Thank you to Aaron Able at Apartment Therapy for publishing a bathroom renovation I completed for a client in Sunnyside, Queens! Check out the full post.
I had a wonderful client who, as is often the case, became a friend over the course of the project. She came to me initially because there was a serious mold problem in her bathroom caused by a perpetual leak from a neighbor’s bathroom upstairs. We toyed with saving certain elements of the original bathroom, but ultimately, we decided a gut renovation would provide her with the new, bright, clean bathroom she wanted, and would dispel all remnants of mold and mildew lurking behind the tiles and under the tub.
As I mentioned in the Apartment Therapy blurb, we worked on a tight budget, but my client was flexible with things that were important to her; she loved the glass tiles and wanted a pocket door to open up the room a bit, so she splurged a little there, but the floor and penny tiles were extremely affordable, she kept her sink/vanity and we took advantage of my trade discount on all the finishes.
Comments from Apartment Therapy readers certainly run the gamut! Most think the bathroom is a wonderful improvement (thank you!) while a few are a little more…critical. Don’t get me wrong, I’m open to constructive criticism, but comments like, “this really didn’t need that ribbon of penny rounds” are entirely subjective and opinion-based. Of course, everyone has a right to express their voice, but at the end of the day, the final design was a result of the choices and compromises between my client, the contractor and myself.
Some Apartment Therapy readers protested against ripping out the original tiles. As I wrote in my response to some of the comments, I highly value historic preservation, but it can be quite costly. In this case, the fact that the tiles were old/original did not make them better. Not only were they moldy, but they had seen better days. Additionally, the ceiling and walls were puckered from years of leaking from above, so in order to fully repair the damages, the walls had to be demolished. More importantly, my client wanted a new bathroom, and since it is her house, she has the right to change what she wants! She fell in love with the penny rounds and glass tiles, which made the whole design feel serene and clean. It is her opinion that matters most in this situation.
Here’s what the tub area looked like before – does this look worth saving to you? It doesn’t to me.
The rest of the bathroom, before:
My client’s father, who visits from time to time, has a physical disability that makes small spaces difficult and uncomfortable for him to use. We increased the size of the bathroom slightly widening the door opening and by replacing the traditional swinging door with a pocket door. The addition of the larger door required demolition of one wall, further making the preservation of wall tiles moot.
The quality of workmanship on the tile installation, specifically where the penny tiles changed direction at the corners, caused quite a bit of controversy among AT readers! As I wrote in my brief response, penny tiles are challenging when it comes to changing directions (in this case going from a horizontal border to a vertical one that wrapped around the shower while maintaining the same width for the band). By changing the band to a vertical application, we hit a roadblock at the corners, as they do not come together cleanly.
The offending photo:
If you look closely at the photo below, perhaps it is clear that there is only one direction in which to install the mesh-backed tiles in order to achieve a clean, straight edge. It is even clear in the photo above that the natural tile angle is not at 45 degrees and the two edges just don’t meet in the corner!
I spent a couple of hours laying out the different options with the contractor and we came to what we considered to be the best solution. Perhaps there were others, but we decided to cut some of the tiles in order to avoid large areas of tile-free grout. As one of the AT commenters wrote, “nothing is perfect,” and while we strive for it, budgets, time and all sorts of other constraints are contributing factors to the final result of a project.
At the end of the day, I was very pleased with the overall transformation, as was my client and her family. It was a successful project and I’m proud of it!
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