Over the past decade or so, bathrooms have become much more important spaces in a home, and in some cases, even more prominent than a family room or living room area. Today, master bathrooms are often designed to create an oasis or spa-like feel, featuring elements and materials that in the past may only have been found in commercial settings. A large spa tub, dual shower head or double-sink vanity area are all ways to add to a couple’s “retreat,” enabling them to take time out from life’s busy everyday schedule to rest and enjoy the comfort of their own home.
On that same note, kitchens are no longer just thought of as a place to prepare food, but also as a place to share relaxing, intimate meals with loved ones, or to entertain friends and host large gatherings. Installing islands, additional countertops, bar areas and breakfast nooks, are some of the popular ways to open up a kitchen space, providing more room for the enjoyment and preparation of large meals.
Moreover, a kitchen or bathroom can tell a lot about a homeowner, as architects and designers seek to incorporate certain characteristics reflective of their clients’ personality into a design. Whether an individual is seeking a masculine or feminine edge, or desires a conservative or bold look, the vast range of tile options in today’s market offer a number of design opportunities to meet these specific needs. Furthermore, tile products today are being manufactured to add glamour and class to a space, or to look like natural stone such as slate, for example.
Designer Vanessa De Leon of Vanessa De Leon Associates based out of Ridgewood, NJ, enjoys working with tile and appreciates the many style opportunities it offers. “I use tile so often because of its uniqueness,” she said. “I like to think outside of the box and with all of the variations in color, size and shape, tile is so diverse and offers so many design options. Tile gives a nice three-dimensional look. It is durable, easy to clean, maintains itself and lasts a long time. Other wall coverings start to come apart after a while, but with tile you are good to go for a long time.”
Mixing MaterialsOne popular way to create a unique space is to mix a variety of design elements, such as materials, colors and shapes, which can enhance a room by adding texture and flair to a design. Adding accent pieces, such as borders, inserts or listellos is another great way to complement a design or to add contrast to a space. Also, many designers find that by simply installing tiles on a 45-degree angle, a unique twist can be added to a bathroom or kitchen floor or wall design.
Furthermore, a combination of square and rectangular shapes or a variation of finishes such as polished, semi-polished and matte allow for more design options. Also, the blend of different tile materials can help to set a specific mood or tone, whether it is calming or bold, elegant or simple, or modern or contemporary.
A variety of new shapes and sizes have recently been introduced to the market, allowing for even more unique design elements to be created. Aside from traditional square and rectangular pieces, octagons, hexagons and circles are also starting to appear more in various design arenas, especially for bathroom walls and kitchen backsplashes to mimic the look of wallpaper. And, aside from traditional 4- x 4-inch tiles, elongated subway tiles such as 2-by-6- or 2-by-4-inches are gaining popularity in today’s design world. Mixing tile materials, such as glass, ceramic, metal or stone, can also enhance a design.
For the design of a bathroom in a Hoboken, NJ-based residence, De Leon mixed Fusioni Black/Gold ceramic tiles in 16-by-16-inch pieces for the flooring, while 3-by-16-inch tiles - in a brick pattern - were employed for the bottom half of the walls as well as the shower area. “I wanted to activate a sleek look for this loft style apartment,” she said.
Another example of mixing the same material in different size pieces can be seen in the kitchen of a Rutherford, NJ, residence where De Leon employed 2-by-2-inch slate-look ceramic tiles for the kitchen backsplash. Then, the same material in a variety of random-sized tiles such as 6-by-6- and 12-by-12-inches, were employed as flooring. “The idea here was to create a rustic theme kitchen,” the designer said.
Naturally, when it came time to design her own kitchen, De Leon selected glass mosaics in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, to add a sense of glamour to the space. “My overall design direction was to glam up my space by using blue, black, white, brown and reflexive surfaces throughout my apartment,” she said. “So, to incorporate all those colors into the kitchen, I thought of an interesting way to use these colors for a glass backsplash in all different square and rectangular sizes and shapes.”
More specifically, the kitchen backsplash features glass tile from Mixed Up Mosaics, which is available through Artistic Tile of Paramus, NJ. The material was used in a block art pattern in colors including blue, black, brown, white and mirror.
Mimicking WaterGlass tile today is more frequently being employed for bathroom designs to mimic water. Realizing this design concept, Settecento Valtresinaro of Italy created its Musiva series, which is comprised of glass tile reminiscent of water. The manufacturer describes the material as being “silent, elegant, relaxing, with a wealth of color tones, and miniature illuminations in an astonishing range of colors and decorations.” The material is available in sizes of 1-by-1-, 2.2-by-2.2- and 4.5-by-4.5-cm, and the following colors are offered: Avorio, Cipria, Mogano, Giallo, Verde, Blu, Argento, Grigio and Ardesia.
One specific example of this can be seen in the redesign of a guest bathroom of a private residence located in the Hollywood Hills of California, where Arch-Interiors Design Group, Inc. selected blue mosaic tiles from American Olean to mimic the water surrounding the Southern California home.
“Because the guest bathroom is close to the pool, we wanted to use the sense and quality of water,” Principal Designer Christopher Grubb explained. “The tiles we chose were water colors, very fresh. We used white grout to make them stand out graphically, and to be reminded of the era of the home.” The tiles were used in a dark Midnight Blue shade for the flooring, and the same material, in a lighter shade of True Blue, was carried into the shower design.
For another residence, which is situated on the coastline of West Galveston Bay, TX, blue-colored glass mosaics from Trend’s Brillante Series - supplied through InterCeramic of Houston, TX - were employed for the walls and floor of the powder room to reflect the water surrounding the residence.
“We always knew that due to the scale of the room, we would be using a glass mosaic,” designer Robert Reid, ASID, with Brooks-Reid Studio. “The color was selected as an interpretation of the color of the water in the Bahamas, on the Caribbean side. Since the house is on the coast, we wanted to bring ‘water’ elements into the house.”