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It’s a Charcoal Tile Intervention (Don’t Miss This One)

By 05/01/2016December 11th, 202064 Comments



I’m depressed. My Mom is looking for a cottage trailer up in Vernon (as a second home). It’s 5 hours from here, warmer and dryer in the summer and she already spends a lot of time there. This means less time with my Mom here in the country (where I already moved to be close to her) because she’ll be up there more often. (Update, she is not moving anymore)

Yesterday morning over our 5:30 AM coffee, I decided to look for myself because the choices are bleak. Mom wants at least 3 bedrooms with 2 bathrooms, so there’s room for all of us when we come to visit.

The second reason I’m depressed is that NO ONE and I mean NO ONE installs basic and boring white tile in bathrooms. I’m sure you can relate if you’ve bought a house at some point.

I started at homes that were $250,000 and went up to over a million. Sadly, it doesn’t matter how expensive the house is, the bathrooms and kitchens don’t get prettier, just more expensive to renovate because you’ve already paid for someone else’s choice in basically brand new tile.

It goes like this, you look at an exterior and think “That’s charming, I could live with that”, and then you start flicking through the interior photos, and–in the homes I viewed–it seemed like the bathrooms are even worse than the kitchens.

Also with a kitchen, if it’s paintable, it seems easier than fixing up 3 bathrooms that are ALL JUST UGLY. And thankfully, because white kitchens are trendy right now, I did see them in the listings.

But then I looked at 3 homes, IN A ROW that were all in the $450,000 price range and this variation of tile (below) is what was installed in each bathroom.

That’s when I decided this intervention was in order ; ) ; )

Why is white not the default option I ask you? Why is it always the dark trendy neutral of the moment?

It seems that since the fresh/colour trend (I refuse to call it the grey trend anymore because that is NOT what it is) has really taken off, there’s even more charcoal and grey painted cabinets out there too. And by the way the charcoal hardwood you’re considering? Not good either. And don’t even get me started on the Encaustic tile trend. It’s all in the same category.

I know you’re loving it right now, but I promise you, as soon as this trend is over, you’ll be getting out your white paintbrush AGAIN.

It's a Charcoal Tile Intervention (Don't Miss This One) | Maria Killam

So notice we’ve moved from the Tuscan Brown trend, where the average kitchen and bathroom–NOT found on Pinterest–looked like this (below). To now, when someone goes out looking for tile, they come back with charcoal or black?? Seriously?? Are either of these the look of a classic, timeless and forever bathroom? NO.

It’s so wasteful because we rarely like someone else’s ‘trendy’ choice that we inherit and then we simply count the days when we can rip it out and then install our own trendy choices. And the vicious circle continues.

It's a Charcoal Tile Intervention (Don't Miss This One) | Maria Killam

Recently, when I sourced tile for my clients renovation that’s finally starting this week, I was dismayed to see that you actually have to look hard to find white tile, it’s not readily out on display in showrooms.

When I asked why white tile was buried in the back somewhere, I was told “Because we have so many other interesting tiles here“.

Then I walked into a tile showroom in the design district on West 2nd in Vancouver and had the best time with the two gals in the showroom, I started sharing about how I’ve pretty much built my brand around white subway tile and she laughed and said “Whenever people ask me which tile is classic, I tell them, white subway tile and hex tile, that’s it” And they always respond “But that’s boring”.

Interesting = trendy and extremely short lived. Boring = timeless.

When I arrived back in my clients home with a marble looking porcelain tile (her other bathroom and laundry room is hex tile), it was the ONLY one available in the 3 showrooms I visited that day. Everything else was solid grey on black on grey or of course, boatloads of variations of earthy, blotchy tile.

So no wonder, the consumer who doesn’t know, arrives home with it. I’m telling you this because I don’t want you to feel bad if you’ve got charcoal on charcoal tile in your bathroom. If you have installed or inherited a bathroom you don’t love anymore, you can still make it pretty with a little styling.

Just don’t paint the walls a green beige (above black bathroom), that’s certainly not the right colour either. Earthy colours generally are not fabulous with greys/blacks and whites. If I inherited a bathroom that looked like this (above) I would go out and find some wall paper to bring this baby to life. Since you can’t do it with a shower curtain in this case.

It's a Charcoal Tile Intervention (Don't Miss This One) | Maria Killam


Don’t forget to remove the builder mirror and bring in a fabulous one!

It's a Charcoal Tile Intervention (Don't Miss This One) | Maria Killam

Baker Ballard Interiors

OMG how about the drama of red and gold (above)?

It's a Charcoal Tile Intervention (Don't Miss This One) | Maria Killam

Fornasetti Wallpaper

Notice that you can’t wimp out on the colour if your working with charcoal. A colour that’s too pale even if it’s fresh will die paired with such a dark neutral.

White subway tile is inexpensive but installation costs more than a large scale tile, so that’s fine, go with a 12″ x 24″ or 18″ x 18″ faux marble porcelain tile.

It’ll be just as affordable, and the new homeowners after you will continue to love their bathroom just as long as you do.

It's a Charcoal Tile Intervention (Don't Miss This One) | Maria Killam


It's a Charcoal Tile Intervention (Don't Miss This One) | Maria Killam


I also like the way the trendy gold hardware was installed here along with the coordinating mirror and sconce lighting (easy to change) but the faucet was kept a in the chrome family which in the end seems to be timeless.

So here’s my bottom line, classic and timeless advice.

Stick to white (off-white or cream, same difference)

If all else fails, choose white.

If you don’t know what to do, choose white.

If you end up in a tile store that doesn’t have any white tile, walk out.

If you have a bathroom with charcoal tile, don’t be mad at me. This post is not for you. It’s for the person who hasn’t decided yet. I love you. We’ve all made the same mistakes without professional advice, so don’t despair.

I still love you, and I don’t judge you. We all have our gifts, this just happens to be mine. If you’re still not convinced that I’m not judging you, read this post. It’s an old one but it’ll make you laugh ; ) ; )

Have a wonderful week my lovelies! xoxo Maria

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact us! We would love to help you choose colours, select the right combination of hard finishes or create a plan to pull your room together. You can find our fabulous e-design consultation packages here.

Related posts:

Colour & Condoms

First Rule of Design: Boring equals Timeless

The New Timeless Hardwood Floor

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  • Jo Galbraith says:

    This is so timely for me Maria…I am building a new house and have spent HOURS in the tile stores looking for bathroom tile. I made the poor saleswoman drag out all the white tile she had…out of hundreds of choices there were only about 5 or 6 and they were either too creamy or gray. I can just see the staff rolling their eyes behind my back. I have settled on a couple of marble look porcelain 12 x 24 tile, trying to choose between matte and polished. I am so glad that I am on the same page as you! My current bathroom was remodeled thanks to your input years ago – white hex floor tile, white wainscotting, white vanity and white speckled counter and it still looks great! Thanks for all your great tips!

  • Tracy says:

    Awesome post! I’m in the middle of a condo renovation and just had my white subway tile and hex shower floor installed in both bathrooms this week and I couldn’t be more pleased with my choice. Loving it!

  • Julie says:

    Ha! I went nuts for the grey trend on my recent basement reno and the bathroom has a charcoal floor (along with some carara hex and carara-esque subway tile). I love it, for now 😉 The previous owners did the upstairs bath in white tile with black accents; I appreciate the nod to classic but can’t abide the white tile on the bathroom floor, it requires daily upkeep to look clean. Just curious, what finish would you suggest in vanities for those who don’t want white?

    • Maria Killam says:

      A mid-tone grey, it’s completely unnecessary to go as dark as charcoal. And just keep it on the floor and install white tile on the walls. Maria

    • mrsben says:

      @Julie: Re a vanity colour other than white. In my case, for one of my bathrooms I went with BM Classic Gray (#1548 or OC-23 – very neutral) on the walls and for its vanity modified it by slightly darkening it to my liking. Not to say it will solve your dilemma but here is the method — Take a portion of the original colour and in small increments add some black to it (I just used cheap $-Store Craft paint) until you obtain your colour, then have it colour matched in your choice of paint and finish. *Note: Formula for BM Classic Gray is as follows — (Base) White/(Colorants) Black/ Oxide Yellow/Oxide Red.
      @Maria: I can see you cringing … ☺; but it worked and am totally pleased how it turned out as I paired it with (warm) white subway tile.

  • Martha says:

    I know you are in Canada but maybe Interceramic distributes there. Their true white subway tile is so pretty and affordable. I had it in my old house. Also Daltile makes a true white tile. Love your site!

    • Maria Killam says:

      Yes true white subway is available but I was surprised at how little white faux marble there was.
      Thanks Martha 🙂

      • Susan @Susan Silverman Designs says:

        There is a plethora of white faux marble (out) here in Toronto that it’s hard to choose which one is the nicest. All different sizes and types, Carrera, Calacatta, Statuario, etc, one more beautiful than the next.

      • Diane says:

        Do you prefer the white faux marble over the subway tile!?

  • Linda says:

    I’m with you on choosing the classics for basics and. My brand is being built on white subways (make it current with the grout), Cloud White is my canvas & black inferior doors. You cannot go wrong this way and if you want to dip a toe in a trend, put it into accents/accessories, right?

  • anne says:

    daltile white subway tile, plain, no bevel. it’s the little black dress of white subway tile and well priced. now for the floor…i’m not sure i am in complete agreement with you. i’m redoing two bathrooms right now. as in — tomorrow they pour cement into the 24″ deep hole where the foundation used to be. in the guest bathroom which is right next to the entrance (where grandchildren and dogs often bring in dirty feet) i don’t want a pure white floor. i understand and appreciate your comments about classic looks, but white isn’t going to work for me in that location. so i’m stuck. maybe wood-look porcelain or maybe even real wood. not sure yet but the clock is ticking and i have to make a decision soon. thanks for your great post.

    • Maria Killam says:

      You can find larger scale hex tile now like a 6″ or 8″ that isn’t white, also go with a mid-tone grey, or if you must go charcoal, install it in a herringbone pattern and keep it on the floor (NOT on the walls as well).
      Hope that helps,

  • Maria says:

    As someone with black hair, I can assure you I will never willingly select white bathroom tile again! I have had a dark taupe/gray in my bathroom for 10 years which I am SO grateful for every time I stay at a hotel with light bathroom floors. Maybe it works for blinds, but I’ll pass forever on white bathroom floors!

  • Mid America Mom says:

    Hi Maria! I wanted to ask regarding tile in the front entry and kitchen floors. You specify hex there as well? For a bath we settled on a pinwheel in white with black center with a charcoal grout but the idea was to be 20’s. We are not doing carpet or wood in the entry.. The floor store told me only hex in the bath which I thought was strange when I told them our house is probably from the 20’s. Then For those folks in warm climate with only tile floors (Florida…) what do you suggest? Some family is looking there and most need updates. – I feel for you on her moving …

    • Maria Killam says:

      There’s lots of faux wood flooring out there that looks great! If you already have wood, follow the advice I posted above.

  • Debra says:

    I didn’t tell you yet, but we are gutting our bathroom in the Michigan house.
    Demo is starting today (we hired a contractor for demo)
    He is also restoring a former window that the prior owner covered with a plastic (rose) beige shower unit (gag)
    Do you think I’ll be following your advice when choosing surfaces and colors?
    Damn right.
    Lets hope that I’ve been paying proper attention.

    I’ll send pics as we get thru this project!

  • KA says:

    So sad about your Mom moving! My husband’s parents live 4 hours away, but we only see them once or twice a year. Our family/kids schedule is just too busy (and getting busier every year!) to swing any more travel time.

  • Robin says:

    I just redid my laundryroom and struggled with what to do until reading one of Maria’s previous posts about timeless and classic. I, too, have a laundryroom with a well traveled entryway…(equaling lots of traffic and dirt lol). So… What to do if you want timeless and classic?? I found a 12×24 tile that is light enough to look awesome but has enough movement to hide the daily debris. I had existing cherry cabinets and added dove white painted cabs and a new quartz marble-look counter. I had to work around my mid toned-dark cherry cabinets and wanted/needed timeless!! So… My tile is Materia Platinum 12×24 (also comes in 6×24) honed porcelain tile (and I believe another size as well). And oh how it hides the dirt while remaining timeless and classic. Maria had said to have my counters and floor be either white or cream when working with existing stained wood cabs. So…her examples were gorgeous marble ones which I loved!! I wanted a hard working floor as well and after much contemplation (and many samples later) I am thrilled with my choice. It is a commercial tile as well. I needed honed (or matte or unglazed) as it’s less slippery when getting wet. Perfection I say lol. It’s not white. Not black. Not charcoal. Not cream. Not blotchy. It’s cool. And works well with beautiful marble/marble look. My finishing touches were a pretty antiqued silver (no glass) chandy and a beautiful mirrored/wooden screen in the corner (to hide plumbing). I took my time and found exactly what I wanted. My room is now hardworking AND seriously makes me smile every time I see it. Good luck all and thanks again Maria!!

  • Mary-Illinois says:

    I’m sorry to hear your mother is moving. As much as I would love to move out of Illinois, I can’t because my daughter needs me too much. Maybe…now that you have Terreeia, she feels that you are well taken cared for & now she has some freedom to leave to a place that makes her happy. I just know it’s hard when someone you love moves away.

    BTW…I mentioned to my husband I was thinking of getting a new car & I said I wanted a white one. He said, You & your white!” “Enough already!”
    Ha! Made me think of you. I told him a white car is classic.

  • alana says:

    We just did a large white 8×20 subway tile in our bathroom, with a quiet porcelain floor. I thought “this is so boring, says nothing” did I make a mistake after reading Maria’s thoughts on bathrooms earlier. Now that the bathroom is finished, I am glad I did follow Maria’s insights. I picked up purple in my acessories, mixed with lavender scents, to go with my claw foot bathtub, absolutely love it. When we sell the next person can choose whatever colour they like and it will be timeless. Thanks Maria and I glad I listened to you.

  • paula Ryan says:

    OH Maria, you hit the nail on the head AGAIN. I just went through a house in our neighborhood a couple of guys with a little money and no thought or design experience decided to flip. I was so sad for the house, they spent a LOT of money on really ugly, busy tile, really orangey/red wood floor and also added “lovely” glass knobs and wall sconces everywhere they could (one partner is a glass artist) It is so bad, I could hardly walk through it, I kept thinking how cool this house could be!

  • Susan says:

    A little off topic here, but I loved your equations of interesting and boring when referring to tiles.

    Interesting = trendy and extremely short lived. Boring = timeless.

    It kind of works the same with husbands…don’t you think?

  • Claudia says:

    We did faux marble in our master bath and our daughter’s bathroom, and real marble in a basket weave pattern in our powder room. I love it! But I did worry about the “faux” aspect of the porcelain tiles. I would have loved real marble everywhere, but didn’t want the maintenance. I’m glad you mentioned faux marble as being an acceptable option. The faux designs now are much better looking than they were even several years ago. People always assume it’s real marble until I tell them.

  • Liz Franklin says:

    ooooo house shopping is so hard! we are on our third house in 30 years. each time, even 30 years ago before i began charging for design services (i’d done it for free my entire life before that), i would look at house after house saying “i refuse to pay for someone else’s brand new ugly choices”. our agent got so frustrated “well, what’s wrong with THIS one?!”. only everything!

    we moved into our empty nest down-sized house last year. while the surfaces in kitchen and bathroom are dated and somewhat worn (white foil cabinets and 4×4 tile anyone?), i am thrilled that they are all white so that i can take my time replacing while not gagging every day for the next couple of years.

    clients, friends, and family still struggle when i suggest classic white or cream with chrome fixtures. or brass if they are ballsy. sigh.

    keep blogging! the masses need you!

  • Kay says:

    The brown kitchen is still being installed in Syracuse NY–gag. We are so behind the times here. In upscale houses, too! Or, for the few trendy syracusans, it’s charcoal gray. My beautiful white kitchen is an anomaly.

    BTW, I got my white subway tile from the original subway tile company, online. They make various whites, so I ordered samples and chose the one that went best with my Carrara marble counters and Chantilly lace cabs. Then I had the trim paint mixed to match the subway tile. The resulting white was so gorgeous that I had all the trim in my house painted that color.

  • Susan says:

    What a timely post! My husband and I are in the midst of a “snowbird” retirement home redo in Arizona. I spent 2 months visiting over 20 tile stores in the Phoenix area and could not find white floor tile for my bathroom. Thousands of tile choices, either all the desert brown/gold/orangey tones or charcoal gray. I had a vision in my head for either a 6″ or 8″ off white matte hex tile. All I could find is the very small hex tile. I’ve also tossed around the idea of doing a herringbone pattern on the floor in a 3″ x 9″ size but that has also been impossible to find in a matte finish. Can anyone point me in the right direction or online source where I can find what I am looking for?

  • Maria, Your posts are so interesting and refreshing! I love all of the comments. I gain almost as much insight from them as I do your advice! Also I am so glad that you cleared up the thought that your mom was moving away. Right away I thought “how can she do that” when you two are so close. Whew, I am so relieved! Anyway this will be a positive and not a negative because it will give you a new project & a new place to hang out! LOL

  • aprilneverends says:

    When we were picking a quartz countertop we were very surprised to learn that the true white pigment comes from some mines-I-don’t-remember-where-but-far-away, making all the white quartz choices more expensive..:)
    It should be different with porcelain and ceramics? I see a lot of white in here (CA).
    I don’t like white by the way. I like it I mean, I like all the colors out there. But I truly think I don’t look the best on a white background. Also my daughter has the darkest longest hair-and total inability to pick those after herself. So the moment I took out the white tiles off the floors of our baths-I became much kinder person:) The rest stayed white though-it was a builder color here in the nineties. All the tiles are white. Floors were earthy, like travertine, but countertops in kitchens and baths, floors in baths-white. Simple white tile, usually 4 by 4. if the owners didn’t put anything else while living in the house.
    One of the baths I inherited in the new place was recently redone, in this earthy travertine tile I can’t say anything good about except for when you look at the tiles for too long you start seeing all sorts of animals, faces and scenes…:) We’re not touching it ’cause no more money and it’s wasteful-we are already redoing the rest. So I’ll decorate around it. What can I do.
    The other baths won’t be white. Won’t be charcoal either. I don’t like charcoal, lol. I like warmer versions of everything-creams and greige, rather than true whites and grays..
    I appreciate them in other homes, but I myself gravitate to everything softer. Even when it’s bright colors and contrast-I will go with it but it will be florals not geometrics..something more fluid..
    PS your blog helped me a lot when choosing colors. The house is not ready yet, and there are plenty of mistakes and things I’d done differently-but the colors are not one of these:) No, I didn’t go with white, it’s simply a different type of a house, and I have certain tastes, etc.-but it was extremely helpful to learn many, many things here. I started gaining a knowledge of how to look at things, how to compare them..everybody laughed at me when I chose color for the cabinet doors for a week or more, putting all these sample doors vertically and taking them to different spots to see how the light hits them..but now everyone who saw the kitchen comments on it how pretty it is makes my heart sing. I did something right; and a big part of it-thanks to you, Maria.

  • In helping clients re-do their homes, I find the kitchens or baths that were done in black and white, regardless of the era, are the easiest to work with, if one can’t renovate. In most cases, they don’t even NEED renovated – just punched up with wall color, accessories, new light, etc. I’m not sure that boring = timeless, but I would say that “plain” or “streamlined” tends to = timeless.

    I was able to find a big glossy white tile for my bath re-do in a 1961 home, but if they are as scarce as you say, maybe you should launch your own tile line.

  • Keira says:

    I went to a high-end home tour this weekend and was blown away at all the earthy/Tuscan brown colors on the walls, and the positive comments emanating from the tour guests re those colors. Half of the recently remodeled kitchens and bathrooms were gray trend (albeit with taupe or dirty pumpkin walls nearby) and half creamy/taupey. Either the homes were (overly) styled by professionals or under-styled, which could’ve been easily rectified.

  • aprilneverends says:

    PS Lots of people install white kitchens here looks like it’s number one builders choice, in the last five years or so.
    Sometimes these feel very artificial to the houses here I must say.
    It’s all so..architecture related, geographically related, etc.
    Patterned tile might bore you in the North where it’s clearly a pretty but trendy choice.
    But in Mexico or Portugal or Spain -it’s a norm of was always there, and there it will stay, and will be timeless, and will never get boring.
    Same as checkerboard floors will never feel boring in other locations..

  • Marie says:

    Maria–This is a great post, and you are so right about white and cream (or ivory, which is my personal favorite). I would like to assure you it’s not a new problem! I’m older and have built many houses, some during the Harvest Gold, Avocado Green, and Copper (brown) trends (I think it was the late 60’s and early 70’s). When my custom builder offered me the choices for my bathroom commodes, sinks, tubs and tile–no white! I told him I wanted white, and he actually said “nobody uses white anymore.” But I insisted, and it was the best thing I ever did! Just think of those poor homeowners who are now replacing all that ugh-ly stuff–many times over. Thanks for your posts, and keep up the good work!

  • Ad says:

    Maria, I am so glad you posted this advice. I just don’t understand the rapture over all of the different gray colors for walls, tiles, flooring, etc. To me the color gray says “prison.” Would never use it and recommend to anyone asking for an opinion what it reminds me of. White is so much more classy and absolutely timeless and always beautiful.

  • Cindi says:

    I had white and couldn’t wait to get rid of it, but probably the blue accents were the real deal killer. If you’re going to do white, don’t ruin it with an accent tile.

    Still, when I see homes with plain white tile I’ve always thought “why did they go with such a dated looking white tile when there are so many interesting ones.” I guess white tiles still remind me of the 80’s when there wasn’t any other choice, especially with dark grout. I hate that grid look of white tile with dark grout.

    Some of it is probably the rest of the design too. If it’s white tile but not a classic design, then that just dated. And I just personally think a porcelain look is more timeless.

  • Diane says:

    Maria, do you have a preference white subway tile or white faux marble tile?

    • Maria Killam says:

      White faux marble is for the floors, and white subway for the walls is one option, hex tile for the floors and white subway of the walls is another.
      Most people aren’t installing subway tile on the floors. Good question!

      • diane says:

        How do you feel about a light tile that looks like wood for the floor with white subway tile on the walls? My contractor seems to think that the wood tile will look dated in a few years? In my opinion, wood never looks dated.

      • Minda says:

        What do you do for a counter top with this combination?


  • Mid America Mom says:

    I love having a mainly white bath with black accent tile ( white fixtures, partly white walls). The ability to update with colored towels, artwork, paint, and for us also free standing furniture is fantastic. For now we have gray with blue undertone paint and paired with mostly blue red (one of my favorite colors) accessories. The furniture is shabby chic in white. I probably will do yellow next 🙂

  • Beth says:

    Is it different over the border in Canada : ) or are we lucky in my area? The tile showroom I go to has lots of beautiful, simple white tile, from oversized subway to … well,name it. And it’s not hidden away.

    Granted, it’s a massive showroom, so they have room for a remarkable number of tiles on display,

    This reminded me of when you’d talk about blotchy ceramic or porcelain tile (which I don’t like!), but there were SO many non-blotchy ceramic and porcelain tiles available already in this area.

    (Unfortunately, our kitchen was not a benefactor of them, being done just before the wonderful explosion of options hit.)

  • Danielle says:

    I laughed when I read your post, as I just redid our bathroom to de-dark it! Our toilet leaked, ruined the dark wood floor (installed by previous owner). I was going to put in dark tile that looked like wood, but then thought better of it. I went with the black and white hexagonal. LOVE IT. Cheaper, classic, charming. I painted the dark wood vanity, got a lovely new mirror, then had board and batten put in and a nice cheery wallpaper above it. Boom!

  • Ann says:

    I’m moving from a 3 year old classic and timeless house to move across the country for a job. I’ve looked and looked but I don’t find this type of look there, even in the expensive homes that I cannot afford. I told my realtor that I’m too picky and I pretty much don’t like any of the house decor choices I’ve seen. We don’t have the time to go with a new build this time. The hardest part for me is that I don’t want to pay for someone else’s “updates.” I’m forced to find a house that is very dated and live through a remodel. If only more people read your advice! There are so many poor granite choices, bad undertones and blotchy tile. Bad choices cost so much money! What a waste, makes me so sad. I know there are more important things in life, but I want to be at ease in my home and find it beautiful.

  • Christina says:

    I renovated my house ten years ago and installed white subway tile, white countertops and white cabinets in the bathrooms. We’ve just put our house on the market and I don’t have to change a thing. Everyone who has been coming through keeps commenting on the beautiful updated bathrooms. Although, I did put a light grey in the master and it still seems to work.
    In the new house I’m building, I’ve used an all white palette again. The designer, who works for the builder, actually said, “it’s so boring”. After reading this article, I fee great about my decisions!

  • Joy says:

    We put Shades of gray-by Crossville in laundry room and powder room floor. Not too dark..not too light. Color=Haze. Very little movement with warm undertone. Looks great next to our Oak floor. Contemporary look with light colored walls. There are other shades including white. It’s not the marble look on floor that seem to me as formal. I love the marble look on floors, but feel that sometimes gives a more formal look. Different for counters since its a smaller space-used Torquay quartz (marble look) in powder room. Used Subway white in master bath…love it every day. Dark cabinet with Nougat quartz top. Love your blog Maria and everything you make us think through. ie Accent tile. Thank you.

  • KA says:

    Hmmm, I agree 100% with this … But … Then I see a picture like this one (before bathroom with white tile and after bathroom with dark floor) and I much prefer the after with the dark floor. Is that because the before, bathrom is just too old?

  • Anne says:

    Hi Maria,
    Hooray (again) for reminding the world that white is right anytime. It’s been years since I happily started following your blog, and I can count on one hand (maybe 2) the number of houses I see, out of hundreds, that have white tile in their baths. Even less with kitchens, and rare are the white cabinets. I usually think “what were they thinking?” esp. when the counters, back splash and floor tiles are all earthy and/or dark, busy and vary in undertones. I can’t wait to leave the room!
    I’m moving to upstate NY and look forward to employing all I’ve learned through your blogs and ebooks into my new space. Thanks!

  • Joanne says:

    Many years ago (30) I moved into our condo and my first project was to do something about our kitchen. It had laminate doors, fake butcher block countertops, and red & black brick backsplash. I bought painter grade doors, bought a trendy peachy countertop, and sprayed/sealed the bricks and painted the cabinets/doors/brick white. I loved my painted brick. It had lots of texture and just look great. When the peachy trend was over, I got new counter tops. I have had my cabinets and backsplash/wall painted a couple of times over the years, I have replaced knobs – but those cabinets and backsplash stay the same. When I move, I will get subway tile, but honestly, if I could get someone to install fake brick (a lighter color) and paint over the brick and grout I think I would!

    Maria is so right, fixed elements should be classic!

  • mrsben says:

    First of all Maria; sorry to hear that your Mother is planning on taking up residence elsewhere but turn that frown upside down … ☺ as it will be only for a small portion of the year and as they say ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’. That said and back to the subject; I have just completed three bathroom upgrades and have one more to go and yes, chose white for the majority of fixed elements and since easy maintenance is one of my top priorities went with porcelain tile and/or engineered quartz. i.e: Marble look-alike in one, subway tile in another etc. The only flooring I didn’t replace was the one done in a white textured, mosaic ceramic tile which is actually located in a (high-traffic) powder room that has stood the test of time both in aesthetics and durability and will continue to do so. -Brenda-

  • Meg Hannah says:

    I agree with your design principles, Maria—-except on this one thing. Black/charcoal goes with everything! Especially when it’s on the floors. It goes with white and brights, of course, but it’s also classic with tan/beige/cream. I think it looks terrific with pastels, too.

  • Sandy Beaty says:

    Please send your gospel to house flippers too. They are so concerned with saving money that they could just use white tile and it would be so much easier to Stage their houses. Preach it sister

  • Sharen says:

    I just bought a condo for my Retierment days and am renovation most of it. I read your blog on White Kitchens and feel confident with my choices. In my new white kitchen I selected a almost black matt porcelain tile floor (12 x 24) and love it. I loved it so much I decided to put in both bathrooms. However I didn’t go with the all white bathroom. I decided white (tub, sink and white marble Quartz) with a spa Aqua color. I wanted my bathroom to feel like a spa. Maria, do have any suggestions on how to pull this look off? I’m liking the Aqua glass subway tile. Love all your articles/blogs. You’ve helped me tremendously! Thanks!

  • GEO55 says:

    Maria, I have four words for you (that apply to almost all your posts):

    Thank you for all your excellent, articulate explanations re: color and finishes.

  • Jenn says:

    I enjoyed reading this blog/article. I agree that beige (or any shade of beige) is well past it’s prime. However, as a lover of color, I am one of those that finds all white kitchens and bathrooms to be rather boring. I love MOSTLY white (particularly white cabinets), but I always need to put a pop of color somewhere.
    I’m with you on the charcoal and black tile though. Black & white tile…fine; all black…not fine.
    I especially love the bathroom in the first pic. The graphic wallpaper with the bright orange frame against is very striking. How fabulous would this be for a kids bath?!

  • Angela Foster says:

    I am so grateful for your posts. I thought i would have to gut my bathrooms to renovate a place we just bought.. But now realize I don’t have to. All the bathrooms have white 6 inch square tile. 20 years old. Someone did a messy job with gray grout. But now I’m having a grout expert come make the grout white again. I’ll do one bathroom first to make sure he does a good job. I’m now keeping the white counter (looks like cultured marble) in two of the bathrooms because it is in good condition. So I’ll just frame the mirrors and update fixtures. In the master the sinks have cracks so I’ll replace that counter. I’m debating updating the therma foil cabinet fronts. I’d like to update the almond jacuzzi tub and solid surface shower because they scream 90’s to me. The tile also has a matte finish and would not be my preference but i plan to bring some sheen in elsewhere. So thanks to you I’m feeling confident that I don’t have to go all out. Did I miss anything?

  • Carla Davis says:

    Hi maria! Interesting that’s it’s 2022 and I think that your post is timeless like white tile :). I have a home from 1961 and of course it has white tile in the bathroom along with a pink sink and then newer cream tile on the floor. I have very dark long hair. I am debating on what type of floor tile. I was thinking a charcoal tile to hide the hair but do you have other suggestions on hiding hair and debris? I don’t think I saw an answer to this question in the comments or post.

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