Monday, June 21, 2010

Mosaics in the bathroom

The recent issue of House Beautiful featured a lovely home with interiors designed by Jim Howard. I have had the pleasure of getting to know Jim over the past year, and reading the article was fascinating as it sounded so much like Jim…I could imagine him saying every word I read.
I particularly liked the bathroom in the house that was featured. Jim is always generous with sharing his own philosophy towards interiors, and it was interesting to read his thoughts on bathroom design. Jim clearly has a penchant for mosaic tiles in a bathroom, and I share his love for this design. Jim noted that “most people use matte tile these days, but the lustrous spa-like finish of polished tile – it feels expensive”. Note the polished basket weave tile on the floor of this beautiful bathroom featured in the recent House Beautiful, with interiors by Jim Howard. I have to agree with Jim – this floor looks very elegant.
The timing of this article is wonderful, as Suzanne (my designer), Keith Arnold (principal with Suzanne Kasler Interiors), and I have started to tackle the tile selections for the bathroom. Although I have a fair number of pictures of bathrooms in my inspiration files, and the master bathroom is one of my favorite rooms in my own house, I didn’t really have any preconceived notion of what any of the bathrooms in my new house would look like.
So, I thought it would be helpful to look at some of the pictures that inspire me to see if there are any themes or patterns that consistently appear – and the one that clearly emerged was mosaics in the bathroom.
Last year, I featured the Atlanta city apartment of Phoebe and Jim Howard, and had a personal tour of the space. It is clear that both Phoebe and Jim love the look of mosaics on the floor too; both bathrooms in the apartment had the most beautiful mosaic floors. This is the floor of the guest room. The tile border makes the space, in my opinion.

The master bedroom floor in the Howards’ apartment seems more subtle, as there is no border, but it appears to be the same tile.

I recently saw a house that was being renovated, and I gasped when entering this bathroom. It is so beautiful with it creamy colored polished marble hexagon tile floor. It was great to see this bathtub in person, because just the day before (in a total coincidence) Suzanne had selected this freestanding tub for my master bathroom.

The master bathroom of designer Lori Tippins’ house, featured in a post I wrote last year, has a larger scale in the polished marble hexagon tiles, which is perfect for this airy and spacious master bathroom. I still consider this to be one of the prettiest master bathrooms I have ever seen…and it proves Jim Howard’s theory that polished tile has that certain luxe look that is hard to achieve with a matte finish.

I would love to create a bathroom with beautiful green and white mosaic tile on the floor, but I also know that for me, it is best to keep the colors neutral given that it is easier to bring in color in the bathroom through towels or paint rather than through tile – color in the tile is such a big commitment.

Something like this is more like it – a beautiful basket weave tile on the floor, with the color coming in through the wall color and the lighting. Image via Brooks Falotico.

Basketweave tile showed up quite a bit in my inspiration files. This bathroom is sublime, with its fresh natural light, basketweave on the floor, and a border of solid marble tiles, making the basketweave almost like a rug. (Can anyone tell me the source?)

I also like the look of solid stone on the floor of the master bathroom, and a nice bit of mosaic tile on the shower floor. This is a good way to have the look, but not as much of the cost – mosaic tile can cost 2 or 3 times what a large tiles of solid stone costs.
Elle Decor recently featured an article on using mosaic tile in the interiors of a house, and there were some great pictures to illustrate its use in the bathroom. This room, with interiors by Kerry Joyce, has a great floor – and the tiles make quite a statement by spelling out ‘BOYS’ on the floor!

This bathroom is described as ‘spa-like’, and I love the feel of it. Interiors by David Jiminez, from House Beautiful August 2007.
As I was writing this post, I remembered that a reader commented on a post I did in the fall, and noted that the tile in one of my pictures was from New Ravenna mosaics. The reader was none other than Sara Baldwin, the owner of New Ravenna. I went over and checked out the New Ravenna website, and spent at least an hour looking around. The New Ravenna website is awe inspiring!

A subtle and beautiful basketweave floor from the New Ravenna website.

Found in the New Ravenna product section - would this be amazing in a bathroom?
Or maybe this one…it is like a piece of art. It reminds me of a set of beautiful sheers I saw in the window of a townhouse in London 10 years ago – I am slightly obsessed with this pattern!
Although I am usually a tone on tone or light and soothing color person, there is a great appeal to this black and white design.
The chevron pattern also caught my eye. I love this warm toned color.
When Keith and I were looking at tile last week, we selected all of the tile for the kids’ bathrooms and the guest bathroom (more on that later), but I totally burned out before we got to the master bathroom. Looking at tile is mentally exhausting! When we meet with Suzanne this week, we will complete the tile selection for the master (can you tell that I can make fast decisions when an expert is presenting the options?). Keith said that he envisioned the master bathroom being ‘an envelope of serenity’ – which seems exactly right to me. There were early discussions about onyx, but I have a feeling this might be over my budget. I react more to warm colors in stone rather than cold grays…so we will see what happens when Suzanne sets the direction!

As far as mosaic tiles are concerned, what do you think? They seem pretty classic to me, perhaps because they remind me of vintage bathrooms. If you have any good pictures of mosaic tiles on the floor, please feel free to send them to me!

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  1. Oh dear! You have a tough job ahead of you having to choose from so many beautiful ideas! Your tub is going to be just lovely!

  2. I never thought about basket weave tile as mosaic, but I guess it is! Pretty pictures. My favorite is Tippins bathroom.

  3. I cannot believe all those small tiles are here again! My bathroom floor looks just like the hexagon floors, I can't wait to get rid of it, it is 106 years old!!!!!! I do like the basket weave though.

  4. Yes, mosaic tiles are a wonderful vintage-inspired design element. I'm in the midst of overseeing a renovation of a master bathroom in a 1920's English Tudor here in Mountain Brook, AL that had been completely ruined in the 1980's. We're putting back a free standing tub, original casing and doors and of course--a herringbone Calacutta marble mosaic floor!

    New Ravenna is one of my favorite sources, but I love Akdo's products as well. Great post, Holly!

  5. Can can't take the wavy or zig-zags, they are migraine triggers. Any of the rest though. I like the Howard's best at least in the pictures: It looks ancient, subtle, faded; it might have been dug up in Pompei.

  6. Is the shiny more slip-y than the matte?
    At my age I worry about falling but the shiny is definately lovely.

  7. I have the same gorgeous tub, but sadly didn't think to do mosaics! AHHH, Holly why didn't I know of your site two years ago!!! Anyway, those hexagons are a dream!!!

  8. I favor the border tiles in the guest bathroom of Phoebe and Jim Howard. I love the refreshing feeling...a plus with this 95 degree heat now in Atlanta.

  9. Mosaics are actually a great choice for bathroom floors. The tiny pieces surrounded by grout provide an excellent non-slip surface! http://www.appomattoxtileart.com/index.php

  10. That mosaic border in the master bath of the Howards is phenomenal! Thanks for the New Ravenna website reminder... hadn't been to it in awhile.
    Isn't making decisions for your own home painful??? So much easier doing other peoples'.

  11. I love a polished marble mosaic floor and you posted some great inspiration pics. Though my own bathroom isn't as grand, we did do a basketweave tile carpet in marble and moonstone:

    And for that final touch of decadence, radiant heating beneath those tiles is a must!

  12. le sigh. these all look so lovely and relaxing. i LOVE the howards' his and hers marble vanity. SO gorgeous!

  13. I gasped when I saw Lori's large hex tiles and her beautiful tub and the chandelier, that is a PERFECT bathroom to me. It is subtle and classic in every way. I think the basketweave is interesting but I am afraid I would tire of it after awhile ,it feels a bit busy, just not subtle enough. I also like the simplicity of it all, I think that keeps the elegance up a notch. When the floor has too much going on I find it distracting to the eye, although beautiful, I prefer simple elegance. So many wonderful choices and you are working with one of the best and your taste is impeccable, nothing but lovely going on here!! Happy Week,Kathysue

  14. So beautiful!!! I love the carrera bathrooms :) but I am so much of a beige person I was headed the creama marfil and limestone route . . . these are so pretty though!

    I love the mosaics but almost think they work better in a smaller bathroom. . . Can be dizzying in a larger floor sometimes!

  15. What a great post! I love all of your bathrooms and the mosaic tile is beautiful and timeless.

  16. A very elegant floor indeed! The bathroom stopped me in my tracks when I was reading House Beautiful. So neat that you know the master behind the work! Such craftsmanship!

    xx Katie

  17. Adore Ravenna's basketweave and the herringbone.

    Art by Karena

  18. Oh I love all of these images, sheer perfection/.

  19. When I think of mosaics on the bathroom floor, an image from a Paris apartment comes to mind. I like the shiny mosaics as long as they are well maintained. Lori's master bath is beautiful- so fresh and clean.

  20. Thank you for the nice comments, everyone! We are doing basketweave on the floor of the kids' bathrooms, so if I don't end up with a mosaic in the master, at least I can get a little glimpse of it elsewhere in the house.

    I remember that people asked Lori about whether her bathroom floor is slippery, given its sheen - she says it is not. I can imagine that the additional grout lines that come with mosaics help to reduce the slippery factor.

  21. Lovely post. You are completely right with your excitement - oh my, so many lovely inspirations and then you have to choose! Not easy!
    I love mosaics - they add so much personality to a bathroom floor or an entrance hall.

  22. All such gorgeous floors!! Incredible. If you have time you should take a peak at a similar bathroom floor I posted which contains a border around the mosaic tile and beyond that border are marble tiles (stunning!!), http://marcusdesigninc.blogspot.com/2010/05/designer-profile-brian-gluckstein.html
    I think it is my most favorite master bathroom!

  23. i'll take all of it. any of it. a fraction of it.
    i LOVE the howards. loved meeting them. sad i don't get to hang out with them on the daily.
    such awesome characters.

  24. Mosaics in bathrooms are always pretty but most importantly, with all the different options, the choice inevitably says something about the homeowners style. I like that. I also like to use the same tile in multiple bathrooms in a slightly different application. Love the versatility of tile. Take your time and have fun with this, Holly!

  25. mosaics def take bathrooms to a whole new level! WOW

  26. I absolutely love mosaic tiles in the bathroom - I think it's such a classic look! We are nearing the end of our bath remodel project where we used mosaics on the floor - check it out here - http://helloloverofbeautifulthings.blogspot.com/

    I love the look of the polished tiles - but I did a lot of reading and most said they would be really slippery with wet feet - they do look amazing though!

  27. Great post. I especially like the hexagon tile in the house being renovated. You'll have to clue me in. I'm curious about the details. It looks like honed Calcutta gold marble. Great choice on the tub too. It seems like a perfect combination of modern and timeless.

  28. Wow. Holly, boy do I owe you! Thanks so much for the awesome press, and thank you Jim Howard for continuing to specify our mosaics! You guys are the best.

  29. I love the floors, i would never go with that small of time but i like it!

  30. Great post! Exciting to see folks getting adventurous with tile. So many beautiful options out there to have fun with!

    Thanks for helping to open up folks' eyes to the beauty of what's possible!

    - Eric from Fireclay Tile (www.fireclaytile.com)

  31. Holly, Thank you for sharing these beautiful tile floors! I am especially in love with the mosaic tile border in the Howard's guest bath. It has such a calming effect.

  32. Wow, these are so inspiring and fancy. If i had one of these bathrooms I probably wouldn't want to get it dirty :)
    My post on guest bathrooms Bathrooms

  33. take my breath away gorgeous.

  34. Such beautiful bathrooms!!! I love basketweave. I actually have carrera marble in basketweave as my kitchen backsplash and I get compliments all the time. Your children are lucky to have a basketweave in their bathroom!!

  35. Although it's a tough job picking "the perfect" tile/paint/etc.. during a project, the end result is so worth the agony! And with such great people helping you, there's no way you'll make a wrong choice. :)

    I have yet to see a project of Jim and Phoebe Howard's that I didn't absolutely love. Their creations are always impeccable, tasteful, and serene.

    If I had to pick a favorite, I love the New Ravenna Basketweave tile (and apparently lots of other people do too!). Putting color in the floor tile always makes me nervous since it "holds" you to a certain color scheme, but the mosaics you showed are just lovely and neutral enough to adapt to future changes.

  36. All of these bathrooms are so beautiful, I LOVE a high gloss mosaic floor, esp. hexagonal tiles, but there are lots of competition here =) Can't wait to see what tile styles you selected for all of your bathrooms.

  37. Thank you for the lovely inspiration! Those bathrooms are classic. New Ravenna has an awesome product offering.

  38. The source for the 8th photo down (rug look) is from Walker Zanger.

  39. Love reading your blog! Would you mind sharing the brand of the bathtub you have chosen for your bathroom? Also, do you know what tub is in Lori's master bath? I am in the market for a freestanding tub, and I love the look of both of yours. Thank you!

  40. We are using the Sunrise Specialty Piedmont tub. I feel fairly certain that Lori has the Kohler Vintage tub. Another tub that we looked at is the Waterworks Empire tub. I went to showrooms and looked at all of these tubs, and actually got into the tub to see what I thought about the feel.

  41. I'm into this type of designs cuz they can verily give contrast to rooms or to any designs imo.
    onyx mosaic tile

  42. I feel this is one of the so much vital information for me. And i am happy studying your article. However should observation on some general issues, The web site taste is ideal, the articles is actually great : D. Excellent activity, cheers.


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