Upgrading With Tile and Stone in the Home
Upgrading With Tile and Stone in the Home
By Mary Courtney
When you are preparing to update your home either for sale or for your own enjoyment, do consider installing stone and tile surfaces in the more contemporary designs and colors. For every style of home there are appropriate choices of materials to be used, design elements and colors selected. Distinctive features will highlight the home giving it greater appeal to buyers and greater satisfaction to those who live there.
Tile surfaces have been in existence for thousands of years, some remnants from ancient sites are still intact and still very beautiful. There is much variation in styles as well as size. In the bath pictured, we used Italian glass mosaic tiles on the decking and backsplash areas to surround a contemporary tub that has side panels of dark wood. Each material complements the other. A portion of the floor next to the tub also has the mosaic tile. This provides a non-slip surface that is waterproof as the client wanted their bath floor to be carpeted.
Adding wool carpet provided a soft touch for their feet and a quiet feeling to the bath area. The counter tops are solid quartz slabs with the backsplash in the mosaic to set it off, and all cabinetry is in the same dark wood as the tub panels. This combination creates a contemporary and more masculine design in a modern home.
Another feature in a bath is to install electric heating elements under the tile. These elements are pressed between thin fiberglass mats and laid under tile, stone or engineered wood. Two products to research are Nuheat heating mats and Suntouch floor warming mats. They can be programmed to warm your floors with a timer control and thermostat.
Practical, versatile, and beautiful, tile and stone floors have natural character and feel great underfoot. You can select tiles in natural stone, ceramic, terrazzo, concrete, glass, quarts, metal and even recycled porcelain. One I like very much is a decorative pebble tile with small rounded pebbles imbedded in concrete. This looks great in a bath, on the shower floor for example, and of course in any exterior area. It provides a non-slip surface, and a very natural element in design. Mixing textures enhances the materials, this is true in fabrics as well as stone or wood flooring. When you put a textured area rug on a stone or wood floor, the rug looks wonderful, and the flooring looks wonderful as well. That contrast intensifies and highlights the differences of each.
Another new design in tile is in the sizing. Many newer tiles come in much larger sizes, making a tight fit with limited grout lines possible. They are also more contemporary in style. A variety of sizes are often available and by mixing several different sizes of the same tile when covering a large area a more relaxed and contemporary feel will be created. It is a subtle difference but one that will appear very pleasing. Some of the newer tiles are decoratively patterned, lightly or deeply textured, or with a matte finish. There are quite a few lovely metallic finishes in pewter, silver, copper, gold and a bronze. Take a look at the selection in larger tile supply shop.
Consider adding a small decorative metallic tile as part of an overall floor design, perhaps scattered randomly or with a definite geometric pattern inlayed among the larger surface tiles. As you can see in the second picture, a decorative pattern was created in an entry using a combination of different sized tiles and set within a larger floor area. A skilled craftsman can produce very intricate designs using small pieces of tiles.
I’ve gotten away from putting tile on countertops, using instead a solid surface, and then installing decorative tiles for the wall, trim, and flooring areas. The maintenance is so much easier with solid surface counter tops and you can then become very creative with tile in other areas.
Hand crafted and hand painted tiles add beauty and a distinct style, for example Moroccan hand-painted tiles which are very colorful can add a distinctive border when used in a hall or room with terrazzo tiles. Mexican painted tiles, also very colorful, are best used in decorative ways such as the facing on a wood stairway. This traditional look, a Mediterranean design, is both attractive and appropriate for many of our California style homes.