No element gives a bath more individuality or style than well designed tile.
The concept of an accent wall is familiar in a bedroom, living room or dining room. There, no one hesitates to use contrasting paint, wallpaper, stenciling or even an arrangement of pictures to create a focal point. A bathroom accent wall is a different story because it would likely be tile. That requires a special design and makes it a more costly than a wall of big box subways. It also requires an aesthetic plan to justify the additional outlay.
Tile design is a little known specialty often ignored both by professionals and DIY practitioners. Yet it’s a requirement for planning an effective bathroom accent wall, which may be why we don’t see more of these outside luxury baths.
One of most outstanding examples of a bathroom accent wall is to be found in the Paul Cézanne suite of the Hotel de Gantes in Aix en Provence [above]. I’d love to return to Aix and stay in this room just to see how it is to live with such a distinctive tile mural for a few days. This black and white cement tile mosaic, with a robust border, is designed like a rug to cover the entire wall behind the tub. Black and white cement tiles are especially popular for their graphic design and we saw a similar mix on the floor of a shower in our Modern Black Bathrooms post — the work of Italian design icon Paola Navone. Using a blue-painted clawfoot slipper tub pulls the style towards transitional. Imagine a minimalistic free-standing white or black tub with a futuristic shape which would make this same bath more contemporary.
New York designer Young Huh used a whimsical bathroom accent wall in an institutional setting. Her tile design in a Ronald McDonald house is a play on a colorful jigsaw puzzle. However, the rest of the bath is standard issue, from the large-scale field tile to the budget-worthy small scale tub. So smart.
A loft apartment outside St. Petersburg, Russia has master bath with a lovely accent wall that mixes contemporary fixtures with mid-20th century color and aesthetics. The teal and cream geometric pattern tile wall also helps a relatively narrow room appear much wider. The blue compliments the wood-tone of the sink vanity and creates a wonderful backdrop for the shower. It also plays well with the other neutral stones in the space.
The same tile was used in a different bath in the same apartment but less effectively, I feel. Because the powder bath is long and narrow, the accent wall is very tall. But because the toilet is small and low, there is no strong horizontal element. So verticality dominates despite the attractiveness and personality of the tile.
Marble tile mosaics — like this pomegranate motif in a cream and blue damask pattern — are luxe products that require expert installation. What a beautiful and distinctive accent wall in the shower of this Los Angeles bathroom. While I couldn’t identify the exact pattern, one go-to source for traditional marble marble mosaics of this style is New Ravenna in Virginia. I’ve long admired their patterns and another of their mosaics was used in the kitchen of the same home.
The classic appeal of the pomegranate damask in blue and cream is evidenced by its appearance in yet another L.A. bath. Here, installed behind the tub, it acts as an elegant mural that creates a special effect in an otherwise generic setting.
(Source: hotel de gantes, young huh, architizer, model-design, sfadesign)
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