Friday, June 17, 2011

The endless possibilities of tile

There are so many options these days for tile, but finding the right ones to add that finishing touch to your kitchen backsplash can be a tough decision.  And once it's up, it's up.

A backsplash can be that final element that brings your whole kitchen together, bridging that space between cabinets and countertop. I love this kitchen with the cool blue glass tiles, great for this seaworthy home.
Country Living

Country Living

I also love the buttery yellow tiles in this kitchen too

Better Homes and Garden
With so many options to choose from for your kitchen, from glass or marble to stainless steel or granite, it's endless.  For those clients who want something a little bit more unique that goes beyond your local tile shop, tile murals can really customize your space. I have painted a lot of backsplashes over the years some have been a lot of fun - like this Nantucket flower truck and fountain used in a home in Nantucket.

I have also painted my own tiles for my kitchen, but as you could see from my previous blog about my current kitchen, I am in love with marble right now and went with the clean look of carrara marble subway, also seen here in one of my favorite kitchens.

Traditional Home
One bit of advice I have given clients over the years is unless you are planning on staying in your house forever make sure that your new backsplash isn't too personal. If you were to sell your house you wouldn't want it to be a downside to your kitchen.

I think one design that seemed to be the most popular over the years are roosters.  I have painted dozens of roosters, like this kitchen for a client where I painted roosters over the range with a hand carved border. The field tile is a crackled checkerboard pattern with carved detail tiles painted with a bronze glaze. 

custom kitchen for client
Another piece of advice I would tell clients is when you are redoing your kitchen and are having a hard time visualizing what your backsplash would look like - wait to live with the countertop and cabinets for a while since the backsplash is the last thing to go in.  It will give you some time to think about what style and design you are going for.  I do recommend that even though the backsplash can sometimes be the focal point of a kitchen you also want it to compliment the style and color of your cabinets and countertop and blend nicely with them.  The tiles in the picture below I painted for a client in a delft style.  It went beautifully with the style of her home.  In the breakfast space next to the kitchen I repeated the same design around her fireplace and also in the butler's pantry.  The one fun thing was that the two boys depicted on the tiles were painted to look like her two boys. I know - I said not to make things too personal but no one would know the difference when looking at the them.

custom tile job
 Sometimes just using neutral tones can be enough.  This fish was part of a series of fish for a backsplash that was painted using more of a tone on tone neutral but still added a lot of interest.

custom tile for client
I could go on and on and add tons of pictures which again gives you an idea of just how many possibilities there really are. You can see more tiles on my website
I just had to throw this final picture in just to show how extremely different a kitchen can look when using other materials, like this sleek stainless steel
House Beautiful
House Beautiful

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Feeling blue...

Could there be any more amazing color of blue then this?  Every year I look forward to seeing my hydrangea's bloom- they line the whole back room of our house, I love looking out at them through the windows and seeing a sea of blue!  I especially love cutting them and putting them around the house to add color everywhere. I'll dry some of them as well to keep in vases for months after.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bigger doesn't always mean better

I'm talking about bathrooms of course!  I was happy to see the article in  Better Homes and Garden about stylish smaller bathrooms, which shows some great pictures of smaller sized bathrooms with tons of character.  Having a smaller master bathroom myself I was excited to see how beautiful some of the bathrooms were in the article. Here is one of them that they showed (click on the link above to see them all)

Better Homes and Garden
I mentioned in a previous blog about how we went through the effort of having our master bathroom gutted. We didn't take this one on ourselves, thank goodness. I think the guys told me they removed almost 2 tons of weight out of our small bathroom, including tile floor, wall tile and a 500 lb. old original garden tub (I don't think they were very happy that day).

We had to utilize the space as much as possible.  One thing we did that I think made a big difference was that we had them take out the old door that opened into the bathroom and replace it with french doors that open into the bedroom instead, creating a space behind the door to hang a towel rack.  We also made the footprint of where the old tub was smaller and added a knee-wall and frame less shower door to give the appearance of having it seem more open and larger.  One fun thing that I love is, I had them build two niches between the studs to hold shampoo etc. and had them tile it with beautiful multi colored stones that match nicely with the tumbled marble.  We added a new vanity and granite counter top with sleeker-looking lights and an old antique mirror.  Somehow in my album of pictures I lost the before pictures, which showed the old pink and gray tile, outdated wallpaper and a huge garden tub that didn't even allow for the door to open completely.  Here are pictures of some of the demo (go to my projects for more) and some after. 

I haved lived in a few old houses, first one 150 years old, second one almost 90. Sometimes you don't have the luxury of having a bathroom in your bedroom, so this is a first for us and I have to say small as it is I prefer it to some of the huge bathrooms where you could also house a sofa!  So sometimes size is really all you make it to be.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Fun art area for kids

Pottery Barn Butterfly wire art hanger

Pottery Barn mini chalk buckets

I have been working on a area in a basement for one of my clients for her two girls to have a play/art space.  Using one of the walls in the basement I painted some flowers with the girls names in the centers and then above painted a chalkboard using Benjamin Moore chalkboard paint and added a painted frame around it.  The butterfly wire is going to go above it to hang all the girls beautiful creations that they can change out as they please.  The mini buckets will be hung on the sides to hold their chalk and erasers.  It's a fun way to give them their own space and a great way for them to be creative with their art.  I will also be painting a table and chairs to complete to area for the girls to have another spot to sit and create. 

painted frame and  Benjamin Moore chalkboard paint

Sunday, June 5, 2011

bathroom makeover

Bathroom remodeling doesn't have to cost a fortune.  Sometimes with just a few changes you can transform an outdated bathroom without having to break the bank.  Our house is about 65 years old so everything they did back then is solid, and I mean solid. Under the floor tile in both of our bathrooms is 5" thick concrete poured right in between the floor joists and behind all of the wall tile there is about equal the amount. It's not a fun job taking it out.  We went through the expense of having it done in our master bath but weren't about to do it for the kids' bathroom.  So instead we made minor improvements that made a major difference.

First we had to figure out what we were willing to do, which didn't involve taking down all the tiles on the wall and floor. We were lucky that the tile was gray and not pink which is very typical for the age of the house.  Gray isn't so bad to work with so we picked out a marble floor so the gray and white tones would go nicely with the wall tile. The old tile on the floor was original to the house and they were worn down and so scuffed that we actually just laid the new floor right over it.  I wouldn't recommend doing that over all floors, but we were lucky that the floor was already so solid and the tiles didn't come too high over the threshold by the door.  We then replaced the old toilet and then the sink with a vanity. A lot of the older homes just have sinks in the bathrooms with no cabinet space. The one minor problem we faced was what to do with the old tiles that are attached to the walls around the sink. There were ceramic holders set into the wall for soap, toothbrushes and cups. So we carefully knocked those tiles out (being cautious not to break the adjacent tile) and used some of the leftover floor tile to create a mosaic in that space.  I think it worked pretty well.  But just those few changes (plus taking down old wall paper and painting)  really updated the bathroom without costing more then $600.