Adding Color to the KItchen

Essence Professional Colorful Faucets

Kitchens are becoming more and more colorful.  A few months ago, we loved finding ranges in literally a “range” of colors to suit just about anyone’s taste.  And, now we found beautiful, sleek architectural faucets from Grohe which became available in July of 2017.  The Essence professional faucets come in a rainbow of fun colors including red, orange, yellow, green, blue purple and pink. The silicone hoses are interchangeable which allows for easy maintenance and also offers homeowners the option to add small pops of color to an otherwise neutral kitchen.

Of course, these faucets are not just big on personality, but they offer superb GrohFlexx technology featuring a 360-degree turnable spring for a fully rotating spray and their EasyDock magnetic system.         

Photo Credit:

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Crosstown Farmhouse Sink

Adding a splash of color to a kitchen is so easy these days.  We recently wrote about colorful ranges and then about the Essence Professional Faucets that come in a rainbow of colors.  And, now we learned about the Elkay Crosstown Farmhouse Sink. With its interchangeable aprons, this innovative sink is an industry first and perfect for homeowners who want to alter the look and feel of their kitchens in an easy way. It is as simple as loosening and re-tightening two wing nuts so adding that splash of color whenever the mood strikes could not be easier.

The aprons come in Glacier, Champagne, Graphite, Platinum, Sapphire, Scarlet and Sunset to fit the several different models of the Crosstown Farmhouse Sink that have the interchangeable apron feature.  The sink and aprons are sold separately.

Perhaps, a new range, a new faucet, or even a new sink is in the cards for your kitchen.

Photo Credit: www.elkay/crosstown



We love rugs – they are an essential part of all home décor.  We often tell our clients to start with the rug when designing a room as they provide the foundation upon which furniture and the rest of the room sit.  Their aesthetic appeal can be truly amazing.  While rugs do come in many styles, price points, and materials, they all may be difficult to maintain.  Ruggables may be a very stylish and affordable solution for people on a budget and for families with young children or pets.

Jeneva Bell, the founder of Ruggables, tells the story of how her dog ruined her new, very expensive rug.  She, along with her team of industry experts, came up with this innovative two -piece rug system. With one removable rug cover and one cushioned non-slip pad, this technology makes it possible for area rugs to be washed as easily and frequently as bedding.

Connie Chen from Business Insider tried out a Ruggable rug in her own apartment, and she found that the system was as easy to assemble and to maintain as was touted on the Ruggables site. Take a look at their website to see all of the sizes and styles that are available.  Just a few of the many designs are traditional Persian ones, contemporary geometric patterns, nautical and coastal designs, and fun patterns for kid’s rooms and playrooms.  These area rugs and runners can be purchased at many online sites or stores such as Wayfair, Amazon, Home Depot, and Target.  We have not seen these in person yet, but we are planning to check them out for ourselves soon.

Photo Credits:

   Noor Rug in Ruby, one of the traditional designs –

   This rug system is put together easily –

   Ruggable in a child’s room –

The Amazing Mr. Nowalk

We came across this article about Francis Nowalk and his lighting showroom in the most recent issue of Pittsburgh Quarterly, and we had to post this blog.  We have been to Francis J. Nowalk Lighting in Bloomfield, talked to this amazing 90 year old gentleman,  and gawked at the array of fabulous chandeliers and lamps, both new and antique.  Nowalk is a true lighting and furniture artist who has been in business since 1948 , and he has recently cut down his working day from 10-12 hours to only 7 or 8!  Over the years, he has restored and refurbished beautiful old lights from buildings being renovated or demolished to give them a second life. He has worked on restoring the giant chandelier at Rodef Shalom as well as lighting in other Pittsburgh landmarks such as St. Paul’s Cathedral, Soldiers and Sailors, and the Duquesne Club.   Mr. Nowalk actually calls himself one of the original recyclers!

 Many of the pieces are extremely rare and expensive, and we have not found a client who is interested in any of the beautiful chandeliers, sconces, lamps, and furniture in Mr. Nowalk’s shop, but we sure would love to!  Luckily, we were able to take a few broken lamps to him, and he was able to fix them beautifully. He is a craftsman extraordinaire, and we worry, as he does, about what will become of his massive inventory as he grows older. He has said that he dreams of a talented multi-millionaire who wants to buy his business, and we certainly hope he does.

Photo Credit:

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Colorful Ranges

Colorful Ranges


Beautiful spring colors are popping up all around us, and brightly colored ranges are also popping up. They are more than just appliances and can be a jumping off point for an entire kitchen concept for people who are very comfortable with color and do not want the standard white, black or stainless steel range.  Keep in mind, however, that these ranges are definitely not for all of those who are not color shy.  Price points we have seen go from around $3500 to a whopping $54,800! 

We have found a virtual garden of ranges in colors for every taste. Here are a few of our picks.

This range from Smeg’s Portofino Series is a dual fuel model – we show it in yellow, but it is also available in orange and red for those who gravitate towards bright colors.  We found it at for $3999.

For those Aga fans who love radiant-heat cast iron ovens and hot plates, this one in Pistachio would be lovely in the garden or in the kitchen.  It sells for $17,999.

Remember all of the pink, aqua and other pastel kitchens from the 50’s and 60’s?  For those who would love a retro look, www.bigchill.comhas a huge inventory of pro ranges as well as retro ones in a multitude of colors.  Color swatches can be ordered for each of their lines – the custom colors can be ordered on one of their ranges for an additional $400.  This retro range from Big Chill is in Beach Blue.

And, now for the Rolls Royce of ranges – La Cornue.  La Cornue has been hand-crafting these masterpiece ranges in the French culinary tradition since 1908.  There are nearly 40 colors in their premium collection. The more modestly priced CornuFe model in Provence Blue is from Williams-Sonoma for $10,400, but this Le Chateau 150 60” range in Roquefort is a whopping $54,800.

Florals Fabrics for Spring

After another long Pittsburgh winter, spring is officially and finally here – and what do our thoughts turn to but beautiful gardens that are just beginning to bloom.  Gorgeous floral fabrics and wallpapers can transform any room into a delightfully fresh and lush garden.  We love to balance florals with softened geometric patterns, stripes or solids for an eye appealing and sophisticated design. Mixing these patterns in a space will add interest, color, and depth.  Even though the patterns don’t necessarily match each other, the scheme can work as long as they go together. The main thing to remember when mixing florals and other patterns is for them to complement each other and not compete.

We always follow these guidelines so the room will not look jarring or uncoordinated. Odd numbers look best so using three different patterns in varying scales is a good way to begin. The largest pattern can be the anchor pattern with all of the colors in the selected palette.  Then add a medium scale pattern with some of the colors and finally a small scale one with two or three of the colors. The intensity of the colors should be the same – for example, do not mix pastels with jewel tones. Also, it is always a good idea to break up the patterns with some solids or tone-on-tone fabrics. 

One of our favorite companies for fabrics and wallpaper is Thibaut.  We love their new Paramount Collection of coordinating wallpaper and fabrics. With its highly styled nouveau flower motifs, and beautiful colorways, it is perfect for spring.  This lovely dining room with patterns in aqua and green really says spring to us.  Notice how the mix of floral and other patterns in this room demonstrates the importance of varying the scale – the Desmond fabric in the drapery panels is a really large-scale pattern with an 18” horizontal repeat and a 44.5” vertical repeat while the Hillock wallpaper pattern is very small with only a 2” repeat.  The chairs are upholstered in Ebru which has a vertical repeat of 15” and a horizontal repeat of 25.75.  ( )

These pictures from  illustrate the importance of intensity as well as of scale. The fabrics in the picture of the headboard and pillows are in pastel colors with the floral being the largest scale with the most colors while the chevron and the geometric print are smaller scale and have one or two of the colors.  The other picture shows a wallpaper background in a bold and bright print behind the bed. It is the large anchor pattern with a mix of smaller patterns in coordinating colors.

 These vignettes are all so lovely for spring.  And, the best part will be when winter returns, your room will still speak spring to you.


Seven Things Every Living Room Must Have

The living room is most likely the main gathering place in our homes.   It is where we like to relax and socialize with friends and family.  Of course, it should be styled and decorated in accordance with personal tastes. But, we always suggest these ideas to our clients for how to make a living room complete, comfortable, and beautiful.  Over the years, we have written about all of them, but just for a little refresher, here we go.

1.      A focal point

Every room should have a focal point that captures your attention and draws you into the room.  It could be a fireplace, a large window, a beautiful piece of art, or an interesting mirror.

2.      Comfortable seating

Every living room should have several comfortable places to land.  The seating groups should be arranged for easy conversation and grouped around the focal point so that people will naturally want to hang around for awhile.

3.      Layered Lighting

A mix of overhead lighting, ambient lighting, and task lighting is a must.  We generally do not prefer the harsh lighting provided with the overhead lighting, but there may be times when it is necessary.  Ambient lighting is warm and inviting, so we recommend having several lamps or candles in the living room. If there is a desk in the space, task lighting for reading or writing will complete the layered lighting plan.

4.      Small tables next to every sofa or chair

       It is always better when everyone has a place to put down a drink or a snack. End tables,

      a coffee table, and some small occasional tables that can be moved around easily will do    

      the trick. 

5.       The cozy factor

We love to see a variety of textures in soft rugs, throw pillows, plants, and blankets to amp up the warmth and coziness in the room.

6.      A mix of old and new

We believe that every good living room should showcase a mix of old and new.  We appreciate it when our clients have personal collections or inherited family pieces.  Antiques, books, old photographs or objects collected from travels help to build the room’s character. Our homes are extensions of our lives and there is no better way to show our personalities than through these items.

7.      A touch of black

We designers often offer this piece of advice – if your room feels like it is still missing something, try adding a big or small touch of black.  It could be a piece of accent furniture, some picture frames, a lampshade, or a vase.  The black will ground the space, add depth, and lend sophistication to any color scheme.

Photo Credits:

In both of these photos, we can see these elements – a beautiful focal point, a comfortable seating arrangement, good layered lighting, some personal collections, various textures, and some touches of black.

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Pantone - Color of the Year 2019

Pantone – Color of the Year 2019

For 20 years, Pantone’s Color of the Year has influenced product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries, including fashion, home furnishings, and industrial design, as well as product, packaging, and graphic design. The Pantone Institute is basically a “think tank” that studies the emotions and psychology of color.  Each year, the experts at the institute search the world over to find new inspiration to influence their choice. While, the institute does not make any of the products, all of these industries jump on the bandwagon each year with new product lines when the new color is announced.

The color of the year for 2019 is Pantone 16-1546 Living Coral.  Warm, comforting, joyful, optimistic, and playful are words that the Pantone Institute has used to describe Living Coral. Somehow it is vibrant, yet mellow.  

Whether you would like to paint the whole room in this bold color or just add a smaller pop of color, these are just a few examples of the many options that are available.

Photo Credits

Living Color –

Tommy Bahama Home Chest –

Pop Color Modern Ceramic Table Lamp

Granger Rug –

Samsung Frame TV

If you do not like staring at that big black box when not watching your favorite shows, here is a fantastic idea. 

The Samsung Frame TV is as much a work of art as it is a TV.  When it is off, it transforms from TV to beautiful art. This cool new product will add style to any room. Simply choose from a library of artwork to suit your mood and taste. The Samsung Collection includes a selection of artwork and photography which can be updated when desired. There is an even larger collection which can be purchased by subscribing to the Samsung Art Store and then displayed on the Frame TV. Finally, it is possible to upload your own photos by sending them to The Frame via smartphone or connecting with a USB flash drive.

For more information and pricing, go to

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All About Door Hardware

Have you ever given much thought to all of the door hardware inside and outside your home? From the front door to all of the interior doors and the cabinetry pulls and knobs, there are literally dozens.  We would venture to say that most of you have not even thought about them at all.  Door hardware can easily be forgotten, but just think of the many beautiful options that are available to fit every style and budget.

If you are really not sure how to choose door or cabinetry hardware, read on for some excellent advice and tricks of the trade.  Designer Sarah Gibson in her Room for Tuesday blog has compiled this list of questions to ask before purchasing hardware.

§  What is the door and overall style of the home?

§  How will this piece look with the existing decor?

§  What is the budget?

§  What is the appropriate size hardware needed for this door, cabinet, or wall?  Scale is important!

§  What does the installation process look like?

§  What are the requirements needed ? (privacy, passage, dummy, or entry)

Check out these beautiful doorknobs for some inspiration if you are remodeling or building a new home.

Photo Credits:

This Victorian escutcheon  along with a smooth round knob has a refined and lovely old world look. It comes in this antique brass finish as well as many others.

For  a more contemporary design, we love this Windsor Crystal Knob with Modern Rectangular backplate from Emtek.  It comes, as shown, in a satin nickel finish, but many other finishes are available.

Create an entry that sets an elegant tone for the rest of your home. After all, it is the first piece of hardware people notice and touch when entering your home. This Durham Beaded Oval Knob Exterior Door Hardware Set features a motif that was a common Colonial Revival Design and blends classic shapes with refined decoration.

If you can see your hardware in person, all the better, but, if you do choose to order on-line, consider purchasing just one to make sure it is a good quality and has the look and finish you desire. Then, go ahead to purchase the additional ones needed.



A Few Trends from Highpoint Market

We have been following the Style Spotters who were at the recent fall market in Highpoint, North Carolina.  They reported on new trends that they found to be redefining the shape of home fashion – it seems that what is old is new again in many cases.

So, here are just two of their new product picks.

Internationally renowned designer and forecasting expert Stacy Garcia focused on pieces that featured unexpected pairings of materials and finishes.  We particularly liked the contemporary, yet rustic Double-Sided Bookcase Room Divider by Artitalia Group which combined the natural elements of raw wood with a modern material of steel.

Three other noted style spotters all selected this Egrets pattern from York Wallcoverings, but for somewhat different reasons.  Mary Douglas Drysdale chose it for its historical reference to eclectic romanticism. Designers Bria Hammel and  Holly Hollingsworth Phillips noted that designers are now introducing color more than ever into their projects. They both liked how this wallpaper packs so much punch into a space and reflects fearless design and whimsey. Designers and their clients who choose this wallpaper don’t shy away from color or pattern. These two designers feel that “it’s all about bravery and color this season.”

Photo Credits



Bespoke Details

Century Furniture has a wonderful custom cabinet program where consumers can design their own case. There are a myriad of choices for finishes, base, hardware, including finish and even placement, along with front designs for a number of pieces such as media chests, bar cabinets, dressers, and many more. On their website, Century has a new section with this bespoke program.  Simply click on it see dozens of choices after selecting a piece and selecting “Customize Me.”  For example, one may chose a bar cabinet, select an espresso finish for the box with white for the doors, a fretwork front, chow legs, and an oval ring pull in antique brass.  The visualizer is so incredibly easy to use and really fun. The dozens of choices allow for true customization. Century Furniture is high end and certainly not inexpensive, but to have these options is amazing.

Take a look at this example and then go to www.centuryfurniture.comto see for yourself.

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Two Very Different Chandeliers

We have been sourcing dining room chandeliers for two clients – two totally different chandeliers, both very good looking.  One of the clients wanted a very contemporary chandelier while the other expressed an interest in a traditional crystal one.  

Keep an eye out for a future blog where we will go into more detail about the myriad of other styles of chandeliers, about finding the right size chandelier, and also about various types of crystal.

But, for now, these are a few of the ones we found in each style. We know there is a perfect chandelier for every taste.

Tete-a-Tetes, Then and Now

When we think of tete-a-tetes, we usually think of Victorian times, but there are many more modern versions as well.  Tete-a-tete literally means head to head in French, and it is a two-seat sofa, basically consisting of two chairs joined together. Its primary use was for private conversations as its other names suggest.  The tete-a-tete is also known as a courting chair or a gossip couch. It was developed during the early 19th century in France and was popularized during the Victorian era. The Victorian ideals of modesty and controlled courtship are illustrated by the shared armrest which provided a slight barrier between the couple sitting on the sofa!

One of the most famous examples of a tete-a-tete is this one which was made by John Belter, an American cabinetmaker, around 1850-1860.  His extravagant use of carved ornamentation is typical of Rococo Revival style.  It is displayed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

In many mid-century modern versions of the tete-a-tete, the shared armrest for modesty is gone – in fact this Edward Wormley tete-a-tete from 1950 looks more like modern double chaises we see today.  We saw this one for sale on for $15,000.

We thought this ultra-contemporary tete-a-tete that we saw on Houzz is a very unique and dynamic art piece, but we could not find any information about where it could be purchased.

The rattan Confident armchair from Maison Drucker that we saw in Elle Décor comes in a range of colorful options as a part of its outdoor bistro seating collection.  It is priced at $3912.

For some, two heads may be better than one!

Cloisonne Sinks and Faucets

Cloisonne is the art of decorative enameling, a process that fuses glass to the surfaces of copper or bronze objects.  Once fired, the metal piece becomes a bright and colorful work of art.  Beautiful cloisonné faucets and sinks can become the focal point in a bath or powder room.

We like these two from Linkasink.  For blue and white fans, the cloisonné Blue Birds Oval under mount sink would make a pretty statement while the Dragon Vessel Sink is funky and daring, and it would certainly make an unusual statement.   Linkasink individually crafts and colors their sinks to produce a functional work of art. Both of these products can be found at

For those who might just want something smaller and a little more understated while still interesting and beautiful, try these faucets from Kallista.  The Script decorative sink faucet has handles that are adorned with stunning hand-painted cloisonné accents depicting a spring floral motif.

These finely crafted faucets and sinks celebrate artistry and design as well as functionality.



DeKauri Bespoke Bath Cabinet - Art Meets Utility

We noticed this piece in a design magazine, and it piqued our interest so we did a bit more research, and we found some interesting information.

If you cannot stand a cluttered vanity full of toiletries, and if you can afford to spend $25,000, this freestanding piece of furniture designed to house and conceal both the sink and storage may be just the ticket.

Renowned architect and designer Daniel Germani debuted this piece at the 2018 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show last January.  He won the 2018 NYCxDesign Award in the bath category for its beauty and functionality. Germani used Dekton by Cosentino to craft the washbasin along with Kauri wood from New Zealand for the credenza. This 50,000 year old wood is exclusive to Riva 1920, an Italian furniture manufacturer whose skilled workers transform it into furniture as true works of art. Kauri is wonderfully preserved and has an amazing rough beauty that caught the attention of Germani. Once Germani added a faucet from Fantini Rubinetti, a high-end Italian design/manufacturing company and the upscale architectural lighting from Brooklyn-based Juniper Design, his credenza was complete.

It was fun to learn about this new product!  If you know of anyone who may want to purchase this outrageously priced bath credenza, please let us know because we sure don’t!

Dark and Moody Floral Wallpaper

We have always loved dark and dramatic walls, and they are definitely on-trend now. Deep, rich backgrounds lend an air of drama and sophistication to any room and give the space a strong identity and real sense of character.  This is especially true of these moody florals which are reminiscent of still life paintings from Dutch Masters of the Golden Age.  Oversized and printed on a background of decadently deep shades, these wallpapers are not for everyone, but they are truly beautiful. Somehow, they are traditional, yet modern and luxurious, and they are clearly not your grandmother’s wallpapers.  They can make a major statement in a small powder room or can be used as an accent wall in a living room or behind a bed in the master bedroom.

Here are a few of our favorites.

Photo Credits:

This vintage-style bathroom has a feature wall that looks like an antique painting –

Dutch Love is one of Ashley Woodson Bailey’s collection of six photo-based wallpapers.  The flowers practically jump off the wall –

Noted designer Ellie Cashman says that “her designs are meant to serve as narratives of optimism and celebrations of beauty.” She has created a series of florals including Dark Floral II Black Saturated Wallpaper –

A moody floral may not be the first color one would think of for a little girl’s nursery, but it is gorgeous –

This floral wallpaper is lovely, feminine, sumptuous, and sexy as a backdrop for the bed in a master bedroom –


The Minimalist versus The Maximalist

Over the years, design trends have waxed and waned and there have been many times when minimalism was popular as well as times when maximalism was in vogue.  Today, we have been seeing both styles in shelter magazines. There are often spreads on beautiful and sleek contemporary spaces as well as wonderful “over the top” maximalist rooms.  “Less is more” is absolutely the way to go for some while others follow architect Robert Venturi’s credo that “less is a bore.”  We say to each his own.

Minimalism highlights the essence of a room, stressing clean lines, clutter-free spaces, and a limited color palette.  Designing a beautiful, functional home in a minimal way is not easy. Skill, restraint, and a great deal of discipline are needed to pull it off.  We love this living room by Tara Benet Design in New York City.

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Maximalism is the antithesis of minimalism with its audacious display of bright colors, bold patterns, and a love of artful clutter. Maximalist spaces reflect their occupants’ travels, pasts, and quirks. Exotic Bohemian glamour comes to mind when thinking about maximalist design - rather than trying to achieve a perfectly coordinated space, maximalists strive for a layered look to embrace a beautiful, cozy chaos as can be seen in this photo from Architectural Digest.

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For more examples, take a look at the White Glove section of the May/June issue of Traditional Homeor the April issue of House Beautiful which featured a home in Philadelphia.

Which style speaks to you?



Refrigerator of Art

Dolce&Gabbana, the Italian luxury fashion house that was founded in 1985, has teamed up with the high-end Italian appliance manufacturer Smeg for the design of a special edition of the FAB28 refrigerator, transforming it into a work of art.  While the two companies belong to different creative sectors, they both have strong values and a tradition of “Made in Italy” excellence.  The hand-painted refrigerators feature images of lemons, the trinacria symbol (which is located in the center of the Sicilian flag), cart wheels and medieval knights done by Sicilian artists. This colorful and super high-end refrigerator is clearly not for everyone as it can cost $34,000 or more!

If that price point is above your budget, it is possible to purchase a range of small kitchen appliances that could turn your counter into a work of art. This toaster or electric water kettle can be found at Williams-Sonoma for a mere $600!

Who can ask for anything more – Smeg quality and technology combined with Dolce&Gabbana style!    






Styling your Coffee Table

Think about your coffee table as a focal point in your living room rather than as a spot to put down a snack or drink or a place to put up your feet.  By using several diverse elements, you can turn this flat, plain space into a beautiful eye-catching display. Following some basic design rules should do the trick.

We suggest these ideas from HGTV.

·      Keep your coffee table balanced by varying the scale and height and by grouping like objects together.

·      The coffee table can be a great place to rotate seasonal decorative elements.

·      The rule of threes is an age-old decorating trick, but it does work its magical appeal to the eye.

·      Think about using a tray to corral your favorite small finds and make them easily removable if you need to clear the space for entertaining.

·      A bit of greenery or a beautiful floral arrangement is a way to bring the outdoors in.

·      Last, but not least, the decorative objects on your table should be special and personal – they can tell your story and express your memories and passions.



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 “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 –

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

Kitchen backsplash in Kyra II Terrazzo from - 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.