The bathtub tile design and installation at a recent project is the subject of our design spotlight because our clients made some wonderful aesthetic choices and we were able to use a very talented tile artisan to make their vision a reality. “The combination of aesthetically aware clients, a great Project Manager and a talented tile setter made my job easy,” says Maggie Bates, the Project Designer and author of this article.
First let me start with a little background on the project…
When our homeowners began working with us we were well aware that they wanted to control costs while expanding their home to accommodate their family of four. Upon visiting their home it was clear that they needed a larger bedroom and an office area at a minimum, but their vision also included a second bathroom, a family room and a better mud/laundry area for the entrance from their backyard.
After working out the ultimate design they trusted us enough to go ahead and have us build the project. The end result: it has turned out really well!
The bathroom is part of the master suite in the new addition and has the impression of a private sanctuary. Our clients worked with me through more than one revision of the bathroom plan until we were able to get all of the fixtures they wanted to fit, yet also make it work with all of the other spaces. The finished bathroom includes a double vanity, a toilet, a tall storage cabinet, a 42″ neo-angle glass shower, and a deck-mounted Maax whirlpool tub. It was the placement of the tub that proved to be the biggest challenge!
No matter where I put the tub I seemed to end up with an unacceptable, strange space… examples included a sharp corner of the tub sticking out where I was sure someone was going to stub their toe or bang a knee. The solution finally was to round the tub wall that supports the deck. This is not a problem in design but can be a problem when trying to control costs.
One of the early lessons I learned in controlling costs is to keep the walls straight. So here I was, trying to design within the clients’ budget while breaking the straight-wall rule. But when I looked at all the budget decisions that the clients had made up to that point it was clear that they were making smart decisions. This allowed the extra expense of the tub design to solve the layout problem!
Next, came the decision to select the tile. The feminine counterpart of this couple was in charge of most of the aesthetic questions when we met in our showroom to look at tile options. We knew the best solution for the tub was a small mosaic that would wrap easily around the curve and continue across the top of the deck.
The ceramics were the least expensive tile but did not create the look my client wanted. Then I showed her some glass tile by a supplier that has really good prices and it was clear that this was what she wanted. Furthermore this supplier has a fabulous, interactive website that allowed us to mix colors and surface sheen to arrive at exactly what we wanted. By using this website we settled on a glass mosaic blend of aqua and blue shades in glossy and frosted beach glass surfaces. (Go to Susan Jablon Mosaics and look for the Tile Designer tab to create your own custom pallet of blended colors and textures.)
The last step in the process was getting our project manager, Shawn Serdahl, and our local tile installer, Mowry Stone & Tile, on board with the look we were after. Shawn built the curved structure for the short tub wall. He also organized the jobsite to allow for a smooth installation by the subs who took over from there. Mowry’s tile setters — Dennis and Rob — knew exactly what to do to make the curved surface, edge and deck look superb with the chosen materials. Rob set the curved face using a mud set method and carefully laid out the deck surface tiles on top of a substrate in a radial pattern that accentuated the curved look. They used an epoxy grout that resists stains and wear. The installation, in my opinion, was top notch and resulted in the tub being the jewel of the entire project.
What really made this project a success was the thoughtful choices made by our clients all along the way, as well as the excellent work of our longtime employees and subcontractors. I love working here!