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Diary of a Mad Renovator: Bathrooms

Written by Jaqui Lividini

Before I can select the Kohler fixtures and furniture for my bathroom, I have to make some hefty tiling decisions. I’m not so sure why selecting tile is so difficult for me, perhaps it has something to do with its permanence. Then again doesn’t that sum up house renovation in general? If you could snap your fingers and replace the horrendous carpeting you swore looked great as a swatch, renovators would be far less neurotic!

Upstairs bath framed in

To that point, I remember that growing up we had the same blue tile in the “children’s” bathroom for my entire childhood. My adult brain knows that design disasters (sorry Mom) can be changed – but the child in me only recalls irreversible blue tiles. With that in mind, designer Charles Riley and I headed down to Ann Sacks.  Their showroom is like a wonderland filled with exotic mosaics of ceramic and marble tiles.  As soon as I entered the store, I found the most fascinating ceramic tile that (to the naked eye) looks like bleached wood plank flooring: It was perfect for the two downstairs bathrooms.  


Ann Sacks Idris creamy white tile & Porcelain Plank Floor tile

Downstairs bathroom Ann Sacks "robin's egg blue" Idris Terra Cotta tile & Plank Porcelain tile

For the full bath on the first level we found a beautiful terracotta tile in the most perfect shade of robin’s egg blue  - a nod to Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House – my favorite home renovation movie of all time. Charles, though, felt the creamy white terracotta was perhaps a better choice; so we picked up a sample of both. For the upstairs bathroom we found a fabulous ceramic cross-motif tile for the floor and a simple white subway tile for the walls. To break up the white I selected a sea foam glass tile to use as trim. The upstairs bathroom gets the most incredible light so I knew the glass would sparkle. Satisfied that we had made all the correct choices, Charles and I headed up to the cottage to evaluate.  

Upstairs bathroom floor tile Ann Sacks Gotham Earthenware tile

Ann Sacks Metro glass tiles

All was perfect except the robin’s egg blue. It turned a very unflattering shade of gray in the natural light of the cottage.  Yet another important rule of home renovation: everything must be seen in the light it will be living in, or else you could find yourself having tiling remorse (I coined that myself). The definition of tiling remorse: tiling an entire space, then changing your mind once you’ve finished, or--even worse--living with it (I can see the Dr. Phil episode already). So the robin’s egg blue didn’t work and we decided on the creamy white terracotta (what Charles picked). It was as if Charles was sent to save me from bad blue tile twice! My Design Development team to the rescue again! Yet another important rule of home renovation:  when you start thinking of your building team as guardian angels, the project’s taken its toll.  

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