22 January 2008

Tile backsplashes

I signed a contract today with a client I met originally about a year ago. She was in another house then, and now with a new house, she's ready to take on a pretty good-sized renovation. While we were finalizing her selections for the kitchen cabinets, I started assembling a palette for her of some potential finishes. I pulled out a bunch of 8-1/2" x 11" color sheets from my Sherwin-Williams binder, found a porcelain tile for her floors and grabbed a couple of tile samples. Voila, we had something to work with. She was unsure of the idea of glass tile. Here's what I have to say about that.

Glass tile back splashes are gorgeous. That whole tumbled marble nonsense is going away thank God and glass tile is coming on strong. The back splash of a kitchen is the wall that runs from the counter to the underside of the wall cabinets. That space is usually 18" tall and is a great canvas to do something interesting with.

At KBIS last year in Las Vegas, the mosaic tile people were out in droves. It was great to see all of that gorgeous tile and it was equally interesting to see where the different manufacturers were going with it.

When glass wall tile first caught my eye, it was always small squares in colors that were dark and there were usually a lot of metal tones to them. Then things started to evolve into the same small squares, but they were starting to get more translucent and the colors were getting brighter. As I saw at KBIS, all bets seem to be off. There is a rebirth of traditional mosaic patterns (basket weaves, herringbones, subway patterns, etc.) only now they're being rendered in glass. The scale seems to be shrinking too. This is neat. I love seeing a brightly-colored glass mosaic made up of individual pieces of about 1/2" in height by 2--3" in length and set in a subway pattern. A lot of them are still coming up pretty tailored and polished as the selections available from Mirage are. And then there are some that are more ragged and primitive looking, such as the stuff available from Emenee. I'm glad to see some of these smaller firms taking a lead with this stuff rather than waiting around for Walker-Zanger and Anne Sacks to take the lead. Don't get me wrong, anything that comes out of those two companies in particular makes my mouth water. But at the end of the day, they are part of the Kohler company. I love Kohler's offerings, but when I want innovation I don't go looking for a giant corporation to provide it.

So anyhow, the client today signed off on my entire, impromptu palette and marvelled that I could pull that out of the air so quickly. What I didn't tell her was that I was showing her the sort of stuff I always show indecisive people. That is, another damn neutral palette. Somebody please, let me do something wild! Just once, I want to use primary colors and get away with it. Let me paint your living room orange and your bathrooms lime green!

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