Jonathan Stanton is a second-generation tile installer, who currently owns and operates Jonathan Stanton Tile, Inc. in Louisville, KY. He learned most of what he knows from his father, Ralph, a tile artisan who has been running Stanton Tile, a stone’s throw away, for more than 30 years.
They both share a passion for tile, according to Jonathan, and an equal passion for working for people. Over the last 20 years, Stanton has become well-versed in installing all kinds of tile, like his father, including porcelain, ceramic, glass and all types of natural stone. From bathroom remodels to outdoor projects, no job is too big or too small for him.
Earlier this year, Stanton purchased an old warehouse in Louisville to serve as his new shop, which had an outdated bathroom that needed a complete makeover. “Old is an understatement of the condition of the building,” Stanton said. “The bathroom was worse than any truck stop bath that you could dream of. The vanity sink and faucet did not work, and there was an old utility sink nearby that only worked by way of a shower head. So, turning on the water to wash your hands meant holding your hands up high to catch water. The funny thing is that the water did not drain into the sink; there were no pipes connected. Water splashed onto the floor, then traveled a few feet to a nearby floor drain.”
Given his expertise in tilework and bathroom remodels, Stanton immediately sprang into action, envisioning the perfect plan for the new bathroom, which was inspired by his three children, Ty, Caleb and Sara. “We are a big Disney family and have been on a handful of Disney cruises. The ships’ tilework is amazing, and intricate tile mosaic murals are everywhere on board,” Stanton explained. “I was ready for my next ‘extreme’ project and I wanted to create a themed bathroom. So many nurseries and kids’ bedrooms have fantastic themes — why not a bathroom?”
With a variety of themes to choose from in the Disney realm, Stanton opted for a Star Wars theme, since it debuted the same year he was born. “Star Wars just seemed to fit,” he said. “I was born in ‘77, the year Star Wars was born, so I wanted to mostly keep with the original characters (my selfish design element). The layout of the bathroom needed to be completely redesigned to capture my thought of introducing the murals as the focus when entering the bathroom. So I completely threw out the rule of shower privacy in my design.”
Stanton designed and installed three customized, life-size glass mosaic characters from the original Star Wars — Darth Vader and two Stormtroopers, Yoda and Luke Skywalker — as well as two other mosaics on the floor and ceiling, with help from his Chinese partners who assembled them. “After several back and forth chats at 2 a.m. (China working hours), we finally got the right sizes, colors and glass pieces to work perfect,” Stanton said.
The character murals were placed strategically on the shower walls, with a 5- x 8-foot Darth Vader on the main wall, surrounded by two smaller Stormtroopers. Slightly smaller models of Yoda and Luke Skywalker holding light sabers were placed on the two adjacent walls, which each measure 4.3 x 8 feet.
On the floor, a 5- x 3-foot Star Wars logo was created using black and yellow glass, while the ceiling features an intricately designed mosaic with different shades of blue and white, meant to mimic the sky in space, with a showerhead built into the middle.
“There are hundreds of different colors of glass used,” Stanton said. “Luke’s lips alone have 12 or so colors. In all, the murals took about three months to produce. Yoda’s face and hair alone was a near two-week process. The detail was a must.”
With the main focus on the murals, Stanton used clear glass doors and recessed lighting in the shower so your eyes are immediately drawn to them upon entering the bathroom. “The rest of the bathroom needed to be a complete contrast in my design — large porcelain tile,” Stanton said. “And I wanted a black versus white color palette to chase after the ‘Rebellion versus The Dark Side’ theme.
“David McIntosh, owner of Patria Coverings in Indianapolis, IN, was my go-to for the wall and floor tile,” he went on to say. “He introduced me to EmilAmerica’s Italian porcelain lines.”
The tile used on the walls and floors of the bathroom were from EmilAmerica, the North American division of Emilgroup. On the walls, Stanton utilized 24- x 48-inch porcelain tiles from the Tele Di Marmo collection in the “Statuario Michelangelo” design, which replicates the popular white marble; a semi-polished finish was used to provide a sophisticated look.
To create the ultimate contrast, the Tele Di Marmo was carried onto the floors in the “Calacatta Renoir” design, a predominately black marble-look, with highlights of white; the semi-polished finish was also specified for the 12- x 24-inch tiles to provide continuity with the walls.
“I decided to wrap the outer walls of the bathroom, too, and wanted an old, industrial look that would work in my warehouse space, but also tie in with an old, rusting spaceship left abandoned for parts,” Stanton said. “I chose 12- x 24-inch tiles from Emilgroup’s Ergon Metal Style collection in the ‘Revival’ color. In all, there was around 1,200 square feet of tile that was in play.”
Prior to the tile installation, Stanton prepped the bathroom floors with a radiant floor heating system from Repel Systems, a company he started less than two years ago. “A big part of this bathroom idea was to include the use of Repel Systems’ components throughout the entire bathroom,” Stanton said. “I started Repel Systems in 2018 as a way to combat rising prices in foam backer board and shower systems. I import these materials from China. Repel is a member of National Tile Contractors Association, has Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) certificates through IAPMO Research and Testing, and also has a sheer strength that surpasses the U.S. standard of ANSI A118.10.”
In the shower, Stanton utilized Repel’s 1/2-inch tile backerboard on all of the walls, which is composed of extruded polystyrene. A 5- x 3-foot linear, pre-loped shower pan from Repel was also used with a tileable drain cover, as well as Repel’s solid foam curbs.
In the bathroom, 1 1/2-inch-thick Repel panels were used to wrap the exposed iron pipes and build the shelves, while the floor was prepped with 3/8-inch Repel Heat Board for the in-floor heating cables.
“All of the thinset and grouts were Laticrete products, which I also love,” Stanton said. “TriLite thinset was used on all of the porcelain tile, while Multimax Lite was used for the glass murals, since it is rated for glass tile. I also used Laticrete’s Permacolor Select grout on all of the large-format tile and SpectraLock Pro Premium Translucent Grout on the glass murals.”
The entire bathroom build took about nine weeks, with three men working on it in between other projects. “Being that this project wasn’t producing income, I needed to keep other projects in motion,” Stanton said. “The only real challenge was trying to manage my budget while also redesigning the entire space. I kept the toilet location with the strange iron pipes nearby, so I had to sink the toilet back in the wall. Several measurements went into the toilet. The light fixture with the rain head coming from the center [of the shower] was also a fun challenge, but once I had the design idea, it really snapped together.”
Staging the bathroom after all of the tilework was complete was an added benefit, according to Stanton. “I wanted to tie the Star Wars theme into the other areas, so I bought some Disney merchandise: a Darth Vader light saber and Luke Skywalker light saber to display under the mirror, and three Disney helmets for the shelf in the water closet,” he said. “My kids run into my shop and go straight for these items and run around my warehouse as most kids do. I applied a ‘his’ and ‘her’ Jedi bathroom sticker on the bathroom entrance’s frosted glass door for fun measure.”
Since Stanton completed the bathroom, he has received praise from industry professionals all over the world. “The project was a lot of work, but so much fun,” he said. “I put pictures of it on social media, along with a video. The video was viewed over 50,000 times in just a few days with so many positive comments from people all over the world. I just hope that we can all see things and realize the boundless opportunities that we have with tile. And as a dad, it’s a dream come true to design something where my kids think I’m cool — even if it’s only for a brief time.”
Jonathan Stanton Tile, Inc.
Designer/Installer: Jonathan Stanton Tile, Inc., Louisville, KY
Tile Supplier: Patria Coverings Co., Carmel, IN (EmilAmerica’s Tele di Marmo collection and Ergon’s Metal Style collection)
Installation Products: Repel Systems, LLC, Louisville, KY (Repel Heat Board, Repel Tile Backerboard, Linear Drain Shower System); Laticrete, Bethany, CT (Tri-Lite, Multimax Lite, Peramacolor Select, SpectraLock Pro Premium Translucent Grout)