1. Wood-and-Gold Greatness
Designer: Clara Jung of Banner Day Consulting
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Size: About 44 square feet (4 square meters); 8 by 5⅓ feet
Homeowners’ request. “The bathroom we started with had builder-grade finishes and fixtures,” says designer Clara Jung, who collaborated with her clients using a Houzz ideabook. “The clients wanted to elevate this guest bathroom, since it would be the one guests use most often. Closed storage for toiletries was another request.”
Space saver. “We skipped a glass enclosure for the shower and stuck with a traditional shower curtain to keep it very open and flowing,” Jung says. “Additionally, a curtain provides better access to the controls when giving kids a bath.”
Special features. V-pattern shower tile. Black penny tile with white grout that runs from the floor up the wall behind the vanity. Custom wood trim and tub apron. “It set this bathroom apart,” Jung says.
Designer tip. “We spent a larger portion of the money on the shower enclosure tile,” Jung says. “Yet one of the most distinctive design elements in this bathroom is the penny tiles lining up the walls. Penny tiles are a relatively low-cost tile, but they really elevate the space.”
“Uh-oh” moment. “We didn’t want to use conventional trims to finish off the edging for the shower tile,” Jung says. “This forced us to think outside the box, and we ended up using wood trim to cap off all the tile, which worked wonderfully.”
Wall paint: Simply White, Benjamin Moore
2. Geometrically Gorgeous
Designer: Spazio LA Tile Gallery
Location: Playa Vista, California
Size: 40 square feet (3.7 square meters); 8 by 5 feet
Homeowners’ request. Increase space and functionality by removing a bathtub and creating a walk-in shower.
Space savers. The designers removed the tub and extended the shower area all the way to the adjacent wall to create a larger shower area. Floating shelves add storage.
Special features. Porcelain shower wall tiles set in a geometric pattern. Floating shower bench.
Designer tips. Extending the wall tiles to the other two walls tricks the eye into seeing a larger space. White walls create contrast with the shower area, setting it apart.
“Uh-oh” moment. The tiles didn’t come in a pattern, so the designers had to do a lot of planning ahead before setting the tile to get the geometric lines just right.
Wall paint: White Diamond, Benjamin Moore
3. Marvelous Marble
Designer: Dvira Ovadia
Size: 37½ square feet (3.5 square meters); 5 by 7½ feet
Homeowners’ request. Create a new bathroom where a former closet was on the third floor.
Space saver. “We used a slender-looking vanity that had a slender metal base, keeping the vanity off the ground,” designer Dvira Ovadia says. “This made the space feel airy, yet the full-size vanity cabinet provides ample storage for a small bathroom.”
Special features. Mini marble mosaic tile in a brick pattern covering the walls, ceiling and bathtub surround. “Placing the soaker tub under the sloped area made most sense,” Ovadia says. “This is essentially why we decided to tile the slopes — to protect from any future water damage and create a seamless look.” The vanity is walnut with a quartz top.
Designer tip. “The idea of using one great tile and applying it throughout the bathroom was key in creating a polished look,” Ovadia says. “People often feel that they need to introduce multiple finishes to create something spectacular, but sometimes less is more, and the lesson is that we need to learn to simplify in smaller spaces.”
“Uh-oh” moment. “When we set out to tile the project, there was a misunderstanding with the tile setter,” Ovadia says. “He didn’t realize we had requested to tile all the angled walls of the shower, so his calculations were short. This caused a bit of a hiccup, but we managed to order more tiles and get the tile setter to complete the job.”
4. Black-and-Porcelain Punch
Designer: Karin Bennett
Location: King West area of downtown Toronto
Size: About 36½ square feet (3.4 square meters); 6⅔ by 5½ feet
Homeowners’ request. A serene, spa-like master en suite with a boutique-hotel vibe.
Space saver. The sink is situated to the right side of the vanity, with a wall-mounted faucet on a side wall rather than the back wall to provide more countertop space.
Special features. Black custom vanity (painted in Black Beauty by Benjamin Moore). Marble-look porcelain tile on the floor, walls and tub apron, or skirt. Quartz countertop. Matte black fixtures. Black-framed glass divider.
Designer tip. “When decorating a small bathroom, you need to decide if you want more sink space or counter space,” says designer Karin Bennett, who used Houzz photos for inspiration and to communicate with her clients. “Often you can’t have both. For this en suite, our clients preferred counter space so getting ready each morning was easy.”
“Uh-oh” moment. “We went back and forth trying to decide if we wanted to use our porcelain tile up the tub skirt or have a white painted skirt,” Bennett says. “In the end, we wanted everything to feel seamless without any sightlines broken, so we decided to continue with our floor tile up the front of the tub.”
General contractor: Red Mailbox
5. More Marble Marvelousness
Designers: Brendan Charters of Eurodale Developments (architectural designer) and Thornton Design (interior designer)
Size: 52 square feet (4.8 square meters)
Homeowners’ request. An update to a kids’ bathroom as part of a larger addition and renovation project.
Space saver. An adjustable frameless glass shower panel makes the bathroom appear larger.
Special features. Custom vanity. Marble wall tile in chevron pattern. Marble floor tile in basket-weave pattern. Recessed stone shower niche.
“Uh-oh” moment. “It’s always the disruption or move-out factor,” architectural designer Brendan Charters says. “As a project evolves, it becomes more and more clear to people that living through a renovation is less than ideal. When water, electrical and HVAC need to be cut for rough-in and finish installations, it becomes about more than just dust and noise. It’s time to move out.”
6. Cheery Cherry
Designers: April Collins and Mark Janke of The Cabinet Gallery
Location: Lindon, Utah
Size: 47½ square feet (4.4 square meters); 9½ by 5 feet
Homeowners’ request. A bathroom with a natural wood vanity.
Space saver. The tight-knot, rustic cherry vanity has a false drawer front and two doors, creating expansive and efficient storage in a compact cabinet.
Special features. Frameless glass shower divider. Porcelain tile floors, shower walls and recessed niches.
Designer tip. “It’s good to make suggestions and guide your clients, but ultimately you have to listen their needs, desires and wants,” designer April Collins says.
7. Marble and Porcelain Power
Designer: Michelle Graham
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Size: About 52 square feet (4.8 square meters); 11 by 4¾ feet
Homeowners’ request. This space was created when an oversize bedroom was partitioned to create two bedrooms with a new en suite bath between them. The homeowner wanted a larger shower, sufficient storage and a clean, classic, elegant look.
Space saver. A wall-hung toilet. “It was the only way to ensure comfortable knee space, given there was a chase in front of the toilet, which provided only 4 feet of depth for the toilet,” designer Michelle Graham says.
Special features: Thassos and Carrara marble floor tile in a square-and-dot pattern. Two-by-four-foot Calacatta Statuario-look porcelain wall tile. Large mirror with built-in medicine cabinet and attached sconces. “Keeping the materials simple and continuous adds to the feeling of space,” Graham says.
Designer tip. “Having the toilet and vanity floating above the floor makes the space look bigger and shows off the gorgeous floor,” Graham says.
“Uh-oh” moment. “We purchased a stock vanity and had it sprayed,” Graham says. “Unfortunately, the hole for the faucet was placed too close to the back of the countertop. I had to exchange the faucet for one where the tilt of the handle was minimal so that it would function properly. We also had to remove and reinstall the vanity after the walls were tiled, to build it off the wall to get the faucet installed.”
8. Light-Wood-and-Black Beauty
Designer: Eneia White
Location: Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York
Size: 35 square feet (3.3 square meters); 5 by 7 feet
Homeowners’ request. A fresh yet classic bathroom that would include matte black fixtures and penny tiles.
Space saver. “After accounting for door clearances and switch locations, the standard-size towel bar wasn’t an option,” designer Eneia White says. “We opted for bath towel hooks to free up wall space and keep the walls feeling clean and uncluttered.”
Special features. A walnut vanity with a lacquer finish to protect from moisture. White penny tile and white grout on the wall. Wood-look shower tiles. Wall-mounted faucet. Recessed medicine cabinet.
Designer tip. “Without any natural light from windows, bathrooms can get a little gloomy and heavy depending on tile selection,” White says. “Generally, your darkest tile should go on the floor, personality tiles should be used as accents and your classic tile should be used as your main tile. This combination leaves room for balanced personality.”
“Uh-oh” moment. “When the wood shower tiles arrived, we were expecting gray tones,” White says. “Some of the tiles looked gray; others looked much more brown. We opened every box and sorted through each tile to review the colors and veining. After creating piles of tile that matched our vanity finish, we designated those for installation and opted to use the brown stash for waste.”