It came to me in a dream

May 1, 2011

We explored systematically, up one aisle, down the other, stopping here to consider, there to ah, there to reject.  We didn’t have the faintest idea what we wanted and needed ideas.

We are renovating a bathroom.  “A master bath?” asks the would-be helpful saleswoman at the tile store?  “No, just an ordinary bath.”  Our house is pushing 100 – they did not do “master baths” in the 20’s.

The present room has evolved from its look 15 years ago.  Initially there was a huge black soaking tub (no shower, still there and will stay, I do love the tub for its size if not for its style), a black sink (with bits of gold sparkle), a black toilet, light gray barn-like paneling, gothic-esque hardware, black slate tile work around the tub and sink, and last, but not least (and not to be taken as criticism of the taste of the people who chose this because there was a time when this was so very in) zebra-striped shag carpeting. 

Not being a fan of shag carpeting in the bathroom, I tore that out very early and laid my first sticky-tile floor.  [Of course now I realize that vinyl is evil.] The black toilet gave up the ghost a few years ago and was replaced with a white one.  Which of course now means we need a way to unite the different colored porcelain pieces.

Back at the tile store.  My husband and I were at a loss for what to do with the bath.  The browsing simultaneously inspired and overwhelmed us.  We came away knowing we wanted a nod to the house’s history – no sleek, modernistic, 21st century bathroom.  We were leaning toward a frosted glass subway tile, perhaps separated from tile of another color by an intricate mosaic band and lovely tile ledge piece.  All the mock-up baths were beautiful in their own way and it was hard to imagine anything other than a completely tiled bath.  Options, options, so many options.

Back at my in-laws’ we mention the glass subway tile to my mother-in-law.  Yes, beautiful, she knows a bathroom with that tile, and you can see the mold behind it.  So, scratch frosted glass subway tile.

Head swimming with all the tile we’d seen I went to bed, and awoke with an epiphany.

White subway tile around the tub and up the wall on two sides, and that’s all – giving the illusion of a white tub with a black liner.  A glass wall at the plumbing end for a shower (handheld on a pole, I love those).  Yes, the plumbing is basically in the middle of the room (but that’s ok, it tends not to freeze there).  The glass block will let in light from the window.

Speaking of windows, maybe another one on the north side.  It’ll need to be narrow, but the light and ventilation make it worthwhile.  And we think we’ll lose the black sink and built in, room sucking cabinets (I can’t even reach the cabinet above the sink anyway).  We’ll put in a white pedestal sink and have shallower and fewer cabinets built; that should open the room up a bit more.  subway tile 4I’m going to look in antique stores for an oak or white medicine cabinet for above the sink.

subway tile 3No one, of course, has a picture of my bathroom as I want it to be, so here is a compilation of rooms with white subway tile depicting the appropriate era, more or less. 


Put them in your brain and stir, then you’ll have a sense of what I’m talking about.

subwaytile 2subwaytiles 1

I haven’t any pictures of the bathroom as it is.  I left my camera at a friends, and besides, I’d have to clean the room before taking photos.  Don’t worry, there will be plenty of before, during, and after pictures.

Besides, this is just the planning stage, and only the very beginnings of that.  There is still hardware to choose, and flooring, wall colors, shower curtain, window treatments. Of course, there is also the green element; we want to do this project as eco-consciously as possible.

Next step.  Clean the bathroom.  Second step.  Call the carpenter.  Good ol’ Howard.  Given we’re approaching prime outdoor building time we’ll probably be an autumn project. 

Stay tuned for updates.



  1. […] this bathroom for about a year, ever since our tax return indicated it was possible.  Last May, my husband and I spent a weekend getting ideas and I figured out what I wanted.  We knew the […]

  2. We understand how overwhelming tile choices can be and that’s why we invite you to visit subwaytile.com. If you’re looking to recreate an original, true-to-the-period look, you’ll find what you’re looking for here.

    Good luck with your project.

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