Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms Header Image

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper pebble floors wood vanity claw foot bathtub
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If there is one design element I never really considered before it might have to be pebble tile.  That is partly because they aren’t appropriate for every house, architecturally and I’ve never designed a ‘pebble tile’ worthy house. Until now. The design of the mountain cabin is in full speed, but we had a hiccup after ‘Refined’ won. (See this post to get up to date). A few days after the victory I was pitching some hardwood floors to Brian and he muttered, ‘Sure, I like it’. After prying why his enthusiasm wasn’t matching mine (a HUGE personality flaw of mine), he said (in a sad, not passive-aggressive way) ‘Well, my ship has sailed so what I want doesn’t really matter anymore, and that’s ok. It’s for the blog and they (refined) won’.

I felt awful. Yes, technically he did want ‘Rustic’ to win but had said he really liked ‘Refined’ and besides, it was still going to feel warm, just less ‘reclaimed’, etc. But rustic came in VERY close, so… since the poll closed, I decided to increase the projected ‘rustic-ness’ in the house to make sure that not only is my husband happier, but also the 44% of you who voted for that style are as well. I told him that and yet we’re still in this awkward conversation.

So I immediately pulled a bunch of design books off the shelf and we went through page after page, talking about what he likes and doesn’t like about each picture, desperate to get to the bottom of what he really wanted and what ‘warm’ means to him. What it came down to was, I was designing a bright airy lake house in the woods (refined scandy) and he thought we had bought a mountain cabin. He said, ‘I love the house you are designing, I just don’t think it’s THIS house’.

To be fair to me, we bought it in August when it was 90 degrees up there, and yes, walking distance to a lake where the kids can swim. But now that it’s winter up there I am changing my tune… maybe I’ve missed the mark on the whole ‘mountain’ thing. Clearly, I wanted to design something super  minimal as you read about in this post. But maybe that is absolutely WRONG and maybe my desire to do a style was going to ruin the vibe of this specific house.

So after some introspection I realized that he was right – I wasn’t designing a cozy mountain house up in the woods, I was designing a ‘Refined Scandinavian Chalet’ and that perhaps this house needed some more ‘mountain’ in it – but Refined won, so how do you make a Refined Scandinavian Californian Cabin? Well, I guess start by calling it that … ?

Then it was time to educate ourselves – what are the fundamental elements of mountain cabins?? Huge windows, a lot of wood and loads of stone. We are set in the wood department and are likely recladding the ceiling in our dream wood (as well as the floor …stay tuned), but I hadn’t considered designing with rocks or stones until last week.

And then a massive lightbulb went off in my head. YES. WE NEED STONE IN THIS HOUSE.

I think it’s safe to say that my world was rocked. (My inner-dad just laughed, followed by my actual dad what with that last ‘dad joke’).

I mean, we already have it in the living room, and all the bathrooms are faux travertine on the walls and floors.

Emily Henderson Lake House Before 245

The previous owners got the mountain intention, but I want to do it in a more fresh and modern way. So I did what any legit mountain house designer does – I googled ‘mountain cabin bathroom ideas’. I left out ‘rustic’ on purpose, but here is what I found:

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms rustic bathroom lantern sconce
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Wood and pebbled tile all over the place. The one above and below are super inviting and obviously so appropriate to a mountain cabin, but they aren’t the style we are going for.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms Good Inspo Pics 15
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Pebbled tile more commonly looks like this:

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms Inspo Pics 5
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Rover Rock Wall Mountain Cabin
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Mountain house bathroom
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River Rock Back Splash Kitchen
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Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms wood floors
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Contemporary Bathroom Shower With Dual Shower Heads River Rock
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And none of those would fit the ‘Refined Scandinavian California Cabin’ vibe (fine, I changed the name, it’s ok). And I think some of those photos have accidentally acted as bad PR for the the greater pebble tile. Some are very taste specific and others are too contemporary for me.

But I started to find some examples that did get me excited:

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms River Rock
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That one is definitely a lot of rock and in a lot of different tones making it more busy – maybe we’d stay more tonal and fresh for this house like this one:

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms free standing tub
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I like the direction the above shower is going – certainly more warm and rustic than any bathroom I had originally planned in this house, but Brady pointed out how clearly you can see the grids of the tile which takes away some of it’s authenticity.

I kept digging, found more and more and sure enough, I started falling IN LOVE and could absolutely see this idea working in some of the bathrooms at the mountain fixer.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms wood bench vanity stone floor
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The combination of the white and the rustic wood, and the modern sink is pretty great.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms Boho Bathroom
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Below are my two favorites (although MAN they are looking RUSTIC!!).

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms Good Inspo Pics 13
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And then the I stumbled into this photo where they had installed white pebble tile on the floor of the bathroom and I was SOLD.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms claw foot bathtub
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It’s so warm and adds so much texture in a quiet way. Simple statement, quiet impact. YES. (If you know who designed it please let us know so I can credit them and not just the photographer)

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms Clawfoot Bathtub
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More and more photos convinced me…

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms Good Inspo Pics 5
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Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms Good Inspo Pics 6
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Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms Good Inspo Pics 4
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But then every time I expressed my excitement in pebble tile to a new person they said, ‘I don’t totally hate the idea.’ Even my team in the office was like, ‘yah, that could work’. My best friends were worried. But Brian Henderson was GAME.

My excitement was deflated, but then I showed them some of the other materials we might use – below. Nothing is set in stone yet – HOLD ON I AM A HILARIOUS PERSON AND JUST WON MOST ORGANIC PUN EVER – OH MY GOD SHE’S DONE IT AGAIN. (Laptop shuts, comedy tour booked and sold out instantly).

Bathroom Moodboard CompressedRustic Modern Cabin Mountain House Bathroom Moodboard Pebble Floor

See? Again, these aren’t firm material choices, but they are part of the ‘narrowed down’ group I’m playing with at the studio and I personally think that addition of the rock is wonderful. It feels ‘Modern Mountain’ … ugh, that’s probably what this should have been called anyway! But you can still see the Scandinavian (light, bright, super textural) style coming through.

Stay tuned for more firm material choices, but for today’s poll I want to know if you WANT me to go for the pebble, or if you think it’s a mistake. Is a mountain home a mountain home without rocks? Of course there are other ways I can bring in stones (and I am – leathered marble, stone kitchen floor, etc) but I really like the scale of this as an accent in the bathrooms.

Do you want to see if I can pull it off as much as I do?

If so vote ‘ROCK’ IT (I’m not sure if I love or hate myself more after writing that) but if you think this is a BAD MISTAKE that will ruin this house please vote: SKIP THAT ‘STONE’.

I Design, You Decide

Pebble Tile: Yes or No?

Option 1

YES: use pebbled tile

Option 2

NO: don’t use pebbled tile

(Vote by Wednesday, Feb 21th to have your voice heard.)

You did it!

Thank you for doing your daily design duty.
Your vote has my vote ?


Now enter to win

A five-night stay at the cabin this summer (with some blackout dates, of course, because our family uses it) with $1,000 towards travel expenses (if you live driving distance then it’s just fun money, or if you live internationally then we will cover up to $1,000 of your expenses. So, all the international readers please feel free to participate and enter as well). We’ll make it a dream trip! Including cocktails out on the lake with me.

learn more

All you have to do for a chance to win is enter your name & email below…

Why don’t you share it?

*If you are wondering what this poll thing is about (and what you can win) here is the general info or go here to see all the posts. But a quick recap is that I’m designing a mountain home and along the way you are making some key decisions. Right now its the bigger stuff – the finishes and we’ll get into the design plan for each room as well. You vote and get entered into a contest (or not) to win a 5 night stay at the cabin with $2k towards travel. 


Additionally (and most importantly because I’m pretty sure we are going to “rock it”)  for those of you who have designed or lived with pebble tile (am I even calling it the right name?), I’d love ANY tips on what to avoid, how to install or general opinions about this controversial design choice. For instance, can you see the grid of tiles in yours? Will the white pebble stain? Do you like the underfoot sensation? And most importantly do you want me to say ‘Underfoot sensation’ more often? I’m happy to. We will likely get the rounded one, not the flat – but not the crazy irregular ones either as I stepped on those and I did not enjoy the underfoot sensation, and hopefully not the ones that look like a grid. I’m also totally open to not using ’tile’ and sourcing the individual rocks but that seems problematic especially if we want light or neutral (we are also considering black for powder and gray in other areas, but not the ones that have a lot of contrast).

Vote. Help. All non-judgemental thoughts and comments are welcome (and remember, many people who have pebble tile or like it (like myself) read this blog, so if you REALLY aren’t into it simply vote ‘skip that stone’ and maybe skip the comment section this time ?


The post I Design, You decide: Pebble Tile for the Mountain Fixer-Upper: A POLL!! appeared first on Emily Henderson.


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