“They wanted a relaxing and Zen-like master bath and were very involved [with the overall design process],” said Mark Evans, project designer at CG&S Design-Build in Austin, TX. “I took them shopping for all the fixtures and finishes.”
The owners are collectors of vintage ceramics, antiques and architectural pieces, which set the theme and color scheme for all of the finishes in the new master bathroom. One piece of furniture in particular — a set of antique Moroccan doors with subtle turquoise undertones, which the owners acquired 10 years ago and have been waiting to use for something special — set the entire tone for the Moroccan-inspired theme of the bathroom, according to the homeowners. “There was a dealer in town with a wonderful old building filled with Moroccan objects, doors, rugs, lamps and vases, and I remember that he had a Moroccan father and a Norwegian mother — and had decided to move to Norway,” the homeowner said. “Everything had to go. When we bought the doors, we had no idea where we’d use them. For many years, they sat at the top of a small landing. When our son was small, his buddies thought there was a secret room behind the magical blue doors. Once it occurred to us that the doors were just the right size for a linen cupboard, everything fell into place.”
To revamp the master bathroom and construct the new bathroom, two different types of tile were chosen — one on the master bathroom’s shower floors and walls and one on the master bathroom’s floors and son’s bathroom’s floors and walls. “The master bath shower walls are [clad with] handmade, glazed ceramic tiles from Mexico in turquoise — in a 4- x 4-inch format,” said Evans. “Turquoise is a reoccurring theme in the home. The floor and wall tile on the master bath floor, some walls and all floors and walls in their son’s bath are all porcelain. This was chosen for its strength and durability, while the handmade tiles were selected because we wanted an artisan look.”
A total of 160 square feet of tile was employed in the 110-square-foot master bathroom — 100 square feet on the floor and 60 square feet on walls. The handmade Mexican ceramic tile, used for the shower walls in the master bathroom, was supplied by Clay Imports in Austin, TX, while the darker gray porcelain tile, used for the master bathroom floors, was supplied by Schroeder Flooring in Austin, TX. The bathroom also features granite countertops and granite tub wall surrounds, which were supplied and installed by Moe Freid Marble & Granite in Manchaca, TX.
For the newly-constructed, 50-square-foot son’s bathroom, a total of 75 square feet of the same porcelain tile that was used on the master bathroom floor was used — with 35 square feet utilized on the floor and 40 square feet utilized on the walls.
“Our love of blues, greens, teal and turquoise work with the doors, and my quirky collection of pottery plays nicely with the beautiful moody gray-green quartz we found at Moe’s [Moe Fried Marble & Granite],” the owner explained. “We wanted to find tiles with a Moroccan feel, without making the bathroom look like a stage set. The lovely handmade Mexican tiles we used came from Clay Imports on North Lamar — and we were told that our order was among the very last to be made — in our color choice and size — by a small maker in Mexico. The perfect gray floor tiles were [also] discovered on a shopping trip with Mark Evans.”
The installation, which took approximately two weeks, was completed by Steve Smith and his small team of installers — a tile setter and helper — of Custom Tile of Austin in Austin, TX. “Traditionally, we try to use all Laticrete products,” said Smith. “[And] we completed the job using true mud work — flowing walls with cement. It’s the best way of doing it. Before we do that, I have a person in town that does a fiberglass shower pan [installation]. [First], we do that, cover it up with mud and cement, and then we tile it. I’ve been working with this guy for 25 years, and we’ve never had a leak. It’s a very good method, and it’s only good if you have someone who is excellent at their trade, and he is.”
When completing the renovation/remodel, which took four months, Evans said the installation team ran into one minor challenge with the tile in the master bathroom. “The handmade glazed ceramic tile was tricky when it came to what it would look like at the outside corners,” he said. “[So] we had the tile setter ‘embed’ the tile so the edges would not show.”
Other than that minor mishap, Smith said the installation ran smoothly. Evans said he was onsite regularly to supervise the installation to ensure everything went according to plan. “We always do a tile walk through with [me], the tile setter and homeowners once the walls are prepped and before any tile is installed,” said Evans. “We spend whatever time is needed to think and talk about all the corner conditions, how we want the tile edges finished, grout colors and the location of any accent tiles. We’ve worked with this tile setter for years, and they will call if they run into any issues during the installation.”
Despite the minor complications the project presented, the owners are overjoyed with how the remodel turned out. “The homeowners are very happy and feel we have accomplished the Zen feel they wanted for the master bath — thanks in large part to the tile,” said Evans. “The convenience of two upstairs bathrooms for them has been tremendous. The single bathroom before was very dated and there was a lot of wasted space.”
“The homeowners loved it,” Smith added. “I do my business a little different than other people. I don’t charge until homeowners say it’s beautiful.”
Barton Hills, TX
Architect/Designer: CG&S Design-Build, Austin, TX
Tile Installer: Custom Tile of Austin, Austin, TX
Stone Installer: Moe Freid Marble & Granite, Manchaca, TX
Tile Suppliers: Clay Imports, Austin, TX (handmade Mexican ceramic tile); Schroeder Flooring in Austin, TX (porcelain tile)