Personalizing a Living Space with Tile
September 25, 2007
With hectic work schedules and busy personal lives, homeowners are seeking refuge in their living spaces at the end of the day. For many, spacious rooms and a soothing materials palette are at the top of the list when it comes to residential interiors. And the wide range of tile products available today definitely contributes to beautiful and refreshing home designs - no matter what style.
A home is no longer just a place to eat and sleep. It has evolved to become a center of family activity and entertainment. While function is often a necessity, homeowners also consider aesthetics a priority. They are taking pride in choosing materials for their living spaces - particularly for kitchens and bathrooms - that reflect their personality and spark conversation.
In recent years, homeowners have become more savvy and educated on design. This can be partly attributed to the numerous home design shows that are now on television as well as the abundance of tile lines that have flooded the market.
Larger formats, unique textures and shimmering glass mosaics are just to name a few of the plethora of options that inspire today's residential designs. Whether used on their own or in combination with each other, these types of materials provide endless design possibilities. Contemporary or traditional, country or rustic; there is a tile product to satisfy all styles.
And while it has been noted that new construction is slowing down across the country, remodels are bigger than ever. Homeowners are seeing the value in investing in their private residences. They are ripping out carpet, tearing down walls and replacing linoleum with tile floors.
Expanding bathroomsOne area of the home that has definitely seen a transformation is the bathroom. Today’s designs are including Jacuzzi tubs and steam showers. They are having a more spa-like feel - becoming a place where homeowners can retreat and relax.
“For years and years, I am seeing bathrooms just expanding,” said John Carlile, principal/president of Eco Echo Interior Design in Eugene, OR. It’s official, bathrooms are now bigger than bedrooms.”
The designer explained that his clients are often looking to create a master spa rather than just a bathroom. Warmers in drawers have grown in popularity as well as floor heating systems. “The drawers are nice for heating towels and oils,” he said.
For one recent project, Carlile renovated the master bath in a residence out in the country. “It was a 14-year-old home,” said the designer. “We redid everything.”
He explained that his clients liked an organic feel, and as a result, he used all recyclable glass and porcelain tile in the master bath. “[Also], we reused the existing sink and toilet and retrofitted it,” he said.
According to Carlile, the existing master bath was designed in the 1970s, and it wasn’t functional. “It was never used,” he said. The new design not only restored the practical aspect of the space, but also transformed the bath into an elegant room.
While a skylight allows natural sunlight to shine through, the overall design is enhanced with floor and wall tile as well as tile on the shower ceiling. The 12-by-12-inch floor and wall tile is from Laufen’s Cairo series. The copper shade of the tile warms up the space and provides a neutral background for the mosaic band that accents the wall - consisting of Cucini Borque Old World glass brick pattern in the color of Avalan Tiber. The top and bottom of the border is lined with 3/8-by-8-inch bars from Walker Zanger’s Spa Glass series.
Further details that add to the luxurious feel of the space are a bench and built-in shelf in the shower. The inside of the shelf is lined with mosaic tile, which in addition to serving a practical purpose also creates a point of interest on the shower wall.
Complementing a lifestyleIn addition to choosing materials that are visually stimulating, Carlile is also finding that his clients are drawn to products that meet the demands of their lifestyle. “Almost everyone that I deal with have a lot of ideas,” he said. “They see something that they like, and they want me to emulate it. A lot are also open to suggestions, but give me some criteria - depending on how they live their life. Whether you have pets or children - those things really apply.”
The designer explained that for another recent remodel, his client needed something that was practical for her kitchen. “Her goal was to make it function,” he said. “She has three small kids.”
Time had taken its toll on the kitchen, and it was in dire need of a facelift. “The cabinets were MDF and falling apart,” explained Carlile. “What prompted it was that my client was getting ready to cook Easter dinner and the cabinet came off in her hand.”
The floor features 12-by-12-inch porcelain tile, which provides the durability needed for an active family. The countertop is fabricated from Cambria natural quartz surface, while the backsplash is comprised of 1-by1-inch mosaic tile from Oceanside Glasstile’s Copper blend series.
The combination of materials not only satisfied the homeowner’s request for a functional kitchen, but it also demonstrated that function does not necessarily mean that aesthetics is sacrificed.
Inspiring a modern designPorcelain tile was also a key component in the design of a master bath in an urban residence, which is located on the corner of 11th and W Streets in the Shaw neighborhood of Northwest Washington, DC. The single-family home is built on three levels and features up to three bedrooms, three contemporary baths, a one-of-a-kind custom-built kitchen and an open plan living area designed with a double height-ceiling in the sitting room, according to the design team at Division1 Architects in Silver Spring, MD.
“It’s a model house on the edge of an historic district,” explained Ali Reza Honarkar of Dvision1 Architects. “We wanted to do a project where we could choose the materials that we like.”
The architect explained that his firm uses the residence as a showcase to illustrate its work to its clients. The ground floor provides the flexibility to serve as a bedroom, home office or studio apartment, and it features wall-size windows, a kitchenette and a separate entry. There are outdoor spaces on every level, including a spacious patio on the ground floor, a front elevation balcony and a roof deck with an outdoor kitchen. A covered carport provides off-street parking underneath the building.
According to Honarkar, Caesar porcelain tile was chosen for the walls and floors in the master bath - creating a luxurious yet clean feel. “We love Caesar tile,” he said. “We used two colors - a light colored tile on the floor and a darker one on the walls.”
The floor tiles measure 12-by-24 inches, while the wall tiles are 4-by-24 inches. The tile was all cut onsite, said Honarkar.
The architect explained that it was intended that the master bath appear as an extension of the bedroom rather than just a bathroom. “The shower is very large with a dual system,” said Honarkar. “The idea was that the master bath has no doors. We wanted to get away from thinking of it as a bathroom. It’s more of an extension of the bedroom.”
Honarkar went on to say that the tile was a good choice for the design of the master bath because it prevents moisture. Additionally, the Caesar tile replicates the horizontal lines that are found on the exterior of the dwelling.
When it comes to the selection process for its residential designs, the architect explained that his firm draws from its experience with the commercial and hospitality sectors. “We love residential, but when we started in 1994, the contemporary look was not so popular,” said Honarkar. “We ended up doing a lot of hospitality work - restaurants where they welcome contemporary a little more.”
After establishing itself, Division1 Architects began doing more residential projects, and today it often turns to materials that it uses in its commercial projects. “That’s the nice thing about us,” said the architect. “We do offices and hospitality, so we have a larger palette of materials than people doing just residential.”