You might assume that when I work with clients on a bathroom or kitchen remodeling project, that I am working hand-in-hand with their contractors every step of the way, but that is not always the case. Due to the overwhelming volume of options on the market, it’s quite common for people to see the value in hiring a designer to help them make selections for things like tile, countertops, cabinetry, paint, lighting, and flooring. But then a fair number of them move on to the contracting and remodeling phase on their own, thinking that they can manage the rest of the project themselves and save a little money on design fees. They have all of the names of the tiles and the right grout and paint colors–a designer’s work is done, right?
It’s absolutely my clients’ prerogative to liaise directly with their contractors and I will always relinquish control of the outcome if a client wants to go that route. After all, I am a budget-minded girl and I don’t have to live in the house, so I never take it personally if a client takes over that part of the process. But if tile is involved, I recommend to my clients that they schedule a design consultation between me and their tilesetter before anything gets cemented down–and you should do this with your designer, too.
Why? Because there is so much room for error when it comes to communicating tile design and it seems like every tilesetter has their own routines and habits where tile design is concerned. They may project those habits and routines onto your shower walls or floors without thinking for a minute that you might have an expectation of something different. Case in point, this morning I met with a contractor who is simultaneously remodeling two bathrooms for my client, and since we are using two types of tile in the tub surround of one of the bathrooms–a large rectangular white tile with a faint trellis pattern on it and a charcoal gray penny tile–he assumed we wanted to incorporate a thick, horizontal band of the penny tile at eye level and fill the rest of the walls with white tile. After all, that is very commonly done, right? He’s done it hundreds of times and it ends up looking great! In some cases, that would be just fine, not a horrible way to go at all. But this particular bathroom is going to be used by a four-year old girl. A thick band of charcoal gray would just be too heavy in there, and it would end up looking much more masculine than we would ever want it to be. My original idea was to alternate a row of large white rectangles with a single row of the penny tiles. This would give us a daintier look–much lighter and more feminine than a big swath of MAN GRAY.