Way back in May I wrote the last blog post about our main floor bathroom reno. Like all things in 2020, this project took far longer than we anticipated, but, good things are worth waiting for, right?? So, let’s talk through the project and get into those satisfying after photos.
To bring you up to speed, when we first moved into our house, over four years ago, we gave the bathroom on our main floor a cosmetic overhaul. We painted the walls and ceiling black, the vanity a glossy black, upgraded the lighting, and installed a brass faucet found on Craigslist. A few weekends worth of work and less than $1K in spend turned this into a bathroom we loved. We never used the shower (ever) and weren’t thrilled with the tile, but it didn’t make sense to do much more here when we had so many other projects to complete. We always talked about this being the bathroom that was at the very end of the project list, so if we ran out of spaces to renovate, we’d then tackle this one. Welp… during our kitchen reno, we received a call from our contractor saying that they needed to rip out the wall between the bathroom and kitchen and tear out the floors of the bathroom in order to make it structurally sound. So, we lived for a year and half with the below unusable bathroom, which forced our hand into a complete renovation of the space.
Here’s the satisfying before, refresh, and final after comparison photos:
This is the third bathroom we’ve gut renovated in four years and we have learned so much and have leveled up our skills with each project (bathroom one, bathroom two). So, I knew that we had the capacity to take on even more with this bathroom than we had in the past, and I’m so thrilled with the end result.
Out of the gate, I knew that I wanted to go bold in this bathroom and after years of lusting over coloured tile, this felt like the right bathroom to go big and make a statement. We partnered with Fireclay Tile on the handmade ceramic wall tile, and they are one of my favourite brands in the home space for so many reasons: their tile is handmade in California, they recycle materials and water as much as possible, they are a certified B-Corp (meaning they are employee owned), and last but not least, their tiles are GORGEOUS. In our kitchen, we installed Fireclay ceramic tile as a backsplash and every day since have marveled at how much we love the tile.
After pulling dozens of different stunning Fireclay tile samples, we settled on Rosemary in a 2×8 size. It’s a warm mid-tone green that has the perfect amount of saturation, a glossy finish, and some light crazing on the surface. This tile also has some colour variation, so it has this amazing depth when it’s all installed on a bigger wall.
For the walls we went with the 2×8 size, which is my preference for rectangular tile. The long and skinny proportions are so elegant and really elevate the space. One of the other reasons Fireclay was the perfect partner for this project is that they can make all the trim pieces you need to properly finish your tile work. All these pieces are handmade too and take a project to the next level. We used a Round Liner trim piece to finish the top edge of the tile around the room, for a very classic look.
We also used bullnose tile to wrap the wall between the shower and the linen cabinet. Installing this skinny wall was an endeavor, but so worth it! The finished product is so custom and high-end, and also solved for some of the challenges we had in where to terminate the tile and begin the wallpaper. It’s a small detail that elevates the space.
Now, let’s talk about the floors. Since this bathroom is so petite, I knew I wanted to use one continuous flooring throughout the bathroom in order to visually expand the space. We also knew we wanted to do a curbless shower and didn’t have the depth for a linear drain, which meant we needed to use a small scale tile on the floors.
We partnered with Walker Zanger on the floor tile, and discovered so many gorgeous mosaic tile options in their collection that feel fresh and interesting. Ultimately, we landed on the Tangent Hive tile in Calcatta marble, and I never thought I could love a mosaic tile more. The shape of the tile is interesting without being overwhelming and the color mix of marble throughout the sheets was very well distributed. What I love most about this tile is how balanced it feels in the space, where the small scale of the floor tile is balanced by a medium sized tile on the walls and a large scale wallpaper. Not only that, the continuous floor tile really does help to make the bathroom feel more expansive than its 40ish square feet.
For both the walls and the floor we used Maipei Flexcolor CQ premixed grout. I’m of the belief that grout is highly underrated, the right grout can make your tile shine, and the wrong colour can do the opposite. On the walls, we went with White, which is a slightly warm white that highlights the green tile and showcases all the tile we invested in perfect grout lines (do not use a contrasting grout colour if your tile work is not excellent, otherwise it will highlight all imperfections). On the floors, we used Warm Grey, which allows the Walker Zanger Hive tile to look organic and provides a cohesive thread between the varying shades of Calcatta marble.
The Wallpaper & Paint
Since this bathroom is primarily used by guests, I wanted it to feel more like a powder room and less like a full bathroom, so using wallpaper was a big tool in achieving that goal. I also love that the colours in this wallpaper, Sandberg Raphael, compliment the tile colour so beautifully. One of the other benefits to installing the wallpaper on only the upper half of the bathroom is that we don’t need to worry about splashing from the sink landing on the wallpaper, so it’s quite practical too.
This was our first time installing non-removable wallpaper, and it ended up being a lot more manageable than expected. We went into the install thinking it might be the end of our marriage (on feedback from many of you, ha!), but it turns out Cory is secretly skilled at installing wallpaper. Over the course of two nights, we knocked out the project (a third if you count the night we spent watching Youtube videos), and I’m thrilled with the end result.
While I would have loved to take the wallpaper up to the ceiling as well, it didn’t seem quite as practical over a shower, nor was it within our level of confidence from a skills perspective, so we pulled a darker green colour out of the paper to coordinate with the tile, Farrow & Ball Card Room Green, and used that on the casing, the linen cabinet and the ceiling. I always think about how we can use the ceiling as a medium to continue the design, instead of defaulting to white, and I love that it feels like every plane in the room was considered. For the paint, we used Farrow & Ball’s Modern Emulsion finish, which is very wipeable and durable. It’s the same finish we have in our living and dining room and it has been very easy to wipe down with water.
Since this is not a primary bathroom that requires a lot of easy to access storage, I opted for a console sink that would visually lighten the small space. The sink is the Cierra Large Console Sink from Signature Hardware, and we absolutely love it. Signature Hardware is one of my favourite brands for affordable, yet high-end looking fixtures. We have one of their sinks in our kitchen and have been really impressed with the quality, so working with them again for another sink was an easy decision. When you’re installing a console sink, it’s important to think about how the plumbing underneath the sink is going to look. We used the trim kit from Signature Hardware to ensure our P-Trap and water supply lines would look great exposed, and they perfectly match the base of the sink.
The faucet is from a new-to-me brand, Franz Viegener, and is part of their Classic collection. It has really clean lines and beautiful details that allows it to perfectly straddle the line between traditional and modern. We opted for an unlacquered brass finish, so that the faucet will patina over time, like our kitchen faucet and hardware has. I look forward to seeing how the finish evolves as we enjoy the space. We ordered the faucet and shower set through Bender, if you’re located in Connecticut too.
For the shower, we used the shower head and arm, handheld shower and thermostatic valves from the same Classic collection by Franz Viegener. The shower head is gorgeous and generous in size, making it look extremely high end. We were very adamant that this shower needed a handheld shower too, as it’s so much more practical for cleaning, watering plants, bathing dogs (not that we have any, but a future homeowner might). I love how minimal the valve trim is too, where combining both the diverter and temperature on one backplate really simplifies a small shower. All the shower fixtures are unlacquered brass and will also patina with use.
We placed the shower controls opposite the shower head, so that you can turn them on and let the shower warm up, without needing to get wet. It’s the same setup we used in our primary bathroom and love.
The toilet is our go-to Kohler Tresham, which we also have in our primary bathroom. I’m a dork who has very strong opinions about toilets and vastly prefer a skirted toilet for both its aesthetics and cleanability. One of the other benefits to this toilet is that sometimes when you’re renovating you discover that the offset for the toilet is not the standard 12″ from the back wall, and this toilet has adaptors for 14″ and 10″.
One other thing you may notice is that we swapped our old large baseboard radiator for this sleek, minimal, and much smaller Runtal radiator. We debated painting it green to match the trim and blend more into the tile, but left it white, and you barely even notice it now. We now regret not making the same upgrade in our own bathroom, as this is such a positive improvement in the space.
Since we installed wallpaper in the bathroom, we wanted to ensure we had a very strong fan to keep lingering moisture to a minimum, and ended up with this one. This bathroom never had a fan, so we also made sure to properly vent it to the exterior for maximum effectiveness.
The Lighting & Switches
I’m a firm believer that good lighting can make a room and I did not hold back in this bathroom. When the walls were down to the studs, we swapped the single overhead sconce for two sconces at eye level. What I love about double sconces is that they provide the most flattering light, especially compared to sconces that light your face from overhead. These sconces are among my all-time favourites, as they pivot, which brings the light closer into the room and come with these super chic black trimmed shades. I also love the mixed metals, and that they pull in a black finish, while still feeling connected to the brass throughout the room.
On the ceiling, I partnered with Hudson Valley Lighting on this large brass and Spanish Alabaster flushmount. I love that the shape of the base of this light fixture coordinates so beautifully with the lines of the faucet and shower set. The Alabaster also provides a very glowy overhead light.
When I shared our switches on Instagram, everyone went wild for them, and with good reason. We partnered with Buster & Punch on the brass switches and dimmers, and they are by far the most stylish switches we’ve ever owned. Buster & Punch enables you to customize your switches by mixing up the trim and module finishes. We ended up using brass throughout, but black modules would have also been very fabulous. We have the overhead light on a dimmer, which is so lovely and substantial. The sconces and fan are on toggle switches, which are not only beautiful but also make the most satisfying sound when you flip them. The Buster & Punch brass plate fit a matte black GFCI outlet we picked up off Amazon.
While we don’t need much storage in this bathroom, as people who are obsessed with maximizing every square inch of a floorplan, we decided to carve out 16″ from the length of the shower for a linen cabinet. Cory built this cabinet from scratch and it has deep storage that we’re using to store both towels and toiletries for guests, but also our bulk purchases of toilet paper and paper towels.
We painted the linen cabinet in the same Farrow & Ball Card Room Green as the ceiling and trim and added very cool modern cabinet knobs from Buster and Punch that coordinate with our dimmer and switches. These knobs are slim and add a more modern touch. I love how the fluted detail matches the dimmer switch perfectly.
The Mirror & Accessories
One of the best ways to open up a small space is with a large mirror, so I went as large as possible with this mirror in this bathroom. Since, we already had a lot of finishes going on, I wanted to keep the frame on this mirror as minimal as possible, and love that the arched shape on this mirror contrasts against the rectangular shape of the tiles.
These Weezie hand towels bring a ton of style and are so soft and plush. We also have matching bath sheets, and I’m already envious of our future guests who get to use them. I love that the monogram personalizes them to our home and the style of the classic monogram feels fresh (I’m a typography nerd!).
The rug is vintage and sourced from this shop on Etsy, where I wanted a rug to bring some softness and a new colour (a pinky blush), but not to compete graphically with the pattern on the walls. This rug was super affordable and cushy underfoot.
The trashcan was a Goodwill find for $6 that I’ve been holding on to for a few years. I find wastebaskets to be one of the hardest items to source, so whenever I stumble upon a cool one at a thrift store, I buy it. The marble tray on the back of the toilet is a no longer sold Jonathan Adler soap dish that I placed one of our favourite Molton Brown diffusers on. Beyond that, I kept styling at a minimum, as I don’t want to compete with the bold paper and tile. I’m toying with the idea of adding a piece of abstract art over the toilet, but for now, am enjoying just the expanse of wallpaper.
- Wall Tile: Fireclay Rosemary in 2×8 size with Round Liner Trim
- Floor Tile: Walker Zanger Tangent Hive in Calcata
- Sink Faucet: Franz Viegener Classic Widespread Faucet in Unlacquered Brass
- Shower Fixtures: Franz Viegener shower head and arm, handheld shower and thermostatic valves in Unlacquered Brass
- Sink: Signature Hardware Cierra Large Console Sink in Brass
- Toilet: Kohler Tresham
- Wall, Ceiling & Trim Paint: Farrow & Ball Card Room Green in the Modern Emulsion Finish
- Wallpaper: Sandberg Raphael in Green
- Mirror: Frameless Mirror
- Sconces: Alton Pivoting Sconce
- Flushmount Light: Hudson Valley Lighting Greeport
- Switches, Dimmer, and Outlet Covers: Buster & Punch in Brass
- Cabinetry Pulls: Buster & Punch in Brass
- Towels: Weezie Monogrammed Hand Towels in Black
- Rug: Vintage
- Wastebasket: Vintage