Licensed contractor Amy Matthews shows how to install tiles in a bathroom shower area and the walls to transform a tired old bathroom into a classic Art Deco retreat.
Step 1: Plan Project and Select Tiles
In our project, we brought an old ’70s bathroom into classic Art Deco style. We removed a wall where an old single vanity used to be in favor of a double vanity. To get the plumbing ready for the new vanity, a vented T was added and the drainpipe extended.
Since the backerboard is already installed around the tub, the tile is ready to be installed. In our project, the homeowner met with a tile expert for design advice and was impressed by handmade 3×6″ subway tile. Compared to mechanical or machine-made tile which are lower priced, handmade tiles feature more pooling of the glazes at the edge and appear more textured.
In our project, the homeowners decided to go with machine-made subway tile (about $2 to $4 per square foot) versus handmade tile (approximately $13 to $30 per square foot). Machine-made tile is easy to install yourself because the tile is beveled out. As a result, you don’t have to use tile spacers. Both the subway tile and accent tiles we used are self-spacing in this way so they don’t require spacers. These tiles have a small lip that creates a uniform gap between the tiles, forming perfectly spaced grout joints.
Note: Finishing options include top caps, called listellos, and the use of accent tile between the top cap and field tile. Field tiles are those in the main field of a floor or wall and they’re flat in contrast to trim tiles which are shaped. Border tiles border around field tiles while accent tiles are used to add interest, usually intermixed with field tiles. Read more »
Kneewalls, curbs, and glass keep water in
Curbed showers allow a great deal of flexibility with the type and height of the walls and the number of showerheads. With a single showerhead, the shower doesn’t require a door if the opening is out of the spray area (drawing above). The shower isn’t barrier free, however. To keep water in the shower, a curb approximately 51/2 in. to 6 in. high runs across the 24-in.-wide opening. Plumbing the shower control next to the entrance lets you adjust the temperature before entering the shower spray. Controls are usually 48 in. off the floor, but 42 in. is fine on the 48-in.-tall kneewall I’d use here. Glass panels above the kneewall contain deflected water, but might not be necessary.
Multiple showerheads typically require that mixing valves be plumbed on the same wall as the showerhead. Because of the extensive spray coverage, a shower door is a must. In this case, a 36-in.-tall kneewall with glass panels above maximizes light. For comfort, the bench should be at least 12 in. deep and have room underneath for feet.
Clip the corner to increase space Read more »
Dispensing with a typical shower enclosure and sloping the floor to direct water to the drain creates a bathroom with clean, modern lines that can be made accessible. In the bathroom shown here, the shower area is located as far from the room entrance as possible. Placement of the sink and the toilet is crucial. If fixtures are less than 12 in. from the shower’s spray area or if you want to keep an area dry, temperedglass splash walls can shield fixtures as well as doorways from spraying water. A splash wall needs to be only as high as the showerhead and as deep as the fixture it’s protecting. I try to keep the splash wall a minimum of 16 in. from the centerline of the toilet, and at least 3 in. from the edge of a sink. Near doorways, I make the splash wall as deep as the door is wide.
As a bathroom designer on Cape Cod, I have plenty of opportunities to design generously sized master bathrooms in new homes without strict budgetary constraints or space limitations. More frequently, however, I’m asked to update an older bathroom to create a more comfortable and appealing space within the existing footprint. On these renovation projects, bathroom dimensions of 5 ft. by 8 ft. and 6 ft. by 9 ft. are common.
Designing showers for small bathrooms
To configure a full, modern bathroom in a footprint of this size, I try to get as much usable area into the shower as possible without compromising the rest of the floor plan. The best way to maximize shower space in a small bathroom is to use a tiled shower that can be customized to the available space. Read more »
Stone mosaic tile on the shower‘s back wall draws your eye as soon as you enter the bathroom. Enclosed by glass, this small, but functional shower seems boundless.
This small-space shower packs in the same amenities and stylish details as its larger counterparts. The walk-in shower is closed off by a partial wall with curved corners, which reflects the bathroom’s existing archway near the ceiling. Inside the shower, a high window fills the space with light while keeping the space private. Marble tiling inside the shower distinguishes the area from the rest of the bathroom but keeps with the room’s color palette of soothing white, gray, and black.
Small but thoughtful elements make this shower stand out. A step between the shower and the rest of the bathroom serves as a barrier, keeping water away from the bathroom’s wood floors. Inside the shower, both wall-mount and handheld showerheads provide the ultimate showering experience, and a small mirror is convenient for in-shower shaving.
This bathroom was constrained by bedrooms on either side, so it wasn’t possible to increase square footage. To make the space feel roomier, white marble tile and several mirrored surfaces wrap the room. Floor-to-ceiling cabinets add height, while a glass shower wall eliminates the visual barrier of a shower curtain or doors. Rich wood tones add warmth and create balance.
These homeowners wanted to “keep it simple and do it well.” This cherry and limestone bath replaced a tiny, cluttered space meant for guest use. The curved-front vanity maximizes usable space with two deep drawers on double extension drawer slides.
The use of continuing horizontal lines, a large, frameless mirror, and well-placed task lighting helps to create the illusion of a larger space. The marble-clad dividing wall lends modesty to the toilet area, while creating a recessed storage opportunity. A must in every small bath, the shower has a curbless entry to eliminate demarcation of the limited footprint.