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The only regret Racheal Jackson, the Portland, Oregon–based muralist behind Banyan Bridges, has about moving into her new house is having to leave behind the bathroom in her old one. She had just finished renovating the space when it hit the market, and it’s not surprising someone scooped up the property right away: The shower and floors are covered completely in bold tile. “It’s a big risk,” says Jackson. “But when I was looking for homes online, I saw gray and white everywhere. It was the most boring thing. I thought, there’s going to be somebody who is really excited about the fact that we have color in our bathroom.” 

The bathroom, before.
The view into the bathroom from the bedroom, before.

It may seem like the project was all about aesthetics, but it actually was sparked by the need for a more functional space. “The shower drove me nuts,” shares Jackson. While she had renovated the bathroom once before, years ago, her efforts at the time went toward replacing the vanity and painting a mural, instead of rethinking the shower’s footprint. “Before, it was on your left when you walked in, and it blocked off a lot of the room,” she notes. This go-round she did things the right way and stole approximately 9 square feet from the adjacent main bedroom to create a spacious layout with a double shower setup. And yes, she did most of the replumbing herself (with guidance from her contractor dad). “I tried to hire a plumber. He came, left all of his tools, but then never showed up again, so now I have all of them,” she says with a laugh. With the new water lines in place, she got to work on the epic tile scheme. 

The Colors

Envisioning big chunks of color from the get-go, Jackson started the process by ordering 12 different tile samples from Fireclay and eventually narrowed it down to nine: Desert Bloom, Mandarin, Ember, Mustard Seed, Aegean Sea, Lake Tahoe, Lichen, Spruce Gloss, and Magnolia with Black Patine. The idea was to use all of the hues on the floor in a pattern she likens to DNA sequencing, while Desert Bloom and Ember would make up the interior shower wall. “I almost went with blue and green for the shower, but I thought, you don’t see a lot of warmer tile tones,” she notes.

The Plan

Creating the stacked floor design involved a ton of visualizing. Jackson went onto Fireclay’s website and took screenshots of each of the selected tiles and then resized the photos to approximate her choice of 2-by-8-inch rectangles. Next, she dropped the images into Adobe Illustrator and laid them on a to-scale mock-up of the bathroom. For weeks, she played around with the pattern until she found a combination that made her happy. Her thought process was pretty organic, but there are a few good rules to follow: “There are certain colors that never appear next to other ones,” says Jackson (like Mustard Seed and Desert Bloom). It’s all about finding a balance between the darker and lighter tones by spreading them out. To help achieve that equilibrium, she peppered in plenty of textured white rectangles. “It’s like crackly with black in it,” she explains. “It’s graphic and interesting and helped keep the feeling fresh.” 

The Install

It might seem crazy, but Jackson actually went out of town when her go-to contractor came in and installed all the tile. “It went pretty seamlessly,” she says. To prep him for the job, they had an extensive conversation about where she wanted the shower niches to appear (off center for more visual interest) and how she wanted the tile to line up with the edge pieces. She even printed a few color mock-ups on 11-by-17 paper that illustrated the pattern. 

The Finishing Touches

With so much happening on the floor, Jackson opted for matte black plumbing fixtures and resisted the urge to add wallpaper or a mural to the space. Sold!