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Design

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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Brenda
9 months ago

I absolutely love the tile color, shapes, and design choice! Using the green and white pickets on the wall was a genius idea!

Stassy
9 months ago

The tile throughout your house is so luxe and pretty.

Renee
9 months ago

Love everything here–the tile, the colors, the layout! I am confused about the shower though. In the final shower photo, why can’t we see the tiny little green pieces along the bottom row? I think it would have looked nice with the one-and-a-half green tiles along the base of the shower also. I would love to know what the installer’s thought process was there. Or did he run out of the green tile?

Erin
9 months ago
Reply to  Renee

There’s a shower pan in there which raises the floor height. A continuous pattern wouldn’t line up properly.

Michelle
9 months ago
Reply to  Renee

It looks like they cut the picket at the longest, widest point to make the seam less noticeable. I think the tiny diamond shape is actually just space, not green tile. So either they grouted it or filled it in with tiny white triangles. Looks most likely the latter. Having some basic tiling experience I’d say this was an excellent choice and the result is more grounding.

Shannon
9 months ago

So pretty and I thoroughly enjoyed this deep dive. The decisions that need to be made in a project like this are truly infinite, and sometimes exhausting and even painful—but usually in a hurts-so-good way! Curious about the grout “of course” getting lighter. Do you mean just in comparison to the sample because it’s had time to dry thoroughly? Or is this to be expected from all grout, complicating the decision process even further? 😱

stacy
9 months ago

Love this tile! It’s a perfect unusual (but not weird) tile pattern. Interesting and cute!
Wild guess on the shower tile height issue you noted – does it make the points of the tiles match up with the points of tiles outside the shower? Since the floor in the shower is a little different height I wonder if it’s just to make it consistent with the rest of the bathroom. Hard to tell from the pics. Either way – the whole room’s tile looks amazing!

Erika
9 months ago
Reply to  stacy

Stacy, that’s what I was thinking too! If they do match up then I think it makes perfect sense 🙂

Erin
9 months ago
Reply to  stacy

There is a shower pan in there which will raise the floor height in the shower because the floor has to ease toward the drain. In a new build this can easily be incorporated into the design to keep the floor height and tile design consistent in the bathroom but on a remodel that would mean replacing floor tru$$es. Not ideal.

Erin
9 months ago

The color and design are fun, timeless and earthy. I love the updated shade of white and the pops of bright brass. Can’t wait to see it all!

erin
9 months ago

Hi Emily! Looks great and i love the green tile. Question for you: I am renovating my kids bathroom soon and have the same questions about grout–what color to use so it does not look dirty against careers marble. What color is your “go to” to make tile pop but that is also durable? I do not care for super dark grout. Thanks!

Monique Wright Interior Design
9 months ago

White grout (especially on a shower pan) is never a good choice for kids’ bathrooms, ha! Also very dark grout. Kids are the masters of the messes. I hope we see what happened with the white tile + paint color in the next post! ☺️

Jill
9 months ago

Perfect children’s bath. Smart to have green tile at the base of the wall, to hide dirt and scuff marks. Love that it looks like fir trees (to me).

Sari
9 months ago

It really is so special. It must feel so nice in there, getting to see all those different shapes and thoughtful details in person!

Julie
9 months ago

What is everyone using to clean grout (cleaner but also what sponge/scrubber?) and how often? We just finished a bathroom and I can feel the grout getting away from me already…

🥰 Rusty
9 months ago
Reply to  Julie

Just don’t use bleach, because bleach eats grout!!

Brenna
9 months ago
Reply to  Julie

Zep grout cleaner & brightener is amazing – highly recommend!!

lor
9 months ago
Reply to  Julie

To clean grout, I splash on non-oxygenated bleach (hydrogen peroxide?) and a couple of drops of Dawn. Scrub into grout with small/stiff brush and let sit. Scrub repeatedly as the grout rather than the fizzy white appears. Wipe off with wet cloth and wet/clean brush until no longer bubbly.

Elise
9 months ago

Just curious, why did you do green hex in the shower and not just continue with the same floor tile? It all looks great?

Erin
9 months ago
Reply to  Elise

Pros usually recommend the smallest tile possible for shower floor, esp glazed tile, because it can be so slippery. The grout adds more friction to help prevent slips.

Addie
9 months ago

This came together so well! I like the green and white and the way you designed the picket. I also think it looks like grass growing up the walls which is so fun and playful for a kids’ bathroom, without being too “kiddy” or trendy. I’m glad you fixed the white paint color and am looking forward to seeing this room styled out.

Shawn
9 months ago

Tile looks beautiful! We did a picket tile for a client’s tub surround. The tile setter can only be described as an artist mathematician. So. Many. Decisions. — how the corners meet, where the plumbing fixtures line up, where the pickets fall on top and bottom edges, where the niche falls. An expert tile setter is a must with these kinds of patterns. And you did 3!!! Bravo for both the design and the execution!!!

Erin
9 months ago
Reply to  Shawn

Gosh I do love “artist mathematician”. I nicknamed our architect “mathematical poet”.

9 months ago

Yes, it was a wise decision not to make custom windows, your old ones fit in just as well with the design of the new bathroom!