Vancouver Interior Decorator: Is your Bath Perfect or Perfectly Nice?

Waterworks new faucet (source)

The newest and most fabulous showroom in Vancouver for everything to do kitchens and bathroom is Cantu.


The co-founder and Vice President of Waterworks Barbara Sallick, was their special guest on Wednesday evening last week.


She gave a talk on what it takes to have The Perfect Bath.

‘Design integrity in bath means that you must select the right ingredients and assemble them with clarity and style.’

My favourite parts of her talk was:

1. The way she set it up:

‘I’m not saying I’m right, I’m just saying this conversation comes from my point of view’.

2. She loves white as much as I do.

Barbara believes that bath fixtures should always be white. Almost every image in her presentation had some element of white repeated in the room along with white plumbing fixtures.

After all, there’s nothing worse than a bathroom filled with tile in multiple colours (for example) with not a stitch of white in any of it and then a bunch of screaming white plumbing fixtures.

There is no white in this tile and notice that the sinks are not white. It would look odd if the only white in this bathroom was found in the sinks (below) as there are already at least four colours found in the tile and not one is white.


She told an interesting story where Waterworks mailed 70 instant cameras to selected customers and asked them to take photos of their bathrooms and mail them back. Waterworks would develop the images.

15 sent them back for a total of 322 images. Barbara liked only two of them.

The rest, there was always something, to her eye that did not work. Something that had her decide it was just ‘perfectly acceptable’ bathroom, instead of being the perfect bath.

The tub is too big or too small

The vanity looks like it belongs in the kitchen

The tile installer didn’t dry lay the tile or plan for balanced cuts.

No one took the time to plan the right variations and balance.

The grout colour, UGLY.

Barbara says the best baths happen when you set out to create a total experience. you have to design in the experience, you can’t just buy the perfect bath, you have to create it personally and tastefully.


And all of it starts with a bath that is inspired.

Just like it’s very difficult to design a room with no inspiration or starting off point, the same goes for a bathroom.

First she showed this bathroom with just a plain framed mirror and said ‘See how this is a perfectly nice bathroom?’ And then with this mirror (above). The fabulous mirror is what suddenly turned this bathroom into something more extraordinary.

Barbara said the bright colour trends have not migrated to the bath and there is good reason for this. Almost everything in the bath is attached to the wall or the floor and it is both difficult and expensive to change a fixture you no longer like.


However, colour on the walls is easy to change and if your bathroom is all carrara, nothing brings grey tile/marble to life faster than a bright pop of colour like turquoise, yellow, or pink.

The most important reason why I was inspired to share her talk with you is this. Here is a designer in fact THE co-founder of Waterworks, who has been in this business for a very long time and she is also trying to save the world from yet another ‘meh’ looking bathroom.

There was no accent tile to be found in her presentation.


Ceramic architecture? Yes. (example above)

At the end of her talk, we got a glimpse of one of the bathrooms in her house. And guess what it was?

White subway tile.

I rest my case. For today anyway.

Related posts:

Selecting your Kitchen or Bath Backsplash: Accent tile or Not?

One More Reason Why you Should Skip Accent Tiles Altogether

The Best Backsplash Tile for your Kitchen

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me.



leave aREPLY

  1. My bathrooms are ugly. Beige fixtures. 1992 builder’s grade. The one added later has white fixtures and the dreaded multiple not-white tiles that do not match each other.

    I wish I lived in an older home with nice standard white or black and white tiles. Or even a pink 1950’s bathroom. I rather like those.

    The only tiles that I’ve had that were worse than the beige were a late 60’s brown powder room. The main bathroom in that house had yellow, which was quite charming.

    • I had the 1950s pink bathroom. Actually, three of them. Might be good for some, but I was not a fan!

      I was very happy to move into our new (to us) 1974 home with harvest gold fixtures, blue carpet and flowered wallpaper. I didn’t feel guilty at all about ripping it all out and starting completely new!

    • Thanks for pointing that out Alison, picture an all white sink instead of the under mount. That’s the image it should have been! But my point is the same. Maria

  2. Thanks for this post, Maria. My next challenge is going to be our bathrooms. I started by painting the peach walls, mirror frame, and pink-beige-maple stained vanity WHITE. I lost the burgundy shower curtain and added a white shower curtain. The tiles and counter are at least both yellow-beige with white accents and the fixtures are all white. That helped SO much that many people thought I’d re-done the entire bathroom! Let me just note that the previous colors were from the previous owners!

  3. I love the photos in this post, Maria. I have a couple of questions:
    If Barbara Sallick says bath fixtures should always be white, why does she go on to say there is nothing worse than screaming white fixtures in a bathroom where nothing else is white? Does she mean that one should always have some element of white so that the white fixtures relate to that element?
    And is the last photo an good example of using accent tile, or are you showing what not to do?

    • Hi Cherie,
      Good questions, to clarify, Barbara did not say the ‘screaming fixtures’ part, that was me 🙂 However, I did note that in all the images she showed there was always an element of white repeated in the room somewhere so that the white plumbing fixtures looked good.
      And the last photo is not what I would consider accent tile. Accent tile is the strip that people throw in on their kitchen backsplash or shower surround whether they need it or not. Maria

  4. The bathrooms are very pretty but I think the gold mirror looks out of place with the silver faucet and gray tones in the counter top and green cabinets
    It also breaks your rule of not to make backsplash out of the stone countertop material.
    I also think the sconces are too high

    • Hi Deborah,
      Her point is simply that the mirror personalizes the bathroom. And some people might repeat the gold somewhere so that it looks even more like it belongs. I think the backsplash here has been done well because it’s finished with that edge. I have some more good examples here on my pinterest board of bathroom backsplashes done well., thanks for your comment! Maria

  5. There’s a comment about the gold mirror beint “out of place” in the grey and marble bathroom. Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t there some gold veins in the marble (left-hand side by the glass jars)?
    I love the last photo of the blue architectural tile 🙂

  6. Hi Maria,

    Great post, as usual. I love white in bathrooms as well, even with small children:) My question is what wall colour would you suggest for a very small basement bath with no window/natural light that is all done in wood panelling. The only good thing about it is the original cast iron tub.


  7. Loved the bath with the gold antique mirrow-anyway to find out the marble and paint color on the cabinets?

  8. Maria

    I share your love of white in kitchens and baths! I am frustrated, however, in our search for a new home in the Spokane Wa area. Even the best builders are using almost solely medium to dark stained cabinets, granite countertops – usually black – and medium to dark grey tile in the bathrooms. The baths often look like they are inside a battleship! I would like to buy new construction and there is a limited inventory available in our price range. Do you see lots of white used in new construction? We cannot afford to buy in a nice, secure neighborhood AND tear out all of the tile and replace it.

    • Unfortunately most builders are men and they operate like a stained wood cabinet is more valuable than a white one. Maria

  9. Had to laugh at your “for today anyway” 🙂 I really appreciate you sharing so much of what you learned. Great information!