...because home doesn't happen overnight.

A quick update on the bathroom…

bathroom tile progress

We have two walls of subway tile! Tiling the uneven window wall was difficult. Tiling the smoother wall on the left was like tying a shoe in comparison. Steve knocked it out in one evening.

bathroom tile progress 2

Look at those perfectly wrapped corner tiles. Reason #99 you should marry an engineer.

In case you’re just now tuning in (or maybe you didn’t even know we had a second bathroom because we’ve shunned it for the last two years), this is the main bathroom in the house. A freestanding shower / tub will eventually live right in front of the back wall. We’re taking the tile to the ceiling around the shower / tub and the rest of the room will have tiled wainscoting. After much debate (I wanted tile. Steve wanted baseboards.) we’re installing the same chunky baseboards in here as the rest of the house. That’s why you see a gap at the bottom of the walls between the wall tile and floor tile.

As the shell of the room started to take shape, I got to thinking about how we would trim out the wainscoting and shower walls.

tile molding

I don’t even remember doing it but I selected this curvy tile to act as molding atop the tiled wainscoting. I don’t know what I was thinking. Oh, wait, I was pregnant. I probably wasn’t thinking. Maybe I was thinking about lunch. Maybe I was thinking about a nap. Most likely, I was contemplating how I could eat lunch and nap at the same time.

But I digress.

There’s nothing wrong with the tile itself but when you butt it up against the skinny modern subway tiles it looks strange. The profile is all wrong. And Steve and I were confused about where exactly to install it. Just along the wainscoting? Up the side of the shower walls? It would look weird if we ran it along the top of the wainscoting and dead-ended it at the shower. And it would look just as weird to have a mitered inside corner at the shower wall and continue the molding up the edge of the shower only to dead-end at the ceiling. We were at a loss.

That’s when an image of black pencil liner popped into my head. It was similar to this. I tried explaining my vision to Steve but he wasn’t catching on. (This happens a lot.) It was decided that I would head to The Tile Shop the next morning to scope out some options to help Steve better grasp my idea.

I wasn’t there five minutes before I found exactly what I wanted. Which was a good thing because my kids were play fighting in slow motion and everyone was staring. I quickly snapped a picture of the simpler design I had in mind and sent it to Steve. “Gorgeous” was the reply back. We had a winner.

pencil liner + bullnose trim

I bought the imperial bianco bullnose to match the subway tile and the noir honed somerset to tie in to the floor tile. We’ll run both along the wainscoting and shower. The end result will be similar to the last photo seen in this bathroom renovation post. The pencil liner is a little thicker than the subway and bullnose tiles but I think the difference in profile will be a nice finishing touch. I love that the single black stripe will pick up on the hex floor. And you know how I feel about stripes in general! The liner is also a subtle nod to the bathroom’s midcentury roots. Many ’50’s bathrooms boasted contrasting pencil liner. This is my attempt to bring it back in a modern way. What do you think?

Can’t wait to share more progress as we make it!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking


Love the details in this room – it’s going to be gorgeous once it’s finished!


I second your opinion on marrying an engineer! I’m married to one as well, and he’s renovated our house with very little outside help. They can figure out almost anything, and it’s always gotta be PERFECT, which is fine by me!


And has Steve offered to clean those baseboards in the bathroom? Ugh, I hate cleaning baseboards, especially in the bathroom!
But that’s not what you asked. Yes, the black pencil liner looks “gorgeous”! It really does!
Just imagine having your very own bathroom soon!


BTW, I looked and looked, but couldn’t find any uneven bathroom wall in your pictures! It looks perfect!


I LOVE all of the tile you’ve picked so far. I can’t wait to see how this bathroom ends up.

Love it! Great idea. This is going to look amazing!

Love your selections classic and stunning!!



We did the same thing when we tiled our bathroom! I love it! So simple, but a great little detail. :-) Can’t wait to see the bathroom when you’re finished!


No. Steve has never offered to clean any of the baseboards in any of the house. Ever. Just sayin’ ;)


Ugh. This is going to be so gorgeous. You’re making my sad “poorly reno’d in 1994” bathroom look even worse with all these amazing decisions. ;)


love it! And I love the nod to the 1950’s roots!


This bath is going places! I imagine you’ll add some wood somewhere and something gold.

As chief homemaker I have strong opinions against wood baseboards. When my son and I rehabbed a bathroom at his house a year ago (as a surprise for his wife) it was something we both wanted to avoid. And my
daughter-in-law was so happy with the look of the results and ease of cleaning tile


Looking good! Can’t wait to see the freestanding tub/shower that you go with!!!

Gorgeous. Just gorgeous. I love the modern nod to the classic 50s style. It’s going to be stunning in the end.


Love how the bathroom is turning out so far! I, too, am married to an engineer and praise his mad skills every day. :)


Love your tile choice and can’t wait to see the finished product. It’s going to be beautiful.

I have to admit, I’m a little confused about the wood baseboards and I’m not sure why this was your choice – not that you need to run it by me- ha! Maybe I’ve just never paid attention but all I’ve ever seen is tile all the way to the floor which is so much easier to clean ( and a cleaner) look. I’ve lived in lots of older homes with tile wainscot and it seems they all have a different, baseboard-like tile that’s slightly curved at the bottom which softens the corner where it meets the floor. Not sure they still make that kind of tile, but worth considering.


Love it! Can’t wait to see it finished!
I love black and white bathrooms! They’re so crisp!


Nice! I’m sure it will look amazing.


WOW! I LOVE THAT!!! I have never seen that “pencil liner” trim tile before, but it is gorgeous… you are right in that it will pick up the floor, and it does have a 50’s vibe, but in a modern way aesthetic! Score! I have actual 50’s bathrooms in MY 50’s brick rancher, and we have tackled the TINY half bath, getting ready to do the tiny full bath next, and this post is making me rethink my not-fully-fleshed-out ideas on tile…. I really love the clean lines of this black line trim, and black & white was rumbling around in the back of my brain anyway! thanks! great work so far, its gonna be gahw-geous!!!


p.s… home design is all about spousal compromise, especially when one of the spouses can wrap tile around corners so beautifully!! If Steve feels strongly about wood baseboards, I don’t think that is a bad compromise? easy peasy to just wipe down every now and again…no biggie! also a nod to the 50’s I think? as my 50’s brick rancher is just FULL of wood trim. just sayin!


It looks wonderful. We live in a 50’s ranch as well, and I am about to embark on a bathroom remodel very similar to yours: White subway tile, black pencil liner (your post and the one you linked to are so helpful, thank you!), black/white floor – trying to decide among basketweave; black/white hexagon; or other.

Our bath is long and narrow and I therefore decided on the IKEA Godmorgon vanity in black/brown. We will also install a Godmorgon high cabinet in the corner, for extra storage.

My questions for you:

*Will your baseboard trim be wood, or tile? I have not yet thought about baseboard trim (or lack thereof).
*What have you chosen for your sink?
*How did you decide on grey grout for your subway tile?



I’m in LOVE with how your bathroom looks so far! We also used black pencil tile in our bathroom and was absolutely astonished when we found out how much it was at the Tile Shop. How crazy is it that every other tile is priced per square foot, but boarder tile is priced per piece. Crazy! We ended up finding black pencil tile at Home Depot for less than $2 a piece. It might not be exactly what you’re looking for, but it couldn’t hurt to look! Good luck!


Thank you for mentioning a less expensive option! The Tile Shop has been so good to us that I’ve become a loyal customer. And I really like that it’s made of honed travertine to tie into the floor tile. I think it will be worth it but it’s nice to know there are cheaper alternatives out there in case someone else is looking for something similar.


*wood baseboards to match the rest of the house

*an open wood vanity / sink we found at Home Depot a few years back

*The subway tile on the walls isn’t grouted yet. We’re actually going with white grout on the walls since we want the hexagon floor tiles to be the main pattern.


Oh yes, lots of spousal compromise going on over here! I think our home is more interesting / real because of it.


Thank you! Can’t wait to see the finished product!


I love how you throw in “my kids were play fighting in slow motion”…and just continue with your tile selection. hahaha – made me really laugh! Oh, the bathroom is looking pretty good too ;-)

Can I borrow your handy engineer husband to help me with our bath? I’m comfortable with tile, but even this architect’s daughter cannot get those amazing wrapping tile so perfectly placed!


[…] are SO HAPPY with how the black pencil liner and bullnose trim turned out! I was a little worried about the profile of the pencil liner sticking […]