Editor-Tested: How Tile Can Completely Transform Your Home
As a design writer, I seek out, explore, record—and, in some extreme cases, pledge to memory—the most transcendent fabrics, tiles, and furniture that I encounter in my travels through showrooms and private homes. They are all fodder for a story or photo shoot. Most recently, however, I’ve embarked on a renovation of my West Village apartment where I live with my husband and our 2-year-old daughter. We had the great fortune (and N.Y.C. fantasy-come-true) of buying the one-bedroom place next door and breaking down a wall. It’s a gut renovation, and I’ve re-imagined every aspect of the space, from the floor colors to the kitchen and bathrooms. Along the way, I’ve been able to incorporate my all-time favorite finds and resources, and the newest and most tantalizing products and designs. Follow along with me as I describe the ins-and-outs of our renovation and the aesthetic decisions that I’ve made along with the way. Happy reading!
I’ve interviewed many decorating gurus, and there is one truth that arises in conversation time and again: you can really have some fun in the bathroom. For me, the excitement begins with the choice of tile. I happened upon a fabulous Moroccan tile resource that was akin to a constant romp through a candy store—a storefront in Manhattan’s Flatiron area called Mosaic House. Over the past few months, my husband, Josh, daughter, Bea, and I have been stopping into the place more times than I’d like to admit. For Bea it is an opportunity to play with gorgeous, colorful square mosaic pieces that look like jewels.
For Josh and me, it is a time to dream about color, pattern, and travel (he is a photographer and a director, so between the two of us, Mosaic House is playing to a rapt audience). I would have loved to have gone crazy with actual mosaics, but they were more than our budget would allow.
We have been working with a woman there named Lola (pictured above), who is like having a cool artist girlfriend with incredible taste and a vast knowledge of tile. She also oversees the Pinterest account for the store (along with her own, @lolamakesnyc), which ended up being an endless source of inspiration. She had suggestions of ways to emulate intricate tile patterns without the expense, like this idea below courtesy of the French photographer Garance Doré, comprised of various cut pieces of cement tile. It is the same color scheme that I’d imagined for Bea’s bedroom and bath so it was of great interest.
We played around with this collage idea using various super saturated pieces of tile for Bea’s bathroom, and in the end it didn’t look quite right with the proportions of the room. In the end, we’ve opted for these cement tiles with a gray and milk-white striped pattern, which would offset pale pink walls (stay tuned for the final results!)
For another bathroom (which also serves as a laundry room), I fell in love with a black and green tile that felt like a stolen glimpse into an Italian villa. With this tile I knew that doing the laundry would be more than a pleasure. Lola showed me a photo of the floor in the restaurant Republique in L.A. that they’d also worked with, using a similar tile. It looks so graphic and chic, I was doubly sold.
For the master bathroom, Josh and I had always fantasized about painting the walls a shiny black. We’d once stayed at Blakes in London, an Anouska Hempel triumph, where the bathrooms are painted ebony, and the effect is super dramatic. This was our big chance to give it a go back home in N.Y.C. We found a shiny bottle green tile to offset the darkness and reflect the natural light through the windows. It also spoke to the color palette of the geometric tile in the laundry room, so the choice would make the overall picture cohesive.
Our contractors are laying the tile as I write this, and I cannot wait to post the final results. The verdict? It is most definitely a stupendous idea to freely explore your design dreams in the loo.