Wednesday, April 19, 2017

ORC 3: Using Inspiration to Solve a Bathroom Design Dilemma

My bathroom has a problem. Well it has a lot of problems, as I discussed in this interim ORC Post.

This particular one isn't uncommon in a bathroom. In fact, it has been solved in many ways, many times, sometimes rather ingeniously.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

Can you tell what it is?

Look at the ceiling.

Yup, there's two of them --and they're different. 

Now look at the walls.

It's not that we chose to end the tile "short" of where the ceiling ends (that's also, incidentally where we would run into the window, so it made sense at the time) --well, that IS a problem-- but the real problem is bigger than that.

It's that combined, what we did was effectively halve the room into two distinct parts. This teeny tiny family bath.

And the halves are not aligned. Which drives me crazy.

So, one half is the tub with its 4x4 tile. Blinding white. The other is the sink and toilet area with a planked ceiling and blue painted walls.


This is a design dilemma of the first order. 

Do I play up the difference? Or try to unify the areas while adding just enough difference to keep things interesting? And, bonus problem, how can I integrate the planked ceiling--so it doesn't look like the random (but cool) feature it really is?

Here is a dramatic example of dramatizing the differences:

Cypress shiplap in tung oil finish. Gorgeous. And a complete and total contrast to the marble used in the shower enclosure. (There is a bit of a tie back to the enclosure with the marble countertop. It helps the two relate--as do the more formal sconces, I think.) 

But, oh my word, in my tiny bathroom, on my knotty pine budget? It's a way to go, certainly, but not, I think, the way.

This bathroom design is doing the same thing: playing up the differences.

Not only is there contrast in the materials, but in light/dark as well. Notice, though, that even here, there's a unifying element that crosses the divide, so to speak. The wood. It is essential. Repeated in both halves, the wood unifies these dramatically different halves of the same space. Without it, it would look like someone tried to put the ends of two different rooms together. 

Contrast between the tub/shower area and the toilet and sink area --but with a unifying element-- recurs over and over again in the bathroom, once you start to look for it.

I love this! The wood in the shower enclosure comes right out onto the floor and ceiling of the rest of the room. It's a great way to set the shower enclosure apart while integrating it at the same time.

This more traditional bathroom does the same thing:

In this case, the tile from the tub area is lowered and continued into the bathroom area. Choosing a horizontally striped shower curtain ties the two area together as well. 

At first, I thought the designer had used the same marble in both the shower enclosure and on the sink wall. But looking at them more closely, it looks like there's a fish scale pattern to the tile on the sink wall...and the tiles in the shower area are large squares.

To my eye, it reads as a "near miss," though over five thousand people liked it on Instagram! 

In this traditional bathroom, the marriage is more complete--but also more subtle. 

Isn't that mirror frame fantastic?

This, too, had me fooled. I thought the tile wrapped around the wall behind the toilet and vanity--but no. That is just a brilliant match between the paint colour and the tile! Note, though, that the band of mosaic tile continues around the room--and the ceiling is the same throughout.

But it is encouraging. Look at how different this image is from the first ones above. 

So, here are my options, as I see them.

1) play up the differences: Uptown Meets Downtown

Take the planks on the ceiling back to natural.
Install similar planks horizontally on the walls, like the first image from House Beautiful above. Should I do the wall from floor to ceiling? Or just the waisncotting? Then, choose more "refined" looking lighting. 

2) In the light vs. dark example above, the bath tub and tile area is "light," the "dark" area is the sink and toilet. They are white porcelain--so they will "call" back to the white tiles area, anyway. But the ceiling and walls could be painted a dark colour. 

Honestly? No. Neither of these two. This house is just not that modern. 

Normally, I love contrast, but this room is too tiny to handle too much of it. I could leave the ceiling natural but paint the wood around the room. Like so:

That might help integrate the wood in the ceiling without making it overbearing.


I could meld the two ideas and keep the wood natural in the ceiling, duplicate it in the frame around the mirror and in some shelving. Then, I could paint the walls whatever I want. Maybe even go dark!

Like so:

and (imagine half this ceiling natural wood)

Ugh. Half the ceiling. These are gorgeous, but they just aren't working for me--because I am dealing with one half of the ceiling.

So. No.

The two ceilings have to be the same colour. They just do. They can be exactly the same, as in both painted the same --or they can be similar, as in a white washed wood and a white ceiling. Maybe. And if that's what I want to do, then, they are unified.

But to deal with the "randomness" of the wood half, all I really need do is repeat the idea of wood somewhere--white washed or painted, whatever I choose for the ceiling.

Then the question becomes--how much wood? 

This board and batten wainscoting is less intensive (and less costly) than planking:

We've come a long, long way from the first House Beautiful image above, haven't we? And though this image does not show a planked ceiling (never mind a partially planked ceiling) as long as the stiles are kept to the same width as my ceiling planks, I think it will work. Oh--and the wainscotting should be painted the same colour--to match the tile! 

So, it seems we've decided on a direction. Just in time--there's only three weeks left!

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