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One Room Challenge Week 2: Planning a French Bistro Inspired Bathroom

by - Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Ch-ch-ch- changes. It's week 2 of the One Room Challenge and I'm still designing on the fly, making decor changes as we go. In week 1, I shared an initial design plan for our bathroom renovation. I wanted a look that was timeless and classic... but the design just wasn't feeling quite right.

It turns out all I needed was the right inspiration.

French bistro style, wood panelling, subway tile wall

I've talked about Cluny here on the blog before. It's one of my favourite bistros in the city, and is overflowing with decor inspiration. I took the above photo in their bathroom three years ago and I've had it filed away in my brain for reference ever since. I love how the simple subway tile is elevated when paired with wood trim and panelling. Taking that idea, of mixing materials, led me to this new and improved design plan for our bathroom renovation:

French bistro style, French bathroom, black white marble, one room challenge bathroom renovation

French bistro style, French bathroom, black white marble, one room challenge bathroom renovation

As you can see, I've taken that French bistro inspiration and run with it! ;)

There's a moment that happens in design or architecture that you call 'unlocking the plan'. It's difficult to explain but you know it when you reach it... when you push the design far enough, try out options, until you reach "perfection" and all the elements fall in place and feel right. I've only reached that moment only occasionally but when I do, the plan turns out infinitely better.

To remind you, here's the room we're working with:

 one room challenge bathroom renovation

To test my concept, I did a rendering. I printed out the photo above in black and white on my printer, and then using tracing paper, I created a rough sketch on top of what the new bathroom would look like. Here's a little video of the sketch in action:

Sorry for the small size, but hopefully you get the idea. You can also see it on my Instagram highlights. Doing a rendering is a great way to see how your idea will look in real life. 

Taking inspiration from Cluny, we're going to be putting moulding and trim on almost all of the walls. On the vanity wall, the moulding will be restricted to a border around the perimeter, with a field of subway tile inside. The juxtaposition of high (moulding) and low (subway tile) in design always inspires me. The effect will be reminiscent of Paris subways and French cafes. Paris is one of our most favourite cities in the world so to have that feeling at home is exciting.

What are the elements of French bistro style?

Typically, it involves:
- subway tile
- black and white
- globe lights
- rattan bistro chairs
- brass hardware
- antiqued mirror
- marble
- open shelving
- chalkboards or vintage art
- linen
- warm woods

You can see how I've incorporated many of these in my bathroom design. French bistro style is popular for kitchens - why not use it to inspire a bathroom as well? The marble floor tile and vanity from The Home Depot Canada and the champagne gold Trinsic features from Delta Faucet Canada are the design heavyweights in this scheme but I can truly say I love every element shown in the plan.

All of that sounds well and good, but how much progress have we really made around here? This is what the vanity wall is looking like...

And here's the tub area:

We've taken out most of the wall tile and have had the electrician in to install new boxes for the lights and to disconnect the jacuzzi tub. Once we finish removing the shower wall tiles, we'll take out the tub and then the floor tiles. And then we can start building everything back up! New cement board and new drywall will go in first followed by the new tub and so.much.tiling!!


Want to see how everyone else is doing? Head to the ORC blog to see progress on 300 other renovation projects!

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