The Farmhouse Kids’ Bath Deep Dive – All Things Tile, Grout, And Playing With Simple Shapes!

I feel like I was a different person three years ago when I was initially designing this bathroom, and yet thank GOODNESS current Emily loves how it turned out. I remember sitting on the floor of the mountain house with buckets of samples from Pratt + Larson and so many pieces of paper that I had cut out into shapes, trying to come up with unique ways to use simple tile shapes. I had so much time (it was during lockdown) and had a real “bee in my bonnet” about the kids’ bath having this fun tile floor/wall border.

So first we chose this picket shape feeling like it could go from green to white in a way that created a cool shape. It was really inspired by this photo:

I played around and around and ultimately simplified it. I find that this is a pattern of mine (not sure if it’s a good one) – where the initial idea is complicated and busy, then it gets pared back and ultimately becomes the simplest version of the initial design. I guess my hope is always that styling and other more flexible and less permanent elements will help the designs come to life. I think for the most part it has worked, but in some cases, I wish I had gone a bit riskier.

At first, we wanted this whole room tiled – floor to ceiling but decided that maybe we didn’t need to do that and instead having it go up to a peg rail height would be enough impact. And in fact, maybe that would be a better look and highlight the tile more.

Wait, Are Those Custom Windows?????

YES MA’AM. A quick note regarding the fancy windows here – you might see these more custom windows in the renders which we obviously wanted to do, but couldn’t for budget reasons. They were quoted at $5k each, for those of you still learning math that is $10k FOR OUR KIDS GD BATHROOM WINDOWS. Soooooooo…listen…we love our kids, but not “$10k for windows” much. We kept the same basic wood ’90s windows that were totally fine. And sure, there are many times (especially from the outside) where I wish they had the vintage diamond pattern had it been free (or even $2k), but there was simply no way we would spend that in this room. We felt confident that we could make this bathroom beautiful enough through styling (we were right and don’t regret that for one second).

Back to the tile. For the most part, I really liked how it looked in the renders. It was the first bathroom we designed and it barely changed in the two years of the design process which is pretty impressive/rare. I felt that it was simple but special (DRINK!) and again, that with styling it would come alive.

But that’s jumping ahead. Back to choosing the different tile shapes:

For this house, I went with less pattern contrast and instead did more texture contrast with big colors, simply executed. This is just the method I chose for this house (which I REALLY like). So we have the same green handmade tile from Pratt + Larson in a small 1″x3″ herringbone on the floor, 1″ hex on the shower floor, and green and white picket tiles on the walls.

Then The Install…

The floor tile went down pretty seamlessly. But once we got onto the walls we had some figuring out to do. At this point, we weren’t hiring ARCIFORM for their time (mostly because I was in Portland and could do it, and they were so busy with other jobs that locking down their time was hard. Plus they charged hourly which could add up quickly so I tried to make decisions by myself – for better or worse). The decision in question was how many green picket tiles do we install for the border before changing to white?

I hadn’t remembered what was in the plan (nor did we have a hard copy of the tile plan to give the tile installer). Of course, I could have tried harder to find the plan but no one is less digitally organized than this girl (I see the irony). This is endlessly frustrating when you spend hours of designer’s time making decisions and cementing them into plans, just to go rogue when asked on the fly what to do with a tile. Was it half a picket up the wall, one full one (which is really one and a half), or two (two and a half)?

The answer came pretty quickly when we realized we didn’t have enough green tiles to do more than one and a half tile border around the bottom. I love when the means/facts inform the decision, not the other way around. NO CHOICE!!! We spent hours on site trying to figure it out just to be told that we had no choice. Honestly, it was a relief.

But Where Do You Stop The Tile?

We decided early on that we wouldn’t go to the ceiling once a reader told me that a fully tiled room would be too echoey (and I have auditory issues). Not sure if reducing it to 60″ high really avoids that problem but in my mind it made me start questioning the floor-to-ceiling of it all.

We ended it at 74″, butting it into flat trim that would eventually house a peg rail.

The Grout Color – The Most Stressful Decision Of Them All??

I think “THE POWER OF GROUT” should be a separate course in design school (maybe it is, I wouldn’t know). For the floor we knew that we didn’t want white – despite how “cleanable” it is, I KNOW that it’s not and that white grout will eventually look disgusting unless you are not messy or are a daily cleaner (not me). And yet we wanted white grout for the white wall tile. So we asked our tile installer (shout out to Level Plane) to mock up a few boards with extra tile to help guide our thoughts and feel confident about the decision.

We had him do one dark, one medium, and one lighter.

We even went to NE Portland to visit a site of his where he had just installed similar green tile to see the green grout that he had custom-made. In our opinion, it looked brown so we decided not to wait the extra two weeks nor spend the extra $200 to have a color-matched grout for our tile.

We also didn’t want to go super dark because once we saw that, it looked really harsh and too masculine. So it came down to platinum and Autumn green. We chose platinum and it’s great, but there are times I wish I had done a lighter grout.

For the shower, I’m honestly not sure why they started the white picket where they did (with just a little diamond tiny piece at the bottom). It doesn’t totally bum me out, but I feel like that was a specific layout choice. We did hex on the floor as you can see, with a square drain.

Tile Reveal!

It turned out sooo pretty and the floor grout has of course lightened up so you can see the pattern even more (which we are happy about). Let me know any questions! I don’t have a $$ amount for installation because it was tied in with the whole house, but these tiles are def a lot more than large-scale subway tiles to install (just more intricacies and cuts). Hit me up with your questions in the comments.

A huge thanks to Pratt + Larson, a local handmade tile company, for partnering with me on this tile. They are always so wonderful to work with and their product has endless options (as you have seen throughout our whole house).

*Pretty Photos by Kaitlin Green

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