Introduction: Gaudí Style Bathroom With Mosaic and Stained Glass
Today I am bringing you a special and ambitious project carried out in conjunction with Almascien Architecture.
During the refurbishing of an house we joined efforts to build an unique piece of art: a Modernisme bathroom with ceramic mosaic tiles. During the work we were struck with the idea to recycle the antique and quaint windows of the house to surround part of the bathroom perimeter. We added colored stained glass windows made with the vitraux techniques which let light pass, but that completely blur the eye vision, making indistinguishable whatever is behind.
I would like to start this Intructable a bit philosophically and historically. The bathroom is a part of the house of crucial importance and the access to hygienic and more technological bathrooms has been an achievement that made the society and the human beings improve their lives over the history. Only 150 years ago, many well renowned cities, such as London, did not have a proper sewing systems, and it was common to throw wastes from the windows: poor wastes' management was a real problem that often caused epidemics and spread of disease. Only 70 years ago, people living in the countryside and in small towns in Europe didn't have proper bathrooms, they had outhouses or water closets instead.
In fact, having a good bathroom is one of the ingredients of modern civilizations. Between the ancients societies, Romans did a lot of work for water distribution and sewers management in the cities and are actually considered one of the the first advanced civilizations. It is a real sorrow that in 2020, in the contemporary world, slums and latrines still exists, which do not allow for proper hygiene. Whether one is either rich or poor, we all need to have access to proper hygiene facilities once a day, this is something that equates us all. In some puritan societies the lavatory has been considered the least important part of the house and actually if you travel in some cities, such as Amsterdam, there the bathroom is the narrower, more secluded and least cured space of the household.
In our opinion this room of the house deserves the proper respect and so we decided to make it as beautiful, functional and unique as possible. So with this project we did our best to refurbish a very old area of an house to make a bathroom that would be both artistic and technological. The major influence we had in this work is the Catalan Modernism; if you have ever traveled to Barcelona you probably have already glanced at the stupendous buildings that rose in the period of this art movement. Among the various architects, one that certainly is a great advocate of the movement is Antoni Gaudí, who extensively used broken ceramic tiles to make mosaics in his projects, such as park Güell and Casa Batlló. A great deal of inspiration also came from architect Hundertwasser who in Vienna, in its building, the Hundertwasserhaus, employed colorful mosaics of ceramic tiles.
Joining together the efforts of a experienced and open-minded team we managed to create this absolutely amazing bathroom. This is definitely not a low budget project, but with some work done by yourself, costs can be cut. The total cost splits in around 1k$ in construction materials, 1.5k$ in tiles and 3.5k$ for the plumbing work and materials.The project is quite lengthy as it required almost 2 months of full work to finish.
I hope that after looking at this Instructable you will be inspired to decor your bathroom or any other room of your house with mosaic tiles and vitraux, which are the key to make a room fantastic and to give it the fairy tale aura.
The steps of this project are the following. If you don't have a bathroom you can start from step 1, if you only would like to add mosaic to it, jump to step 14; if you are only interested in decorating with vitraux glass, jump to step 22.
1. Materials Needed
2. The Place Before and the First Idea
3. Concept of the Project
4. 3D Rendering
5. Placing the Pipes
6. Casting the Lightweight Screed
7. Building the Walls
8. Concrete Flooring
9. Placing and Checking the Windows
10. Covering the Wall in Mortar
11. Building the Windows Structure and Smooth the Wall Surfaces
12. Remove the Old Paint from Recycled Windows
13. Painting the Windows
14. Designing the Mosaic
15. Starting the Mosaic
16. Carry on Placing Tiles
17. The Mosaic on the Wall is Almost Finished
18. Placing the Tiles on the Floor
19. Filling the Grout Joint
20. The Overall Mosaic is Done!
21. Adding Toilet and Sink
22. Making the Vitraux
23. Adding Mirrors and Adding the Stained Glass
24. The Modernisme Bathroom is Complete!
ATTENTION: refurbishing an house, and more precisely making a bathroom will likely be regulated by some sort of regulations in your country you should comply with. Make sure you are assisted by some real professionals: a plumber, an electrician, a bricklayer. Especially the plumbing part is important that is done by an expert, to avoid any leakage.
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Step 1: Materials Needed
You will need plenty of construction stuff:
Making the walls and the floor:
- hollow bricks
- lightweight screed (a mix of cement and clay pebbles)
- indoor plaster for finishing
- paint stripper
Making the plumbing system:
- isolated water pipes
- isolated copper pipes for natural gas
- waste PVC pipes
- distribution manifolds
- condensing boiler
- lavatory, bidet and WC
Making the electrical system:
- electrical boxes
- electrical corrugated pipes
- wires with one pole and section of 2.5mm2 (line, neutral and ground)
- switches and plugs
Making the mosaic:
- colored ceramic tiles (20x20cm in size)
- tile thinset
- ceramic tile grout mix
Making decorative stained glass:
- 6 ancient window frames (more than 100 years old in our case!)
- soldering fluid
- special putty (more details in step 22)
Step 2: The Place Before and the First Idea
In the fist picture you can see how the place was before the refurbishing.
The idea to use the windows of the old house came to mind because the bathroom was going to be 3x2m in size and happened to have exposed two sides, one of 3m and the other of 2m, where 3 and 2 antique windows would fit respectively perfectly. With this in mind, the first concept was sketched on a wall of the building.
This solution was preferred also because the structure in which we had to build was old and we didn't want to put too much weight on the floor; so making a wood structure was the perfect compromise to make it both robust and light.
Step 3: Concept of the Project
Before starting any job, a first concept sketch of the overall project is a must. Just to give the main idea of how the refurbishing would have ended, a simple perspective sketch was drawn with pens and markers.
Step 4: 3D Rendering
The time came to use some modern tools to make all the spaces' calculation and understanding where we were aiming to.
We used blender to make an actual 3D model of how the bathroom would eventually be.
Step 5: Arranging the Pipes
After pulling down a wall that was in the way and demolishing some parts of the side walls to let the pipes pass through, it was time to place the pipes. If you already have a bathroom you can obviously skip this and the coming steps and you can jump straight to the decoration ones (step 14).
As we had to build from scratch, a plumber placed the pipes. The grey ones are for wastes and the blue ones are for water and the yellow one for natural gas. There are two sets of distribution manifolds to control and stop each one of the pipes.
Under all the pipes a membrane of special construction nonwoven fabric was placed, this PP fabric does not let the water pass but let the air pass. On top of the nonwoven fabric, a steel mesh was placed to give elasticity to the floor.
Steel brackets to hold the weight of lavatory and WC were also set at this stage.
In the picture you can also see how an old window looked like, it is one of those which was eventually used to build the bathroom perimeter.
Step 6: Casting the Lightweight Screed
Lightweight screed is a mix of cement, sand and clay pebbles, you can buy it premixed or mix it yourself.
It is a material extensively used to build substrates without overloading existing floor slabs. It acts as mortar that cover all the pipes, so you should test your plumbing system before placing it, because there is no turning back.
As you can see, a wood structure made of planks was build to delimit the casting and another steel mesh was placed on top to prevent cracking and to facilitate the anchoring of the concrete, which will be placed on top in step 8.
Step 7: Building the Walls
The actual walls were built. Mortar was used as joint for bricks.
Step 8: Concrete Flooring
Concrete and sand is used in this stage to make the actual floor where the tiles will be placed, so in this step it is important to level the floor with a bubble level.
Step 9: Placing and Checking the Windows
Now that the walls and floor of the bathroom are done is time to check how the decorative windows would fit in.
Step 10: Covering the Wall in Mortar
In this step the wall has been fully covered in mortar and leveled.
Step 11: Building the Windows Structure and Smooth the Wall Surfaces
In this step the final shape of the bathroom is starting to become visible.
A wooden structure of poplar batten was built where the windows were screwed. A router has been used to round the edges of the wood battens.
One of the windows was converted into a door: to do so an old door was sawed in half and was joined to a windows with wooden battens.
White plaster for interiors was applied and leveled as finishing over all the wall surfaces.
In the area where the shower lays a special waterproof paint was spread to insulate that zone.
Step 12: Remove Old Paint From Recycled Windows
Paint stripper was used in this step to melt the old and ugly paint from the ancient window, with the help of a spatula you can more easily scrap it away. The process was carried on until we could see the old wood that made the windows.
A belt sander was finally used to smooth the surface of the wood.
Step 13: Painting the Windows
We decided to make the window of a picturesque light blue color. Initially, before applying the blue paint, it is better to paint with white as background color. A couple of coats of paint of light blue would then do the job. With black metal paint we painted the beautiful and quaint wrought handles. The ancient windows refurbishing is now complete!
Step 14: Designing the Mosaic
This is a very artistic step in which the ideal project of the mosaic is drawn.
It was sketched on blender with a graphics tablet. The mosaic is in the form of customized hand-drawn textures applied on the surfaces of the walls.
Also some studies of mosaic patterns were made with pencils. Mosaics are the true specialty of Almascien Architecture.
As mentioned in the preface of this Instructable, a lot of inspiration was taken from the work of architects such as Gaudí and Hundertwasser. So having a close look of their artworks both on books and online was part of the research project.
Step 15: Starting the Mosaic
Following the sketch, the artists started to compose the mosaic tile by tile, commencing from one of the corners of the room.
The tools used in this process are: manual tile cutter (used to cut the tile along a line), pincers (used to cut away small pieces of a tile), hammer (to break the tiles).
The materials needed are only ceramic tiles and tile thinset to glue them to the plaster surface below.
ATTENTION: chopped ceramic tiles can be as sharp as knives so be very careful while cutting them. Always use gloves and beware!
Step 16: Carry on Placing Tiles
You can see how the colors were mixed together to make different section of the mosaic. For example:
- black and white to make the rim of the bathroom wall
- white and blue to make a central wave
- white and cream, to make a crescent mood
- shades of blue to make a sort of wondrous sky.
Step 17: The Mosaic on the Wall Is Almost Finished
Now the mosaic is really astounding. It is amazing how everyone sees something different in its abstractness.
Step 18: Placing the Tiles on the Floor
The floor completes the walls and the overall mosaic makes the viewer lost as though they were in an hallucinating world of wonders.
Step 19: Filling the Grout Joint
In this step with the help of a spatula all the grout joints between the tiles must be filled, the construction material used is a ceramic tile grout mix. which is a sort of special filling. The one we used was colored in black, in this way dirtiness would not be visible between the joints of the tiles and as it would create a strong contrast that would enhance the tiles contour. After filling the grout joint you can remove the excess material rubbing it away with a rug. Don't worry the ceramic tile grout mix does not attach on the smooth surface of the tiles, but the sooner you rub it away the easier it is to remove.
Step 20: The Overall Mosaic Is Done
Here I post some picture of some of the great details of this work.
May it inspire you for your own artistic mosaic creations.
Step 21: Adding Toilet and Sink
In this section WC, lavatory, bidet, sinks, condensing boiler and radiator were mounted with the help of a plumber.
Step 22: Making the Vitraux
If you are new to glass crafting visit this website and have a good read.
ATTENTION: cutting glass is dangerous, to avoid nasty wounds: clean the table from shards and splinters after each cut, use gloves and always use sandpaper to chamfer the glass corners and edges.
The steps to make stained glass are the following:
- create a reference on the table, in my case it was the size of the window frame
- start to cut the glass at your liking (with a good glass cutter), the bigger the pieces the easier to assemble
- once you have the glass pieces, use sandpaper to smooth their sharp edges
- cut and place the lead C profile, use spatula, nippers and chisel to work with lead profiles, they are very malleable
- cut and place the H profiles where you would like to join together the pieces of glass
- create you composition made of various pieces of glass in different colors
- with a small brush, spread soldering flux on the spots that needs to be soldered
- solder with tin the joints between the H profile and C profile; after finishing your vitraux glass will have a stiff structure
- with a small brush, apply antioxidant on every lead profile and on the tin soldered spots
- to make the mosaic waterproof and to avoid that it would rattle when moved, you'll have to make a special putty and spread it over the small recesses between the pieces of glass and the lead profiles. In order to make this special glass stucco follow this ancient artisan recipe, in a glass:
- fill in half with boiled linseed oil;
- fill in half with white spirit;
- add Precipitated Calcium Carbonate (White of Spain) and stir until it becomes creamy
- add carbon black, to color the putty in black
- spread the putty over the glass and the profiles helping yourself with an old big brush
- clean the putty in excess initially with sawdust, which absorbs it, and then with rags
- let your new vitraux glass dry for at least a night.
Step 23: Adding Mirrors and Adding the Stained Glass
After the compelling and precise work of making vitraux, use transparent silicon to place the stained glass windows in the window frames. Make sure you remove the windows frames from their hinges and place them horizontally on a table before applying silicone; then keep them horizontal for at least a night, so that the silicone drys and fix them in the right position.
In front of the lavatory, in the window frames we placed some mirrors. Just buy them from your local glazier. Make sure you use silicone for mirrors (not acetic) for fixing them to the windows frames
Step 24: The Modernisme Bathroom Is Complete!!
Finally we had just added some details, such as a shower curtain and an infrared radiator.
At this point the modernist bathroom with mosaic and stained glass is complete!
I am sure that it would impress pretty much everyone that sees it.
It is truly amazing how creativity can transform an old place and turn it into a fairy tale.
I hope you enjoyed this construction and art Instructable and that the house decoration and refurbishing techniques you might have learnt in this guide will help you in the future.
Bye, and may you start a 2020 with a fresh mind, full of wonderful ideas!
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