1 of 2
A beautiful shower stall mosaic.
A spacious corner shower—complete with tile medallion—includes a fixed shower head on
the right and an adjustable handset
on the left.
2 of 2
The finished bath
Open shelving and two
vanities, each with
eight drawers, provide
ample storage space.
Enter the bathroom of this suburban
Minneapolis home and you'll find
stone ranging in size from 5/8-in.
flecks to 500-lb. slabs. It's installed on the ceiling,
walls and floors; used as baseboard molding,
shower seat and backsplash; laid in herringbone,
mosaic and diagonal patterns; tumbled, polished
and honed. It's a testament to the versatility, workability
and beauty of stone as a building product.
But simply including tons of stone does not an
elegant bathroom make: The stone, indeed the entire
project, must be thoughtfully designed and installed.
Three Unique Areas—One Unifying Material
1 of 3
The whirlpool bath area
A limestone deck and tile surround this whirlpool bath.
2 of 3
The shower area
A marble mosaic tile turns this shower stall into a work of art.
3 of 3
The vanity area
Marble and limestone are used side-by-side to dress up a vanity top, make-up table and floor.
Bathrooms can be broken down into “work
zones,” similar to the way kitchens often are. And
while each space can be self-contained and have
unique elements, all must mesh visually and functionally
in order for the room to look and work
In this bathroom, stone works as the underlying
theme to unify three unique spaces. The shower
area features a mosaic marble mural surrounded
by honed marble tile for the walls, ceiling, floor
and seat. The whirlpool bath area, tucked into a
bay window, uses a slab of honed limestone for
the deck as well as the backsplash along the walls.
The vanity countertops are likewise crafted from
limestone, with a slab of polished granite nested
between the two to serve as the makeup tabletop.
The 16 x 16-in. honed marble floor tile, band of
baseboard tile and crown molding help tie all the
spaces—including the partitioned-off commode
area—into a single elegant space. All the stone,
with the exception of the granite slab, is either
tumbled or honed for a simple yet rich look.
Tile to carpet transition
Problem Solver: High Tile Meets Short Carpet
Tile needs to be installed over a solid base, and
that base can range in thickness
from 1/4-in. backer board to the
1-in.-thick “mud pack” used in
this project. Add 1/2-in.-thick tile
to that and you have a bathroom
floor that stands toe-stubbing
height above the abutting carpet.
In many cases a beveled threshold
can ease the transition,
but to make up the
1-1/2-in. height difference
in this project,
the tile installer laid a
3-in.-wide strip of tile
at a slight incline.
Gentle Cleaning for Stone
Porous stone, such as limestone, slate and marble, can be irreversibly
harmed by even ordinary cleaning products. Acidic cleaners can etch and dull natural stone surfaces and damage the grout as well. Most installers
and manufacturers suggest sealing the tiles, then using only warm water or
products formulated specifically for stone.
Choose the right tile underlayment
1 of 1
Shower enclosure with raw materials
A long-lasting tile job starts with a solid foundation.
Tile is remarkably durable. It's what's beneath it and the way the tile is
installed that make the real difference. Three different types of tile
bases or underlayments were used in this bathroom. Here's what was
used where and why:
that looks like, cuts
like and installs like
for the upper shower
walls and shower
ceiling. The waterproof
water and swelling.
Cement board was
used for the shower
seat and lower 2 ft.
of the shower enclosure.
The tile contractor
tried-and-true standby—to using one of
the newer products
in areas subject to
intense moisture or
Dry-Tamped Base, a stiff, sand/mortar mix
packed over metal lath, was used on all
floors and the shower curb. A tamped
base was also used to pitch the shower
floor toward the drain from all directions.
children, the homeowners found their
private master bathroom often being
invaded by kids coming in to grab
shampoo and other supplies. The solution?
They put an access door in the side of the
cabinet right by the door, so the
kids can grab what they need
without traipsing through the
A perfect makeup area
(with perfect storage)
the homeowner revealed she had to
sit on the vanity in the existing bathroom
to get close enough to the mirror
to apply makeup, the design team
decided to bring the mirror to the
homeowner. In the new bathroom, the
large mirror, set only 10 in. back from
the front of the built-in makeup table,
provides the needed proximity. A candlestick
lamp on each side provide the
side lighting, and the mirror—while
having a built-in look—cleverly disguises
a close-at-hand storage space
behind its swinging door.
Open storage nooks incorporated
into the “dead space” behind the storage
cabinet are accessible from
the vanity areas on each side.
Avoid common remodeling problems
1 of 2
Working with contractors
Hire your designer to coordinate working with contractors.
2 of 2
Careful planning helps minimize tile-matching problems.
Working with contractors
Many construction-related problems stem
from misunderstandings between all of the
parties involved—homeowners, designers,
general contractors, building officials and subcontractors.
To streamline the decision-making
process and clear up any questions of accountability,
designer Pat Undlin also served as construction
coordinator. It involved more visits to
the job site, but the project turned out exactly
Minimize the mess
Before demolition began, the general contractor
installed temporary plastic floor runners between the upstairs bathroom and
the front door, and protected the wood stair spindles and newel posts with
heavy cardboard. This prep work can save thousands of dollars in repair and
cleanup costs at the end of the project.
When tile colors don't match
The tiles used for the main wall, the mural and the frame
surrounding it came from different quarries. This,
coupled with the fact that stone is a natural product
with less-than-predictable coloration, resulted
in tile hues that didn't quite match. To solve the
problem, the border tiles were treated with a
color-enhancing sealer to even out the color and
push it closer to that of the mosaic tiles.
An old world look with new materials
1 of 2
The finished whirlpool bath enclosure with a limestone deck and tile
whirlpool tub sits
beneath the bay
2 of 2
Hidden access doors
The front panels providing
access to the
whirlpool tub's motor
and plumbing were
designed to be the
same size, and fall into
the same position, as
the wall tiles, making
the doors nearly
Interior designers Maureen Haggerty, Pat Undlin
and Heather Zappo of Pappas Inc. collaborated
with the homeowners to create a room with an
underlying “Old World” feel. This was partially
accomplished in the selection of lighting and
plumbing fixtures. The fabrics, paints and accessories
used in the space helped reinforce the theme.
Elements that might have fought with the feel were
kept simple; sinks are undermounted, the oval tub
is white and elegantly simple, and recessed lights
are unobtrusive and disappear into the ceiling.
“We avoided saturating the space with Old World
elements,” says Pat. “Our goal was to respond to the
homeowners' request for adequate lighting and practical
storage to support how they live—within the context
of a modern bathroom with classic overtones.”
The cabinets are made of alder, a wood that
accepts paint, stain and clear finishes smoothly
and evenly. The vanity cabinets were given an aged
look through a lengthy process that involved distressing
the wood with ice picks and chains, hand
sanding, sealing the wood followed by
more hand sanding, applying coats of
paint and glaze, then wiping and rubbing
them off to highlight the distressed
areas and recesses, all topped off
with several coats of clear lacquer. The
vertical storage cabinet was finished
with multiple coats of a pigmented catalyzed
All colors and materials—right
down to the fabric on the dressing table
chair—were selected before the project
began. “When we design a project we
believe everything in it should look
intentional,” muses Pat. “If you have a
detailed plan and execute it exactly,
you'll get precisely the aesthetic and
function you want.”