The Bathroom : One Room Challenge – Week 3

Chevron Shower NicheHow are we already in Week 3 in the One Room Challenge? The days are flying by! This week might be my favorite progress post to date (of all of the room shares in my home). There’s something about tile that really does it for me, and that’s exactly what you’re going to get today… all things tile. And let me tell you- this tile is good. So much for modesty… but really, I’m obsessed! I also have a few designer tricks up my sleeve that I’m sharing in the post. If you have a small bathroom that you’d like to look larger, these hacks are for you. Click through for the details.

In case you missed the first couple weeks, no worries… catch up here: click for Week 1 (before images and the plan) and Week 2 (demo and prep).

Last week, we completed demo and prepped the bathroom for tile. Now for the fun part: tile installation! This is really where the bathroom starts to take shape. We tried a new product that worked amazing for the floor tile. Emmett installed a waterproofing membrane prior to starting on the floor tile. After rebuilding the subfloor, we wanted to ensure zero moisture was capable of soaking through the floor tile to the wood. Being overly cautious pays off.

watering proofing floor membraneWe applied a similar waterproofing membrane to the walls. Unlike the floor padding, the wall application is painted on. It starts off as a bright pink and dries into a pinkish red once it has solidified. It almost had a rubber texture to it.

Water proofing membrane for wallsBefore I dive into the fun part (tile), I wanted to elaborate on my tile selection. This might come off as harsh, but in the design industry, things are constantly evolving… including trends. Although subway tile is classic and timeless, in my opinion it’s kind of overdone right now. If I see another bright white space filled with standard subway tile and the same boring fixtures, I’m not impressed or awed. The same goes for basic ceramic or marble hex tile on the floor. As a designer, I enjoy pushing the limits, not playing it safe, and my goal is always to share things that have yet to be done- or at the very least prove to be interesting inspiration. Normal, boring, average, or ‘been done’ are descriptive words I try to avoid. So if you’re wondering how this philosophy affected the bathroom, I’ll explain it below.

But first- shoutout to our fellow Hooisers (Emmett’s shirt and our alma matter) and in honor of our last home (Emmett’s tat), let’s get this reno wrapped up!

Room for Tuesday - cutting tileI knew I wanted to make a statement in this tiny bathroom while maximizing the space. It’s so small, I really wanted to elongate the height of the room, eluding to more square footage than there actually is, all while making the design feel fresh. So, how exactly did I do that? Everything happened around the floor tile. It was truly my jumping off point. This gorgeous nero (black) marble is flashy yet timeless, and incorporates a brass element I so desperately wanted to add to the floor. At first I researched metallic grout or joints, but realized a tile was more feasible for the budget and timeframe. Once I nailed down the large hex floor tile, I sourced a wall tile. I didn’t want the walls to compete with the floor and the space is small enough as it is, so I opted for a subway tile, BUT not in the way you’d expect.

black hex floor tile in progress

black marble floor tile in progressI ordered honed carrara 3×6 subway tiles (basic, I know) with the intention of running them in a vertical running bond pattern. Why vertical? Remember how I wanted to elongate the ceiling height? Running tile in a vertical pattern helps with that… and it’s unexpected (a win / win).

Marble-Subway-TileI also wanted to add contrasting tile to the shower niches. A good rule of thumb when selecting multiple tiles in a single shower is to use different shapes or patterns of the same material. I opted for a small carrara herringbone tile for the niche (also shown in the intro), as well as matching pencil trim for framing them.

Custom Shower NicheIn regards to the details, the window received a similar treatment. I sourced carrara trim with a curved edge that elegantly frames out the window and the ledge. Everything matches, looks stylized, and most importantly- compliments the flooring. The floor is really the star of this space.

Marble Tile in ProgressHere’s a peek of everything before grout! It came together really nicely- Emmett did a great job. I can’t wait to rip out that big ugly light fixture. You can’t really tell from this image, but it’s super dated and houses lots of dead bugs (gross). The plan is to patch the ceiling and relocate it because it isn’t even centered in the room.

Tile Before GroutingYou can also catch a tiny peek of the installed vanity in the lower lefthand corner. Emmett started installing trim and I’m planning a shower curtain DIY for next week’s ORC update (hint… it’s being installed from the ceiling). Definitely come back for that if you’re short on space in your bathroom. It makes a big difference!

Black-Hex-Tile and TrimI’d love to hear your thoughts on our process so far! Are you into the tile I picked out? I’ve really been enjoying everyone’s ORC spaces. Click the logo below to see the other talented guest designers participating….


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  1. I love your tile choices. I would never have thought to put the wall tile vertical – how smart! That floor is gorgeous!

    1. Thank you, Jeanie!! xo

  2. First of all, that floor tile is a showstopper! Second, I vastly prefer marble subway tile to plain white, so obviously I love this choice too. I can’t put my finger on why, but the vertical layout usually bugs me. Here, I think it’s perfect! And the pencil trim is the perfect finishing touch. I can’t wait to see the reveal!!!

    1. Thanks so much, Alex! I’m with you on the marble subway tile… and I don’t run the pattern vertical very often, but sometimes it does work. Thank you!! xox

  3. so far so great! Can’t wait to see the finished bath.

  4. That floor tile is amazing! Is the metal part of the tile? Love it!

    1. Thank you!! The brass looking part is actually glass! It’s even more beautiful in person. xox

  5. tim@designmaze says:

    wow that is a beautiful detail with stone play and that floor tile!! can’t wait to see them grouted and the rest of your finishing touches!

    1. Thanks, Tim! That makes two of us. Hah!

  6. The tile looks amazing and I love the contrast of tile you chose in the built-in shelf!

    1. Thanks so much, Kelly! xo

  7. love that you aren’t afraid to be different!

    1. That might be the best compliment I’ve ever received. Ha! Thank you, Morgan!

  8. I love the vertical use of the subway tile and the floor is a stunner! One gorgeous space – can not wait to see the finished room!

    1. Thank you so much, Joy!

  9. Love that floor tile, looks great!

  10. This is going to be so beautiful! Love the contrast of tile shapes with the niches.

  11. Jen@Jenron-Designs says:

    Your tile choice are spot on! My favorite tile would have to be the one in the soap niches, Love a good carrara marble tile, but I will say that floor tile it s show stopper, so dramatic and dark . I can not wait to see you bathroom complete.

  12. How does it get from looking kind of messy and the edges all unfinished and torn up….to how beautiful it always looks at the end???

    Cant wait to see, its all gorgeous

    1. That’s all about the finishing details: grout, caulk, millwork, paint, etc. Oh- and a LOT of cleaning. Haha! Thanks, Maggie!

  13. Lindsey Joy says:

    That tile is absolutely gorgeous!! I love that you did something so unquie or give life to a small space. Can’t wait to see the finished product

    1. Thank you so much!! xox

  14. Sherry Cole says:

    I do love those marble tiles and I love the way you have installed them. The floor is amazing also.

  15. Jessica Vanderveen says:

    wow, i just love all your tile choices!

  16. The tiles read kind of 80’s to me? They remind me of maximalist Kelly Wearstler–not in love with them to be honest, but I have faith in your vision! Can’t wait to see how this one comes together and very curious about this shower curtain situation. I voted for you, btw!

    1. They do kind of have an 80’s vibe! Initially I was thinking art deco, but I could totally make the Kelly Wearstler connection. It will definitely be interesting to see everything come together. That’s always my favorite part. Thank you SO much for voting, Zoe! xx

  17. That tile is stunning. I am in love with this look!

  18. Your tile choices are perfect!! I can’t wait to see how it all comes together :)

  19. Hey Sarah! Would you consider doing a bathroom post with the “rules” of bathroom design? Height to hang towel bars/hooks at, how far up the wall to go when doing a partially tiled wall or wainscotting, etc.? I’ve definitely found those posts useful in the past, and am also about to tackle a bath reno. :D

      1. Yay! Can’t wait. Thank you! :D

  20. Colette @ restyle it wright says:

    ooooommmmmmggggggg that floor tile!!!! TO DIE FOR!!!!!

  21. I’m a bit late to comment, but I think the contrast between the floor and the wall is amazing! I can’t wait to see the finished product.

  22. Jessica | Petal + Ply says:

    Oh my! Yes yes yes! The tile looks amazing!!!

  23. I am on the same page regarding the tile! I am totally drooling over that floor tile though! Love it!

  24. I would love to build some cubbies like those into our shower – can’t bring myself to take down all the tiles though 😂 It looks great!

  25. Stephanie says:

    Totally loving your transformation of your bathroom! Where did you source your pencil trim for your windows and niche?

    1. Thanks so much Stephanie! The pencil trim actually came from Home Depot… but we found it to be a perfect match for our TileBar marble.

  26. Donna A Arnold says:

    I may have it when reading through the blog and comments but would you mind to share where I get the beautiful black tile on the floor please. It’s beautiful and a great choice!!!

  27. Can you share what color Mapei grout you used? I’m about to retile my bathtub surround with the same tile and can’t decide on grout color!

  28. Hello. I just want to know how big is space between tiles and which grout you used on 3×6 wall tiles. I have the same 3×6 calacatta cressa and i wonder with grout color I supposed to choose.

    1. Hi Kate, this has been a few years ago and we’ve since moved, but I believe we did 1/16″ or 1/8″ for this tile project.

      1. I think 1/8. Is it silver grout from mapei or frost one?