As one of wealthiest communities in South Florida, Boca Raton has established some strict standards for development. With no outdoor car dealerships, billboards and tall-standing advertisements for businesses allowed, the city prides itself on being an upscale region along the coast. Many buildings in the area embrace a Mediterranean Revival or Spanish Colonial Revival architectural feel, since most of the city’s early development was influenced by American resort architect Addison Mizner, who continues to inspire professionals and has been officially recognized for his contributions to the city with the development of Mizner Park.
Despite the commercial restrictions the city inhibits, its residents are always pushing boundaries when it comes to their designs, including one local couple who recently remodeled their entire home, with most of the focus put on creating one-of-a-kind bathrooms.
Designed by Alena Capra, CKD, CBD, of Alena Capra Designs in Fort Lauderdale, FL, the goal was to create two contemporary bathrooms in tones of neutral gray and white. “We worked together on our appointments selecting the tile and fixtures, and I helped them put it all together,” she explained. “The master bath was a complete remodel, as we rearranged the entire floor plan, creating one large, 8-foot vanity with two sinks, instead of the two separate vanities that existed. Also, the client wanted a modern, freestanding tub, instead of the bulky corner tub which was there previously.
“The shower was made much larger and moved to the opposite side of the room next to the tub,” Capra went on to say. “The result was a fully functional master bathroom, with a modern and fresh feel. The guest bath was a direct replacement of fixtures, as the size did not allow for relocation.”
For the 10- x 12-foot master bathroom’s walls and floors, Capra selected gray-colored porcelain tiles from Atlas Concorde’s Fibra series, which set a neutral tone. Inspired by the most refined fabrics, Fibra features unique graphics enhanced by the possibility of an installation with minimum joints. The vanity top was fabricated from Silestone quartz surfacing by Cosentino; and the floor in the shower features small, brick-shaped glass mosaic tiles from Glazzio Tiles in a darker shade. “Schluter-Systems' trim pieces were [also] used to add a pop of metallic in between the glass and porcelain detail on the walls,” said Capra.
The neutral theme continued into the slightly smaller, 6- x 9-foot guest bathroom, where porcelain tiles from Casalgrande Padana’s Metalwood series were employed on the floors and walls, which were complemented by accents of glass mosaic tiles from Glazzio Tiles. Silestone quartz was also used for this bath’s vanity top.
When determining which types of materials to select, Capra worked very closely with the homeowners to ensure their vision was executed exactly as they envisioned it. “For the master bathroom, Atlas Concorde’s Fibra tile was chosen for its beautiful gray tone and soft pattern. It resembled a piece of fabric, which is what I loved about it,” explained Capra. “The glass accent [tile] in the master bath was chosen to add a complete contrast from the walls. I varied sizes of the brick for interest and used a gloss finish for contrast with the matte tile [on the walls and floors]. I also wanted to bring in a metallic accent, so I used the chrome schlepper pieces to add that pop between the glass and porcelain on the walls.
“This tile was our first and final choice,” Capra went on to say. “The clients and I loved it as we put the look together in the tile showroom.”
For the guest bathroom, the same tile that was used for the main flooring in the house was chosen — Casalgrande’s Metalwood series — but in a different size and slightly different shade of gray. “We wanted all of the bathrooms to have a similar color tone, but still be different,” said Capra. “The clients had always liked this particular tile, so we decided to use it in the guest bath, too, and add some fun accents — like a pop of color with the glass mosaic. The blue Glazzio mosaic was used to frame the mirror, as a detail on the back wall of the tub and on the front of the tub. It added a nice freshness to the space, yet still remained neutral in the overall look. For whatever reason, I've always considered the color ‘blue’ a neutral color to use in bathroom design. It is always soothing and works well with gray or beige. Blue has universal appeal, is timeless and creates a soothing atmosphere.”
All tile for the project was supplied by Catalfamo Gallery in Fort Lauderdale, FL — a local distributor that Capra has been working with for many years. “Their showroom has such a nice set up that inspires creativity with tile design, as well as a knowledgeable staff,” she said.
Completing a “Florida- specific” installation
The installation was also completed by another professional in the industry that has a longstanding relationship with Capra, Tim Pavel Prichici, owner of Pavel Prichici, Inc. in Hollywood, FL. Prichici, who had two other helpers assist him, explained how southern regions, such as Florida, require a completely different installation method than northern areas like New York and New Jersey because of the way the buildings were constructed — specifically the floors. “We put mud on the floor then level the entire floor enough so the concrete is dry,” Prichici explained. “Up north, they do tile installations with thinset and troweling. Down here, we use a mortar mix. At the same time, when the mortar mix is fresh, we put the tile on top with thinset on the bottom and level the entire floor. It’s a totally different thing we are doing here.”
Although Prichici and his team utilized a thinset installation method for the porcelain tile on the walls, he explained the reasoning behind the differing methods. “We have a lot of condos [in Florida] and the types of concrete floors in them are very uneven,” he said. “Keeping everything level eliminates grout space [between the tiles]. When you have a white grout joint, that’s a lot of maintenance, so we try to keep the grout line as minimal/close as possible — and this method is the only way we can get the quality; it’s only used in Florida.
“I have friends working up north in New York, and they use the other method,” Prichici went on to say. “Most grout joints [for them] are 1/8- to ¼-inch; down here, we don’t have any grout joints because of the method we use. With porcelain, grout is what you really have to worry about over the years. Because we don’t have grout lines, it’s very easy to maintain everything.”
Being a veteran of the industry and 10-year collaborator with Capra, Prichici said this project didn’t present any unusual challenges. “It’s very easy to follow everything once we get the design from Alena,” he said.
Although the project went smoothly, Capra said she enlisted the help of a project manager, Jon Knausz, to supervise the installation, and also personally visited the site sporadically to check that things were progressing. “Things we look for on jobsites for a bathroom design project include the tile install and any installer questions that may come up in the field, such as how a certain edge may need to be finished, etc.,” explained Capra. “The installers I work with and I have a great working relationship, as we have worked on so many design projects together over the years. So, they know how I typically use certain tile in my designs and we have a good channel of communication. They are great at their craft, so I always know they will execute the design perfectly.”
Altogether, the project took about two months, with two weeks to complete the tile installation. “The clients were very pleased with this project, as was I; it’s one of my favorites,” said Capra. “The master bathroom actually won Silestone’s ‘2015 Bath of the Year,’ which was very exciting. When I saw they were having a contest, I sent in this entry and was so excited when it won.”
Boca Raton, FL
Designer: Alena Capra Designs, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Tile Installer: Pavel Prichici, Inc., Hollywood, FL
Tile Supplier: Catalfamo Gallery, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Quartz Manufacturer: Cosentino
Installation Products: Custom Building Products, Seal Beach, CA