In 2015, founder and master artist at Native Tile & Ceramics in Torrance, CA, Diana Mausser, began working on a project with a homeowner in La Quinta, CA. She and her team created handmade tile for a small portion of the home’s entrance, which snowballed into an entirely new project five years later.
“I was introduced to the homeowner and the project by Robb Whittlef of Historic Studio who was the main designer on the project during the preliminary design phase. Initially, we created tile for the main part of the interior of the arch," Mausser said. "Once the client lived with it for a few years, she really loved it and felt it would look amazing to cover all of the remaining areas of the archway as well. The home is in a high-end gated community where some of the homes can have a similar feeling. The client wanted to use decorative tile to customize and personalize her home to create a spectacular first impression right at the entryway.
“She was inspired by the many ornately embellished arched entryways on buildings in Europe,” Mausser explained. “The home already had a visually strong, arched structure. Working with an existing structure can be a challenge and required that we make several custom shapes and sizes to fit exactly. The homeowner, Mary Ingebrand-Pohlad, is an artist so she was very involved in the beginning with pattern and color selection. Once we narrowed it down though she was very trusting and left a lot of the fine-tuning decisions up to us.”
For the “second phase” of this project, which was completed last year, Mausser and her team created 1,900 individual pieces of patterned tile in various sizes and shapes, including quarter rounds to embellish the front door surround in its current state. Tile was also used for the garage door surround, which features a 300-piece arch that complements the nearby entry, as well as a few window surrounds.
Although most of the patterns were designed by Native Tile, some patterns were inspired by a renowned California Historical Landmark on the coast. “A few of the patterns were inspired from those originally made at the historic Adamson House in Malibu, CA (1926-32),” Mausser said. “Due to the nature of the project, we had to create custom-sized versions of many of the selected patterns.
Creating the custom-sized pieces was the biggest hurdle Mausser faced, which was overcome with the help of the talented installers at Andrew Pierce Corporation in La Quinta, CA. “The main challenge, based on the radius of the various arches, was creating one-size shaped tile that would repeat along each curved arch section,” Mausser said. “This is difficult, but if achieved, makes the tile setters’ job so much easier and also creates a cleaner design outcome. Fortunately, the homeowner hired a very competent contracting firm, one that was familiar and experienced with custom projects such as this one.
“Gary Lohman of Andrew Pierce Corp. was very involved from the beginning and supplied me with accurate dimensions and drawings so that we could create precise tile for their installation,” she went on to say. “I did do one preliminary site visit to get a sense of the scale and to make sure the new tile coordinated with existing tile and house trim paint colors. The quality of the actual installation is superb.”
Although the entire project spanned five years, each of the “phases” -- which included initial meetings, preliminary and final design concepts, layouts, sample approvals and final tile production -- took approximately three months.
“The clients are thrilled, as was obvious when they decided to add more tile to the arch after the first installation,” Mausser said. “The overall impression from the street is pretty spectacular and the neighbors see it as a highlight that definitely enhances the neighborhood.”