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I Design, You decide: Pebble Tile for the Mountain Fixer-Upper



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**** UPDATE: The poll has now closed, and we have a winner of ‘ROCK IT’, with 79% choosing ‘Yes, Use Pebbled Tile’ and 21% choosing ‘No, Don’t Use Pebbled Tile’. Thank you to everyone who voted, entered, and shared your opinion. We love having you participate in this exciting project and we can’t wait for you to weigh in on the next design decision. In the meantime be sure to head here to see all the polls and progress of the fixer-upper project.

If there is one design element I never really considered before it might have to be pebble tile.  That is partly because they aren’t appropriate for every house, architecturally and I’ve never designed a ‘pebble tile’ worthy house. Until now. The design of the mountain cabin is in full speed (be sure to check out my insta-stories today as we are making A LOT of decisions up at the property – including this one), but we had a hiccup after ‘Refined’ won. (See this post to get up to date). A few days after the victory I was pitching some hardwood floors to Brian and he muttered, ‘Sure, I like it’. After prying why his enthusiasm wasn’t matching mine (a HUGE personality flaw of mine), he said (in a sad, not passive-aggressive way) ‘Well, my ship has sailed so what I want doesn’t really matter anymore, and that’s ok. It’s for the blog and they (refined) won’.

I felt awful. Yes, technically he did want ‘Rustic’ to win but had said he really liked ‘Refined’ and besides, it was still going to feel warm, just less ‘reclaimed’, etc. But rustic came in VERY close, so… since the poll closed, I decided to increase the projected ‘rustic-ness’ in the house to make sure that not only is my husband happier, but also the 44% of you who voted for that style are as well. I told him that and yet we’re still in this awkward conversation.

So I immediately pulled a bunch of design books off the shelf and we went through page after page, talking about what he likes and doesn’t like about each picture, desperate to get to the bottom of what he really wanted and what ‘warm’ means to him. What it came down to was, I was designing a bright airy lake house in the woods (refined scandy) and he thought we had bought a mountain cabin. He said, ‘I love the house you are designing, I just don’t think it’s THIS house’.

To be fair to me, we bought it in August when it was 90 degrees up there, and yes, walking distance to a lake where the kids can swim. But now that it’s winter up there I am changing my tune… maybe I’ve missed the mark on the whole ‘mountain’ thing. Clearly, I wanted to design something super  minimal as you read about in this post. But maybe that is absolutely WRONG and maybe my desire to do a style was going to ruin the vibe of this specific house.

So after some introspection I realized that he was right – I wasn’t designing a cozy mountain house up in the woods, I was designing a ‘Refined Scandinavian Chalet’ and that perhaps this house needed some more ‘mountain’ in it – but Refined won, so how do you make a Refined Scandinavian Californian Cabin? Well, I guess start by calling it that … 🙂

Then it was time to educate ourselves – what are the fundamental elements of mountain cabins?? Huge windows, a lot of wood and loads of stone. We are set in the wood department and are likely recladding the ceiling in our dream wood (as well as the floor …stay tuned), but I hadn’t considered designing with rocks or stones until last week.

And then a massive lightbulb went off in my head. YES. WE NEED STONE IN THIS HOUSE.

I think it’s safe to say that my world was rocked. (My inner-dad just laughed, followed by my actual dad what with that last ‘dad joke’).

I mean, we already have it in the living room, and all the bathrooms are faux travertine on the walls and floors.

Emily Henderson Lake House Before 245

The previous owners got the mountain intention, but I want to do it in a more fresh and modern way. So I did what any legit mountain house designer does – I googled ‘mountain cabin bathroom ideas’. I left out ‘rustic’ on purpose, but here is what I found:

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms rustic bathroom lantern sconce
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Wood and pebbled tile all over the place. The one above and below are super inviting and obviously so appropriate to a mountain cabin, but they aren’t the style we are going for.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms Good Inspo Pics 15
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Pebbled tile more commonly looks like this:

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms Inspo Pics 5
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Rover Rock Wall Mountain Cabin
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Mountain house bathroom
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River Rock Back Splash Kitchen
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Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms wood floors
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Contemporary Bathroom Shower With Dual Shower Heads River Rock
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And none of those would fit the ‘Refined Scandinavian California Cabin’ vibe (fine, I changed the name, it’s ok). And I think some of those photos have accidentally acted as bad PR for the the greater pebble tile. Some are very taste specific and others are too contemporary for me.

But I started to find some examples that did get me excited:

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms River Rock
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That one is definitely a lot of rock and in a lot of different tones making it more busy – maybe we’d stay more tonal and fresh for this house like this one:

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms free standing tub
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I like the direction the above shower is going – certainly more warm and rustic than any bathroom I had originally planned in this house, but Brady pointed out how clearly you can see the grids of the tile which takes away some of it’s authenticity.

I kept digging, found more and more and sure enough, I started falling IN LOVE and could absolutely see this idea working in some of the bathrooms at the mountain fixer.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms wood bench vanity stone floor
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The combination of the white and the rustic wood, and the modern sink is pretty great.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms Boho Bathroom
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Below are my two favorites (although MAN they are looking RUSTIC!!).

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms Good Inspo Pics 13
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And then the I stumbled into this photo, which is the home of Trinette and ChrisTrinette and Chris (who also took the photos) talk about a talented pair, where they had installed white pebble tile on the floor of the bathroom and I was SOLD.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms claw foot bathtub
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It’s so warm and adds so much texture in a quiet way. Simple statement, quiet impact. YES. (If you know who designed it please let us know so I can credit them and not just the photographer)

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms Clawfoot Bathtub
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More and more photos convinced me…

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms Good Inspo Pics 5
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Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms Good Inspo Pics 6
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Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Rethink The Pebble Bathrooms Good Inspo Pics 4
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But then every time I expressed my excitement in pebble tile to a new person they said, ‘I don’t totally hate the idea.’ Even my team in the office was like, ‘yah, that could work’. My best friends were worried. But Brian Henderson was GAME.

My excitement was deflated, but then I showed them some of the other materials we might use – below. Nothing is set in stone yet – HOLD ON I AM A HILARIOUS PERSON AND JUST WON MOST ORGANIC PUN EVER – OH MY GOD SHE’S DONE IT AGAIN. (Laptop shuts, comedy tour booked and sold out instantly).

Bathroom Moodboard CompressedRustic Modern Cabin Mountain House Bathroom Moodboard Pebble Floor

See? Again, these aren’t firm material choices, but they are part of the ‘narrowed down’ group I’m playing with at the studio and I personally think that addition of the rock is wonderful. It feels ‘Modern Mountain’ … ugh, that’s probably what this should have been called anyway! But you can still see the Scandinavian (light, bright, super textural) style coming through. And be sure to check out my insta-stories today as we are making A LOT of decisions up at the property – including this one. EEK!

Stay tuned for more firm material choices, but for today’s poll I want to know if you WANT me to go for the pebble, or if you think it’s a mistake. Is a mountain home a mountain home without rocks? Of course there are other ways I can bring in stones (and I am – leathered marble, stone kitchen floor, etc) but I really like the scale of this as an accent in the bathrooms.

Do you want to see if I can pull it off as much as I do?

If so vote ‘ROCK’ IT (I’m not sure if I love or hate myself more after writing that) but if you think this is a BAD MISTAKE that will ruin this house please vote: SKIP THAT ‘STONE’. As far as far as I am feeling, I am into it but definitely scared… but brian is fully on team “rock that stone”. Now it is your turn to VOTE!

I Design, You Decide

Pebble Tile: Yes or No?

Option 1

YES: use pebbled tile

79 %

Option 2

NO: don't use pebbled tile

21 %
(Vote by Wednesday, Feb 21th to have your voice heard.)
You did it!

Thank you for doing your daily design duty.
Your vote has my vote 🙂


Now enter to win

A five-night stay at the cabin this summer (with some blackout dates, of course, because our family uses it) with $1,000 towards travel expenses (if you live driving distance then it’s just fun money, or if you live internationally then we will cover up to $1,000 of your expenses. So, all the international readers please feel free to participate and enter as well). We’ll make it a dream trip! Including cocktails out on the lake with me.

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All you have to do for a chance to win is enter your name & email below...

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*If you are wondering what this poll thing is about (and what you can win) here is the general info or go here to see all the posts. But a quick recap is that I’m designing a mountain home and along the way you are making some key decisions. Right now its the bigger stuff – the finishes and we’ll get into the design plan for each room as well. You vote and get entered into a contest (or not) to win a 5 night stay at the cabin with $1k towards travel. 


Additionally (and most importantly because I’m pretty sure we are going to “rock it”)  for those of you who have designed or lived with pebble tile (am I even calling it the right name?), I’d love ANY tips on what to avoid, how to install or general opinions about this controversial design choice. For instance, can you see the grid of tiles in yours? Will the white pebble stain? Do you like the underfoot sensation? And most importantly do you want me to say ‘Underfoot sensation’ more often? I’m happy to. We will likely get the rounded one, not the flat – but not the crazy irregular ones either as I stepped on those and I did not enjoy the underfoot sensation, and hopefully not the ones that look like a grid. I’m also totally open to not using ’tile’ and sourcing the individual rocks but that seems problematic especially if we want light or neutral (we are also considering black for powder and gray in other areas, but not the ones that have a lot of contrast).

Vote. Help. All non-judgemental thoughts and comments are welcome (and remember, many people who have pebble tile or like it (like myself) read this blog, so if you REALLY aren’t into it simply vote ‘skip that stone’ and maybe skip the comment section this time 🙂


Fin Mark


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It’s not something I would have picked for my own home, but I’ve got to admit, those later pictures with the pale pebble floors are very attractive. So I say go for it, in the cause of marital harmony 😉

(Some of those earlier photos, though… man. The bathrooms of my nightmares!)


Agreed. I feel like the first pics belong in a convention center in the Smokies. 🙂

James Knot

Above pictures are very good, I want to decorate my house like this.


Go for it. You’ll do it beautifully and find a way to make it warm and you. L


I think rocks, done tastefully, are going to rock your home (ha!)

And I appreciate so much your taking into consideration your husband in this (it’s his home as well and you are modeling a loving and wise way to compromise for the benefit of your family). Kudos!

btw I tried them at a friend’s house and underfoot they are amazing 🙂

Ha. so you loved the underfoot sensation? the guy at the high end tile show room said that, but VERY seriously. He was like ‘you need to be able to handle the underfoot sensation’ as if it were a permanent lifestyle choice .. 🙂


I loved it but they were rounded, flatish pebbles (no different heights or pointy parts). Think of it as a foot massage, nothing like walking on a rocky beach, more of a subtle feel.


This is why I voted no. I don’t like the way small stones feel on my feet. They hurt soon after walking on it and I couldn’t imagine you standing there drying your hair or putting on make-up or anything that would take a long time without your feet hurting. Maybe I had a bad experience and the stones can be laid flat enough that it doesn’t hurt your feet, in that case I’m all for it! Looks great!


We put some rock tiles in the master shower during a total renovation of our family cottage. Admittedly they were sold as border tiles 12 years ago. Coming from London, we definitely wanted something rustic to celebrate being in the back of beyond. But you can slightly see the grid and it drives me bonkers. Purely because it would have been such an easy fix. We flew in to meet with the tiler before the tiles went in, and he gave us the impression he knew what he was doing. Ha. Beware of high end product in places where they… Read more »

Oh no. Ok thank you. Tile is something (especially when its expensive) that I also advise people on not hiring someone cheap because if done wrong, its an extremely expensive fix – or you never do. like wallpaper. a good installer is KEY. thanks for the ‘twisting the stone’ advise. That is kinda what we were talking about at the studio today so good to know that is actually what they should do. We are hiring local tilers up at the mountain (via our contractor) so I’d assume they know how to install but I’ll be micro-managing just in case… Read more »


Good idea. This was one of the things I noticed in the photos above. The natural look is somewhat lost in the grid pattern.


Yes, definitely watch out for a poor tiling job! I have a friend that wanted pebble tile, she got it but they did such a poor job installing that she actually demoed the bathroom after a few months because it drove her insane!


I read that you should order some extra tiles to take a part for the pebbles and the installer fill in so you do not have the grid… had not heard the twist the stone idea…that sounds good too. I TOO am considering this for bathroom remodel. Shower floor…. and bathroom floor too? light in tone so it is beachy . A friend who had it in her other home loved it. A friend who recently remodelled was warned by her designer about it being hard to clean ( in shower ) as it trapped water. (?) A few people… Read more »


Hi Emily,

I hate to be a nay-sayer but I would really encourage you NOT to use the pebble tiles. It’s true, they look lovely, but they are not very practical. They will capture the dirt quite easily and also ….. body hair. Not that easy to clean either.

If it is a holiday home/weekender would it make sense to keep it low maintenance?

All the best,

Julie P

It’s GORGEOUS!!! But…I totally agree with Kathryn – if this is going to be a place you vacation in or plan to Airbnb I would not put in something with so much grout (and white at that!) to keep spotlessly clean.


I voted yes because I think it’s such an interesting look, but then I thought about cleaning in a rental. We just stayed in a beach house where the cleaners had been…less than thorough…in the turnover. I feel like that kind of floor would be REALLY hard to keep clean. Maybe on a wall instead?


I agree, it looks very nice in some of those pics! My sister has it in one of her bathrooms and I also agree though that it doesn’t feel great underfoot and will add that keeping it clean seems tough. There’s a lot more grout involved with pebbles than traditional tile, and even my extremely clean sister’s has dark scuff marks that subtract from the look. Might be a better choice for a vertical wall or at least a less-trafficked area.

Ooh, so shoes give black scuffs? I don’t like that ….


We don’t wear shoes in the house, and our guests are aware of that. Boot trays by the door, and a polite, pretty framed sign in the entry. If shoes are not worn in the house, then they won’t be worn in the bathroom, so no black scuffs on the pebbles, and no icky germy nature bits on the floors all over your cabin. It makes the whole house easier to clean, too!


I’ll echo the difficulty cleaning. One of my girlfriends put stone on the floor and walls of their master shower and she curses it every time she has to clean it.


Not only black scuff marks, the grout gets dirty too – okay you can seal it better, but the pebble floor is hard to clean, you really have to go down on your knees to do it by hand. I have a small guest bathroom tiled with pebbles and I wouldn’t do it again. Although, I voted yes on your choices, it just looks so darn good and maybe you’ll find a better solution to seal/clean them.


@Erin, I don’t think you can enforce the no-shoes in a rental, though. I mean, you can ASK, but you can’t enforce.


You know, pebbled tile always kinda hurts my feet.


I have flashbacks of living in south Florida with a pebble paved patio around the pool… walking around bare foot was painful.


Please keep it visually light and can it be heated underneath? Nothing sounds worse than cold stone for under the foot sensation concern. Not sure if you were thinking black stone, please no black stone. This title needs to look authentic from a pebble standpoint and not too beachy and not too 1990”s up north cabin. White, off white, light tan, pale … No busy grout. Clean light, natural without being everywhere in your face pebble- earthy refined. And refined in the sense of some restraint in how much pepple used – floor and small accent area not everywhere. Keep… Read more »

Agreed. and yes we are putting in floor heating underneath. I think we are going to go for the more natural with some variation but not the bright white…. xx


Oh, I envy you the floor heating! We stayed in a house in Colorado and I loved it. It is so nice to step out of the shower onto a warm floor.


I wasn’t convinced after the first few pictures, but the last ones really are a beautiful and unique combo of rustic and scandinavian vibes. So I am interested to see how you would incorporate it + I don’t want Brian to hate us 😀

Larissa Thomas

It could totally work, but I would worry about the ‘underfoot sensation’. It just looks ouchy.


it’s not ouchy! it’s nice underfoot. not quite a massage but massage-ish adjacent.

I think it depends on the stone. We have two samples that hurt and the rest are SO nice to step on – where i enjoy the underfoot sensation 🙂

Vicki S Williams

Another thing to consider may be to use epoxy grout, more expensive and evidently harder to work with and installers often don’t like to do it so may say not necessary but that is what we have done and it makes a hugh difference.
It doesn’t stain.
Also most stone products need to be sealed which should take care of better ease of keeping it clean.

Julie P

Ooo Epoxy grout is a great idea!


I definitely recommend the epoxy grout… makes a huge difference for staining and cleaning. I’ve loved the underfoot sensation, but I’m sure that can vary based on the selection itself!


just a teeny suggestion to make sure your kiddos try it too! or use your mama ninja mind meld powers to make them think it’s the best thing ever. i have a verrrryyy sensitive 7 year old and I can totally see a pebbly floor underfoot sensation setting her off at a totally inopportune time, like right when I’m trying to get her into bed so mama can go sit and have a drink in peace. Or maybe other people’s kids don’t pull this kind of thing…


I can totally relate to this! I too have a verrrrrrrry sensitive 7-year-old and she would act exactly as you’ve described. I think it’s great to involve kids, but not let them call all the shots in the house. We’ve done that way too much with our daughter and it has backfired on us. She thinks she is the family leader. So-maybe just tell kids that this is what is happening and go from there. I highly doubt C & E are as crazy as my kids. ????


i stayed in an AirBnB that had a river rock tiled shower. I was really into the “underfoot sensation”! I felt like I was wading in a (hot) stream… in a pleasant way 🙂

HA. this is cracking me up. GREAT TIP about grout epoxy. yes to sealing for sure, and i don’t think we’ll put it in the kids bath … just ours. or maybe not. you’ll decide 🙂


Yes. Yes. Yes. To the (last pics of) the pebble tile AND to “Modern Mountain”. Was team rustic… But since we lost, #teammodernmountain


I am saying yes, but I think in maybe one bathroom for texture. If it is repeated in several bathrooms it might look themey (is that a word?) or less special.

See, that’s interesting. I tend to repeat elements – I would never do the exact thing in every bathroom or it will look like a contractor/builder did it (not always a bad thing, but you know what I mean). My thought was to bring it in in 2 or 3 of the 5 bathrooms (3 full, 2 half) but have it mostly featured in the master bath…. but you guys will decide. HA.


I’m not voting until I know what Brian thinks. Sure, he’s ‘Game’ but does he love it? Does it fill his need for rustic?

Brian gets my proxy vote.

Ok. fair enough. when he wakes up i’ll tell him. I highly suggest you watch the insta-stories today because we are going up there and i’m pitching him a LOT of ideas and design plans (for a video series, but we shooting it on stories as well). But I will tell you that I did a soft pitch and he really really loves the stones. 🙂 But I’ll let him tell you.


Thanks to all the articles that you serve. I must recommend your website to friends. Good Luck
Muslim Mantra For Love


i love the pebbles. i encouraged a friend to use them in her brooklyn brownstone shower even after the tile salesman told her she’d have to seal the stone at least once a year, which was almost a deal breaker. i promised i would seal it for her… i never did seal it, but she still loves the stones. vote yes!


From a design perspective looks great. From a functional aspect not so much. Doesn’t look comfortable on the feet
I vote for on the walls somewhere

Vicki S Williams

Some of them feel wonderful! Soft, massagy, smooth. I vote Yes!

Jaclyn York

I can’t wait to see how you bring an element that’s previously gotten a bad wrap, and implement it in a fresh way. This will be beautiful!


This is how I feel. I love the “idea” of pebbled rock but so frequently think ends up looking cheesy. I’d like to see someone take a look at it with a fresh eye. (So I can then shamelessly copy you if it turns out.) You are able to take chances where most homeowners can’t, and you do! This is a huge benefit of reading for blog, for me personally.


Have you looked at Lauren Liess’s blog? Pretty sure the mountain home she designed for her dad has pebble bathroom floors and they look amazing!

OOH i will. I love her work but haven’t seen her pebble use 🙂

Vicki S Williams

I just looked up Lauren Liess’s pebble floor bathroom. Love the cement walls, (which MUST be sealed but not in love with the pebbles in this case. But over all love pebbles.

Melissa Clary

Yes, my immediate thought when I read this post was Lauren Liess did this and it was beautiful (and refined)! I was waiting for you to show a picture from her portfolio 🙂


I just looked in Lauren’s book (“Habitat”), and I found one example (p. 250) where she did a pebble floor in her family’s lake house. You can see some info here on her blog here and here

Julie S

I was also thinking this!


I have pebble stone tile in my basement guest bath (we live in Colorado). It’s beautiful and feels great on your feet, but beware that it is COLD in the winter. I wish we’d put some radiant heat under it.


Love the pebbled tile!


I also hate that you can see the grid on some of the pebble tiles. My brother’s house has pebble as an accent tile around the kitchen and it hurts to walk on it barefoot. Plus more grout is a negative in my books. It seems like this trend peaked 10 years ago as well. Follow your gut, if you are taking a poll you probably have doubts about it.


The entire point of this project is that she is polling people and getting our opinion!


I have always loathed pebble tile and looking at those photos just reinforced my feelings. However, the last few photos have changed my mind. I love love love it now, or at least when it’s white and in a very Scandinavian looking decor.

See??? Its just rocks! How can we hate rocks? its the application and the context that we hate, not the thing itself (in my opinion). When appropriate I think its great.


First off- thank you for acknowledging your partner in this. I want Brian to love it too, and none of us are designing things in vacuums- many of us have partners who have design opinions and these kinds of big projects should totally involve both team members. You’re awesome- I don’t see enough of this in interior design and I love you for it. Second- I voted for the pebble tile, but can I use this comment as a caveat list? I only like the really subtle, tonal takes, with the pale stones or the light grey ones. (My favorite… Read more »

Ha. no stripe! and brian will appreciate your comment. And lastly agreed – tonal. no contrast. We totally agree 🙂


One word: dated.

The only photo that makes the pebbled tile look good is the almost all-white bathroom pulled from (with all the shiplap). The photo second from the bottom (with the crystal chandelier) isn’t bad, more spa-like, but you’d have to replicate those designs pretty closely in order to achieve the fresh and modern look you are going for.

I don’t get a “mountain” vibe from those designs; they look like something you’d see in a modern farmhouse (trinettereed photo) or city condo (second from bottom).


I’d be worried about cleaning it.


I voted for the pebble stone tiles because of your backstory, but I have to caution you from a practical standpoint: my experience with pebble stone tiles is that they are very hard to keep from getting moldy and to clean – because of the texture and unevenness of them they retain water in all the crevices and it becomes a chore to mop the floor after practically every use of the bathroom, and to scrub the shower walls with non-abrasive cleaning solutions once a week. Maybe pebble stone tiles advanced in the last decade – but maybe you can… Read more »

Interesting … I do not like that review (but thank you). mold is not awesome although we’ll have radiant heat underneath so i wonder if that will combat it????


Adding heat to a wet environment will only encourage mold you lovely optimistic lady. 🙂

Megan Lec

I voted go for it, definitely in honor of your wonderful husband. I love your sense for design and know that you can make these rocks ‘rock.’ ????


I do like the pebbled floors but a lot of decisions I make in my own space have the added challenge of making it safe because I live with someone who has mobility/balance issues. That means the bathroom is one of the most important rooms. I have to be careful of surfaces that are either too smooth or too uneven, especially in a shower. I think I like the pebbled look on the walls more than on the floor. Also, although I like the look ofglass enclosed showers, there needs to be something to hold onto. Also, can’t help but… Read more »


I’m not a commenter (in fact, had to look up how to spell it!), didn’t vote in your poll (never vote in polls), don’t usually care if my opinions are factored into your designs (in a nice way…meaning you’re the expert and I love to watch what you do) but I just couldn’t help popping in to say that I feel bad that what Brian wants for a house you are designing for YOUR family might be hindered by the opinions of people who really shouldn’t matter (again, in a nice way….). I know this blog is your business but… Read more »

don’t worry. We are designing this house to make sure we all love it. Its a weekend house so we can risk more and having fun on a blog in a marketing way is bringing me a ton of challenge, satisfaction and joy. Brian is super into it and he’s never cared about the process so much because he really wants to be heard. I love how much you guys care about Brian’s feelings so much so that I’ve asked him if he wants to have a column here and write about his perspective and hes into the idea 🙂

Vicki S Williams

GREAT IDEA! Would love Brian’s take on things.


I too think it would be fun to hear Brian’s perspective first hand. I find myself wondering – did the two of you find this house and buy it as a weekend retreat for your family and then later decide it could be a good business decision to let the blog followers determine the design direction? Or was it purchased as a blog project that the family can also eventuallybenjoy? The distinction seems important because it shows who the “client” is – your family or your followers. If Brian thought this was “his” house and then the readers suddenly had… Read more »

HA. this is a very good question. I started commenting back but it was such a long comment that I realized it needs to be a post – and maybe i’ll interview Brian. 🙂




Yes let’s hear from Brian!!!


Would love to hear Brian’s take on it all.


So…I’m really enjoying the transparency regarding your opinion and Brian’s opinion, not that I wish you any marital spats! But this tension is what I always face with my husband: I get super excited about some design decision and then he brings puts the brakes on because of cost or function. I’m always for spending a bit more for something beautiful, and who cares about function if it’s FREAKING RAD? (Haha.) It’s very nice to see how design decision impacts another couple. Thank you! That being said, I don’t really care about Brian’s opinion. (Sorry, Mr. Hendo! It’s not personal.)… Read more »

Inês Seabra

Having Brian writing a column it’s a great idea! Not in a reality show we-are-curious-about-your-life kind of way… 🙂 it’s just another point of view, from someone (not the designer ;-), nor the readers) who really lives in the space.


I have pebble tile in my bath shower, on the floor and as a shower wall accent. I’m really wanting to do over my bath because I think it looks dated, the pebble tile included and maybe most of all. The stone doesn’t have a natural, organic feel. I tend to think that most underfoot pebbles found in nature are more muddy in color, more variable in size, and don’t look like the pretty white ones that, to me, look best in photos and bathrooms. Having said all of this, I chose it myself 7 years ago and loved it… Read more »


My feet feel happy just thinking about it. One time when we were tile shopping, they had a sample of pebble tile…only it wasn’t on the floor, it was up on a wall, about thigh high, and WITHOUT EVEN THINKING, I took of my flip flop and stuck my foot on the tile sample so I could feel it underfoot. . My husband was mortified!! He was like, “what are you doing?!? You can’t just rub your feet on their.samples! That’s disgusting”. And I agree. Clearly I lost control because it IS disgusting to stick my bare foot on a… Read more »

Ha. I did that too!!! Except with my socks on. xxx


You have no idea how excited I was to read this post…I too was a bit heartbroken when “Rustic” lost! We moved into a literal log cabin a year ago and, now that we’re settled in and have had a chance to live with the space, we’re starting to take on decorating and remodeling. One thing I know for sure is that I don’t want a bunch of furniture made out of rough sawn logs, since there are enough of those around already! So when you shared your “rustic” vision, and included quite a few pictures that I have pinned… Read more »

thank you!!! It will be cabin-y, I promise. and to be fair to me, it took MONTHS to get brian to engage in the process and he really didn’t till after the first poll. So I didn’t really know and he didn’t really know what he wanted in the house til last week (I BEGGED for inspiration photos from him). But we are sailing in the right direction now …

patricia blaettler

I agree, only the white stone floors are pretty. I certainly wouldn’t put any on the walls, it just feels unnatural and weird. My last thought, it looks like it would be a total pain to clean….Good luck!

that’s a GREAT point. Rocks naturally live on the ground, not on walls. You are right. thank you 🙂

Vicki S Williams

I like more tonal, for whatever that is worth. Often, at least in the pictures, the white rocks look painted. :((


So just to be fair, mountains are rocks and you could kinda think of them as walls


So the thing is, a friend of mine has this on the floor of her bathroom. And while I’m also not hugely on board with it stylistically in that case, I know my taste is very different to hers and you could make it work…. but:

IT FEELS HORRIBLE TO WALK ON. At least to me? I feel like I’m about to stub my toe all the time!

So for that reason and that reason alone I’m firmly anti-pebble floor. On the walls, meh, sure. I bet it could be really cool.


I don’t love it. Pebble tile just seems dated to me! Am sure there are other ways you could bring stone in.

It was dated, but i think in a mountain house its never out 🙂 Its all about the context …


I don’t think I like it (mostly because it seems way too “weird” to not negatively impact the resale value) but like Sarah Sherman Samuel’s recent foray into terrazzo (which I would never in a million years imagined looking anything other than “airport”) if there’s anyone who can pull off an unexpected “look” it’s a design master like… A super wealthy relative of mine has a house in this super bougie newish development in Tahoe called Martis Camp — something about it is mildly grotesque ($5 million “rustic” homes owned by Silicoln Valley hedge funders) all tastefully designed to… Read more »

I’m listening … and kinda want to see those houses now … finding good inspiration images for this project has been HARD – thus trying to design the inspiration myself i suppose…


I had the lighter pebble tile in my bathroom in my old house and almost instantly regretted it! IT WAS SO HARD TO CLEAN and it constantly looked dirty to me! I think if you put it behind a mirror or something on the wall it could perhaps work but the floor is such a pain in the butt! Just my experience. I wished someone could have talked me out of it!


We had pebble tile in a bathroom in a house that we bought. I HATED it. It hurt to walk on and too many nooks and crannies for mold to grow.

Sophia F.

I truly love the look… but how the heck do you keep it even vaguely clean? I think you’d have to really love hands and knees scrubbing, because keeping the grout even vaguely white with that much texture would be so, so hard.


We took exact inspiration from the bautzhomes photo you included in the roundup (white pebbles beneath the tub and in shower with smooth tile in the remainder of the room) for our master bath reno two years ago. After living with it for two years, here are my thoughts: -Every shower I invariably will have to reposition my feet a few times because they’ll land on a part of pebble that hits my feet in a very uncomfortable way. (As someone who’s put my feet through LOTS of high-heel shoes, they may be more sensitive to the lumps in the… Read more »

this is SO HELPFUL. thank you. Right now we are mostly considering floors, but not shower floors (because of just what you said). And we figure we’ll put a little rug in front of the vanity. But the tub and the main floor will be on it …. but the cleaning issue is going to be kinda annoying. Our master is on the second floor and i kinda feel like we won’t track too much up there, but who knows …. all good to know though.


Also, I just have to ask, are those heads of radicchio leaning on the sink in one of the middle photographs (with the twigs on the mirror)? I love that space overall, but a little confused on the vegetable styling props in the bathroom…

They love Radicchio!! they just picked it from their garden and were rinsing it off … 🙂


I think you definitely need to incorporate stone into the design but I am not feeling the pebbles in a bathroom. First of all it seems like a nightmare underfoot. Secondly having more grout in a bathroom that boys will be using (especially if light) is a nightmare. You’ll understand as Charlie gets a little older. I can maybe see it as shower flooring but as an entire bathroom floor seems like overkill and the possibility of seeing the grid would be a non-starter for me. If you do go with it I would maybe limit it to one smaller… Read more »

I’m SCARED!!!!!


Do not use it near a toilet if you have boys. I have 4 boys and their toilet area is so gross. I have to wipe the floor down constantly. Ick.


Mother of a boy here –

When toilet training little boys **teach them to pee sitting down**

It makes all the difference in the world – my now 13 year old thinks it’s normal to pee sitting (of course he can pee standing up – and does that outside, etc.!). And there’s ZERO mess around the toilets.

If they’re already toilet trained? Just say: new house rule! And just teach them how to do it (“point your p*nis down while you’re sitting”). 😉


Mom of 2 boys here. Mine peed sitting down for a while when they were potty training, but as soon as they went to kindergarten, those days were OVER. Most public men’s bathrooms only have one toilet. I agree 100%, I would never use these anywhere near a toilet with any kind of male person who would ever use said toilet.


I LOVE the pale pebbled tile! I feel like if you go with it, you’re going to start a huge trend!

fwiw, my grandma had pebbled sidewalks, and as a kid getting out of the pool, I really didn’t like walking on them. however, those pebbles were really tiny (like, bean size), so I think that’s what made them uncomfortable to my bare feet.


Make Brian happy! But I am completely unconvinced that it wouldn’t be a nightmare to clean on the floors. A simple swiffer wouldn’t work: all that dust in between visits would collect in the uneven places. Who wants to spend their time (or money) deep-cleaning on vacation? It’s all I can think about! I’d be less freaked about it on the wall. For the floor, something in larger, flatter, unpolished pieces, with less grout?


I agree! Make Brian happy. But maybe another way?! Lol


I love the rocks! And love the natural element they provide. I had them in my last house as a shower base and loved the feel on my feet! Since it was a small space, you didn’t notice the lines.


My main concern is that you are leaning toward the super light stone with white grout. There is SO MUCH grout on an installed pebble tile which, for a floor, will be a nightmare for your real life. If you go this route, I think you need to explore epoxy grout or something similarly commercial grade which is much more stain resistant. I’ve installed pebble shower floors before but always (ALWAYS) done a cement-like gray grout for this reason as it’s a much more forgiving color.

Vicki S Williams

Yes not white grout and yess on epoxy!


I like the look–but can anyone comment on how hard (or easy) it is to clean? All that grouting + white + floor makes me think you’d be down there scrubbing all those nooks and crannies waaaay to much.


We tiled our master postage stamp shower a couple of years ago. We used mixed color stones of twelve inch tile sheets. I agree with one poster that if not laid out more organically the lines of the sheets will drive you crazy! I really couldn’t complain because my husband was our tile guy. The other issue I had (because we didn’t use a professional tiler) was the outer edges/corners. Water pooled up and orange mold began to grow……and was unsightly. If you had someone one to make sure there is more of a downhill slope toward the drain you… Read more »


The “I know nothing about flooring and tiles” me, LOVES the look of it, especially in the last pictures. Go for it! The “professionally sells this type of pebbles and other tiles every day” me, would never ever put this in a bathroom floor or wall. Sales person is giving real talk now: PRO: totally fits the look you are going for, every piece is unique because it’s a natural stone CON: maintenance is … a challenge, pro tip is to put a protector on top and repeat every year, the biggest issue with maintenance isn’t the porosity (protector helps)… Read more »


Thank you for this! This is what I was wondering. I love the look but there is no way I could handle that much maintenance.

emily jane

hhhmmmm…. Emily mentioned above that they are installing radiant heating which seems would address any issues of mold (as post-bathing water in between the pebbles/stones would evaporate before it could begin growing anything) but your comment makes me wonder if there is still a problem functionally speaking -because even evaporated mop water would leave behind it’s dirt, right..? Can’t wait to see the evolution of this idea : )


You changed my mind, along with other comments here. If the maintenance is a challenge, then it doesn’t make sense to use them unless you pick a dark tone, seal it and use something like a natural gray polyurethane grout. One of my favorite spa getaway places has cement floors for the vanity area/WC, a walk in shower with dark gray pebble floors, basalt tile walls, white quartz counters, white shiplap and white fixtures. Very serene but also holds up to a lot of use. I’ve been going there for 10 years, still looks great and I have borrowed inspiration… Read more »


yeaaaah the two pictures before the shiplap bathroom are greaaaaat, and I’m team mountain rustic so…. pebbles it is ! great post !!!


I love the modern mountain vibe you are going for with the stone! I also LOVE the feeling of pebble flooring, particularly in a bathroom. I applaud how open you are being about the design process and I admire how important Brian’s opinion is to you! I would hope the diehard refined voters understand.

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