Since the COVID-19 pandemic began a year ago, a larger contingent of people have been working from home. While at home, many people have decided to remodel certain areas of their homes where most of their time is spent, including kitchens and bathrooms. If you are spending most of your time in these spaces, it makes sense to want to improve the way they look -- whether that means adding a new backsplash or countertop in the kitchen or sprucing up the design of your bathrooms.

A couple of homeowners in Ocean City, NJ, decided to revamp their entire residence, with a focus on redesigning their bathroom. The general contractor, Jim Tsigos of Tsigos Construction in Delran, NJ, handled the remodel. A Certified Tile Installer (CTI) through the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation, Tsigos called on a fellow CTI, Ken Ballin of Skyro Floors in West Creek, NJ, to help with all of the flooring and tilework. Together, they achieved an innovative design for the condo, which incorporates a completely new shower design with pebble-like tiles from Island Stone in a waterfall-inspired layout.

“My customers usually give me their tile choices and I come up with a design that I think will work for the space, then modify it depending on their input,” Ballin said. “This customer in particular picked the planks and pebbles he liked and I suggested doing a waterfall scribe [in the shower]. After seeing how the wall came out, I decided to try to do something similar inside the niche and that proved to be much more difficult, but I really enjoyed experimenting with the process, and the customers love how it turned out.”

The eye-catching wall design features 9- x 36- and 18- x 36-inch, stone-effect porcelain tiles from Italgraniti’s Nordic Stone collection in the “Islanda” color, which are complemented by a waterfall effect in the center of the wall with Indonesian marble-inspired pebble tiles from Island Stone’s Cobbles series in the color, “Sterling Megamix.” The pebbles were also used on the shower floor in a design that looks like the water trickles down from the wall.

Best Tile in Lacey, NJ, supplied about 130 square feet of tile for the 4- x 5-foot shower.

A Schluter-Systems’ Kerdi-Line linear drain was also used to create a decorative look on the floor. “This is a full Schluter shower set, with Schluter All-Set and the Curve linear drain,” Ballin said. “The floor was set with Bostik StoneWall and poured with Bostik SL-200 to meet up with the ¹/₂-inch engineered hardwood I installed in the rest the condo over CMP LiquiTek with Bostik Ultra-Set SingleStep2. The heights in both floors are matched up perfectly with a soft joint between the tile and hardwood.”

The height issue with both floors proved to be one of the most challenging aspects of the project, according to Ballin. “There were two aspects that proved challenging on this particular project,” he explained. “The first was getting the heights of each floor (the two bathrooms with tile and remaining area that received hardwood) since they were poured at two different times with two different self-levelers. Using the pins made it easier to keep track of, but it was still nerve-wracking.

“The second cause for anxiety was the niche,” he went on to say. “While the pebble scribe down the wall was tedious, it was nothing compared to scribing and polishing an area surrounded by porcelain, as opposed to just along the side of a tile. There was no room for mistakes and it had to happen on the first try or I would have had to start all over.”

Although Ballin spent a lot of time onsite for this project, the pebble shower only took about one week to complete. “The homeowners are thrilled and get many compliments on the whole project,” he said.

Private Residence

Ocean City, NJ

General Contractor: Tsigos Construction, Delran, NJ

Tile Installer: Skyro Floors, West Creek, NJ

Tile Supplier: Best Tile, Lacey, NJ (Italgraniti’s Nordic Stone collection and Island Stone’s Cobbles series)

Tile Installation Products: Bostik, Milwaukee, WI (StoneWall, SL-200, Ultra-Set SingleStep2 and CMP Specialty Products’ LiquiTek); Schluter-Systems, Plattsburgh, NY (Schluter All-Set, Schluter-Kerdi-Board, Schluter-Ditra and Kerdi-Line “Curve” drain); Midwest Trade Tool, Inc., Menomonee Falls, WI (Lev-Tec Tile Leveling System)