Faith & Mike's Master Bathroom: Making Final Decisions on Tile

Renovation Diary

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Name: Faith and Mike
Type of Project: Master Bathroom Creation
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Type of building: 1920s, multi-level, single family home

The Renovation Diaries are a new collaboration with our community in which we feature your step by step renovation progress and provide monetary support towards getting it done in style. See all of our Reno Diaries here.

While renovation work progressed apace on our house, including the plumbing and electrical work in our new master bathroom, my husband Mike and I were making some final decisions about tile. This was unexpectedly challenging, as it can be truly tough to take a sheaf of inspiration (all those glorious Pinterest boards!) and narrow it down to one specific physical choice. 

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In our master bathroom we needed two different kinds of tile: 

  1. Shower Tile: To line the shower walls.
  2. Floor tile: For the floor and shower.

I was adamant that there be no break or step between the shower and the rest of the bathroom floor, so we needed to pick a floor tile that worked well and was safe in the shower itself as well as on the main floor. This meant no large tiles, and nothing super slick or slippery. 

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We flirted with these fabulous oversized tiles, but they didn't feel quite right for our older home. 

Where to start? Our master bathroom was our one chance to pick out tile for our new home (there's none in the new half bath downstairs, or in the kitchen). We wandered the aisles of Home Depot and Lowe's, which were depressingly glutted with beige and faux stone and not much more, and then headed to the higher-end tile emporiums. 

We looked at marble-veined octagons, and handmade cement tile. I goggled at the price (and prettiness) of some luminescent glass tiles. We briefly flirted with huge oversized tiles with a three-dimensional design that felt faintly mid-century modern. 

We looked at a lot of tile, and we learned that there's no substitute for visiting tile showrooms and handling the stuff in person. How does it look and feel? Does it look oversized? Undersized? Is it dull? Shiny? Glittery? It's tough to get a good sense of tile from looking at photos online; you need to do it in real life. 

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Tiny tile inspiration from Germany, where my husband shot this in a train station. 

In the end, we knew that we wanted simple, classic tile. While our overall bathroom design was quite modern and clean-lined (no claw-foot tub, to my secret disappointment), it was still in an old home and more classic shapes and colors seemed to fit. All of my inspiration photos (see them here) reflected a lot of white. White, white, white. White tile would certainly be involved somewhere, but I didn't want white on the floors. 

Our bent towards classic tile also leaned us towards penny tile, which I adore. I think it's both classic and modern at the same time, graphic and punchy with all those little circles. We ended up choosing tile at The Tile Shop, at first because of their great prices, and then later because they offered to donate tile in the service of this renovation series. (Thanks, guys!) 

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For the shower tile: I liked their penny-round tiles quite a lot, and after some back and forth we quickly decided on penny-round tiles in the Moss color, like the octagonal ones seen above. (We're in good company here; the folks at Young House Love and Dana at House*Tweaking both used the same tile in their home projects.) I liked how the Moss colorway looked a little green, a little blue, but mostly gray. I had considered black tile (see below) but it seemed too harsh for our mostly-white bathroom. 

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The shower tile was a harder decision. I just couldn't picture what would look right. After looking at many white tiles, we finally relented and said, "Subway it is!" But I wanted the effect to be serene and not busy, so we chose larger subway tile (4-inches by 8-inches). 

Coming soon — I'll show you how it looked during installation! But first, we need to talk a little more about the floor. 

Check out the full series (so far) and be sure to join us next week for #9 of Faith and Mike's Diary.

(Images: Faith Durand)

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Renovation Diary: Faith & Mike's Master Bathroom

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