Masterful Tiling Turns a Tiny Bath into a Jewelcomments (1) February 23rd, 2013 in Blogs
Art and Susan own a 1912 Craftsman bungalow in Berkeley, California, whose triangular lot is the smallest on the street, and it backs up to the smallest lot on the adjoining street. ("You could eat watermelon on the back deck and spit seeds into the neighbors' backyard," noted Art.)
When their over-the-garage in-law suite was finally approved by zoning, Art and Susan had only 250 sq.ft. to work with. The resulting suite, designed by architect Steve Rynerson and built by Jetton Construction, managed to fit a home office, a full bathroom with a pocket door, a storage closet and a sleeping loft into the space. The wood paneling of the suite so closely matches the detailing in the rest of the house that visitors are often incredulous that the suite was new.
The jewel in this handsome setting is a tiny bathroom executed by master tiler Riley Doty, whose work has graced Fine Homebuilding many times. Doty, a great bear of a man, has an encyclopedic knowledge of tile and technique and an exquisite design sense. As Doty's phone message puts it, "My strength is in experience and craftsmanship rather than speed. So if your project requires finesse, creativity and historical knowledge, definitely leave a message."
Riley Doty shared a few details with me. The square field tiles are Japanese, which the homeowners and the design team selected because of the subtle color gradation of each tile. The small tiles that run in a horizontal band through the shower and align with the counter are Venetian glass; more reflective than the field tiles, glass tiles create an accent. The pebbles in the shower pan are sawn flat on the bottom and mounted to a mesh sheet. The Venetian tiles are also on mesh. The counter is granite.
Doty drew on past experience to custom-color the joint between the Venetian glass tiles and the granite counter--and he hastened to add that his technique would probably be difficult for a non-professional to replicate. In brief, he applied a urethane caulk whose color was close. After shaping and forming the caulk, he dusted it lightly with a colored sand, to give it the final color and texture he desired--to make it look like a sanded grout joint, that is. Riley finds urethane caulk more durable than silicone and more flexible than acrylic caulk.
This in-law suite was first published in In-laws, Outlaws and Granny Flats: Your Guide to Turning One House into Two Homes (Taunton Press), which was named one of the Top Ten Design Books for 2011. If you are thinking of creating an in-law suite--as many people are doing these days--you may find In-laws, Outlaws and Granny Flats helpful.
Riley Doty, Steve Rynerson and Bill Jetton are typical of the master craftspeople who have shared their knowledge with me over the years. My most recent book, Renovation 4th Edition, contains thousand of field-tested tips and techniques, 250+ illustrations and roughly 1,000 of the 40,000 photos I have taken on job sites. I hope you find Renovation 4 useful. --Mike
© Michael Litchfield 2013
posted in: Blogs, bathroom, additions, tile
About the Author
Mike Litchfield was a founding editor of Fine Homebuilding and has been renovating homes or writing about them for more than 30 years.
He was one of the first technical journalists to go to job sites to gather information from tradespeople and his great work, Renovation: A Complete Guide is in its 3rd Edition.
Mike’s tenth book, In-laws, Outlaws and Granny Flats: Turning one house into two homes will be published by Taunton Press in March, 2011. To preview the book and learn more about its contributors, please visit www.cozydigz.com