Trends: Patterned Tile

Have you ever demo’d any of those 80s or 90s patterned backsplashes and tiled countertops?

Patterned tile is coming on, but it’s not the ivy borders of the early 1990s. The mosaic tiles installed now are most likely imported and have a Moroccan or Mediterranean lean. Patterned tile appeared on my radar as I began gathering inspiration for a small kitchen remodel we are planning for a friend. See the beginnings of that project on the Pinterest board.

I was cruising through Domino and saw the revisit of this kitchen,

domino kitchen

marrakesh tile

Marrakesh Imports

And that pretty much got the wheels turning and I quickly found my images of this kitchen initially featured in Cottage Living and revisited by Design Sponge. The whole house tour there is a treat, I recommend checking it out. This is by far my favorite application of patterned tile as a kitchen backsplash,

Condo 353

Ann Sacks is showing off her patterned collection in ads running in our favorite home mags and then patterned tile recently showed up on my blog feed in Isuwannee’s Friday Chat. A Mosaic floor tile takes front and center on the cover of the May 2014 issue of Country Living,

country living cover

Villa Lagoon Tile

So I feel like the point is made here, clearly folks—it’s popping.

Scheerer kitchen2

Scheerer kitchen

bath floor

Scheerer nook

moroccan tile etsy


domino kitchen2

purple backsplash

Sikes bath

domaine kitchen

AT backsplash

all images via Pinterest



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a Quick Bath Upgrade

Before I officially listed my previous home for sale one of the things on the punch list was to give the master bath a quick upgrade without remodeling the entire thing. Out of necessity we had the entire shower re-tiled months before. The whole story about the mystery leak is here.

I previously posted the before of this bathroom and talked about the plans I had for the upgrade. I needed a fix that stayed consistent with the overall style of the house and a look that would be pleasing to most. Here’s what I set out to do with this quick fix-up:

  • upgrade cabinetry
  • replace existing mirror with 2 framed mirrors
  • eliminate recessed lighting and replace with sconces
  • paint walls & ceiling
  • replace window
  • install new hardware
  • install new vent fan

The cabinets were clearly the biggest eye sore in the room. They were vinyl coated, particle board cabinets with flat fronts. Some of the vinyl veneer was pealing away revealing the particle board.




We needed new lighting, some new jewelry (hardware) and to make the biggest impact we needed to tweak the cabinets and replace the dated mirror. Clearly I’m stoked about taking photos of myself at 7:00 am and likely the Crossfit workout!


sarah master bath before2

To avoid ripping all of the cabinetry out and everything with that I decided that the most cost effective and attractive way to go would be to have the Quality Cabinet Co. fabricate new drawer fronts and new cabinet doors and install them on the existing cabinet frame. After measurements were taken the building commenced and this is what we ended up with,

CT bath before


The next big element to tackle on the list was the very ugly and huge frame-less mirror that was glued to the wall. The regular carpentry crew came over to remove the mirror and remove the recessed lighting and patch those holes. The electrician followed closely on their heels to rough in for the sconces. I had our regular painters do the ceiling for me because I like to avoid holding things over my head for a sustained amount of time whenever possible and then I painted the trim and walls myself with Benjamin Moore’s Dove Wing.

dove wingSconces are the Steiner from Pottery Barn which are really substantial fixtures for the price but unfortunately are no longer available. All  hardware including the pulls, knobs and towel rings are from Lowe’s.

And here’s the result,

CT bath

I think it turned out great without spending 10K. Here are some suggested things you can do to get a quick upgrade in your bath,

CT shower list




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Get the Look: Modern Rustic Bath

modern rustic bath

I’m guessing that most of you like this bath because of the contrast of the dark wall and the metal of the mirror and barn sconce…and let’s not forget the white shiplap. Am I totally off base here? Let’s see if we can get the look of Atlanta designer Kim Winkler’s rustic master bath that was featured in the 2011 issue of Tradhome.

Get the Look Bath

jars / sconce / mirror / soap dish / baskets / vase / faucet / vanity


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Vanities in Color

Colored bath vanities, in bold or neutral hues are whats happening and I’d like to get one of my very own sooner rather than later.

Case in point-the greens,

green vanity


green vanity3

the grays,


the blues,

a lone black one or maybe its charcoal,

Plans have been made for a colored vanity at the Grout Cottage. I went to Pittsburgh Paints and ordered a tinted gallon of a product called Breakthrough,

PP Breakthrough

it acts like a lacquer, wipe-able and is water based. Sounds like a dream coating. I’ll report back on it’s durability.

all images via Pinterest

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Grout Cottage: Bathroom Choices

Look what came in the mail, snowflake tile for the Grout Cottage.
I ordered this because I’m about to do this,
snowflake tile MG + BW
Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams house in NC
snowflake tile
only in a bathroom sort of way with a painted vanity.
Right now I’ve got my eye on Benjamin Moore’s Stratton Blue or Brewster Gray. They look totally different in the actual bathroom of the Grout Cottage but you get the idea.
stratton blue
brewster gray
images via Pinterest

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Grout Cottage: Bathroom Design

The crew began hanging sheetrock at the Grout Cottage late last week, rooms are beginning to form again. I’ve been making some decisions and dragging my feet on making a lot more.

I’ve been working on some choices for the one bathroom in the apartment. Here’s where my inspiration comes from,

grey bath vanity


green bath


black & white bath


flower tile

I’d like to use a flower tile like the bath pictured above but I worry that its too feminine. Overstock has a good one and regular deals if you’re in the O club.

flower tile overstock

If I decide that the flower tile is too gender specific then I might go with something like this,

hex floor tile

I’ve been thinking about a Benjamin Moore color Kentucky Haze since I saw it on a vanity a while back. Not sure if I want to paint the vanity or the wall this color or something entirely different.

kentucky haze

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Sarah’s House: Downstairs Bath Face Lift

The dining room isn’t the only room getting attention in my house right now. We are working on giving the downstairs bathroom a a little face lift.

Not long ago we re-tiled the shower in the downstairs bath. In case you forgot here ya’ go.

But what to do with the giant mirror,

the crappy can lights,

and dated and peeling chipboard cabinets?

Well remove or replace them right? Exactly.

Here’s some inspiration for the face lift,






Pottery Barn Steiner sconce

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Sarah’s House: Mystery Leak

Ever wonder why I don’t get anything accomplished on my punch list, well that’s because when you live in an old house and don’t have the dough to rip the place apart before move in day– you have to take it one repair at a time.

The master bathroom was not really at the top of my list for improvement but a month or so ago we discovered that there was a steady drip down in the basement after morning showers.

Our plumber Doug came over to assist me in determining what exactly was leaking.

First, we ran all of the fixtures and none of them were causing the drip. So Doug had to open up the partition wall that houses the shower/tub plumbing, he didn’t see a leak there but he saw a lot of wet stuff and what he thought was a crappy tile job.

There was a size-able caulk line around the perimeter of the tub where the surround meets the tub and it didn’t appear to Doug that the tile had been carried all the way to the tub deck.

So he sprayed water all over the perimeter of the tub and then it started to drip. Time to call the tile installer. Our tile guy Chris agreed with Doug and we had two choices, we could re-caulk and hope that it held until we were ready to renovate the bathroom or we could re-tile the surround. After some discussion we decided to go ahead and re-tile.

I of course wanted to rip out the tub and have a big shower with frameless glass doors but that’s not in the budget right now.

At this point you might be asking yourself, how is it that Sarah has been blogging for like 4 years and she didn’t have the presence of mind to take before pictures? I don’t really have an excuse answer. But the tile before was 6×6 squares that was totally early 90’s tan. I found this image and this looks almost exactly like what the before looked like.

Our original fixture configuration included a shower head, diverter, hand shower and shower valve. The plumber advised me that we would save $200 but eliminating the diverter and shower head from the equation. Since this isn’t the dream bath remodel we need to fix this with some level of style and move on. The fixture set up we would have to save that $200 was a hand shower on a vertical slide bar that would function as the shower head and we would still have the function of the hand shower for cleaning.The set up would look like this,


So I set out to try and find a hand shower with a bell shape that mimicked a shower head for a little pizazz for an affordable price like this,


This Rohl kit above was at my local plumbing showroom for about $600. Pretty, well made but too expensive. Goodbye Rohl display.

OK back to the Delta section. The Delta kit I purchased was $400 with a shower head that I could eventually install upstairs. So just to keep this in perspective, that is $400 for just the fixtures. We’re not even talking about any plumbing, tile material or tile labor.

So we  go to Lowe’s to get my trusty American Olean white subway tile and ring up a tab of $500 in tile materials combined with the $150 water proofing material at the tile showroom. I show Chris (tile guy) a picture of the shampoo niches I like,

Chris gets to work and we make progress,


we have a snafu with the niches, they need some adjustment but then Chris finally grouts and then the plumber comes and we are in business,



Project Expenses

Plumbing demo & valve rough in – $349

Tile labor – $900

Tile material – $500

Fixtures – $322.76

Plumbing finish – $95


$2,166.76   (what!)


and the leak stopped in the basement, boy I feel much better now.

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May Bath Renovation Complete

I recently completed the renovation of a bath in a 1920s cottage.The before post is here and I did some planning and inspiration gathering here.

A little background on the house-

The May house is a 1920’s cottage with three bedrooms and two baths. The largest of the two bathrooms is on the second floor. All of the bedrooms are upstairs which makes that one bathroom on the second level pretty important. The upstairs bathroom did not have a shower, lacked storage and was of course totally 80s complete with oversized whirlpool tub and shiny brass fixtures.

Everything was removed including the entire floor,

May bath sink before

the 20-year old particle board vanity was replaced by a custom vanity with a carrera marble counter top.

May bath mirror

We installed PVC wainscotting ordered here, it looks just like wood but is completely waterproof.

May bath custom vanity3

May bath custom vanity2

May bath custom vanity

To gain the storage that we needed we converted the awkward, empty nook below the slanted ceiling in to a storage cabinet with shelving,

May bath tub before

May nook

May bath door to hallway before

May bath project

May bath tub 3 before

I brought the wrong lens with me so I didn’t have the proper range so you can’t see BUT we kept the window in the shower. I decided to make a fixed window, no grids with obscured glass to eliminate working/moving parts that would be subjected to water and we trimmed the vinyl window in Azek which is a wood composite that won’t rot. I’ll let you know how it holds up.

A rain can showerhead was installed in the ceiling.

May project shower

The details,

Had to get a new faucet,

May bath faucet

May bath hardware

The affordable octagonal tile everyone loves with gray grout. The tile was purchased at Lowes.

May bath hexagon floor tile

The wall color is Benjamin Moore’s Palladian Blue. I thought about reducing it but in the end decided to go full strength and I love it.

May bath towel hooks




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Trends: Overmount Bath Sinks

I think I took notice of overmount or self rimming sinks when Lonny partnered with Kohler in their most recent issue. They featured the Tresham collection,

Kohler Tresham overmount sink

Then from there I started noticing them more,

Garden Court Hotel overmount sink

Garden Court Hotel

I think with their overstated molding-like frames they are directed at more classic, elegant baths.

houzz bath overmount sink

via Houzz

Here’s an oval,

overmount oval sink bath

Let’s compare the self rimming variety to its undermount counterpart,

Ebony & Marble bath

House & Home

Undermount definitely creates more of a seamless look,

Gil Schafer traditional bath

Gil Schafer

In a kitchen, an undermount sink makes counter cleanup easier because you just sweep the mess in to the sink. In the bathroom, that’s not really an issue.

grey bath cabinet vanity Brook Gianetti

Brooke Giannetti

(P.S. isn’t that blue/grey vanity fantastic, I want to try that!)

Do you think both sink styles have their merits? Which one do you prefer?

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Mad Men Bathroom

Dan and I just finished watching all four seasons of Mad Men last week (tear), I’ve read that it isn’t set to return until March 2012. We are hopelessly addicted, its a fantastic television show. Watch it– you won’t be sorry.

There are a few things I like about the Mad Men sets like the indigo blue walls in the Draper’s formal living room, scores of tall ceramic table lamps and the colorful inspiration boards in the creative department at Sterling Cooper Draper Price.

don draper apartment bathroom

During an episode in Season 4, Don seeks refuge from another random bedmate in his apartment bathroom. See there he is above, with a wicked hangover and wondering what the hell he’s doing with his life.

Somewhere in between my feelings of disgust and sympathy for Don, the bathroom caught my attention because in an instant I saw pre-war classic design and a masculine flair. So naturally I thought I’d like to create my own rendition of Draper’s apartment bath.

And bingo…

Don Draper's Bathroom

French Wire Hamper & Liner | Pottery Barn, $149
Mirrored Train Rack | Pottery Barn, $299
SomerTile 1×8-in Black Moldura Pencil Ceramic Trim Tile (Pack of 12) |…, $20
French Country Widespread Chrome Bathroom Faucet |, $20
Streamline Porcelain Towel Bar
KOHLER: K-3813: Memoirs® Comfort Height® one piece elongated 1.28gpf…, $1,113
Chatham Double Hook | Hooks | Restoration Hardware, $35
Target:White Waffle-Weave Fabric Shower Curtain, $27
KOHLER: K-2845-1: Treshamâ„¢ 30″ pedestal lavatory with single-hole…, $864 Diptyque – Figuier Candle: Home & Garden, $60 Chanel Bleu de Chanel Cologne for Men 1.7 oz Eau De…, $72

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Customize me.

I’ve been doing a little research for a bathroom remodel I’m going to start soon and I found this vanity,

overstock vanity

and I thought this might be exactly what I’m looking for with a few changes like–painting it white and changing the hardware.

And then I remembered this image which I’ve had in my inspiration file for a while and I think that designer Amie Weitzman had a similar idea. It looks like the same vanity doesn’t it?

Amie Weitzman bath vanity

Amie Weitzman bath vanity2

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Going through “Most Recent Bathrooms” at Southern Living I found this,

bad bath Southern Living

And my first thought was how unfortunate and then I was confused as to why it might be included in a “Recent” list implying that the design might in some way be current. It appears pretty dated to me among other things…

But I quickly felt much better when I saw this,

bath attic southern living

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Mi Favorito

My favorite spaces…for the next couple of hours at least. Whats your favorite?

Shingled cottage exterior CH&H

Do I need to explain why I love this, Canadian House & Home

Nicola master shower

double, light-filled shower, Nicola

Jessica Thomas stylist kitchen

that tile, very sweet, styling by Jessica Thomas

cottage bath CH&H

I’m a sucker for these black + white bathrooms, Canadian House & Home

Gambrel kitchen

this is easily one of my very favorite kitchens, Steven Gambrel

New England Home

New England Home, photography by Michael Partenio

Sarah Richardson nursery

the fabric, good together also good alone, I need to know where its from, Sarah Richardson

angie hranowsky dresser

I think about the piece of furniture in this picture a lot, Angie Hranowsky

Martha Stewart Living bookshelf

this is an oldie but goodie, a long rustic library table, Martha Stewart Living

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