Design Stories | Great Outdoors Bathroom

“When I started thinking about doing my bathroom, I thought about doing a basic tile job, but then I thought it would be cool to have Motawi tiles.” So says Mike Johnson, a bachelor living in metro-Detroit. He wanted to take his old 1960s-style one inch block tile bathroom and make it extra special. While he felt overwhelmed being a single guy trying to put together a fabulous bathroom, his designer, Julie Baty helped him every step of the way.

Mike started out by choosing a colorway that suited him. He originally wanted to incorporate all of the Motawi wildlife tiles into the installation…however, in order to keep the elegance of the design, Julie guided Mike to use only Owl relief tiles in the shower design. His beloved polychrome wildlife tiles were framed and used as an accent over the commode.


Left: featured relief element 4x4 Owl (2001); 4x6 Ellsworth Deep Crown (5184); 2x2, 2x4 and 4x5 (5184), 4x4 clipped corner (5203), 1x1 and 4x4 (2001). Right: main tile 4x4 clipped corner (5203), 1x1 (2001), and 4x4 (5184).

I thought about doing a basic tile job, but then I thought it’d be cool to have Motawi tiles.

The mirror over the luxurious double sink was framed with a decorative border that Mike had originally picked out to go into his shower. Using these tiles for the mirror allowed him to enjoy them without compromising the design of the shower. The framed mirror resulted in a stunning accent piece. Mike claims to not have any design or art background, but a lot of his work as a freelance video technician for professional sports is based on creativity and art and those skills definitely helped him in making his project so personal.

Mike says he liked the difference between the Motawi tiles he chose and other brands of tiles. “What I noticed from Motawi tiles compared to other tiles…the craftsmanship and quality is better than anything I’ve ever seen. If you go to a tile shop, you won’t see anything as beautiful as what Motawi makes.”


Left: feature relief tile in mirror frame 2x6 Celtic Border and 2x2 Celtic Corner (5203), 1x3 and 1x4 Bullnose (5184). Beveled mirror was mounted on 1/4" plywood. Right: main tile 4x4 clipped corner (5203), 1x1 (2001) and 4x4 (5184)

He says he also likes the way Motawi tiles aren’t flat. Mike installed a floor-heating element underneath his field tile Motawi floor. “They feel really good on your feet because they are rounded…they just feel neat.”

If you go to a tile shop, you won’t see anything as beautiful as what Motawi makes.

Because Mike lives in an older house, he was concerned that having so many tiles concentrated in a small space would pose a structural risk, so he hired a contractor who strengthened the joists underneath.


Main tile 4x4 clipped corner (5203), 1x1 (2001), 2x4, 3x4 and 4x6 mitered and custom cut bullnose (5184).

The bathroom remodel began in January of 2014 and was complete by May of that year (with some time lost because Mike was in Sochi, Russia covering the winter Olympics). He’s so happy with the way it turned out both for him and his visitors to his home…”My guests love it, they think it’s just fantastic.”

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