So, white bathroom week is actually inspired by my friend Tom, who sent me the following query:
Q. “Hi! I’m about to redo my small-ish Brooklyn bathroom in white subway tile to match the existing floors, which are statuary marble. Wondering if it’s worth it to splurge for pricier handmade tiles versus machine made ones? My wife and I like the look of handmade subway tile better, but are weighing pros and cons of both options. And, yes, budget is somewhat of a concern. Do you have any advice? Thanks!”
Just after receiving this question, I bumped into my friend, fellow design writer, and sometimes stylist Craig Kellogg at Maialino. Craig always has spot-on decorating advice, so I threw this question at him to see if he had clever thoughts….which of course he did:
A. “Tom, brick-shaped subway tiles have been fashionable for a while now so you might want to rethink using the shape altogether. Instead, why not consider styles that have a bit more life left in them? In a decade you may thank me.
That said, there ARE several ways to make any machine-made tiles look more artisanal. Have your tile-setter do a very sloppy job leveling the tiles, and the finished installation will seem to benefit from the thick-and-thin irregularity of a handmade tile surface. Depending on the tile you choose you can also consider using various offsets (from one row to the next) to change the look
Here’s how: 1st option involves lining up the vertical joints from one row to the next. That will create a grid. Or, you may want to offset rows by random amounts (avoiding any lined-up seams from one row to the next). The informality will be appealing. In a final option, try turning brick-shaped tiles on end. For a single row it will create decorative banding just beneath a wainscoting or at the baseboard. If you use all of your tiles on end, the result is a subtly appealing verticality that references 1980′s glam.”
And for all you New Yorkers out there, Craig also swears by white subway tile from Bella Tile at 178 First Avenue (11th Street) in Manhattan.
[Top: creamy whiteness from Waterworks' Campus collection]