a peek inside the fishbowl

07 May, 2012

Reno post #25: Tile city

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Home/reno|Misc. life

This weekend was a blur… a blur of East-end traffic and money leaping out of our wallets.

We crisscrossed Ottawa looking for the best deal on stoves and fridges and we eventually found them at Universal. (See previous.) We also took a cursory look at plumbing fixtures and lighting. Can I just state for the record that I hate it when showrooms don’t post their prices? Ugh.

We also looked at tiles. If there is one thing that struck terror into my tiny beating heart was the thought of choosing tile. How do you pick one tile style out of the thousand types of tiles in a dozen different places to buy tiles in the Ottawa area?

Olympia Tile was recommended to us so that’s where we went. I’m not sure what I expected; perhaps piles of tiles stacked in tippy pyramids around a dusty warehouse. But that’s not what we got at all. We were quite impressed by the staff, and the store itself. (Which, ironically, had a few tiles missing out front.)

Olympia gets top marks for their helpful yet non-intrusive staff. (I don’t like it when they hover, do you?) A fellow asked us at the beginning if we needed help and came back later to check on us, but not in a pushy way. And he actually helped us out quite a bit.

Olympia has a very large display area, and it’s very bright. No teetering piles! There’s lots of room to move, even when it’s busy.

Our mission was to find some tile for the family bathroom.

First, here’s more or less what the space will look like. There have been smallish changes since that drawing was given to us. The shower area is now much longer and has been turned into a kind of a wet room/shower… so picture more space leading into the actual shower area.

And here are a few photos that inspired our tile choices. Keep in mind that we are trying to maintain the look and feel of the age of this house. We’re aiming for traditional with a twist!

After MUCH angst, time spent on Pinterest, saying thing like “LET’S REVIEW,” and have many “what-if-we-did-this” moments, this is what we’re 99% settled upon barring any last minute inspiration or panic attacks.

Main bathroom area floor (including toilet/tub area and part of shower room):


Walls of shower and behind tub:


Dark grey tiles for the “pan” area of shower (basically where the water falls) and maybe some trim?:


Problem is I also really like THIS and I don’t know what to do with it. Hmm. Maybe we are not 99% after all?

You know what’s interesting? The tiles I liked best also happen to be the cheapest. Woot! Perhaps that makes up for the money we spent on the stove. ;)

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8 Responses to "Reno post #25: Tile city"

1 | sd161

May 7th, 2012 at 2:45 pm


Showrooms that don’t post their prices? You must be talking about Boone…I hightailed it right outta there. I can’t stand that!

2 | coffeewithjulie

May 7th, 2012 at 3:36 pm


Couldn’t you use the last one that you like (marbled one) for the pan? I’d love to see the top two tiles choices used, but then instead of the brown in the pan, a black hexagon! :)

3 | Judy

May 7th, 2012 at 3:41 pm


Use the marble mosaic as a border/trim! I can send you a photo of what we did in our shower as we loved the mosaic and wanted more detail.

4 | andrea

May 7th, 2012 at 4:58 pm


Hmm. I like the idea of a black hexagon. They didn’t have it at Olympia. I will need to source it elsewhere.

5 | Amy @ Muddy Boots

May 7th, 2012 at 5:02 pm


LOVE the white subway tiles!!

6 | Justine

May 7th, 2012 at 9:13 pm


I have renod a few bathrooms now and have learned a few things….use darker grout, not white as it will yellow and look like pee especially on the floor (same for caulking, get them to use the pricier kitchen bath stuff instead of the regular silicone. Medium grey grout would be nice. I think white on the floor and on the walls is too much of the same. Do the subway wall tile for sure, classic style. You could do a band of the marble around the shower tiles on the floor. Home Depot usually has 12×12 grey marble tile for about $7sf which you could set in a pattern and/or inlay with a single row of the marble mosaic. They also have retro white rectangles with black inserts which would give you the more old world look.

7 | Fiona

May 8th, 2012 at 8:18 am



I have the hex floor tile and white subway tile pictured, in the bathroom we just reno’d. Email me if you’d like to see it ‘in situ’, I live in the neighbourhood.

8 | Reno post #27 - the packing continues >> a peek inside the fishbowl

May 22nd, 2012 at 9:20 am


[…] stranger to me) invited me over to her home to look at her reno (but it was largely regarding my bathroom tile post). Isn’t that […]

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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