July 16, 2008

It begins...

Schematic of my bathroom wall designI just placed an order for part #1 of my bathroom renovation. It is a ceiling. Specifically, it is this classic ceiling in tin-plated steel, which will be painted white. As will be this similarly classic cornice moulding (#C3). The white of the ceiling will be contrasted with cobalt-blue paint in faux as seen at right—the stripes will come from having different gloss levels in the paint. The image is a to-scale elevation of the room (thumb is 10px/3in, click for a 10px/in version) showing the relation of the cornice moulding, the paint, and the wall tile—arctic white subway, field, and chair rail tile and cobalt blue field, cove, and liner tile from Daltile, to be ordered tomorrow.

Hopefully, my floor patternThe floor will be hex tile, a plain 1" unglazed white hexagonal either from American Olean or Daltile, depending on which is a better colour match. Unfortunately, neither brand, nor any other I can find anywhere, has 1" cobalt hex tile (or even 1-1/4" or 2" cobalt hex tile) other than as part of a super-custom super-expensive thing. Unfortunate, because I really wanted the floor to have cobalt dots (as at left, same scale as the wall, click for same zoom). I've found some 7/8" cobalt hex, which might work; I put in a small order and will check fit and match before I order enough to do the whole floor. If that doesn't work, I'll give up and just make the whole floor white hex, which isn't the end of the world either. (It just dates the floor a little earlier than the wall, and I'm not a compulsive anachronist. :)

Thus completes the plan for the shell of the room. The plan for the major furnishings is roughed out but not yet final: the tub I'm keeping, of course. 4-1/2' clawfoot tubs are hard enough to come by, and I quite like it; and I'm almost 100% certain it dates to when the house was built (1906). Can't get more authentic than that. :) I will, however, scrape the flaking enamel off the outside while it's out, brush the rust, and paint/enamel it—my current plan is for cobalt blue for the basin and white for the feet. The pedestal sink I kind of like and might also be authentic; its placement relative to the pipes, the door, and the mirror gives me some doubt of that, however. It does have a bunch of rust and cracked enamel, though. And the kicker is that it is 23" wide, while the maximum width that can be centred on the mirror without blocking the door is 21". So right now I'm thinking it goes, probably to be replaced with another similar one. I'll keep the faucet hardware that I installed in 2005, though, which I picked out with an eye to this eventual project.

The crown jewel of the bathroom, I'm imagining, will be the toilet. The current one is nothing special, and the hardware in the tank is rusted out and broken, plus the thing is not plumbed to be low-flow. So it goes. To be replaced with a raised-tank model. The cistern will be white ceramic if I can find it, a high contrast with the cobalt-blue wall it'll be mounted on; the bowl itself, separate from its tank, can then be mounted diagonally, which aside from looking nifty will solve two other problems with the bathroom: right now your knee and leg bang into the tub, and there's no place in reach of the toilet to mount a toilet-paper dispenser. (Right now I have a floor stand. :P) Still shopping for this piece.

In the distant future, I'll be thinking about the little accessories, too, like shelves and TP holders and soap dishes and towel hampers and wall sconces, but I'm not even worrying about that until at least the shell is done. :)

For the reference of anyone else who is pulling their hair out trying to find hex tile and/or cobalt blue ceramic wall or floor tile—which is harder than it sounds!—I'm posting the following list of sites I pulled together. CAVEAT EMPTOR: I have NO IDEA what the quality of any of these are and am not associated with any of them. Best of luck, though. :)

Cobalt tile:

  • Mosaic Basics of Georgia has loose hex tile, including in cobalt. It is 7/8" side to side and 1" point to point (I emailed the owner and verified this).
  • AUC of California has so-called 1" blue cobalt hexagons (glazed), but they are 7/8" side-to-side; AUC also has cobalt field tile in 2x2 and 4x4 "Brittany" and rope and liner tile "Border", as well as assorted arts-and-crafts painted and encaustic borders that involve a lot of cobalt.
  • North Prairie Tileworks of Minnesota has cobalt trim and accent tiles (chair rail, cove) as well as square field tiles.
  • Restoration tile of Arkansas has a variety of patterns including hex, and does custom layouts, with cobalt as one available colour.
  • Classic Tile of New York has, afaict, just this one cobalt hex mosaic. I called and they "thought" it was 3/4" tile and didn't remember the brand.
  • Home Depot has at least one line of blue cobalt hexagon tile, nominally 3/4".
  • As mentioned above, Daltile has cobalt blue in two lines, Semi-gloss which has field tiles and a lot of edging and coving tiles, and Liners, which has flat-line and rope tile (note that the chair rail does not come in cobalt. :( )

Mesh-mounted 1" hex (no cobalt here afaik):

  • Subway Tile of Wisconsin does black and white floor hex (as well as, obviously, subway tile for the wall ;).
  • AUC of California does have a 1" unglazed white (or black) hex, but it is not the same 1" size as its 1" cobalt blue hex listed above—that one is 1" point to point (hence 7/8" side to side) while these are 1" side to side (hence 1-1/8" point to point). Frustrating, although at least they warn you with a diagram giving precise dimensions. Most vendors just give you the nominal size and leave you to guess or hope if you want to mix and match....
  • American Olean includes hex (in multiple sizes) in its unglazed mosaic series, but it also has a pre-mixed black and white hex in its Satinglo line.
  • Daltile's Keystone series includes unglazed 1" hex. (Larger hex is in Keystone Shapes, don't ask me why.)

"Two Cheers for the ACLU! I keep sending them money because they stand up for my values even in cases when I wouldn't." --Austin Mayor

Posted by blahedo at 2:24am on 16 Jul 2008
You mentioned sconces, so I'll warn you to rough in any electrical adaptations required for that before you put in any finalized wall treatments. It is hard enough to run electrical as it is; doing it in finished work without destroying it is nearly impossible. Posted by Kelly Martin at 6:50am on 16 Jul 2008
Might these do: http://www.mosaictilesupplies.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=2637 Posted by lee at 6:55am on 16 Jul 2008
And also, I love the tile plan. I hope you do find the cobalt hex tiles. It is soooo the Sims. I think that tile pattern was included in SuperStar. Posted by lee at 9:35am on 16 Jul 2008
The MTS link you posted was actually one I'd run across in my search; I rejected it for two reasons. One, MTS does have "cobalt" listed as the colour for some other tiles, so I'm not sure this would really match (though I do love the variations). Two, and more importantly, their 1" nominal size is a "diameter", which ought to mean point-to-point, which is confirmed by the fact that the 168 tiles per sheet make up .94 sf. A 1" side-to-side tile would be about 125 tiles per sf. So I think this is basically the same as the loose hex tiles I ordered. Posted by blahedo at 12:37pm on 16 Jul 2008
Oh, and as for sconces: there's one, and it's already there, so no new electrical work to do. I just want a less crappy fixture on it. :) Posted by blahedo at 12:49pm on 16 Jul 2008
Thanks for sharing your views on wall sconces. It is much appreciated to get your point of wall sconces. Posted by Ben Dicosta at 3:06am on 11 Jun 2010
A great layout, if I do say so myself. As far as cobalt blue, I had an entire shower tiled in cobalt and even though it is more of a spare bathroom and a bit cramped, it's my favorite place to shower. I feel like I am in Greece! Posted by Angela at 12:39am on 25 Jul 2010
I think your design sounds great! A note on toilets: trying to retrofit an older toilet to reduce it's water usage is not a good idea. A lot of engineering goes into toilets to get them to flush effectively with lower volumes of water. Also when you rough in your wall sconces you want to know exactly what sconce you're putting in and if you're going to mount them bulb/shade up or down. The center of the bulb should be approximately eye level, or a good average for multiple users, to give you the best lighting for using the mirror. Thanks for sharing your project! PS-your bot blocker wanted me to enter "three hundred and fifty four" which would be 300.54 but it was looking for 354 (three hundred fifty-four) Is that part of the human test? :-) Posted by owen the lancaster bathroom remodeler at 11:17am on 25 Jul 2010
Very good post. I am really impressed with the tile plan outlined Posted by Bathroom Remodeling at 3:08am on 12 Aug 2010
It was intriguing to read that you thought the crown jewel of the bathroom would be the toilet. I lover the fact that you are keeping your clawfoot tub as they give an elegant touch to any bathroom. But I think that would be the most exciting part of your design! Posted by Clawfoot Bathtub at 5:22pm on 13 Aug 2010
Definitely like the mosaic. Cobalt blue is a classically beautiful color. Posted by Clawfoot Tubs at 12:50pm on 2 Sep 2010
Your bathroom tile plan is very similar to what I want to do. Thanks so much for the pointers to cobalt tiles. I would love to hear how it all turned out, especially the cobalt hex for the floor. I too need to track some down, though my preference would be 3/4" hex. I know the tile lines may have changed since your project, but maybe . . . Please post an update! Posted by Susan at 1:39pm on 16 Aug 2011
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