middle and subway on top. I'm thinking the bottom layer should have more visual weight, so should be larger than the other two layers. But the bottom should probably be less than half of the total vertical space, if that makes sense. I would avoid dividing the space in even thirds, but beyond that I think you can just make it up as you like. The other factor to consider is where your shower controls and shower head will be, and which band of tile you want them in.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 10:29PM
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zen4d

Bought my tile today. Not Arabasque, not subway, but Porcelanosa Yakarta Blanco. It looks like grass cloth. I like subway but didn't want something that everyone had. The Arabesque raised too many concerns - grout space and cost. ($22 square foot)

I wanted to find something that blended my contemporary likes with my traditional colonial/semi country home. (10.20 square foot)

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 10:34PM
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kmcg

It looks good, zen! Are you mixing it with other tile, or doing all one type? I hope you're going to post pix when you finish this. I'd love to get a look!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 11:49AM
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zen4d

I am not going to mix. I will keep it simple. It will have a grass wallpaper look, clean white. I will keep the tub, although would prefer not to. Deciding factor was listing the house for resale; I would not have been able to list the bathroom as a full bath. The floor will remain as is: thin mahogany wood. I am choosing lighting right now. I will post pics. I'm also long overdue in posting my kitchen renovation, but will also do that soon - once I relearn how to post pics.

Thanks for your input kmcg.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 3:35PM
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zen4d

Here is a picture of the tile I ended up selecting:

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 4:12PM
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michoumonster

zen, that is a very nice look! very modern and clean. hope to see your pics soon!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 6:50PM
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