Mermaid-inspired tiles anchor a contemporary bathroom in North Reading

Meredith Burns’ heart was excited Create an accent wall covered in turquoise fish scale tiles in her soon-to-be remodeled bathroom. But not just any turquoise fish-sized tile. “She wanted the fish scale tiles exactly from her inspirational image,” says Katie Boucher. Boucher, a designer with Right Angle Kitchens and Design, researched the highs and lows, only to discover that the tiles weren’t available in the United States. On her quest, she found a similar handmade ceramic tile from Mercury Mosaics that she and her client loved. “They used Mercury Mosaics tiles for their kitchen backsplash, so it all came together,” says the designer. “We call it a mermaid bath.”

Boucher collaborated closely with Meredith and her husband, Dave Burns, on the basic bathroom and wardrobe in their North Reading home. “Medith has a real eye for design,” she says. “We bounced ideas off each other; sometimes she had the best.” For example, when Boucher advised Meredith that the size of the pendant lamp she was hoping to hang above the sink was too small, Meredith arranged several of them, making a heady statement.

The couple also opted for a gently curved resin bathtub from Badeloft that sits against a backdrop of fish scale tiles. While its contemporary form was the initial draw, the couple took a plunge, so to speak, to take advantage of its competitive pricing. “The brand was just entering the US market, so it was a great timing for us,” says Dave.

When it came to padding, the couple preferred a deck-mounted model over a stand-alone model. Boucher designed a three-foot ledge made of the same Cambria quartz as the shower seat and waterfall countertop from the vanity. The structure extends all the way to the floor, hugging the pelvis on the way down. “A lot of thought and effort went into making sure it didn’t look like a giant can,” Boucher says of the ledge, which also provides a perch for a glass of wine or a candle.

Noting to overlook the turquoise wall, Boucher wrapped the double showerhead in horizontal strips of 12-by-24-inch tiles, alternating with Porcelanosa OXO Line tiles in an undulating texture with a flat cut. “I like the wavy lines, but you can’t fit plumbing fixtures on them,” she explains. Charcoal porcelain floors add light and air. “It’s just a simple, neutral rule of thumb,” Boucher says. “We haven’t touched on it.”

Not so for the charcoal-colored quartz shower curb, which matches perfectly with floor tiles for a seamless effect. Because the floor couldn’t be sloped enough for a shower without edging—doing so required cutting the floor joists—Boucher included a one-inch-high edging to trap the water. “It was another wild chase, but we found a maker with leftovers and this is a perfect match!” Says.

Strips of white tile, undulating and flat, continue behind the Plain & Fancy double vanity. Behind the warm bamboo facade, there are booths reserved for men and women. Narrow pullout units on either side of sinks typically use up wasted space. “It was a fun math question in a Tetris way,” Boucher laughs.

Before Boucher submitted the project, the Burnses resolved some space planning issues related to their closet. Most importantly, they decided to add dormer windows to the area’s steeply pitched roof, allowing them to make the most of the square footage. “It was a random space with rotating shelves and wire shelving,” says Dave. “Half of it was unusable because the ceiling was too low.”

Boucher took inventory of Meredith and Dave’s belongings to plan every nook and cranny. “Meredith is very trendy,” Boucher says. “I really wanted to show her pretty things.” A rolling library ladder allows homeowners to reach the highest points of compact buildings from floor to ceiling. Glass handbag lockers, for example, are folded over two levels of hanging space. Shoe shelves backed by wallpaper from Schumacher Balloons reach the full height of the room. Other features include built-in baskets halfway into the wall, push-latch doors that access hidden bag storage, and a barn-style sliding door with a full-length mirror.

“When we bought the house, there were a lot of things we liked, and a lot we didn’t,” Meredith says. “We now have the home we want.”

Initial space planning: Carpenter and McNeill,

design: Right Angle Kitchens and Design,

contractor: James Construction, 781-389-7818

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