Bathrooms I Pinned for the Mountain Fixer (and why??)


If you think reading about my design process is full of excitement – the style twists! the emotional turns! Brian Henderson having no opinions one day then a million the next!– then imagine living it. It’s design whiplash and the impact is hard but the recovery is fast. I was scrolling through my own mountain fixer pin board the other day when I saw some early pins of bathrooms and I was like, ‘Who stole my sausage fingers, logged into Pinterest and pinned all these crazy contemporary/modern bathrooms?’

Me. I did.

Because one of the best and worst things about me is that I’m ‘style-polyamorous’. You see, at the time I THOUGHT I was designing a contemporary Scandinavian mountain chalet of which Brian and I both agreed on (pre rustic/refined vote), and while many of these don’t fit into that category (and definitely wouldn’t fit into the current design) I was inspired by something in them.

All of them are simple, but still special and interesting and while most of the colors and many of finishes were and are too contemporary and modern for me, those things can be changed. Sometimes you have to look beyond just the style you are focused on, to find new ideas that can be implemented in any style and yes, can be timeless. So while these contemporary, minimal and cold bathrooms are wildly different than what we are doing, I can remember why I pinned them.

bistro table bistro chairs gray tile pendant light
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People have been staggering tiles since the first cavewoman tiled her first powder room (it was rustic with a big dose of real-gold glam), and sure the ‘vertical stack’ is very popular in both mid-century and new-builds. But a ‘staggered vertical’ feels kinda fresh without being totally risky. I also like it because it properly describes my mid-20’s Saturday night signature dance move. Understandably, people might have thought it wasn’t a ‘move’ and perhaps more of a symptom of legal indulgences, but regardless, my ‘staggered vertical’ move was enjoyable for anyone who was lucky enough to witness it.

blue vanity copper sink modern
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Well that is kinda my spirit bathroom, but for a different house. That navy and rose gold with a simple but striking cabinet detailing and floor and wall simplicity. Speaking of navy and blush … do you remember when a commenter wrote, ‘UGH, ENOUGH WITH THE BLUSH AND BLUE’ and then I laughed (with my team, all my friends, etc.) A LOT, like for weeks. She was right, but the level of annoyance in her voice/text was palpable. Girlfriend was SICK OF ME DOING BLUSH AND BLUE. And then we laughed even more when I realized the following 3 makeovers ALSO had strong blush and blue game. And then I was like, ‘it’s indigo and rose’ and some of you wrote, ‘UH, THAT IS BASICALLY THE SAME THING’ (in a nice way) and I was like, ‘I KNOW! I WAS TRYING TO BE FUNNY!’

Anyway, if Brian ever allowed me to go in that direction I’d have that bathroom in my life. FYI some of you wrote that you feel kinda sorry for Brian, assuming that I must be steamrolling him and while he and I both appreciate your support for his feelings, I’d like to go ahead and say that if there is one person, on this planet who you should not feel sorry for right now, it’s Brian Henderson. His wife, me, is designing his dream cabin, because she/I is a wonderful person who also happens to be style-polyamourous, thus making her/me flexible, adaptable and generally adept at compromise, and he is getting exactly what he wants with someone else doing all the work.

Sorry for the 3rd person. And that wasn’t passive aggressive – it’s literally the facts. The point is, I can’t wait to write about the whole process of designing and renovating with your partner. Especially if you (me) are a designer whose ‘collaboration with said husband’ will be seen by millions.

green tile bathroom modern
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I pinned this one because I was attracted to the idea of using two different colors of tile on one wall – like a colorblock. I typically don’t because it feels risky, and yes it can feel kinda dated (70’s), but I was thinking more about doing two different tones of the same color or even a matte and glossy mix. Maybe the break is at chair rail height or maybe it’s two different scales of the same finish and color – think 4×4 from floor to above faucet, then a 2×2 above that. It could even be a zellige tile or a subway or brick scale. Maybe you stagger the bottom and then herringbone the top, both in the same finish and color …

I pinned this below shot for two reasons:

green vanity large round mirror
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I loved the play with circles – mirror, vessel sink, side faucet, and the idea of putting an off-center pendant which makes so much sense (won’t hit your head, duh) but as far as functional light feels off.

green bathroom modern black and white tile floors
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Apparently vessel sinks are back with a ‘deep’ vengeance. I wish there was an emoji on blogs that said, ‘pun intended’ so I didn’t have to call it out … and yet a good pun also needs a ‘beat’ or pause to help people register what just happened or to give them assurance that yes, that was a pun. ugh. Not saying that was my best work, but when the ideas flow you have to drain the bad and sink into the good. (insert pun emoji)

But that’s not why I pinned the above photo – I loved the marbled ‘v-groove’ because I hadn’t seen anything like that before. It fresh because it’s a typical wall paneling profile, but in an unexpected yet totally classic material. These kinds of ideas get my wheels turning (a la brass grout that is now being mass produced, by the way). A huge part of my design process for this house is taking a simple idea or design principal and putting a new or personal twist on it.

I also like how they used a contrasting bullnose trim. I’ve only put matching bullnose on tile, but doing a subtle version of that could be interesting.

Blue bathroom coral tile black fixtures
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Again with the two tones … and contrasting bullnose. Although to be honest, that is far too ’70’s gym locker room’ for me (ooh, although now that I wrote that down … trend alert). But the point is, sometimes you pin something for a specific reason and not because you want the room, but because you like an idea in it and want to do it in a much more subtle and appropriate way for your house. But as a general PSA – be wary of the peach stacked square tile. You can be peach (blush). You can be square. You can be stacked. But don’t be all of those things.

black and white bathroom grid tile black floating sink
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I pinned the above shot because of the simplicity and yet high impact of that tile – it’s just a tiny brick pattern with dark grout and A LOTof it… One big field of tile can definitely make a statement if it’s unique and just the right size and color. Much smaller would have been dizzying, but bigger wouldn’t have been so unique.

blue bathroom modern ladder black stool
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The above bathroom is certainly unique – I barely even understand it. The scale of it all feels weird (not the tile, but the whole room), and yet I’m staring, so something is compelling about it. It’s definitely just a set, by the way… and thank god you can wash your 2 liter soda bottles in the sink! TBH the more I look at it the more I don’t actually like it, but I know that the idea of combining two tiles of the same finish and scale, but different color is something I’m drawn to right now. Just a better version.

abstract tile blue bathroom geo mirror
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I pinned the above because I liked the combination of marble slab backsplash going into painted paneling … taking notes right now. If done in classic stones and colors then this isn’t a risk at all. If there were some pebble flooring and some wood somewhere I’d draw ‘Mountain Fixer’ all over that photo with my mind-pen.

green bathroom white grid tile orange pendant
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Hmm… I think I pinned that shot because of the mirror/grid situation – although Brian would be horrified if he saw it and thought it was impacting my brain in any way. While mirrors were never ‘out’, the average sliding closet mirrored door is due for a revival. I am also taking the style of the grid and wondering if it can be the profile of a shower door. It feels like an updated version of the french steel grid. But I think they are cabinets …

As I’m designing this house and writing about it I’m trying to not get caught up in creating these epic posts full of reveals and ‘get the looks’ but instead calling out aspects of my process. Would I read a blog where Nate Berkus told us why he pinned what he pinned? YES. And while I’m not at his level (although we are due for a playdate with our kiddos which we planned after a boozy lunch recently) I’m hoping there is a lot of value for you when I ‘dabble’ or ‘deep dive’ into this thought process.

Even if it’s a bunch of photos that reflect almost NONE of how the project will turn out… If only I had a full year to design this house before renovation I would NAIL IT.


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