I Design, You Decide: Guest Bath Materials Edition
When designing five bathrooms at the same time for one house, the goal is for them to look like siblings or super close cousins…but not twins. (No offense to twins…we have three sets in our close extended family, and regardless of that “identical” label, they are never “identical” and are full of their own personality despite perhaps looking similar.) To add to the challenge here, I’m not designing only five bathrooms…I’m designing TEN (two plans for each) for this whole “I Design, You Decide” program…isn’t that hilarious??? How do you do this? Well, that is a post that we are working on because I learned SO MUCH throughout the process and I want to share it in the best blog post ever full of process and resources. Meanwhile, I’ve been given the fun news from my contractor that if materials don’t get here ASAP, they are essentially at a standstill with nothing to do and they’ll start another job until materials are on site. We ordered plumbing months ago so all the rough is in, but as far as finishes? We (you and I) are tackling those this week.
You’ll see full rendered plans for each bathroom with all the fixtures and where they are going to live soon, but for now, we need to order our materials to keep the project going, sans the renderings, mirrors or hardware. It’s like talking about “half twins,” which doesn’t even equal “one” full person…it’s just half of two people. Fifty extra “Vacay Giveaway” entry points for actually following this analogy. I just lost, but it’s my cabin so I don’t need to win a week there anyway.
First (sibling) is the downstairs guest bath, which has a tub/shower combo (that’s the one we’re focusing on for today). As a reminder, it looked like this when we bought the house:
It’s tucked away so it will likely not be a bathroom the kids use and is really just for guests (its location is circled in the below floor plan, for reference).
You’ve already chosen the design of the master (which is the most substantial) but we have four others to play with which means maybe it’s time to have a warm, modern BLACK bathroom.
Here’s what you need to know: in this option, the walls and tub front will be clad in reclaimed wood that is stained black. We have a sample (see below) and it’s SO PRETTY. It’s so warm, has so much texture and grain and feels rustic in a modern way. It was super hard to find any photos that accurately represented what’s in my head but let’s try:
Unlike this space, our wood would go vertically and again, it’s stain reclaimed wood so it has way more texture than shiplap. We also have a new huge window with a wood frame going in and the tub surround and floor will be white tile.
That bathroom, above, is too cold for this house but we would have more wood texture, a lot of warm marble and brass fixtures. This is actually what I’m afraid it would turn out to be, not that I don’t like it because I do but it won’t feel like the rest of the house.
I would LOVE the above bathroom but again, that is a different house. We don’t have concrete floors or a big wood slab vanity. It’s stunning but more tonal than we are planning.
I LOVE the above bathroom very much. The trick is making sure that it’s NOT this super high contrast stark-black-and-white, so adding a warm tone and having handmade tile is crucial.
The black wood clad tub is something I want, and with white tile and some wood detail, could we pull it off? Just maybe…
I know you are scared. I don’t go dark often and when I do, it’s navy. But nobody wants me to do the “Youxi988 Special” (navy, white, blush and brass) so instead, I offer you my moody, more dramatic alter ego. Here are what my materials would be:
: It’s hard to show you how pretty and simple this tile is. The edges have the perfect amount of “shakiness” as it is handmade (in Portland). It’s called the “Portland finish” because they actually glaze it on the opposite side giving it a sharper edge which apparently a lot of people in Portland (and the world) love. We will run it horizontally inside the shower. I’m also debating this being a gray so that it’s not such a stark contrast.
: Oh boy is this marble beautiful. We found it at and it has a ton of warmth and gold tones, which this bathroom will need if there are black walls. We MIGHT also cut it up and use it on the floor. Once we get everything in the rendering, we’ll know if the bathroom needs more warmth than just the white tile. Speaking of…
: This tile will be a 2″ x 2″ version of the surround tile—from Pratt & Larson—and we will likely have them set very close together, with a darker non-white trim.
The window (from ) is currently ordered in an unfinished white oak so that we can stain or paint (or leave) however we want. I think opting for a darker walnut tone might be nice. We will go for a washed linen shower curtain versus glass panel (maybe). This might change, who knows, but when we were in there, we wanted to soften this room and bring in more of a cabin feel ( finding a solution to the tub shower glass panel situation that is actually attractive and not functionally annoying is VERY DIFFICULT – more on that later).
The only thing I’m nervous about is that the vanity itself is white and already ordered (and on site). If I had known that I was going to want to do a black reclaimed wood bathroom, I would have ordered a wood tone or even a gray vanity. I don’t love the idea of a stark black and white bathroom for this house—it HAS to have some mid tones and a lot of warmth to not look dark and cold as heck. I could bring the wood flooring into the room instead of the white tile, which is definitely something I might consider. That or use the calacatta on the floor. OR we could always paint the vanity…
You scared? I am a little. I’m super excited about the materials, I just want to make sure they look good with the vanity in a rendering.
But part of this process is to give you two options, and if the black walls TERRIFY you, remember that we have four other bathrooms in this house, and this stained reclaimed wood will be a consistent theme, they aren’t out of nowhere. But here is some inspiration for a much brighter option…OPTION #2:
This option would still have the same theme—simple materials with lots of integrity, white reclaimed wood on the walls, and lots of grain and texture. We would use slate on the floor and bring in a different honed marble.
None of these really represent exactly what I’m thinking it will look like, but it gives you the idea that it will feel brighter and lighter, probably more “Youxi988” but less of a risk.
Here is the material board for Option #2:
: We chose the same tile on the surround but in a really beautiful greenish gray that looks amazing with the honed stone. Again, this tile doesn’t do itself justice—it’s so pretty and has a subtle handmade quality to it in person.
: That stone is not one I’m typically drawn to but when it’s honed, it feels really humble and mountain-y (the photo of it here shows it in a polish finish because they didn’t have a honed sample, but picture it a little more subtle). We would use it on the counter, possibly backsplash and tub surround. Oh, and if you guys are worried about the wood on the tub front, don’t be. We will build it so that it has a ledge (unlike in my kids’ bath at our house). I would also generally not put wood in a kids’ bath, but this bath won’t be used that much and rarely by toddlers so I’m not that concerned.
: I love the idea of a dark floor to keep it consistent with the rest of the house, which has a lot of hits of black in the form of wood or stone. I reserve the right to change this to a handmade black tile if when we get these all together it looks generic. Slate is tricky because it can come off builder-grade fast, so we want to make sure that it looks special and has a lot of movement. We plan on using dark grout so it’s more seamless.
For this version, I might stain the window a darker wood tone, and a glass shower door could work better, but I’m still kinda loving the idea of a really soft beautiful washed linen curtain to help bring down all the hard surfaces.
What say you, readers???? Do you want to see me attempt a black bathroom? Or do you know secretly deep down that it’s less “me” and you want to rescue me from myself??? I thought I was cool with either, but after writing this post, I’m kinda nervous about the white vanity with the black walls, but I’m up for the challenge of making those work together and potentially painting it (maybe a camel or mustard tone pulled out of the marble?). I know that Option #2 will look beautiful and bright, but in a perfectly appropriate cabin way. Brian likes them both but thinks “it would be cool to be in a black bathroom.”
It’s up to you: Should we attempt a dark wood-clad bathroom or stay safe with the lighter wood-clad version? You VOTE.
I Design, You Decide
Guest Bathroom Materials
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