Expanding the residential design palette
September 15, 2009
From contemporary to traditional, stone and tile products are being utilized in creative ways for all styles of residential design. And it is apparent that designs are not limited to one type of material. Textures, colors and sizes as well as a mixing of mediums are all critical components in designing for homes these days. Homeowners have become more savvy and are looking to be inspired, and the abundant supply of stone and tile collections on today’s market opens the doors for numerous possibilities.
Moreover, the innovative stone and tile products now available are not just restricted to interior design. Many residential interiors transition to the outdoors. Backyards are becoming much more elaborate and considered an extension of the inside. High-end materials, including granite countertops, are being used to dress up outdoor kitchens and entertainment areas. No longer are just patios the standard for exterior design.
And when it comes to choosing a design style, homeowners are often opting for living spaces that reflect their natural surroundings. Whether it be a rustic wooded area, a desert oasis or a beachfront locale, stone and tile are playing an important role in emulating these settings. Color and texture are key factors in achieving the desired effect.
Inspired by the beach
Such was the case for a condominium within The Palace at Trump Grande in Sunny Isles, FL. The residential space exudes a “contemporary chic” style by making use of an assortment of stone and tile throughout its interior design. With expansive floor-to-ceiling glass windows showcasing ocean views, a neutral-colored palette for the floors and walls contributes to an open and airy living space.
“The residence was for a young couple that wanted a modern tropical feel,” said designer Michael Wolk, Chairman and Creative Director of Michael Wolk Design Associates in Miami, FL. “It’s right on the beach. They wanted a very contemporary styling.”
While the stainless steel and glass bridge walkway to the master bedroom above the main living area creates somewhat of an industrial feel, it is balanced by a blend of stone and tile products. These elements were utilized with various textures to enhance the richness and depth of the interior design.
A floor-to-ceiling accent wall was created in the entry with random-sized pieces of quartzite, supplied by Coverings Etc. of Miami, FL. The rough-cut pieces are a contrast to the smooth finish of 24- x 36-inch Nova crosscut travertine floor tiles that flow throughout the space.
“The quartzite creates a rich surface in the entry area,” said Wolk. “We looked at everything for the floor, including limestone, and the travertine seemed to fit the best.”
In the kitchen, Giallo Topazio granite from Brazil was selected for the countertops and backsplash. The material was supplied by Trading Places Resources Corp. of Dania Beach, FL. “All the stones were picked for their tone and visual texture,” explained the designer.
The golden hues of the granite countertops and large center island - along with the dark-colored cabinets - bring a feeling of warmth, while the stainless steel appliances and additional cabinets faced with glass add a modern element to the kitchen. Overall, the combination of materials provides a sense of elegance.
A feeling of sophistication is also carried into the master bath, where a lavish amount of stone was employed. In keeping with the palette of the main living space, Nova crosscut travertine floor tiles comprise the floor as well as several of the walls and tub surround. The travertine is complemented by limestone vanity tops. The Nova crosscut travertine used throughout the home as well as the limestone vanity tops were supplied by Quality Floor Covering of Miami, FL.
As an accent, 1- x 1-inch turquoise glass mosaic tiles clad the shower wall. The brilliant shade of the mosaics matches the colors of the ocean - which can be seen from the large picture window.
“We needed a glass tile finish to line the inside of the shower,” said Wolk. “One reason is because we had a curved elliptical-shaped wall. Originally, we had a stucco finish, but it couldn’t be guaranteed to last with the force of the jets. Glass tile was highly recommended.”
According to the designer, it took three years from design to construction to complete the condominium project. “The homeowners were pretty involved,” he said. “We presented them with our ideas, and they gave their blessing to what we proposed.”
Stone was also extravagantly used throughout a home near Greensboro, NC - creating a posh living atmosphere for a bachelor. Areas such as the kitchen and master bath feature extensive use of granite, which was a key component in achieving a sleek sophisticated interior design.
“The owner is the manager of a Ferrari dealership and is very meticulous,” said Len Malavé of Granite and Marble by Malavé, the stone supplier, fabricator and installer for the project. “He obviously knows quality because of the types of vehicles that he sells. He was looking for precision.”
According to Malavé, the homeowner worked closely with the company’s in-house design associates to select just the right material for the residential design. “He had a photo from a magazine of something similar that gave us the concept,” explained Malavé. “We took it from there.”
For the kitchen, Absolute Black granite from India was chosen for the countertops, including a large center island. The material has a thickness of 3 cm and features an ogee edge detail.
Additionally, Absolute Black granite was employed for the kitchen floor. The 18- x 18-inch stone tiles were combined with hardwood to form a grid-patterned floor design, which stimulates visual interest in the space.
“The kitchen floor was very challenging,” said Malavé. The unevenness of the wood made it a very difficult job to get right. We got together with a flooring company and explained the importance for the wood to be all level.”
Malavé also explained that there was a concrete floor underneath that contributed to the challenging installation. “We have done quite a few jobs with wood inserts, but none as difficult as this one,” he said, adding that approximately 450 square feet of Absolute Black granite was used for the flooring, which also is carried through the hallways and into the laundry room.
Rounding out the kitchen design, 4- x 4-inch tumbled Noce travertine tiles make up the backsplash. The warm tones of the stone complement the wood and granite and further enhance the richness of the room.
In the master bath, slabs of Giallo Renoir granite from Brazil comprise the floor, shower, tub and vanity top. The material, which was quarried and fabricated by Cajugram Granitos e Marmores do Brasil Ltda of Espirito Santo, Brazil, is all bookmatched.
“The homeowner and I spent a great deal of time selecting the slabs for the bathroom,” said Malavé. “He knew what he wanted. He wanted slabs and he wanted them all bookmatched. It made it a pleasure to work with him.”
According to Malavé, all of the slabs have a thickness of 3 cm because they came from the same block. “I actually went to Brazil and selected the block, and they cut it and shipped it to me,” he said. “Cajugram was very instrumental in making the slabs bookmatched.”
A luxury backyard
Malavé also collaborated with Cajugram on an outdoor kitchen project for an upscale home also in the Greensboro, NC, area. Nearly 150 square feet - three slabs - of Emerald Blue granite, which is known in the U.S. as Blue Barracuda, was used to create a large patio bar area.
“It’s a huge outdoor entertainment area,” said Malavé. “All the appliances are Viking.” The base of the bar is made of concrete and wrapped in rough-cut pieces of natural stone. The Blue Barracuda countertop features a chiseled edge detail, which matches the texture of the stone base. All of the slab countertops were bookmatched, according to Malavé.
Further adding to the ambience of the outdoor space is the patio paving, which consists of Pennsylvania Bluestone. The gray and blues tones found in the stone are a nice complement to the colors found in the granite countertops.
“This was a repeat customer,” explained Malavé. “He is fantastic to work with.”
Students from the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture illustrated how ceramic tile can meet criteria for both aesthetics and function with the recently built “Taliesin Mod.Fab” project - a 500-square-foot dwelling that serves as a one-bedroom apartment on the campus of Taliesin West. It will be used to house visiting faculty, lecturers and architects.
Designed and constructed by the students themselves, the project was under the guidance of recent Master of Architecture graduate Christian Butler, lead designer and project manager; Nick Mancusi, assistant project manager; and Faculty Advisor Michael P. Johnson, who runs his own practice, Michael P. Design Studio in Cave Creek, AZ. A mix of Italian ceramic tile was selected for its modern design and sustainable qualities. The tiles are part of an energy saving system designed to keep costs down, according to the design team.
“The design was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright encouraging students to build sustainable shelters, which they occupied at their stay,” said Butler. “The idea was learning by doing. Everything was carried by hand through the desert by students and assembled by students.”
The bedroom, which has a floor made of tile from the Italian manufacturer Edilcuoughi, is separated by an outdoor breezeway from the rest of the interior spaces. A garden wall with integrated solar panels provides privacy to the bedroom and power to the unit.
“One thing about Frank Lloyd Wright is that every space is separated,” explained Butler. “Not only did we want the building to be sustainable, but we wanted to leave the site better then when we came.”
The modular home also features passive and active environmental control systems such as natural ventilation and lighting, water catchment and a gray water re-use system. The ceramic tile flooring that is carried throughout the interior space not only provides a contemporary style, but the tiles are also positioned to capture solar heat and to release it during the chilly desert nights. “Every move that we make in such a small space really counts,” said Butler.
Throughout the kitchen, dining area and living room, 12- x 24-inch tiles from the Italian tile manufacturer Floor Gres were employed as flooring. The same tile was also used for the floor in the bathroom.
Visual interest is added in the bathroom with bright yellow textured tiles that are employed for a wall and floor in the shower. Additionally, the other shower wall is made of the same tile but in white. The material was supplied by the Italian tile manufacturer Etrutria Design.
“The bathroom has a reversed skylight looking down,” said Butler. “The tile really beautifies the space. It gives it a feeling of luxury.”
According to the design team, “Mod.Fab” can be either plugged into utilities or “unplugged” - thereby making it self-sufficient if desired.