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jersey city bathroom

A moody monochrome bathroom in Jersey City

Six years ago, Mark Baehser and Joey Meyers traded the cafe and shop-filled streets of Park Slope for a spacious 1907 Victorian with a yard in Jersey City. Baehser (a pediatrician) and Meyers, who owns Ball and Claw Vintage (and is part of Brooklyn’ Dobbin St. Co-op), were thrilled to have nearly 3,500 square feet of light-filled rooms to decorate. The gracious historic proportions, hardwood floors, and stained-glass windows were the perfect backdrop for ’70s-style preloved finds. “The previous owners did a lot of the major renovations so our work was more cosmetic,” says Baehser.

But while the rest of the house had shaped up nicely over the years, one room needed a bit more TLC than the others. “Our old second-floor bathroom was a nasty mess that we’ve always wanted to renovate,” says Baehser.

The bath and shower combo was cramped and dated, a large linen closet made everything feel slightly claustrophobic, the room wasn’t well-ventilated, and to top it off the grout was starting to peel. Even the coat of black paint they had applied to make the room feel updated was no longer cutting it.

The early days of the lockdown felt like the perfect opportunity to tackle this overdue remodel, but because the couple was still working full-time and too busy to manage a gut renovation, they knew they needed expert advice if they wanted results that were up to their standard. So they tapped Block for the task, knowing the team was well-versed in designing almost entirely remotely, a must during the pandemic.

In-house designer Stephanie Lee quickly understood that she had an opportunity to stretch her creative muscles: “They were super design-focused and had a little bit more tolerance for bolder choices,” she says. In fact, the inspiration for the room started with a forest green British cast concrete sink Meyers had saved on Instagram years prior. “A lot of people are just comfortable with a nice bright white bathroom for resale purposes,” he says. “But we wanted something different.”

With the sink in transit from Europe as a special order item, Lee was able to turn to Block’s standard catalog to source everything else: “It’s actually a really good representation of how dynamic our main offering can be,” she explains. Knowing that an all-white look was out of the question, the designer played with shades of black and warm gray for the floor and wall tile. “We were interested in creating contrast between the two surfaces with color and size.” She color-blocked both areas with square ceramic tile of different sizes to achieve the desired visual effect (a smaller floor mosaic was also practical as it meant a slip-free zone in the shower).

The main layout change involved knocking down the bulky closet and turning the tub into a spacious walk-in shower, which meant moving a plumbing line for flow, while keeping everything else in its place. A clever shower niche made from Ceasarstone shelves created room for bath products. Even with darker floors and walls (and a ceiling painted to match), this made the room feel much brighter and roomier.

But the couple also wanted to have a cozy spa-like vibe. Enter: cleverly positioned copper sconces that cast a soft glow on the space—one in the shower and the other two surrounding the vanity.

With the wavy concrete sink finally in place after a Covid-related customs delay (and retrofitted to match American plumbing standards thanks to Block’s procurement team’s attention to detail) the trio turned their attention to the wall above. An oversized round mirror added the right dose of drama, but it meant that flanking the sconces wasn’t an option, so Lee played around with the design a bit more: “What if we made them look like they were bouncing around instead?” Against the grid-like tile pattern, the large mirror and dotted lights now add a soft and whimsical air to the room. “They give a nice ambience to everything and kind of round it all together,” says Baehser.

As for the lost closet space, the couple added a temporary IKEA cabinet, but Meyers is already on the hunt for an upgrade: “I sell vintage furniture, so I just know I’ll stumble upon the perfect-sized piece for that corner eventually.” In this couple’s case, patience makes perfect.