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Monday, March 8, 2021

How Denver’s Jamie Nusser Created This Cool Bathroom Mural from Penny Tile

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Classic 3/4″ Rounds by Cepac Tile
There’s something about the term “bathroom mural” that doesn’t immediately convey elegance. It conjures up an image of a room for kids, perhaps with fishies and cartoon bubbles floating up the walls. A mural recently designed and installed in a Denver home by Jamie Nusser of J Designs, Inc., though, might scatter that notion—and bring on a new appreciation for the humble penny tile.

Nusser created the mural following a remodel of the clients’ entire home. This particular bathroom was “gutted it down to the studs,” the designer says. “The toilet was the only thing that didn’t change locations.” While reimagining the space to make to more functional, the idea of a statement wall emerged.

penny tile

The husband craved color, Nusser says, but the wife was more concerned about longevity, hoping for a “subtler” statement they’d love over time. “We talked about lots of different things. They’re an outdoorsy couple, so I decided to a mural that represents the outdoors,” she says. “It represents the earth: sand, forest, mountains, ocean, sky, snow.”

A color palette of black, white, seafoam, turquoise, royal blue, and pale yellow upped the sophistication further—as did the penny tiles she selected. “These particular tiles, they had a really nice ring around them, so the color was saturated in the center,” Nusser says. The material itself “has a lot of dimension. It’s not just like a solid painted porcelain.”

She and the clients then spent days laying out the tiles in jagged, organic stripes on the ground. “We messed around with it. We stared at it for days, and then, ‘Oh, let’s change this. Let’s move this color and put it here,’” Nusser recalls. “So it’s a very hands-on, very custom design.”

Once the mural was installed, Nusser kept the rest of the room’s design neutral, minimalist, and modern. A nearly invisible white subway tile lines the shower, while wide planks of black slate cover the floor. The neutrality continues on the white walls and solid countertop, and to the light fixtures and their exposed bulbs. “Again, we’re not bringing in another color. You didn’t want something to contrast or compete with the wall,” she says.

bathroom mural
The only other jolt of energy comes from the vanity, which features a vivid, vertical wood grain that mimics the organic horizontal stripes on the opposite wall. “The clients picked out this zebra wood, and they really fell in love with it,” Nusser says. “It has some pattern to it, but it’s not super overwhelming.”
For those kicking back and looking for home projects during coronavirus, Nusser advises that “penny tile in general it can be a little tricky to install” because teeny tiny mistakes (like laying one tile a hundredth of an inch off) can be amplified as you’re trying to keep all those little circles straight. So a normal shower floor or bathroom wall might be best left to a professional contractor. But, of course, for a mural like this, perfect rows and straight lines are beside the point, so have some fun and experiment with the flow… and lay out the project first, like she did, to make sure you like the design.
bathroom mural
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