Tile | New Tricks

Tile has really come a long way in the design world.  Where it used to be only for kitchen and bathroom floors, it's really evolved into a serious decorative element for multiple rooms in the house.  Tile comes in a variety of materials but technology has enhanced it to give so many more effects now.  We've discussed different types of tile in a previous post, but today we're giving the run-down on the visual effect tile can offer based on information from this article from Houzz.

The benefit of tile that many people overlook when it comes to using it as a decorative element is the fact that it is so durable.  Yes, it's semi-permanent as well but it can really create some impressive visual effects so look at the durability as a pro instead of viewing the semi-permanency as a con.


Not too long ago, tile when from looking like stone plus to basic printed patterns and colors to also looking like wood (ie. wood-look tile floors that were all the rage).  Now, tile is expanding into looking like other materials such as fabric, wallpaper, concrete, and even elaborating on the wood-look.  To be honest, it just keeps getting better and better.

Tile sizes are changing to.  Tile used to only be available in certain square sizes which then evolved into larger square sizes, then there was elongated sizes like 12x24, oversized square like 36x36 and now there are all sorts of specific shapes tile is cut into such as fishtail, hexagon, fleur, leaf....really, the possibilities are endless.


The nice thing about the larger sizes is that tile can create a seamless effect on a wall---with larger tiles and minimal grout lines, tile can be applied to walls and appear to just be an all over texture or finish.  This consistency is very appealing since it is so durable.  It's perfect for commercial and exterior applications to ensure longevity.

The same is true for patterned tile.  Because it is so durable and has the ability to show very little grout in a wall application, tile is quickly becoming a much more durable version of wallpaper. Be sure to use a skilled installer when installing this type of patterned wallpaper because it does require skill to make the pattern repeat consistent all over.


There are certain linear patterns of tile now, as well, that, once applied give an overall fabric application effect.  Once again, tile is much more durable than a fabric wall application so this a great development.  Hospitality venues really get the most benefit from these type of tile applications because they can carry their themes throughout the building without risking them being destroyed when applied in high traffic areas.


Of course, pattern and prints on tile have evolved dramatically as well and you can purchase tile now that look 3D and very realistically mimics patterns and objects that occur naturally in nature--such as marble, river rock, and even water.   Wood has also continued to evolve with plenty of color and weathering level options that can be used almost anywhere.


It's awesome to see something that used to be so basic being used in so many different applications.  Really, when it comes to tile, with a good installer, the sky is the limit!



Holiday Preparations | Sprucing Up Your Family Room

The holidays are coming!  That means hosting parties, making lots of food, house guests, and lots of good memories!  But it also means, you need to get your house ready!  Agh!  As a designer, and probably for anyone else in the interiors business, this time of year gets very demanding.  Everyone has been traveling all summer and, once school gets into a steady swing in the early fall, they realize their house isn't ready for all of the guests they have coming and they want it to get done, FAST!  If you've hired someone to work on your home but they may not be able to have it all done in time, here are some tips you can use to spruce it up yourself.  A beautifully decorated home is nice to be able to present to guests upon arrival, however, a comfortable home is most important!  People will remember how they felt in your home more than what it looked like, so hopefully these tips will help make your upcoming guest more comfortable!


Add layers!  A rug, some pillows, throw blankets, even small side tables contribute to the layers of a room.  If you've got a soft place underfoot and some great pillows and blankets for guests to cuddle up with, they'll feel right at home and will be able to relax in your space.  When selecting these items, think big.  Bigger rugs are always better because, believe it or not, they make a space feel larger.  A rug defines the space so a small rug places the outline around a smaller area, making the room feel less than it is.  So go with the larger rug.  Get big fluffy pillows too.  And a lot.  Layer and mix and have extras floating around that can be used for the floor so guests can really get comfortable.


Hang some art.  Art on the walls makes rooms feel more finished.  If you don't have a lot of decorative paintings or special art you want to display, opt for a gallery wall of family photos or even some of the kids' art.  There are tons of websites that allow you to purchase prints that can instantly be downloaded, printed, and framed, and allow you to fill in gaps if you're short on pictures.


Bring in some lamp lighting.  Floor lamps and table lamps add a different lighting layer that is warmer than overhead fixtures.  It also gives guests more control of their light because they can just turn one on while the rest are off.  If you have a small space where you'd be open to string lights, they give off a super warm glow and will make any guest feel at home.


If your home doesn't have a good flow for guests, consider rearranging the furniture layout to make it more conducive to hosting more people.  Bring in extra chairs, set up small seating areas, pull up the side tables for drinks, and allow your guests to be able to really enjoy!

Ultimately, the holiday are a time for you to enjoy family, friends, and good food so don't let an imperfect home ruin your experience.  Hopefully these little tips will help you prepare and will be remembered when you're throwing together all of those last minute preparations before the swarm arrives!

Kitchen Lighting | All the Layers

Aside from floors and walls, lighting matters!  We've discussed in past posts about the importance of layering lighting but in places like the bathroom or the kitchen it's even more important.  There's a level of mood lighting that needs to be achieved in these spaces but there's also task lighting that's important as well.  So today we're going to break down for you all of the different types of kitchen lighting and how to select the best combination!

For starters, let's talk about all of the different types of kitchen lighting.  Most kitchens have can lighting which is just recessed into the ceiling.  It's for overall view and less about highlighting portions of the kitchen or being helpful for task lighting.  Next, there are pendants.  Pendants typically go over a bar.  They are more directional and are used to highlighting food when people sit at the bar to eat.  They can add to the ambiance but are more of a task light.  Next, there's island lighting.  Island lights are often decorative and while they highlight the island, they are larger so they work to light up the kitchen as a whole as well.  There's also track lighting which, in our opinion, is terrible for the kitchen because it collects dust, but it's a directional/task lighting option as well.


Most kitchens will usually have at least 2 different types of lighting--some sort of overhead general lighting (like cans) and then usually some sort of decorative lighting like a pendant.   If you're kitchen nook is close to your kitchen, the nook lighting which is usually a hanging pendant style will be in the same view as well.  There's also under cabinet lighting which adds a really nice mood to the kitchen but is less for task purposes and more for ambiance.


Cans are important because they are the main light source.  Can lighting is laid out over the cabinet/countertop space in the working/task portion of the kitchen (along the walls).  It's meant to be available for food prep.

A good island light is the appropriate size and scale for the kitchen (it brightens it up but also gives off a softer light than the cans so it adds to the layering.  It's directional in that it highlights the island and also works to ground/center the island in the kitchen.  That's one of the things we love most about lighting--it defines the work spaces.


Pendants are often decorative too and add a softer element.  They warm up a space by adding more texture to the kitchen.  Since most kitchens are countertops, cabinets, and stone, a shaded light that gives off a soft glow or even a little bit of texture can really add to the space.


Our recommendation is to put any sort of hanging fixture--i.e. pendants, nook chandeliers, and island lights on dimmers.  This gives you more control of the light in the space which helps you control the mood.  If the cans can be on dimmers too, even better!  Sometimes you need a lot of overhead light and sometimes you don't.  Dimmers help you control the amount of light output you have which is always a good thing.


Finally, don't be afraid to go a little funky on your kitchen lighting.  Lighting is art, especially in a kitchen where's there might not be a lot of wall space to hanging sometimes decorative.  Fun pendants or a cool island light can really make or break the kitchen so don't be too shy!


Straight from the Designer | All the Tips!

We've had all sorts of craziness here in the past few weeks.  The main thing is a major hurricane but that caused power outages, roof damage, mass chaos in the stores, food shortages, water damage and just a general upheaval of life as we know it.  We are finally getting back to normal although it's taken weeks.  Since things have been a little backwards, upside-down, crazy lately, we're keeping tonight simple.  Just some good ole' design tips to get your creative juices flowing and maybe motivate you to spruce up your home for Fall.  It IS October 1st, after all.  So we hope you'll enjoy some of these helpful hints!

Some great advice that we've received is that, no matter how you design your home, you should always be sure it has these three important things--function, comfort, and a true reflection of your personal style.  Unless you live in a model home, it can't just look pretty.  It has to work.  So consider how you use your space before you take steps to design it.

Function can be achieved a number of ways but one of the big ways is by using pieces that serve multiple purposes.  This is key for small spaces too.  Benches with storage, small moveable pieces like ottomans and chairs that can be used in one area but easily moved to another, hooks & shelves.  All of these things are elements that will keep your home functional and livable but also tidy.  And if you pick pieces that are pretty, you'll be able to kill two birds with one stone.


Plants are always a yes.  It doesn't matter what size space you live in, whether it's large or small...if it has a lot of natural light or very little, you've got to incorporate plants in your design.  Even if they're fake!  Greenery adds so much warmth and life to a room that it's vital.  It doesn't have to be a lot, either...just a small little something to give the room that finishing touch.

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Be sure that your home has a space for you!  So many people are concerned about creating a design that others will enjoy--they entertain a lot or have guests visit often...etc, etc.  That's all important to take into consideration, but this home is YOURS.  You should have a place that you love in it too.  So be sure to carve out that little personal space that you enjoy spending time in.


Finally, mix textures and materials.  Layering of fabrics can add so much depth to  space!  Sometimes it really doesn't matter if the space is designed perfectly...if it's comfortable and interesting, it's inviting and people will love it.  Texture and a variety of materials will be your best friend as you try to accomplish this!

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Transitional Kitchens | Get the Recipe

Transitional kitchens are where it's at right now.  Many people, even if they tend toward a more modern style, don't want a super modern kitchen.  They want something that will blend and still feels like it's got some value.  So transitional kitchens are right up their alley.  A transitional kitchen has some modern elements but also has some traditional elements which means it's also very versatile and good for re-sale!  Remember: kitchens and bathrooms sell homes so you want to make sure your kitchen is saleable.

All that to say, have you ever wondered what makes a transitional kitchen?  There are a few key elements to this specific design recipe that are important to understand.  Today we're going to break them down for you.

One of the biggest keys to a transitional style kitchen is shaker cabinets.  The shaker cabinet is a classic style that (we think) will be around for a very long time.  It has a variety of styles but they all go back to one main look which is the recessed center panel.  This style of cabinet gives a slightly traditional feel with the recessed center panel but it also has clean lines that go with the modern look which makes it transitional.  Often, theses cabinets will be painted white which a big part of updating them.  Wood tone shaker style cabinets are still considered transitional but the painted white seals the deal.


A neutral color palette is 100% transitional in a kitchen.  And yes, grey is still a popular color.  Grey, white, and a little bit of earthy wood tone with some beige is the perfect palette for a light, bright transitional kitchen.  A big part of the transitional style is keeping it neutral so that it blends with the rest of the home and doesn't feel heavy.  Adding pops of black also creates a little more graphic effect without going too modern.


Wood is major in a transitional style kitchen.  The warmth of wood in a white and grey kitchen is what makes it feel transitional instead of modern.  Organic elements matter!  You can choose how to bring them in--whether it's in small bits through accessories or larger scale pieces like lighting or seating...but don't forget them in your transitional kitchen!  They are important to creating a balance.


Light stone and subway tile are two additional elements of the transitional style kitchen.  Somehow subway tile (basically the cheapest tile around) has made a huge comeback and can be spotted in pretty much any transitional kitchen these days.  As far as countertops---go light and bright as well.  We love quartz but can do granite too.  Just don't go for anything overly dark or heavy feeling.


Appliances.  Every kitchen has them.  It probably goes without saying but the stainless steel appliances are spot-on for a transitional style kitchen.  The principal behind this is the same as white, it's saleable and blends; two things that give something value.  So if you're trying to decide between a color, or maybe considering going black, don't!  Just stick with good ole' stainless steel and you'll get your money's worth!