Bathroom Fashionista

Japanese Bird’s Nest fern living happily on the window sill of the new shower

Hah!!! We began designing the new bathroom and 2nd floor renovation over a YEAR ago. This past weekend the WSJ had an article on 2023’s Best Bathroom Design Trends. We did nearly every one of them. 🙂 Who KNEW I was such a trend-setter???? Although I have a lot of photos here of the completed new bathroom, some of the photos from last year’s post show things such as the mirror and teak stool much better. That post also has a detailed description of the shower unit.

I found the metal leaves out in Arizona at a wine & art festival. The mirror has been a big hit with folks as well. You can see the lights over the sink reflected in the shower doors. 🙂

We couldn’t find bathroom tile that we liked that had the necessary attributes for the job. I spent a lot of time in the tile store trying to find something. One day I started mixing and matching colors. Jeanne – the “tile lady” – liked what I was doing. 🙂 As we talked we pulled out the very expensive little tiles that I loved. We started popping them in among the larger tiles as accents. Ultimately that was the decision: 3 different colored large tiles from the same product line and 5 different colored accent tiles from a common product line. My husband and I decided that WE would lay out the tiles – it would be our art project, our own creativity. As it evolved from design to completion I began to think of it as our forest glen retreat – a green oasis that allowed you to step out of the everyday world and into serenity.

the engineer marking out the shower window

It’s not so easy to build 3 walls of tile when you don’t have walls. We had someone build us 3 wooden panels the size of the 3 walls. We put the panels in the driveway and began laying tiles randomly. Random is the key word here. We agreed that we did NOT want a pattern. Obviously the same color would touch vertically but the rule was the same color could not touch horizontally. It took hours. It was fun but exhausting and many times I thought we were idiots for taking this approach. My husband went first, doing the first pass of color selection and layout. I went next, doing some minor tweaks. He reviewed my tweaks. We both called it quits after several hours and very sore backs and knees.

All set to begin working – you can see the different colors. The little tiles are crackle glaze.

We completed the walls approximately 2 weeks before they’d be placed inside. We needed to cover them and protect them from the rain. Obviously the tiles could take the water, but we weren’t sure what would happen to the organization or the wood panels if it rained very hard.

Next came the effort to move what we had done in the driveway to the 2nd floor so the tiler could use them. We took numerous photos to help explain our vision. Then we flipped the tiles over in the wooden frames and labeled each one: Left wall, row 1, tile 1. All the way through the last wall, last tile. It was cold and damp and I ran through 5 Sharpie markers. I marked, my husband boxed and we got it all done. So very happy we have a hot tub for days like the tile project.

Notice the disaster that is our garage, the heater trying to keep me from freezing

The boxes were upstairs, the tiler came. He looked at all our work and the tiles. He pointed out that the saddle for the shower was cracked – we could not use it. I had to call the tile store, ask if they had any in stock, and run over and buy another $400+ saddle and bring it home. He did the floor and the sink backsplash. The next day was Yom Kippur. I needed to be at services by 9:30. Mirek looked at our carefully arranged boxes and said that it was lovely but that is not how tile gets laid. You don’t start at the top and work down or start at the bottom and go up. You start about 5-6 rows from the bottom and ensure that the rows are even. That way if the walls are uneven, the tiles are all even because he trims the top and bottom rows as needed. So all the boxing was nice, but not exactly as it is done. By the way – ‘our’ tiler is an artist, a genius, and an all-around nice person. He could have looked at what we wanted and been obstructive and nasty. Instead Mirek embraced our concept, made suggestions, and help make it not only happen but happen beautifully. Anyway it’s 7:30 am and he pointed out that we were short 5 rows on every wall – we had not spaced them close enough together. I needed another 100 or so tiles to build 5 more rows on every wall. I did not have 100 tiles. On the other hand, he said, I’d put one too many on each row. Why? Because when we laid it out we used a whole tile to indicate where a part of a tile needed to be cut and fitted. This is where his generosity and genius shone brightly. I went through each of the boxes, pulled each row, removed the last tile from each row. Then I took all the extracted tiles and built 5 more rows for each floor. Yes, I was a little late for services. 🙂 But Mirek understood the concept of “no horizontal touching” and I left him to do what needed to be done. You can see that he did wonderfully.

Tough to get a whole room shot that also shows my gecko/lizard

The other 2 “Mirek” touches had to do with the broken saddle and tiling the recess. I’d never thought about the recess nor about the flat service of the window. He suggested using the leftover floor tile for the recess and the broken saddle for the flat areas of the window and the recess. Absolutely perfect and lovely. What does the WSJ article say about tile for 2023? “Demand is bubbling up for ceramics in rich, dramatic colors. Klarna, a buy-now-pay-later shopping app, reports that, year over year, online purchases of blue tiles rocketed by 5,195% and black tiles by 1,594%. Green tiles saw a more modest 40% increase the first quarter of this year. Particularly in favor: the rough and shiny texture, irregular shape and colors of zellige tile, original to Morocco.” Way ahead of you, folks. *grin* They also talked about natural woods and how “swaths of smooth tile” are out.

So that was the new bathroom, the forest glen oasis. The original bathroom was completely redone. I’m afraid that I “broke” some of the WSJ’s designers’ “rules”. Even so a lot of it complies. I thought of this bathroom as my “beach escape”. While the forest glen bathroom – which is my husband’s bathroom – has an incredibly expensive shower unit with 4 wall jets, as well as an overhead rain, and a hand-held spray, the beach bathroom was going to be more “mine”. I had everyone build everything to MY height. I’m 5′ and he’s 6′ and I was tired of standing on the rim of the tub to reach the shower head. 🙂 Many people look at the height of the shower head and think it’s too low. NO IT’S NOT. When I was designing this one Jeanne (the tile lady, remember?) described this bathroom as the “childrens’ bathroom”. *laughing* It’s for people who are NOT over 6′ tall. But because the hand-held spray is on a pole and can move up and down guess what – tall people can use it too. The feature that got most of my female friends excited was the mirror/cabinet. There are 2 embedded LED strips in the mirror – tap to turn on. There are 3 separate light settings that could mimic different lighting situations.

No gecko here, but fish. 🙂 The PVC is covering the stack, which could only have been removed if we ripped open the kitchen walls as well. Not happening. So fish stenciled onto the stack (same color as the walls) and one school of fish on the shower ceiling. Seashell curtain hooks. 1/4 of the tiles are etched. I left it to Mirek to make it look good, and of course since he did it the walls are perfect.

Both bathrooms have bidets. Those toilets can do everything but wash the floor. Heated seats, separate saved profile settings, night lights, soft-close lids (no slammed toilet seats). I love the bathrooms. While the truth is that we have probably both needed the bathroom/showers at the same moment fewer than 10 times since they’ve been done, those few times have been wonderful. And I LOVE not sharing a bathroom. You can think of that what you will. 🙂

Check out my super-cool mirror with the embedded LED lighting – 3 different settings for different room lighting

Things That Make Me Smile

My dahlias and cosmos refuse to quit even though it’s November –

Lately there is a lot that I find very stressful, both in my personal life and in the world outside my front door. But there are still things and moments that bring joy to my heart and a smile to my lips. So until I find the internal energy to blog about all that’s been happening, here are some snippets of joy. 🙂

The LAST thing I need is another pair of socks but I could not resist these. 🙂

I owe this blog 2 months plus of posts about the renovation of the 2nd floor. For those of you who may not remember/know, we are gutting the entire 2nd floor of our house and rebuilding it from the inside out. Sigh. In 2 phases. Because we needed a bedroom and a bathroom so first they gutted everything but our bedroom and bath. They built a new bathroom, a hall closet, realigned a bedroom wall, added a huge closet, new wood floors, new walls, new electrical, central air, new radiators, all new wood trim – you get the idea. I knew it would be difficult and long, but it’s been even longer than I feared. We are about to start phase 2 – which means we have moved out of our bedroom into one of the finished rooms. Tomorrow starts phase 2 – demolishing our bedroom and the original bathroom (which will stay a bathroom but will be updated). Plus updating the electric, heating, closet and floor in our bedroom. In other words – we’re doing the last 5 months all over again.

Our new beautiful bathroom. Meant to be a spa escape. Shame we’ll have to put up shower doors.

Above is our beautiful new bathroom. My husband and I designed the tiles – a huge blog post in and of itself. We laid out every one of those tiles, labeled them, and boxed them neatly in order. Best laid plans and all of that. 🙂 It’s meant to evoke a sense of escape, luxury and serenity when you enter. Teak cabinet on the wall instead of a typical vanity. The saddle (hah – I learned new words – that’s the piece between the shower and the outside floor), the base of the window, and the base of the recess are all from the same piece of marble. The ceramic pedestal sink, the Italian tiles on the floor, and the shower itself meant to evoke “escape”. There is a bidet toilet seat that can do a zillion things. 🙂 I’m looking for the setting that has it get up and fold the laundry and dust the house. 🙂

It’s almost a shame they will be adding shower doors tomorrow (have to have a fully working bathroom in order to demolish the old bathroom). I suspect that the doors will lessen the impact of the shower tiles. But in the meantime here is a closeup of the recess – note we used the same pebble floor tiles in the recess – the brilliant suggestion of the gentleman doing the actual tiling. Note also my husband’s selection of THE most expensive shower fixture he could find. *grin* It’s 5 foot in length with 4 body jets, an overhead rain, and a hand-held for his poor short wife. 🙂 We opted for the teak stool instead of a built-in stool. There are 8 different tiles. There are 3 large 2″ x 6″: pewter, aquamarine, and eucalyptus. *grin* There are 5 small crackle glaze tiles scattered about. We loved those crackle tiles, but it would have been too much and too expensive to do the whole thing with them. Neither of us wanted a “pattern”, so we ordered enough of each color to scatter them about and break up the big tiles. We love it. It’s everything we wanted. Either our friends and contractors are excellent actors or they all seem to be impressed by it as well. 🙂

Shanah Tovah! (Happy New Year)

Lucky us – beautiful perfect weather for the weekend and holiday

Oh wow have I been busy!!!!!! 🙂 And it’s been (mostly) wonderful. Sunday evening began the Rosh Hashanah holiday, or (one of) the Jewish New Years. This year is extra sweet for me because my son is home for not just ONE holiday but for all THREE holidays occurring in the next 3+ weeks. In celebration of that, and because I really, really need it, I’m on vacation from work for 2 1/2 weeks. 🙂

simple bedroom – a bed, clothes, a light (hanging from window sill), privacy for windows, fan. new wood trim, baseboard and doors

The renovation is still ongoing. SO much has happened and I’ve not blogged most of it. We got new floors, we got trim, we got doors, I was FINALLY told I could start designing the tile walls for the new shower. (I’d been begging since May.)

This room even has a door! no doorknob. a closet . no knobs, no clothes bar.

My husband and I spent hours on Saturday laying out the 3 walls of the new shower. We got along quite well on this except for the discussion of how to indicate which tiles get cut to fit. Mind you – we didn’t disagree on which tiles. What we seemed incapable of communicating was how to tell that to someone else (as in the person who will do the tiling). We did not come to blows but I confess I DID raise my voice. Several times. 🙂

We don’t plan to leave the big window in the shower. 🙂

After that we were both aching and exhausted. I was aching and exhausted from hauling boxes and boxes of tiles out to the work area in the driveway, and from clearing the deck and rearranging all the furniture (more on that later). My husband was aching from hours bent over arranging tiles.

there is a 3rd frame but foolishly (in hindsight) we put that in the house upstairs. I got creative for the 3rd wall

I think I was brilliant and correct about how we’d do the tile arrangement.

Marking the cutouts for the window and the wall recess

My husband has a good color sense and a good eye. It wasn’t feasible for us both to work on the frames at the same time and I had other chores that needed doing.

close up of the first wall. this is the back wall of the shower with the awning window. roughly 5’x 8′. the sides are roughly 3′ x 8′

I suggested that he start – layout the tiles in away that pleased him. Then I would critique/edit, then he would critique/edit my revisions and we’d be done. Except for labeling every single tile for the person to tile. *grin* Look at all those tiles that need to be labeled.

I’m a very good scullery maid and lackey. I brought all of the boxes out of the garage and arranged them

We chose 3 different “large” tiles and 5 small crackle-glaze tiles as accent pieces. We agreed we did not want the same color next to each other. In this case “next to” means side by side, not above/below. The pictures in this post were taken before my final critique/edit/labeling. That will happen later this afternoon.

we need to pick grout. You can see the floor, the shower walls, shower floor. what’s missing, I realize because of this photo, is the backsplash for the sink – also tile that needs grout

Once we finished with the tiles and the deck, we both collapsed in the hot tub with the jets on high.

The left-most panel was done on brown paper I marked to fit the wall measurements. It’s also the only panel that I have “aligned” and reviewed. The other 2 frames are today’s task. 🙂

Then it was time for me to head to the airport to get my son. His plane was a few minutes early so I didn’t even have to wait in the cellphone lot – I could go straight up and get him. Sunday was bake-bake-bake and food preparation for 2 holiday dinners. Sunday night was at my sister’s house for which I made 4 desserts: 3 sugar free and 1 sugar full. It was a lovely dinner with family.

deck is totally rearranged and ready to entertain in “fall-season style”

Monday was religious services in the morning where we got to see friends we haven’t seen in 3 years because of Covid – zoom services, not in person. Then home to cook-cook-cook and set up the deck for dinner for 12. Well eleven and a half because one of the 12 is 3 years old and did not actually sit at the table. We had a wonderful time with family and friends, and post-dinner conversation and drinking lasted until after 11:00 pm. It was glorious.

the guests are gathering, the food is cooking, the wine glasses are ready!

Shanah Tovah!!!! A happy, sweet, healthy new year to us all!!!!

holiday candles, challah, wine glasses and the shehecheyanu fruit.

Decisions and a Rare Sighting


IMG_9072We made a decision about the knobs and pulls for the cabinets. I’m NOT sharing that decision. You’ll have to wait for the pictures. 🙂 I must credit my husband for coming up with a solution to my dilemma. I was stuck on our first thoughts about the hardware, but he changed around our planned approach. I think it will look great.

Big excitement this morning! WC not only showed up meowing for breakfast, but she stuck around to PLAY!!!! While GC continued chowing down, BC and WC chased toys down the hall. I’d love to have a photo of that to show you but I had no idea the illusive WC was going to show. Our poor little WC – here she is, finally adjusting to the new living arrangement after 12 weeks, and I figure there is only maybe another 3-4 weeks before we open the door. IMG_9075ANOTHER CHANGE!!! WC does not do change well.

I paid off the balance on all the appliances yesterday. In doing so, I wiped out the rest of the renovation fund. 🙂 Of course, there are still bills coming in. Time to find another rainbow with a pot of gold.

This week we are expecting the electrician and maybe the plumber to come in and do some work. I think that the electrician will be installing the under-cabinet lights and outlets. IMG_9071The plumber might be doing the radiators, I’m not really sure. We’re expecting the bistro table to arrive on Thursday, and also the appliances to be delivered on Thursday. Still no word about when the counter might arrive. I picked up some slate cleaner and sealer so I can start seeing which tiles I want in the front hall. I need to try cleaning what is there, and then test the sealer on the new tiles I am NOT planning to use. I’m hoping those 2 activities will help me choose which tiles I should select to replace the old tiles with holes from the radiator.

By the end of this week, the kitchen may have a very different appearance. 🙂