San Diego Home/Garden Magazine (January 2011) – “It’s All About The Tile”


La Jolla, CA


"It's All About The Tile"


Eva Ditler


January 2011


Larny J. Mack

If you wanted to make a trio of bathrooms beautiful as well as period-appropriate for a Spanish Colonial Revival residence, how would you accomplish that? For La Jolla homeowners Susan and Len Comden’s remodel, the look was mainly achieved through the use of 1920s reproduction ceramic tiles.

“Susan already had a really good knowledge of Spanish Colonial Revival design,” says architect Ione Stiegler, “and she was very enthusiastic about the period of architecture. Doing period-appropriate tiles was an important aspect of that.”
The home’s staircase and fireplace already had a colorful Malibu-style tile. The idea was to provide the bathrooms with a similar, but not matching tile, to tie those spaces into the home’s existing look, yet achieve differentiation between stairs, baths and other rooms.

On the second floor, the makeover included the addition of a true master bath/bedroom suite. The tile in the new spacious bath has an intricate floral design that grows from the base of the wainscot on to the off-white field tile. The wainscot is capped with a floral vine and rope detail. High-fired terracotta floor tiles installed in the master bath echo the tiling in other locations around the house where terracotta was the grounding for tile that anchors a room.
The clever inlay of tiles in a rich green color creates a floor border that melds with the color used in the chair-rail tile.

“Upstairs,” says Stiegler, “part of the redesign was also to create architectural details in the hall/bedroom bath that were applicable to Spanish Colonial style, such as the arching of the entry to the tub niche and tile following the arch.”

With butter-yellow field tiles, this small room feels open, light and airy. In contrast to the master bath where the floor tile has a herringbone pattern, here the floor tile was installed in a pinwheel pattern – part of a more whimsical tone.

“This bathroom is just fun,” says Stiegler. “The wainscot is capped with a playful wave motif, trimmed by contrasting quarter-round tiles that have fabulous scenes of Spanish ships, fish, seahorses and mermaids.”

The highlight of the downstairs powder room is the articulated tile base-board. The design was mirrored and used to festoon the windowsill in the shower. The intricate tile is cleanly offset with simple off-white field tile and grounded with a small-scale terracotta brick set in a herringbone pattern.

“This rehabilitation addition – including the baths – epitomizes how a historic home can be made functional for a modern family while maintaining its historical roots,” says Stiegler.

Barber Tract Spanish Colonial - Malibu Tile detailProject Manager:Joseph M. Reid and Thomas J. Lavin


To see more images of this house, please click on one of the photos.