BATHROOM TREND: BRASS

Polished brass continues to shine.

Brass, an alloy of two metals (copper and zinc), whose ratio can be modified to obtain different degrees of hardness and aesthetic finishes, was a huge trend for 2013 in all sectors of home design. Highly versatile, it can be used in a wide range of products such as cabinet and door hardware, lamp bases and light shapes, candle holders, picture frames, decorative items, and plumbing fixtures. It is a particularly popular choice these days for bathrooms and the trend will likely continue in the future.

Here are some of my favorite examples of brass hardware:

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1. Mandy Milk’s bathroom renovation, Canadian House and Home  | 2. John Derian, The Make-Under, T Magazine  | 3. Interior: 1 month Makeover, Style at Home | 4. Chic Design Investments LLC

1/ Vintage modern: In Mandy Milk’s bathroom renovation, brass is wonderfully used to pick up an otherwise dark color palate. The brass just works so well here tying in the different colors and shapes of the tile with the dark color of the tub and its vintage brass claw feet. I am absolutely amazed how big this bathroom looks after renovation in contrast to the super small cramped “before” pictures and I think the shiny brass really makes the difference here.

2/ Salvaged vintage:  When transforming his NY East Village loft, home decor designer John Derian didn’t seek to hide all the imperfections that made the place authentic. Instead he chose to highlight them by going with an interior design that is understated, worn and vintage. The dark grout between the white subway wall and hex floor tile is a great example. The salvaged vintage brass faucets and fixtures are another. It picks up the space and gives it a bit of richness it might lack otherwise. I love this bathroom so much.

3/ Restored vintage: Canadian TV host Karen Bertelsen and author of the very funny and informative blog  The Art of Doing Stuff, had the privilege of using the vintage plumbing that had been carefully preserved in her 170 year old home. Kudos to her for keeping and restoring all the stunning original brass hardware!

4/ Bright modern: With the brass trend in full effect, there are plenty of new shiny brass fixtures on the market which interior designers are using to full effect. Interior design company Chic Design (from my home state of Oregon!) used brass in this remarkable bathroom renovation which united 2 attic rooms. Here, the brass makes an already bright bathroom seem even brighter.

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Bring on the brass: D-type shower rod in polished brass by Kingston Brass | Brass shower kit from Light in the Box |Keswick Exposed Wall Mount Shower and Tub Faucet by Whittington | Exposed Bath/Shower Floor Entry Set (Brass Gold) from Bunnings | Morracain engraved brass faucet from Laloly Shop

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RETRO TILE TRIM

Adding trim tile for that vintage effect.

PicMonkey Collage6 Top left: Bathroom by Clay Squared to Infinity image via Houzz  |Top right: Bathroom by Good Home Construction | Bottom left: Bathroom by Bungalow Tile image via Apartment Therapy | Bottom right: Bathroom by Good Home Construction

We won’t be going over the top trying to be historically accurate to any set period in our vintage bathroom renovation. Instead, it will probably be a mix of Art Deco and bungalow styled bathroom details.

One area that I’m particularly obsessed about, however, is the tile. As I mentioned, we want to do white subway tiles with beveled edges like the ones found in the Parisian Metro. And it would be great to be able to add some classic retro trim details like the examples here.

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barber-stations Art Deco motif shower | Mint subway tile bathroom | Vintage barber shop with subway tile. Credits unknown.
romanwilliams12bpw-5-web Roman and Williams

The above image is work by design gods Roman and Williams. The detail here is crazy amazing. The design duo had the tiles specially made for Ben Stiller’s home bathroom renovation. The tiles are now commercially available through their creative partnership with Waterworks.

To evoke American athletic clubs of an era past, Alesch and Standefer sought tile that looked like it had been soaking up steam for a century — not the typical glossy, looks-new subway tile. So the designers worked with Waterworks to create a custom tile with an aged patina. “It’s a surface that looks a little like bone or stained teeth,” Alesch said of the variations in the tile. “The fire really caramelizes the glaze.” They also designed a decorative tile that avoided the “pregnant molding” syndrome of so many tile collections. “We wanted the decorative tile to lie flat, not bulge out like cake frosting,” he said.

LA Times

*Sigh*. While we won’t be developing our own “aged patina”, I will be trying to source some vintage tile components to add to the mix.

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WHITE SUBWAY TILE

 A reflection on subway tile and a little history of those beveled edges.

PicMonkey CollageTop right: Bright white subway tile with white gout from  Chez Larrsson  | Bottom right:  White subway tile with thick dark charcoal grout from Design Manifest. See link for great before/after pics. | Left: White subway tile with light grey or aged grout from Byron View Farm

Several years ago when we were remodeling our tiny bathroom in our small Montreuil apartment my husband wanted to use white subway tile. I said “no way”. Since I already waste an hour and a half of my life each day commuting on the Paris metro, the last thing I wanted to see was the same tile staring at me in my home bathroom.

Fast forward to our bathroom renovation ideas for our Tour in Normandy…and I can’t wait to use subway tile!

I know, I know. Subway tile is so on trend for the years 2000. Some say subway tile will look dated before long. But I think subway tile is timeless and we want to use the exact same style found in the Parisian metro. The ones with the biseauté edges.

430Credit: DR via CoteMaison

A little history: The Parisian Métropolitain is one of the oldest underground subway systems in the world. Even before the turn of the century, small white earthenware tiles with raised geometric edges lined the vaulted stops in an effort to reflect the dim artificial lighting as much as possible. In 1889, Hippolyte Boulenger’s entreprise, La faïencerie de Choisy-le-Roi, started developing the now famous earthenware tiles covered in white pottery glaze. The authentic 1890 Parisian metro subway tiles measure  7.5cm  X 15cm  (3′ X 6′) and featured the now iconic beveled edges.

 Subway tile with beveled edges and rope trim
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Above credit left: Kelseyoff  |   I got the idea to measure a subway tile from this site. But I think their math is a little off.

As there will probably be little or no natural light, this form will hopefully help to brighten up our future bathroom just as they helped brighten the dank corridors of the Parisian metro over a hundred years ago.

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