Bathroom Progress – Floor Tile Prep, Accent Tile Selection, and Vanity Color Decision

Things are moving right along in the master bathroom remodel! Now that the walls are finished (See The Final Bathroom Walls (Definitely Finished This Time!) if you missed how they turned out), I’ve been focused on getting the floor and shower prepped and ready to start tiling this weekend.

I had started waterproofing the shower a couple of weeks ago, and then ran out of the Semco waterproofing liquid membrane that I was using. So I had to put that on hold while I waited for a new order of Semco to arrive, and I moved on to the Venetian plaster wall finish. But now I’m back to waterproofing. I got the second and final coat of Semco on the shower, and then started on the main bathroom floor.

This isn’t really for waterproofing purposes, but I wanted to use the polyester fabric and Semco membrane on the joints between the pieces of concrete board because the Semco also acts as a crack prevention membrane as well as a waterproofing membrane. (See How I Waterproofed My Shower Before Tiling Using Semco Liquid Membrane for more info on the waterproofing process.)

coating bathroom floor joints with Semco waterproofing and crack prevention liquid membrane

I worked on this until around 10:00pm last night, and of course, I ran out of the polyester fabric with just a few short joints to go. So I’ll have a few more joints to finish up today before I can get started on the tiling this weekend.

coating bathroom floor joints with Semco waterproofing and crack prevention liquid membrane 2

It’s supposed to rain all day tomorrow, so I’m not sure if I can actually do any tiling tomorrow. I was hoping to set up my wet saw right outside that door that leads to the back yard, but with rain, now I’m not sure what I’ll do. I might have to buy one of those little tents to create a covered work area out there. Anyway, we’ll see. If that doesn’t work, I have a couple of other projects I can work on while I wait for better weather.

In other news, I finally ordered and received the accent tile. I went with my original selection. After seeing this tile in person, nothing else I found did much for me. Unfortunately, I ended up paying about double what I originally thought I’d be paying, but since nothing else was working out for me, I finally decided it was worth it. I found this online at AquaBlu Mosaics. It has actually gone up in price just since I purchased mine a little over a week ago. I paid $29/sheet, and now the price is $31.42/sheet. Interesting. But it sure is pretty!

accent tile for bathroom - shiny glass penny tile with white backing - 4

I originally saw this tile in a local store, and what caught my eye was how the light cast such interesting shadows that danced on the white backing on the tiles. As I moved, the shadows moved, and it was so eye-catching and pretty. And the tiles are so shiny, which is also very pretty.

I don’t know that I could actually capture all of the pretty in a picture, but here’s a close-up where you can better see the shadows I’m talking about.

accent tile for bathroom - shiny glass penny tile with white backing - 5

The sheets are pretty flimsy, but I tried my best to hold it up to the wall color so you can see them together. Again, check out those pretty shadows.

accent tile for bathroom - shiny glass penny tile with white backing - 3

And I think I’ll also be putting this in the shower niche…

accent tile for bathroom - shiny glass penny tile with white backing - 2

And also on the wall with the shower head…

accent tile for bathroom - shiny glass penny tile with white backing - 1

So even though it cost me double what it would have cost from the other place (the online store that cancelled my order and refunded my money with no explanation at all), I’m glad I stuck with it and paid the extra money. I think it’s going to be very pretty.

And finally, I’m ready to order the materials I’ll need to build the vanities, but I’m not 100% sure just what I want. In every mock up I’ve done, I’ve used a natural wood vanity.


I do love that look. It’s gorgeous. I’m pretty sure that’s white oak, which is what I had planned to use. Here’s another example of white oak…

So here’s my issue. I called to get prices on white oak and learned that white oak costs just as much as walnut. WALNUT! I never in my life would have thought those two would cost the same. So then I started thinking that if I’m going to pay that kind of money for wood, why not just get walnut? I mean, walnut is my all-time favorite wood, but I’ve never had the experience of building with it because it’s so dang expensive! But I don’t think wood gets any prettier than walnut. Here’s a kitchen with walnut cabinets.

I find the floor in that kitchen to be totally distracting with those gorgeous cabinets, which is unfortunate. But if I used walnut, it’ll be against very light tiled floors.

But to throw another wrench into the works, I started wondering if I should even have natural wood vanities in the first place. I mean, just take a quick look around my house, and you won’t find natural wood cabinets anywhere. I’m a painted cabinets kind of gal.

When my bathroom walls were the original, much darker Venetian plaster color, and I was considering keeping it that way, I started considering painted vanities. I imagined really pale pink vanities with those dark teal walls. Those colors were really gorgeous together.

But now that my walls are much lighter, the pale pink runs the risk of turning the bathroom in a year-round nod to Easter, and that is not at all what I want.

light pink paint sample - possible paint color for bathroom vanity - 1

But the pink works really well with the mural (you can see it taped in the middle), and it was perfect with the dark teal walls.

light pink paint sample - possible paint color for bathroom vanity - 2

So with pink ruled out with the much lighter wall color, that really leaves me with neutrals like white or a very light gray. And frankly, neither of those does anything for me. I’ve never had natural wood cabinets, but I’ve also never had white or neutral cabinets, either.

That brings me back to a decision between white oak or walnut. I wish the white oak were cheaper. That would make my decision so easy. I’m still shocked that they’re the same cost. But since they are, and walnut is my favorite wood ever, I’m at a loss.

The walnut would obviously be darker, but with everything else so light and bright, I’m not sure that a darker vanity would be a bad thing. I think it would be really pretty. I’d keep it natural (no stain) so that it would be as light as possible, but walnut always going to be a little dark, and definitely much darker than white oak. And the walnut might be perfect with the “wooded” theme of the mural.

On the other hand, white oak will keep things light and airy, and will maintain that spa-like feeling. I don’t know how important it really is to me to maintain a spa-like feeing, if at all. But the two different woods will definitely bring two different looks to the room. So do I want warm and woodsy, or light and airy? Ugh! I honestly don’t know, and Matt is absolutely no help at all.

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    1. I think the light oak as a wood finish vs. the rest of your painted cabinets is a nice change! The lighter wood is more cohesive with the rest of the room’s look and feel. The darker walnut, though beautiful, hasn’t anything to relate to going into the room – unless you plan those items into the room design to keep it balanced – so, more planning and design time…
      The beautiful walnut will stand out even with natural finish – it will compete with the mural unless you plan on spotting the walnut’s med-dark brown color in a few more places – as in a little stool or table to hold a folded towel or such next to the tub and perhaps a walnut etagere or two to hold towels, etc.
      If you decide to paint the cabinets, perhaps a white with a pink undertone would avoid the Easter egg look…or simply the Ultra Pure White out of the can would work to clean the palette for appreciation of the plastered walls and the mural – besides, you’ll be seeing that color and the mural reflected in the mirrors above the vanities…
      I still love your original plan including the white oak vanities – your vision was right on to start with – pricier than it used to be or not. And, you could always paint or restain them in 10 years if you wanted a change – whereas, it would be a sin to paint the walnut! Lol!

    1. It’s white oak for me. The darker teal took over your mural & I fear the walnut would have the same disappointing result. I completely understand your “Romance” with the walnut but I think the cost similarity is what’s “turning your head” toward the walnut. “More bang for your buck”. Your original plan was perfectly coordinated…. Gently urge you to stick to it.

  1. I love the Walnut in the kitchen you posted. With the light tile and bright walls, it would be beautiful. I never comment much but I have to say please no pink on vanity. Not light, not dark. 😆😆 I know this will be a beautiful bathroom!!!

  2. I have a walnut vanity with asian brass pulls in my all marble bathroom. The rest of the house is very colorful- Magenta sofa, white sofa, white painted kitchen cabinets. Wood helps bring texture and a natural element to the bathroom also allowing your eyes to rest with your colored walls and mural. White oak or dark walnut are great options. When you go with what really works you always end up changing the color to what you thought you should in your heart. There is no bad choice, use pink towels if you want pink.😉

    1. So happy that you got your beautiful tiles! Perhaps get a large sample of each type of wood and paint a peice of builder grade with some pinks and place them in the room. It may help make a choice!
      Sheila F.

    2. I agree with your comment. Kristi, you always have great vision for your spaces. If you change it up do it because you love it more than your original vision. You have such beautiful design vision. Your spaces are a step out of thbobox to the “popular design” we see everywhere. I was drawn to you and your DIYs for that reason. I am one to follow my gut and color is my first step in any room.
      All that said, I agree that maybe taking each thought and set it in the space. Keep the sample there so you can see it throughout the day and evening to see how the change in light effects your options.
      If you love walnut it would be so pretty. When you design a space with the things you love, it always will work.

  3. I love the look of the white oak in that room. While walnut is indeed a gorgeous wood, I think the darker color and grain of the walnut might distract from the light, airy feel of the room.

  4. I love the contrast of the pink but I agree is a little too much. How about checking to see how much red oak costs and if it’s cheaper go with that and bleach it? Just a thought… 🙂

  5. Dear Kristi,

    I just love how all of this is coming together and I so understand all the complexities it takes to pull it off. I have found a product that really works and makes a cabinet look fabulous.

    I have been using it on some oak that we have and it makes it look old and weathered, that gray that only comes from years out in the sun. I have also used just your plain old gray stain and must admit, they look remarkably the same. So it will be a choice on what you want to use. Me, I’d go with the oak, spoken like someone who lives where hardwoods are dead cheap.

    As for painting them, go for it. Take it to another level of deep color and banish the Easter Bunny once and for all.

    I love your blog, keep up the amazing work, you rock girl!


    1. I was thinking the same thing. What you do in the bedroom and especially the wood finishes could be the deciding point! I vote for the white oak, but mahogany is timeless!

  6. Don’t do it! Stay with your original gut instinct and go with light wood. Have a look at Beech or Birch maybe. Or Birch/Beech/white oak veneered plywood-Cabinet grade. The walls look great-ethereal as does the penny tile. Keep it light and watery-nothing dark and heavy. Have faith-you always end up there. The original walls were too saturated and dark as would be walnut or any dark stain or paint.

  7. I am a natural wood cabinet kind of person and would choose the white oak because it is gorgeous and maintains the spa feeling you loved in the first place, but I have two thoughts. One, if you go with natural wood and decide to change it will you be willing to paint such an expensive wood? Two, how much do you love wood grain? Personally I love it even under paint but if you would also fill the grain like I think I remember you doing in the kitchen, it comes down, again, to what if you change your mind. Will the expense of the wood determine what lengths you are willing to go to to achieve the end product? For me the white oak natural finish is exactly what belongs in this room because I would choose a color that brings out the warm beige, brown or “griege” in the mural rather than the pinks. Just me, the room is going to be amazing!

    1. I was thinking too could veneer possibly be less expensive and get the same look? I thought your bleached wood experiments could be useful on other wood too.

  8. Love the idea of a pink cabinet. I painted my buffet pink and it’s the perfect shade of blush (Rose Water by Behr). But if not that, I would say White Oak since the goal is light and airy. Regardless of your love of walnut, it seems wrong with the overall design.

  9. I think the original mockup using white oak (looked almost cerused) was more cohesive with your colors and textures. Walnut is beautiful, but also dark, and leans toward warm and maybe even yellowish or orangey, and not neutral. Same price or not, I think the white oak or some other type of bleached hardwood is a better choice for that particular room.

  10. I like your first choice – the lighter wood. The wood seems to be a nice idea for your theme, and the lighter color is very eye pleasing with the softness of the overall room. If the normal difference in price was there you would not even be debating this – you liked that light wood to start. In this case, I would not paint…leave that beautiful wood. Excited to see the next phase! I hope the tiles goes easy for you – you have done so much already!

  11. My mantra when decorating is that it’s not about what my favourite of each and EVERY thing is, but what ties well together with the favourite things that I chose as my MAIN pieces. So my two cents is this: You created a very specific (and very beautiful) overall look, so IF you are going to deviate from that, don’t do it looking at that one favourite item. Revisit your entire look before deciding.

    While I was reading though, I don’t know why, but I kept thinking of that beautiful round table you had refinished once, where you had whitened the grain of the wood (was that called whitewashing? I forget). That was a gorgeous technique! Could something like this recreate this look that you were going for?

    1. I think this comment says it all—walnut is your favorite wood, but does it go with the overall look that, so far, you’ve made changes (color of Venetian plaster) in order to stay within?

  12. White oak. I love walnut, too, but the look and feel of white oak seems right in this room and with the mural.

    The natural wood seems more sophisticated than a painted vanity to me, but if you decide to go painted, continue the color of the wainscoting. Let it blend in and let the views from the windows and the reflections of the mural in the mirrors be the star of the show.

    1. Yes, this. The natural white oak is more sophisticated. And I agree about painting the same as the wainscot if you decide to go that route.

  13. I vote for white oak. I feel the walnut might be too heavy for the light, airy, slightly whimsical feel created by the beautiful mural.

  14. I lean towards painted cabinets myself but this also made me think about those beautiful bleached countertops you did for your butler’s pantry. Have you considered doing something along those lines for cabinetry? Wood grain but not as woodsy.

    Whatever direction you go I’m sure it will be stunning. Your home is beautiful and harder and harder to recognize from its beginnings.

  15. I love the natural wood look. Can you do a mock up with walnut? Might make it easier to choose. I think either walnut or white oak will look beautiful. No pink!

  16. Spoiler alert, I think once your accent tiles are grouted you will lose the shadows you like. But it will still be gorgeous!! I have always loved that clear penny tile. I vote walnut, BTW. But isn’t ash pretty light?

  17. I made walnut vanities for my three bathrooms and I love them. Each bathroom has a different color scheme and the walnut looks great in each one.

  18. Kristi, I love love love the bathroom. Great job!
    I do have a question… I’m looking at your blueprint and I don’t see a master closet.. Where is it?

  19. If you have a dark wood, the eye will be drawn right there, instead of to the mural. I’m a painted cabinet girl too. How about leaf green?

  20. Please do wood, whichever one. I think painted, with everything else you have going on, will just float away. I think the wood would be great with the mural, and ground things (in a good way!). Most other areas of your house are wood floors, to balance the painted cabinets. I just think it needs some wood.

    As to which wood–well, I feel your conflict! I sort of think the white oak fits the space the best, but I LOOOVE Walnut also, and am shocked to hear the cost is currently the same. Maybe the oak will come down in price shortly?

    1. I agree, walnut! It would ground the whole room, including all the colors…remember, your mirror will reflect the mural. Whatever you decide…it will be great, it always is!

  21. I vote White Oak. It’s lovely! No paint, no pink. Save your favorite Walnut for your family room, because I know darn well you’ll have built-ins there! 😉

  22. Didn’t you do a project once (was it a table?) where you cerused the oak? Doing something like that would give it a lighter finish and still keep the costs down.

  23. You have listed several great options. Go with YOUR favorite. Personally, I love Walnut. I think most people picture Walnut as dark because of the dark stain on used on most Walnut furniture but it has a beautiful color of its own when left unstained as you planned.
    Unlock most people, I also like the idea of a pink, painted vanity. I recently saw a photo of a beautiful blush vanity with the gold hardware on it. It certainly didn’t make me think of Easter. You might play around with some scrap lumber and a couple of different shades of pink. The pink I am thinking of was more of a medium tone in the mural…saturated but not dark but not so light that it dissolves into the room.
    If you stick to your vision for the room, you will know which option is best when you see it.

  24. We had a friend who built a house years ago and chose white oak cabinets. Unfortunately, they turned out light pink! She had to have them stripped and bleached to get them white enough for her taste. So, if you want pale pink cabinets, a natural finish on the white oak might be the way to go. However, with so much white and light colors in the room, walnut might give it some warm contrast. Hard decisions, eh?

  25. Walnut will lighten over time and not evenly. What about pulling the darker blue/gray in the mural for the cabinets?

  26. If this were my bathroom, I’d stay with the oak and keep the room light and airy.
    Using walnut would have the same effect as having the walls the darker teal …. it would dilute the impact of the hero in the room – that beautiful mural. IMO.

  27. You went with your original vision for the wall color and it looks great. Stick with your original plan for the wood, regardless of cost. Later on you can paint it when you want to update, and you won’t be upset that you are painting walnut!

  28. I love the white oak in the first pick and the door panels with the hardware. The style of the panels add more shape just like in nature. The colour of the white oak is serene. Besides you can always paint, change the hardware and the vanity.

    1. I would also suggest if you want walnut, use that for making bedroom furniture. That can be an heirloom passed down. My grandparents had a bedroom suite made from black walnut as a wedding gift almost 100 years later and the set is in pretty good condition. It would be in pristine condition had it not been in a damp storage.

  29. Pink is my favorite color, and I’m normally for all pink, everything, all the time, but I do think natural wood would go much better in this case. Walnut would make the vanity stand out–white oak would make it blend into the woodwork (heh heh heh)… and I think blending in would work better here. Don’t want to distract from the gorgeous mural or walls!

  30. Could you pickle the walnut to lighten it? Thanks for all the inspiration over the years. Look forward to your posts!

  31. I think the walnut would be the PERFECT compliment to the rest of the room. I think it would still be light and airy, just with a natural compliment to the mural.

  32. I would def go for the light white oak and not chose the walnut as I like your inspiration board and cannot imagine the dark walnut wood in between. The way I read your dilemma, the walnut only ever came up because of the costs, but not because the look would fit as perfectly as the white oak. if the costs bug you, I would go a different route and either paint the vanity (even though I like the white oak option better) or try a cerused surface as several others already suggested. I loved the dark teal on the walls, but you convinced me that sticking with the original plan is the right decision (so lovely and airy!!!), so I guess this will be the same for the vanity! I’m sure that the result will be gorgeous anyhow, but this way it might not need to be done over too many times?!

  33. Ooooh, I hope you go with the walnut; i think wood always grounds a room and it will add a richness, as well.

  34. Everything is looking good!

    Couldn you build the vanity out of red oak and use the bleaching method like you did with the pantry counter or maybe treating it with a ceruse finish?

    Whatever you do, it will be very pretty!

  35. You can “stain” with paint Jenny Komenda style and get the best of both worlds your fav wood with a colored wash that lightens it. Or you could just do your fav wood. It’s your house your fav is your look and your mantra is your house do what you love.

  36. I love walnut as well. I think it would balance the other wall in contrast to the big, bold mural – not distract from it at all. It looks more ‘woodsy’ (?) like the mural, too. Like you are sitting in the middle of the woods, surrounded by the birds and insects 😀

    My vote would be wood either way with the nature mural. Whatever you choose will be great, I’m sure. <3

  37. I say stay true to your original vision with white oak. I doubt you ONLY chose white oak because it’s usually cheaper than walnut. If you thought the vanity really should be walnut it would have already been in your plan. You typically seem to make your foundation choices based on form first and make them work within your budget by making frugal choices in other places, which leads me to believe white oak is the way to go…even if you do generally prefer walnut.

  38. Have you looked into quarter sawn red oak? It might be a bit cheaper than white oak and it doesn’t pull as red as the regular cuts. I did this as an accent kitchen island in a matte finish (gloss finish makes it look too golden for my taste). It turned out great.

  39. Everyone does oak (because it’s usually so cheap). If you love walnut go with it (when will you ever get another chance?). The darker wood will bring out the earthy color in the mural’s birds and branches. Besides, if you plan to keep it natural, how dark can it really be? A stained finish similar to the kitchen photo you showed would definitely make the vanity wall pop with all the softer colors going on, but I know you’re not a fan of that. Either way, can’t wait to see what you decide.

  40. I LOVE everything about the tile!! So happy you went through with your choice. As far as the vanity, as I look at the wallpaper, I totally agree that it should be a wood tone. It will ground the room and harmonize beautifully with the wallpaper. I prefer the white oak, but I have a hunch the walnut will be out of this world stunning. I’m not seeing enough of the paper to get a good read, so if you see the walnut to be a “match” so to speak, then run with it!! There’s nothing like working with your dream wood!! Have fun!! Let your room bring you joy.

  41. Do the birds in your mural pick up the walnut hues or am I just wanting them to because the walnut is SO beautiful and would make such an awesome statement by being natural wood tone complementing all the other perfect colors, textures and shapes in such an inspired bathroom?