When it comes to bathroom designs, many homeowners are seeking a relaxing environment which is both functional and easy to maintain. This proved true for a recently redesigned master bath located in St. Louis, MO, which was designed by Tricia Falmer Kleinheider, owner of Elements Interiors, LLC, of Ofallon, MO. A modern space was created with a backdrop of neutral-colored porcelain tiles that is accented with Aquastone strip tiles supplied by Voguebay of Newport News, VA.

“My client wanted a relaxing — but modern — space that was sophisticated as well,” said Falmer. “It was important that this mater bath exhibit the same standards as the recent renovation that was made throughout the rest of the home. In addition, she wanted the surfaces in this bathroom to be extremely easy to maintain and also functional.”

The designer continued to explain that 24- x 48-inch oversized porcelain tiles from the Packstone series by Tile of Spain-branded manufacturer Roca were used for the shower walls — along with 12- x 24-inch floor tiles. Adding texture to the space, strips of Aquastone were employed for a feature wall above the vanity as well as a detail in the shower and tub surround.

The light and dark tones of the Aquastone bring a subtle contrast to the neutral color tones of the master bath. Together, the tiles create a sense of modern sophistication.

Before making a final decision on the materials palette, the designer noted that many other types of materials were actually considered. “This bathroom was of a contemporary design, and because I did not want the grout lines to be too ‘busy,’ I was hesitant at first to use a lot of tile,” said Falmer. “We considered slabs of solid surface material as well as granite and concrete. The large 24-x 48-inch pieces of Packstone tile used in the shower required only a few grout lines, so by selecting tiles with a matte finish and grout colors that blended with the tile, we were able to make the grout lines virtually disappear.”

The designer explained that she was mainly seeking neutral colors so different accessories could be applied to make the room “pop” — depending on mood or even the season. “To get the drama, and keep it light and airy, we put the darker color in the shower and kept the floor and walls light,” explained Falmer. “The Aquastone accent tile had both dark and light colors, and had a warm tone which worked well with the custom vanity.”

In addition to viewing mock-ups, which made the process much smoother, the client was also extremely involved in the selection process — visiting showrooms with Falmer to develop ideas and concepts. “After a while I began to see what she was drawn to, and I was able to develop a concept for her,” said the designer. “I presented her with a couple of different plans, and we were able to make our decisions from there.”

Aside from trying to minimize the grout lines, the most challenging aspect of this project proved to be the HVAC vent that was located on the floor directly in front of the client’s brand new jetted tub, according to the designer. “We were unable to move it, so we located a vent that allows you to place small pieces of tile into a frame that actually creates the vent, she said. “It blended beautifully, and you can barely tell it’s there.”

Because the designer and her team had great communication with the contractor, she did not have to spend much time on site supervising the installation. Falmer explained that the contractor exhibited thorough and precise drawings, which made her sure that everyone was on the same page. “There were times when I would pop in to check on the progress and just to see what was new,” said the designer. “It was so much fun to watch it come together.”

All of the porcelain tile was supplied by Prosource in Earth City, MO. “The account manager made sure the process was flawless,” said Falmer.

According to the designer, the 150-square-foot master bath was completed within six weeks from the start date, and almost everything was custom made, including the vanity, closet door and polished concrete countertop and tub surround. In addition, Falmer noted that the reaction to the project has been overwhelmingly positive. “I am surprised at the range of people — traditional to contemporary — that all seem to like the relaxed feel of the space,” she said.