Master Ensuite- Sourcing Tile

When planning out the Master Bath, one of the most difficult parts was sourcing out items for the room that fit in our budget, looked nice and worked with the style of the space.

Tile was probably one of the most difficult aspects of the room, as it is an element that adds major impact and really can't be easily changed once its installed (so you really have to make sure you choose correctly).

We had decided that marble was an element we really wanted to incporate. Most of the bathrooms we found that we had liked and added to our scrapbook of ideas, were light, bright, white and contained marble! So that made it easy for us.

Some things to consider when choosing tile/stone.

1. Make sure you read about stone before buying it. Marble, is a very porous stone and honestly, its not a great element to have on counters or kitchens. It absorbs liquid and this can change the actual colour of the stone permanently. You need to seal it every couple of years and requires specific cleaning as well- really just soap and water should be used to clean it.  So even with that in mind, we decidede to go ahead and use it in our bathroom on the counter and floors (yes we're risky-lol). We just knew we wouldn't use it in a kitchen, but figured if it was in our bathroom we would take the time to care for it.

2. Tile can break the bank. Seriously its one of the most expensive elements to a room, but can add the most impact. You want to make sure you can find AFFORADABLE tile that will:

a.) Stand the test of time (unless you have a money tree in your backyard and can afford to re-do your bathroom in a few years...) p.s if you do have a money tree, call me.

b.) Tile that will be good for re-sale (if you ever sell your home). You all know those shows on TV where the people go into a bathroom and say "ewwww! pink tub, blue and purple tiles? what were they thinking?" Its best if you pick tile that you love AND that will generally appeal to future buyers.

c.) Mix and match a few nicer tiles with some less expensive tiles which will essentially give your bathroom a custom look as well.

To create our design on the shower walls we chose to use:
- Glass marble mosaic tile in the shower
- White tile chair rail
- 8x10 square white tile

*Note, you want to make sure that your white wall tile and white chair rail are very similar 'whites' otherwise one will tend to look dirty when placed next to the other if they aren't the same whites.

The glass marble mosaic came in at $12 a sheet, however we only needed 6 sheets and the chair rail was $3.95/tile. Those 2 accent pieces weren't cheap, but since we didn't need many of them, and they added a lot of interest we splurged I guess you could say. Where we saved was on the white square tiles, which were only $.69 each. Those we needed the most of, but cost the least.

On the shower floor we used a combination of:
- 2x2 white non-slip tile
- 1x1 square marble tiles as a border to add interest

Again, the white 2x2 tiles were not very expensive and we felt it was important to have a tile on the floor that had a non-slip surface. The marble square tiles around the border were a bit more expensive, but again, we only needed 8 sheets.

We also chose to use marble jambs all around the entire shower, rather than just on the floor on the shower. We felt it outlined the shower nicely, and overall liked the look of how it tied in with the floor jambs.

The marble floor tile deserves a post all on its own....

Let me tell you, we drove pretty far to get this tile. We saw a sale, and managed to get the tile on sale for $5 a sq/ft (1/2 price). We ordered the tile right away, and when it came in, we were a bit disappointed to say the least. We were very aware of the fact that there is a lot of variation in natural stone, but to us, it appeared that the boxes of tiles we got were from completely different dilots- some were even a dark, dark grey, while others were stark white. I was pretty horrified, and we couldn't return the tile.

So I spent days...yes days, laying out each piece of tile in a pattern that seemed to work. I actually measured our bathroom, taped off an area in our basement to the exact measurements and layed down each piece of tile in the exact spot I wanted it layed in the bathroom. I spent hours re-arranging until I finally felt OK with the tile. I wasn't completely convinced yet, but I was starting to adjust.

The day our contractor decided to start on the floors, I happily showed him my tile display in the basement with everything easily layed out in the exact shape of the bathroom. I ALMOST numbered each tile for them, but figured they could do that if they needed to. Big mistake...should have numbered them. Sigh.

I got home that day from work, and Ian met me at the front door. "How'd the tile go?!" I asked. "Ummmmm, ok" Ian says. Oh god...my heart sank. Seriously, how could my plan not have worked?! It was fool-proof. Days spent in our musty basement laying dusty tile with random spiders crawling around me....grrrrrr....not impressed this didn't work out.

I raced up to the bathroom to see all the tiles layed in a random pattern. The contractor claimed he followed my plan. Um NO. I literally knew each of those tiles so well, I could have named them. I knew right away it wasn't right. There were about 20-30 tiles layed in spots that didn't work. Now normally, this wouldn't be that big of a deal, but with the variation in the tile, it looked odd to have 2 stark white tiles beside each other and 2 dark tiles right next to them. We had no choice. We had to chip out some tiles in order to be happy with it. We finally decided we could live with most of it, but 5 tiles needed to be replaced. I MIGHT have had a minor breakdown that day. MIGHT.

Anyways, it turned out great in the end, and we are super happy with it now. The moral of the story? Never buy tile you can't return, and make sure you watch your contractors like a HAWK. Especially when something like tile is being layed that you cannot easily fix. Keep in mind that variation in natural stone is going to happen, so be prepared for that as well.

We love the look of the marble and even with all the challenges we faced, we think it turned out great and love the look.

Source list for tile:

Mosaic Glass Tile- Tile Master
Chair Rail Tile- Dante's Tile
White Square Tile on Shower Walls- Dante's Tile
2x2 White Tile- Dante's Tile
1x1 Marble Mosaic on Shower Floor- TileMaster
Marble Floor Tile- TileMaster

Our marble countertop was actually part of our vanity, and I'll be posting about the major elements to the room next :)

Happy Tiling!


  1. I LOVE your bathroom ! I think marble works so beautifully and makes it look very fresh, classy and dreamy. Definitely will be using marble and lots of white when we are doing up our future bathroom. :-) xo

  2. I love your marble floor and I can only imagine how you felt that day when you arrived home from work. It certainly doesn't look like any mistakes happened because the photos of your ensuite look like they came right out of a decorating magazines. Now its time to enjoy the fruit of all your hard work. Sheila

  3. I love the look of the marble and the white in the bathroom. It looks fresh,clean and exquisite.It gives the same feeling as walking into an expensive spa. All your efforts have really added value to your home.

  4. Your bathroom is gorgeous! Very well done. I just found your blog today and read this post first - funny because we've been choosing elements for our master bathroom for the past few weeks and will probably end up with something close to what you've done :)

  5. Thanks so much everyone! Your wonderful positive comments are so encouraging to us! Thanks for reading, and taking the time to comment and share your thoughts!

  6. Your bathroom turned out very nice. Super sleek :)


  7. Beautiful!! I'm really looking forward to hearing all the details about your bathroom vanity - specifically the sinks. LOVE!

  8. Melissa, can you tell me what size your floor tiles are? I have the 48" version of your vanity and I'd love to have a marble floor like this one. I was initially thinking of going with a carrara hex tile but some people are trying to convince me that it's too much grout and I need larger tiles (I definitely don't want to go too big, though). Thanks!

  9. Hi Janice!
    They are 12x12. I think they are a good size, that didn't require as much grout :) Did you get the vanity from Costco?

  10. Could you please tell me the brand and name of the white wall tile if you can remember it.
    Thank you.

    1. The wall tile is simply larger sized subway tiles! Hope that helps!


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