Choosing Shower Tile for the First-Floor Bathroom
It’s been all about the kitchen around here lately and I’ve failed to mention the other project that we’re hiring out during this time – replacing the shower tile in our first-floor bathroom. But before we get to the goods on the new tile, let’s talk about why we’re doing this (and why we’re hiring it out).
Our First-Floor Bathroom
Paint Color: Sherwin Williams HGTV Home “Clary Sage” // Floor Tile // Black Faucet // Brass Vanity Light // Flushmount Fixture // Towel Hook // Toilet Paper Roll Holder // Shower Curtain // Shelf (vintage) // Art (vintage) // Towels // DIY Wood Wall // Wood Mirror // Soap Dispenser
Last year, right around this time, we did a refresh of this first-floor bathroom. We didn’t have the time (or funds) to fully gut the room, so we kept the toilet, vanity, and shower as is and replaced other elements of the space. The biggest DIY project was the wood accent wall. I still love every detail about it. It’s such a surprise if you’re in here using the bathroom! Guests always comment on it!
Adding new tile, a fresh coat of paint, a new faucet, new lighting, and a new mirror made this place feel totally different in a hurry. But the one area we didn’t really touch was the shower. It still had outdated tile from the 90s, so I just put up an extra long shower curtain to hide it and called it a day.
Wood Trim…In A Shower?!
We knew that we eventually needed to replace the tile in the shower because there was one glaring problem in there – wood trim around the window. Yep. Wood. In a shower. During the first phase of our renovation last summer, we replaced all of the doors and trim throughout our house and we had our contractor remove the oak trim and replace it with the same white we had everywhere else.
But because it’s wood, we haven’t used this shower, at all. The bathtub has gotten a bit of use for Rory’s bath time (when I was working on the guest bathroom and we didn’t want to step on the painted floor), however no one has taken a shower in here because I’m worried about the wood getting wet! While I don’t think this will ever be the main shower in our household, it is very nice to have!
When you’re hiring out a big project (like our kitchen), it’s always a good idea to tack a few smaller projects onto your contractor’s to-do list. The crew is already there, the house is already a mess, and it just makes sense to do a few other tasks. I had my contractor bundle redoing the shower tile into his estimate for the kitchen and we saved a lot by doing it along with our kitchen. If I would have had his team come out just for the shower, I’m sure it would have cost a lot more! I encourage you to do the same if you have a big project on your hands. Do you need an outlet added somewhere? A new light fixture hung in a tall spot? Ask your crew if they can add these small projects onto their list.
While we’ve done lots of tiling projects in the past (like this floor tile, this subway tile, this marble fireplace, and this laundry room tile), I wasn’t very excited about redoing the tile in here. I have to prioritize my time now that Rory is here and this would have taken me at least a few weeks to complete. My contractor can get it done in a few days while he is already here working hard on the kitchen. It was a no-brainer for us to hire this out!
The Old Shower Tile
Let’s take a good look at this shower. The shower tile is in no way bad. It just really isn’t my style. The fixtures are also pretty old and outdated, so we will be replacing those too! It’s always a good idea to replace the shower hardware when you’re re-tiling because everything is going to be opened up anyway. It’s a little trickier replacing it when the tile is on because you have to change the valves behind the tile.
I must also mention that I considered doing a glass door instead of a shower curtain in here. I was really leaning towards a half shower door that would be simple, elegant, and let the natural light flood in. I chatted about it on Instagram and was bombarded with negative experiences with those half-glass shower doors. I don’t have any experience with one, so I took those comments to heart and realized that sticking with a shower curtain was the way to go in here (plus, it’s a lot less expensive!).
Choosing New Shower Tile
My goal with the new shower tile was to keep it simple and have it flow with the new kitchen design. I absolutely adore the green tile we have in our laundry room – not just the bold color, but the tile itself. I ended up ordering samples of that same tile in a few neutral colors.
Cloe Tile from Top to Bottom (White, Creme, Gray)
Getting the samples was so helpful for me because I could compare the colors to our kitchen cabinets, the other elements in the bathroom, and more.
In the end, I decided that the creme color was the right one for me. It matches our new kitchen cabinets beautifully and goes really well with the rest of this bathroom. This tile design has additional trim pieces you can buy, but as of now, my plan is to use white Schluter edging where the tile meets the wall to keep it simple.
My contractor will then tile the entire shower surround and the window area (so no more wood!).
Shower Tile Pattern
Bathroom from Jenna Sue Design
Instead of laying it like a traditional subway tile (like I have in our laundry room), I’m going with a stacked horizontal look. I think this will be a fun twist and jazz it up a bit. The above bathroom from Jenna Sue Design gives you an idea of what that would look like. She uses the same tile, but in the pretty light blue color. I’m obsessed with the end result!
New Shower Hardware
For the shower hardware, I decided to go with matte black to match the vanity faucet. I chose this shower trim package. I thought the price was pretty good, considering it comes with the shower head, tub filler, lever handle, and the pressure balance valve.
Whenever you’re buying new shower hardware, make sure you buy one that comes with the pressure balance valve. This little piece is crucial and your contractor will need it when the walls are all opened up before tiling! I’ve made the mistake in the past of buying a kit without one and it held up the project a few days while I ordered that piece.
I almost forgot to buy a new black drain kit! While I could have kept the old one, having all matte black will look really sharp. I ended up getting this one along with this conversion bar kit since the new cover has one screw instead of two. (I’m telling ya, it’s those little things that are so easy to forget when doing renovations like this!). The bathtub will stay because it’s in great shape, and it will look fresh with all of these new additions.
Demo starts next week on both the bathroom and the kitchen, but I’m not entirely sure when the crew will start tiling this bathroom. I am soooo excited to see it come to life. Replacing the shower tile will mean this bathroom is 100% finished, minus the constant decor tweaking I always seem to be doing! It’s pretty amazing to think that in just a few months our entire first floor will be complete. We’ve come a long way…
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.