I’m betting that you can tell a lot about the owners of these three bathrooms. Each is beautiful, but in very different ways. The best part of my job is that I get to design in a variety of styles, using products in new and exciting ways. It’s great to see how the same materials— tile, stone, quartz and wood can come together in such unique ways.

Bath #1 Colorful and charming

Bathroom 1I absolutely love the handmade ceramic tiles we chose for this bath. We purposely installed the 4”x4” squares at random, using shades of blue, aqua and purple. The small diamonds you see are made up of 1” x 1” iridescent purple glass mosaic tiles. The walls are a soft lavender and, the cabinetry is white. The quartz counter in neutral cream balances the bold colors in the shower. The cool color palette exudes a feeling of calm, even with the busy tile pattern. The overall result feels fun, youthful and friendly, which was indeed my design intent.

Bath #2 Luxurious and elegant

Bathroom 2With rich wood tones, gorgeous granite slab and mosaic comprised of marble and glass, this bath feels very elegant. We mixed metallics and materials for this project— there is a combination of silver and gold tones in the cabinet hardware, plumbing fixtures, mirror frames and light fixtures, pulled together with handmade wallpaper in subtle, yet shimmery gold and silver. The colors and patterns in the granite counter also help pull everything together. The homeowner requested a luxurious spa-like bathroom and I do believe she got it.

Bathroom #3 Tasteful and Relaxing

Bathroom 3Like Bath #2, this bath features a neutral color palette, but executed in a very different way. It is also very elegant and classic, with Emperadora Dark chocolate brown marble accents, and creamy-colored porcelain field tiles. The decorative border is marble and glass, cut by water-jet machinery into a lovely fleur de lis motif. The creamy walls and tile make this large bath feel even more spacious, and the stained cherry cabinets add contrast and warmth. The bronze fixtures bring out the brown in the marble accents. We are still looking for just the right art piece for the wall above the soaking tub— an Italian landscape would fit in beautifully here, don’t you think?


Bathroom remodels are one of my specialties, and by far the most common questions clients ask me are “How long will this take?” and “What should I expect during the remodeling process?” To help clients understand the process, I’ve created this sample timeline. When everyone is on the same page, the remodel process goes much more smoothly. Whether you are undertaking the project yourself, or hiring a general contractor, here is an idea of what the process will look like. A typical bathroom remodel takes 4-6 weeks.

  • Design bathroom and select materials—you should spend a good amount of time on this step. Take your time to shop for materials and see the myriad options available to you. Peruse photos on Houzz.com and collect ideas of designs that appeal to you. It’s at this step that a professional designer can be the most helpful. A designer can help narrow down your options, and design a space that fits your taste and lifestyle. A general contractor needs to know what kind of bath you want, so the more detailed your design plan is, the more accurate his price quotation will be.
  • Obtain permits. After you have your design created, take your drawings to the city to obtain any necessary building permits. The homeowner or the contractor can take care of this step. The city will want to know the type of plumbing and lighting you are using—there are strict codes regarding water flow and energy efficiency. There will be periodic inspections during the remodel process.
  • Purchase plumbing fixtures and have them onsite. The contractor will need the plumbing rough valves and bathtub very early in the construction process. The whole process runs much more smoothly if you have all of the materials onsite before you start the demolition.
  • Order cabinetry. Custom cabinetry takes anywhere from 4-8 weeks, and even ready-made modular cabinetry can take 2 weeks or longer. The contractor will need the cabinetry approximately 2 weeks into the process.
  • Start demolition. Please don’t demolish your bathroom before you have a plan in place and materials ordered!
  • Frame walls—Are any walls being moved or removed? Are you building a pony wall? Will the existing tub or shower get larger or smaller? Will you be installing grab bars? These areas need to framed and prepped. The cabinet-maker may want to come and take final field measurements after new walls are constructed, especially if cabinets need to fit into tight spaces.
  • Install the rough plumbing. The contractor will install the tub, drains and bath/shower valves at this step.
  • Install the rough electrical wiring. The contractor will run all of the wiring for any new lighting and vent fans at this point.
  • Install sheetrock, tape and texture. After all of the “rough” construction, then the new wallboard can go up and be prepped for paint.
  • Paint walls and ceiling. Most contractors like to paint before any of the finish materials go in. Painters are aware that they will need to come back at the end for any touch ups needed after the finish materials are installed.
  • Install base cabinetry. After the walls are painted, then the vanity can be installed.
  • Create a template for the countertop. If you are installing quartz or granite, the installers will come to measure and create a template after the vanity is installed. There is a lead-time of approximately ten days between the template date and final installation.
  • Install tile in the shower, tub, walls and floor. If you are installing a tile backsplash, this cannot be completed until the counters are installed.
  • Measure for bath/shower enclosure and custom mirrors. The enclosure cannot be ordered until the tile is complete. There is typically about a 10-day lead-time for these items.
  • Install countertop. After the 10-day lead-time, the counters can finally be installed. Now you can schedule the backsplash installation.
  • Install final plumbing and light fixtures. After all of the tile work and countertop work is complete, then the contractor can install the bath/shower fixtures, faucets and decorative light fixtures.
  • Install bath/shower enclosure and mirrors. Now your bath is almost done!
  • Install cabinet doors and hardware. Many times, the contractor will wait till the end to install these items—this reduces the chance of damage to the cabinetry while other items are getting installed.
  • Install towel bars, tissue holder, robe hooks and other accessories.
  • Call painter back for final paint touchups.
  • Add finishing touches—window treatments, artwork, towels.
  • Bathroom complete! Although it always seems like it takes forever, a few weeks of inconvenience will result in years of enjoyment.

Contemporary living room in earth tonesYou want to spruce up your home, but you don’t want to spend a lot of money. In this column, I’ll give you suggestions for how to improve the look and feel of your rooms without spending a fortune.

Entry: Let’s begin at the front door. Create a welcoming space for your family and guests. If your entry is too small for a table, hang a crownmolding ledge with a mirror above it to create a space for dropping keys and mail. An entry is a great place to try a bold color or wallpaper pattern, since it is a self-contained, small space. Wallpaper or paint the largest wall, or go for it and do the whole entry.

Living room: Blinds or shades on the windows are great, but to really finish off your windows, add some curtain panels on each side. They don’t need to close all the way; they are merely decorative, but boy do they add a lot to a room. The fabric will really add some softness, weight and color to the space. Use fabric in a color similar to the wall color to keep the room looking large and formal; use a contrasting color for a more casual, friendly look.

Instead of matching table lamps on either side of your sofa, update your lighting by installing wall sconces above the side tables. There are many plug-in varieties, so no hard-wiring is needed. Another option is to hang pendant lights from the ceiling right above the side tables. It’s a great look, and it also frees up space on the tables. This is a great look in a bedroom too.

Dining room: Most people have matching dining chairs, which is expected and certainly reasonable. But for a little more pizzazz try one of these ideas: Replace your head chairs with fully upholstered wing chairs or parson’s chairs. Choose a fabric and color that blends with your living room, so the chairs can be brought in for extra seating. Or reupholster your existing chairs in two different fabrics—one fabric for the side chairs and another for the head chairs.  As in the living room, add curtain panels to plain windows to add texture, color and softness.  Add crown molding to the ceiling to define the space, and paint or wallpaper inside the crown.

Bathrooms: Perk up a plain bathroom with large, colorful artwork. Pull a bold color from the artwork and paint the ceiling with it—you’ll love it! Keep the walls neutral. Repeat this bold color in towels and accessories.

Bedrooms: I love lots of pillows on the bed. I know it’s harder to make in the morning, but it sure looks pretty! For a queen size bed: Two Euro pillows (large square) in the back with decorative shams, then two standard pillows with decorative shams, then two decorative throw pillows, then one smaller rectangular pillow or round bolster pillow in the front. The pillows you use for sleeping should hide behind the Euro pillows. Please use sheets in coordinating colors! A cozy duvet or throw blanket (again, coordinating colors please!) can be folded at the foot of the bed.

spacious modern kitchen with maple cabinets and graniteI recently attended the annual Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas, where my colleagues and I got to see a wide variety of beautiful and innovative products for remodeling kitchens and baths. It was like Disneyland for designers–tiles, cabinetry, countertops, cabinet hardware, and fancy gadgets as far as the eye could see!

We saw cabinetry made from gorgeous, rich-looking exotic woods and very unique finishes (picture a bleached finish resembling driftwood), quartz slabs made to look like marble and granite, creative storage solutions for kitchen cabinets, and much more.

During a seminar on kitchen and bath trends for 2014, we learned the following:

Seventy-five percent of you prefer neutral kitchens, especially those of you over the age of 44. It is true that neutral kitchens tend to have more universal appeal (which is important if you plan to sell in the next few years) and tend to be more timeless than trendy. Neutral kitchens can be traditional or modern, and can look elegant or more rustic and casual, depending on the materials chosen. It’s never wrong to design a neutral kitchen, but don’t default to neutral because you are afraid of color!

Twenty-five percent of you prefer bold colors in the kitchen, and for those of you under the age of 44, the percentage is even higher. Bold colors can appear in wall colors, backsplash tile, and upholstery of course, but also in unexpected places like appliances and cabinetry. For example, picture a kitchen with a stainless steel refrigerator and dishwasher, and an oven in an eye-catching Cherry Red or Cobalt Blue. Mixing in a colorful appliance, or painting the island in a bold color can add pizzazz to the kitchen.

Eighty-six percent of you prefer granite or quartz for your countertops. With so many colors and patterns to choose from, it is no wonder. It appears that other materials like laminate and Corian are not as popular anymore, however, for tighter
budgets, I would definitely recommend looking at laminate. There are lots of greatlooking choices out there and are quite durable, even for high-use kitchens.

I was happy to learn that 50% prefer tile backsplashes instead of using the same granite or quartz on the backsplash. My clients will tell you that nine times out of ten I recommend tile for the backsplash. It allows us to be much more creative and give the kitchen a more personal touch.

Most of you undertaking bath remodels desire spa-like bathrooms that feature warm, neutral colors and natural materials. In one recent remodel, the shower pan is a bed of natural river rocks, and the shower wall features a wide band of glass and stone mosaic tile. Beautiful.

Many of you are adding windows to the bathroom to bring in natural light. I like to enhance the lighting in the bath as well. For example, we might install vanity lights on a dimmer switch, an LED light in the shower, and a pendant light hanging above the spa tub.

Forty percent of you prefer a large shower rather a tub, and the number is even higher for those of you over 55. In those large showers, remodelers under the age of 44 are choosing large rain head-type showerheads and body jets; those over 44 are opting for handheld showerheads. Some even want both types—a large rain head as well as the handheld showerhead. Why not have maximum flexibility?

If a new kitchen or bath is in your future this year, know that you have myriad choices for fixtures and materials. Take your time and think about the type of room you desire, in terms of both functionality and aesthetics. If you can imagine it, it probably exists!

Anna Jacoby is a Certified Interior Designer. Contact her at 510-490-0379 or info@annajacobyinteriors.com or visit her website at www.annajacobyinteriors.com