Encaustic Tiles

 

We have recently been working on a bathroom remodel project and have become enamored with encaustic tiles we have seen. Encaustic tiles have been around since medieval times when they were made with two or more colors of clay inlaid together to create a pattern which is beautiful, colorful, and timeless. According to Tile-Magazine.com “this art form reached its peak in the mid-1800’s when Minton’s Ltd. began to supply them for walls and floors in churches, public buildings, and grand palaces.” Nowadays, these tiles are made with cement rather than clay. Yet, the process remains basically the same – instead of being painted with a pattern, the color and pattern in encaustic tiles are literally baked in.  Each tile is made by hand using a special frame resembling an intricate cookie-cutter. Layers of pigmented cement are then poured into the various sections of the mold.

We love the extra flourish these aesthetically pleasing tiles can add to any space.  Whether they are used for a kitchen backsplash, an entry way, or a bathroom floor, encaustic tiles are a great way to show off your personality and style. Our design advice, though, is to make sure that the style of your house works with the pattern you love.  There are so many patterns to choose from – graphic and contemporary styles, Moroccan-inspired patterns, and traditional Victorian to name just a few.

While authentic handmade encaustic tiles can be very expensive, there are many glazed porcelain and ceramic tiles that mimic the look yet are much more modestly priced.  We will post a new blog when the bathroom is complete – look for the encaustic tile in the post.

Photo Credits:

Photo of colorful encaustic flooring installed in the U.S. Capitol – www.wikipedia.com

This is an intricately patterned mold for making encaustic tiles – from Lynne Byrne’s Design Dictionary at www.decorartsnow.com

Kitchen backsplash in Kyra II Terrazzo from www.cementtileshop.com - this handmade tile is priced at $8.60 for each 8” square.

Revival Memory 8” square tiles by Merola can be found at Home Depot for $1.98 each.

Two Color Schemes - One Classic and One a Little Bit Out There

From sophisticated black and white checkerboard flooring to more casual black and white ticking stripes, this color scheme has been a lasting one throughout the decades.  Design icon Dorothy Draper used black and white in her decorating schemes in the 1930’s, and today, many designers use black and white as their “go to” color scheme. New black and white furniture pieces from a number of manufacturers were spotted at the Fall Furniture Market in Highpoint, North Carolina.  Highland House, a high end furniture company is no exception. Nathan Copeland, president of Highland House says that “the color black helps to ground a room, giving it a focal point, while white provides a sense of freshness.”  Black and white can stand alone or is amazing with pops of bright color to punch it up.

We all seem to have a pair of colors that we use often – in our clothing or in decorating our homes.  Sticking with traditional pairs like black and white may be a safe bet, but maybe it is time to move a little bit outside our comfort zone.  The Crimson and Deep Violet duo we saw on the Domino Magazine website is beautiful, untraditional, and complementary. It could be risky, but, in smaller doses and in the right place, it will be stunning.  The magazine suggests “filtering in accent pieces that belong within the spectrum of the two shades.”  We also suggest using lots of neutrals to balance the brightness and boldness!

The Beaufort Center Hall Table by Highland House Furniture is a contemporary take on a design classic.  www.highlandhouse.com

 

 

 Times Square – Black and white checkerboard floor by Emser Tile – This is the tile that designer Tobi Fairley is installing in her foyer as a part of the year-long renovation of her home.  She is chronicling her project as the newest columnist of Traditional Home magazine.

Times Square – Black and white checkerboard floor by Emser Tile – This is the tile that designer Tobi Fairley is installing in her foyer as a part of the year-long renovation of her home.  She is chronicling her project as the newest columnist of Traditional Home magazine.

 Toile Fabric is a timeless choice in black and white – This Bouvier comforter set by Thomasville at Home can be found at www.wayfair.com. 

Toile Fabric is a timeless choice in black and white – This Bouvier comforter set by Thomasville at Home can be found at www.wayfair.com. 

Crimson and Deep Violet - unexpected color pairing - Domino copy.jpg

This is the unusual color scheme that caught our eye on www.domino.com.

Fresh and Fabulous Finds

We are always on the look out for new and interesting items to share with our design clients.  From time to time, we post some of the things we have recently discovered. Here are a few of them.

We have just discovered a company that makes stylish custom doors, panels, and drawer faces for Ikea cabinets. Based in Los Angeles, Semihandmade makes it possible to have a beautiful kitchen for a much lower price.  Unlike other major cabinet manufactures, it is possible to purchase Ikea cabinets without the drawers and doors. They are sturdy and cost-effective – so, even after adding the beautiful customized doors from Semihandmade the final cost will be much less than the cost of a typical custom kitchen. According to owner John McDonald, they offer over 50 different doors in a wide range of prices and finishes. We found so many choices that we loved – just a few include the high gloss colors, textured melamines, and one-of-a-kind reclaimed wood panels.  Take a look at www.Semihandmade.com for more ideas and information.

 Ikea kitchen with high end bamboo doors and drawers

Ikea kitchen with high end bamboo doors and drawers

Based in Scottsdale, Arizona, Nexus 21 Concealment System is a worldwide leader in lift systems.  We love this great idea for concealing a TV in a kitchen countertop!  This idea can also be used to provide pop-up storage for large mixers, coffee makers, and other small appliances to keep the counter clutter-free when not in use – we like this idea much better than the more common “appliance garages.”

 

 Nexus 21 Concealment Systems - pop up TV in kitchen island

Nexus 21 Concealment Systems - pop up TV in kitchen island

We have most often used Kravet for their fabrics and trims, but they are also known for their fine furniture, wallcoverings, and rugs.  Recently, they introduced their Modern Luxe line of hide area rugs in an array of natural colors and several different compositions including plank, chevron, and tile. The rich, textural and rustic beauty of these rugs comes in part from the hand-stitching and from the different directions in which the artisans lay the hair.  We would love to use one of these rugs in one of our designs sometime soon!

 One of the newly introduced hair-on-hide rugs from Kravet

One of the newly introduced hair-on-hide rugs from Kravet

 

 

 

Beach Thoughts

Just last week I was sitting on the beach gazing out at clear skies and listening to the soothing sounds of the waves, and I could not help but think how I could transport some of this calmness and serenity back home.  I wanted a bit of this feeling in my home without the kitschy shell mirrors, lamps, and boxes or an overdone nautical theme so often associated with beach décor.

While it is difficult to achieve this tranquil and comfortable feeling without making it too cliché, try these suggestions:

  • Use neutral, sandy colors but definitely break up the neutral with unexpected shots of color – turquoise, blue, or coral colors are classic. Add crisp white accents.

  • Go for bare wood floors – light stained or cerused wood creates a fresh look.

  • Casual distressed or painted furniture is easy to care for and creates a relaxed style.

  • Mix styles and materials using natural elements for rugs, window treatments and furnishings – rattan, bamboo, wicker, sisal, grasscloth and cotton are all great.

  • Think about washable white cotton slipcovers or using outdoor fabrics indoors for easy care.

  • Sheer fabrics bring in the light and feel breezy.

  • Evoke that beach-like feel with subtle hints – awning striped fabric on pillows, vintage marine life prints, a vignette of a FEW beautiful shells, a bit of driftwood , or coral  or a lovely seascape painting can reference the theme without screaming it!

I wanted the tranquility and lovely memories even next winter when the skies are gray and the temperatures plummet!  Since my vacations to the shore don’t come often enough, a sea-inspired décor can be my getaway!

 

Photo Credits:  Dining Area by Dwight Loudon from HGTV Rate My Space: notice the natural light-colored floorboards, the sisal rug, painted furniture, and the wall color.

Living Room – photo by Mark Lohman for Coastal Living: notice the slipcovered furnishings and the attractive coastal vignette on the coffee table.

Bunk Room - photo by J. Savage Gibson for Coastal Living: We love a bunk room to accommodate family and friends with kids!  Notice how the small scale prints along with the plaid rug anchor the room with coordinating beachy colors.  The curtains on the bunks are an added bonus for privacy.