Stephanie Staton
February 11, 2014

Stephanie Staton designed and tiled her farmhouse's bathroom. Photo by Stephanie Staton (
Photo by Stephanie Staton

Last week, I mentioned coordinating my kitchen backsplash tiles with our shower tiles. Subway tiles (without the beveled edges and whistles) are an economical and timeless choice for tile jobs—and once tiles are installed, they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.

Having experienced a range of cave-like shower stalls over the years, I knew the one in our farmhouse’s master bath had to be different. As such, I wanted to install a frameless glass enclosure, allowing the eye to travel up and around the room to allow the space appear big and airy without wasting real estate. At the same time, I wasn’t big on the idea of guests seeing the ol’ porcelain crown every time they opened the door. With that in mind, my husband and I designed the shower stall with solid walls reaching a little over half the overall shower height, with a marble threshold for the glass to rest on.  The stall bisects the room, so the toilet is tucked away and the furniture-style bath vanity and woven mirror are showcased.

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Our design wasn’t without its challenges: The freestanding glass enclosure needed additional support that a frameless shower couldn’t provide; our budget limited threshold options; and someone mis-measured the pre-purchased vanity by 2 inches, creating a tight squeeze.

To address these issues, we compromised on the frameless by adding a frame only around the top of the glass enclosure, leaving the sides frameless. We purchased precut thresholds and seamed them together along the shower edges. And as for the vanity, well, we used a bit of brute force to get it in place, with some added baseboard-cutting wizardry to make the mistake look intentional.

Our next challenge: the tile.

Not only did we have to dig through partially demolished boxes (thank you, dogs) and transport the tiles to the bathroom using buckets, we also had to divide the edge tiles from the standard tiles to ensure we had enough. After we got going with the project, I realized the dogs had maimed the small batch of mosaic tiles I planned to use, rendering them unusable. Fortunately, I had purchased only the minimum number of sheets required for it and hadn’t broken the bank on them, though it’s never pleasant to throw away money on a project like that. (Don’t fret, I kept the tile for a potential craft use.)

I also had black pencil tiles—so named for their thinness and often rounded shape—to set off a decorative inset for behind the shower fixture, which coordinates with the fixture on my clawfoot tub. I decided to move forward with the subway and pencil tiles, creating a horizontal line around the lower portion of the shower to break up the white canvas created by the subway tiles. Unfortunately, I was out getting more supplies as the tiles were being installed, and the second line I had planned for the top portion was left out—oops! I’m OK with it, though, because the pencil tile would have made more work for the glass installers—and more work means more money.

On the shower floor, we echoed the bathroom’s floor pattern in a smaller tile. Thank goodness it’s a small space—this was even harder than the original to lay and grout. I feel the overall effect is a cohesive design that pulls the various elements of the room together, and of course, having a functional shower speaks for itself.

Tip: When designing cubbies for your shower stall to hold your shower supplies, be sure to measure at least 2 inches taller than your largest container and double the width of the widest container to allow enough storage space. 

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