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A Small Bath Update: A Few Design Tips

Updated: Jun 28, 2020

Before I started working from home, I was a design/sales consultant at a tile store. It was a lot of fun helping retail customers and interior designers put together bathroom designs as well as backsplashes and fireplaces. While I worked there I got the chance to help my mom design her main bath tile, it was a blast and we are so dang happy with how it turned out! First, let's start off with the before photos. Y'all gotta know where we started to truly see how big of a transformation this was.


The Process


When I began helping her select tile, we started with the walls. You should always start with one of the field tiles (aka the main tile you see) whether it be the floor or wall.


Selecting the first field tile was easy, she knew she wanted a white subway tile. Done โœ…

But that was only part of the battle; she was unsure of what size subway tile she should select. There are more than you'd expect. I suggested the 4 x 8 inch size and she trusted my choice...after a bit of convincing. This size is great for the size of the space and the proportions are really nice surrounding a tub. She chose to go the ceiling with her tile this time (I wouldn't have let her do otherwise anyway) and it made such a huge difference! The space feels so much larger and brighter overall.


Subway tile is a great option if you're on a budget, however, keep in mind that not all tile is created equal. An important thing to note while shopping for your subway tile is the thickness. Obviously a thinner tile is going to be cheaper, but it also will be more difficult to install. Sometimes it's worth it to save a little more in other areas of the project such as refinishing your tub or vanity vs replacing them.


Next on my list for the design was the accent tile, there are so many options for accents it can be very overwhelming, just remember: keep it simple. Simple is generally great for when you resell and it's nicer on your budget. We went really simple here for a couple of reasons. This isn't a master bath in her forever home, she plans on selling the place in the next couple years, and it's not a single-family home so we didn't want to go overboard for what the home is.


She ended up settling on this gorgeous Tiffany Blue glass mosaic tile with a mix of shiny and frosted glass. I suggested doing a vertical accent versus your more traditional horizontal stripe. The Horizontal stripe tends to be more dated depending on the tile you select and the design of the shower. Horizontal stripes work really well if you're doing multiple stripes or when you have the stripe running through the niche. If you're having a tough time deciding or envisioning this, head over to my Pinterest where I've saved tons of ideas and inspiration! Once decided on the vertical stripe, we went back and forth over the placement of it. I advised putting it in a focal spot where it would be visible the most. I like to say that you want to create visual interest on the main, most visible wall as long as it makes sense.


Once the walls were nailed down, I moved on to the floor and selected two porcelain marble look tiles to present to her. She ended up choosing this stunning porcelain tile because it has a really great quality marble print on it, the colors didn't go funky in different lighting and it came in a matte finish to make sure it wouldn't be slick after a shower or bath.



Like most women, we both have expensive taste aka we like luxury but don't like to pay for it and I'm sure if you're here, you do too. We love the look of marble and the luxurious feel it gives, but in this case it wasn't realistic, plus with the porcelain option she gets the look of marble without the maintenance or price tag!



Originally we didn't have a baseboard selected however it was on the list of tile the contractor requested and ultimately decided to follow the contractor's suggestion to rip out the wood baseboard and put in a coordinating tile baseboard. In this instance, we did select a real marble because it just looked the best and in this application, the maintenance involved is extremely minimal.


To finish up the design, we selected the final finishing details like grout colors, trim on the shower walls, and shelving. Instead of a classic bullnose, we chose to go with a white powder-coated aluminum edging to trim the tile edges. If you're unfamiliar with this, it is the piece of tile that has a rounded, glazed edge to hide the clay on the back of the other tiles. Hopefully that describes it okay...I will indicate where this is in the photo below. Choosing to go with the metal edging vs the more traditional bullnose saved costs in material and labor (YASSS!). Bullnose tile is expensive and you need to get enough to line the entire height of your shower on 2 sides typically plus the installer (or you if it's a DIY) have to install each one individually. Another advantage of the metal edging is that it comes in longer pieces, typically 8 ft and there are tons of finishes to choose from.




The last thing we decided on was the type of storage. It was easy for her to decide to go with corner shelves. Shelves and storage are some of the questions I got asked the most by customers when going over design. To help you out I've listed some simple guidelines to follow when it comes to shelves. Most importantly, do what is functional for you with practicality.

  • 1 shelf/niche- it's only a guest bath that doesn't get used often

  • 2 shelves or a combo of- it's your main bath or master bath

  • 3 shelves or a combo of- you better have a lot of shit or one is down lower for shaving those legs

The Finished Design


Once everything was selected and ordered, it was just a waiting game for the contractors to get to work. I don't know who was more excited, me or my mom! Sure I've gotten to see other transformations of spaces using my tile designs, but I've never been so involved in the whole process, it was exciting!



The vanity top is something she would like to replace in the future. This vanity used to be the color of the door! When my mom refinished it, she also added the rope molding detail on the cabinet faces as well as new hardware. Currently there is carpet right outside the door that leads to the main living area that will be replaced with hardwood floors. I will add pictures later of what the transition looks like from the tile to the wood floor.


If you have any questions about the design, the tile or the process, drop them in a comment below๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿ‘‡ Hopefully, I will have another remodel post to share with you, her fiance's bathroom at his lake home up North is on the list but who knows what will happen with this pandemic...I hope it happens soon because I already came up with a gorgeous design!


Are we friends on Instagram yet? If not, I'm @lifeof.sarahbetch I hope to see you around!