Even during the recent economic downturn, stone and tile continue to remain popular material choices when designing various spaces, especially in the residential sector. While these materials create an aesthetically pleasing setting, they also have the ability to increase value to one’s home, which is important for long-term investment.
When a person is looking to purchase a new home, the condition of particular spaces, such as kitchens and bathrooms, is usually a concern. With this in mind, a home where stone and tile are present invariably carries an appreciably higher value over a residence with laminate countertops and linoleum flooring, which are less expensive and much less durable.
“In a buyer’s market, it’s actually more important than ever to add value to homes with the use of premium materials, specifically tile and stone,” said Mary Elizabeth Hulsey of Mission Stone & Tile Co. of Nashville, TN. “People trying to sell homes need every advantage to make their properties stand out, and buyers, who have plenty of home inventory to choose from, can be picky. The use of tile and stone often makes the difference.
“Whether the economy takes a downturn or an upswing, tile and stone are always great investments,” she continued. “The fact is that the last 10 years have solidified tile and stone as the preferred options. Homeowners are already accustomed to the quality and beauty of tile and stone, so even if the market is challenged, our customers are willing to hold out for quality.”
A Showcase in Stone and TileAnd when it came time to design her own home, Hulsey utilized stone and tile products in an artful manner to use the space as a “show and tell” for potential clients. Being that she works in the industry, she wanted her home to showcase stone and tile as an example of the versatility and creativity that these natural surfaces can bring to a home.
Located in Nashville’s hip 12South neighborhood, a vibrant community with a mix of history and whimsy, Hulsey wanted her home to blend in, yet stand out in the context of its surroundings. The overall style she chose gives a graceful nod to the neighboring architecture, while staying true to its contemporary core, according to Hulsey.
Stone and tile can be found throughout the residence, from the entrance foyer to the cabana and pool area in the backyard and everywhere in between, said Hulsey. “Calacatta marble takes center stage in the kitchen, while White Carrara marble, Crema Marfil mosaics and glass adorn the spa-like master bath,” she explained.
Large-format tiles of polished Calacatta marble were selected for flooring and the shower walls in the spa-like master bathroom. Additionally, the bathroom walls feature Mother of Pearl glass mosaics. One guest bathroom features 3- x 6-inch glass tiles on the bathroom and shower walls, while interlocking circles of Crema Marfil tumbled mosaics with polished Thassos marble as an accent, make up the flooring. And another guest bathroom features thin Crema Marfil strips with 1- x 1-inch pieces of Lagos Azul limestone used as a trim for the border as well as the shower flooring.
As for exterior elements, StonePeak’s “Touch,” a leather-inspired line, “adds textural interest on the back porch,” according to Hulsey. For the pool area, the waterline tile is comprised of “Rain,” which combines a blend of Bianco Carrara, Ming Green, Azul Celeste and Thassos marble. Additionally, 2- x 2-inch pieces of tumbled black slate were employed as paving around the pool.
The only challenge for the homeowner was in selecting products. “As someone in the business, my tastes and passions for the products are immense,” she explained, adding that she used her interior design sensibilities to narrow down her selections in order to be sure to use options that were both innovative and contemporary.
Designing an Old World EstateFor a 5,678-square-foot private residence in Commanche Canyon Ranch, near Lake Travis in Austin, TX, Vanguard Studio incorporated a variety of natural stone into the design, including limestone, sandstone and granite. These materials, used for both interior and exterior elements, were selected to help “provide warmth and texture throughout the home to bring a coziness to the elegant atmosphere,” according to John Hathaway, AIA, Principal Architect with Vanguard Studio of Austin.
“We were asked to design a classically elegant Old World estate,” he said, adding that natural stone was chosen to provide an eclectic feeling for the space, while also connecting the interior and exterior areas. Moving past the entryway, which features Canterra Goldstone as flooring, visitors are drawn to a spiral staircase that features Texas White limestone. The same material was also used for various walls and arches, tying the space together. In the kitchen, the island top was fabricated from slabs of Crema Bordeaux, which was also used for various thresholds throughout the home. Furthermore, the oven hood is made of carved travertine marble.
Sienna Bordeaux granite was used for the upstairs wet bar top, a bathroom vanity top, desk top, ledges and a second staircase that can be found in the home. Moreover, Brunello granite was employed in the master bathroom for the vanity, tub deck surround and shower walls, as well as inside the master bedroom closet, thresholds and windowsills.
Stone was also carried into the downstairs bar, where Rainforest Brown granite forms the bar top. Additionally, the utility room features Verde Peacock granite and the powder room backsplash is comprised of Crema Marfil marble.
Furthermore, the interior of the home also features walls comprised of sandstone referred to as Oklahoma Builder’s Blend, and the same material was used for exterior walls. Flooring throughout the patio area is comprised of 18- x 18-inch pieces of Ephesus travertine.
One challenge, according to builder Greg Mangum of Custom Homes, was the fact that the intricate detailing and intermixed nature of the stone required careful supervision. In all, over 18,000 square feet of stone and tile was supplied and installed by Sid Parker Stone of North Richland Hills, TX. Construction on the residence began in June 2006 and lasted until April 2007.
“One of the things people talk about most is the unique mix of tile and stone throughout the house,” said the architect.
Employing Large-format TileOver 3,000 square feet of large-format porcelain tile was recently employed for flooring throughout a private residence and guest house in Cave Creek, AZ. Local architect Michael P. Johnson of Michael P. Johnson Design Studio Ltd. explained that the design goal was not to use the solid white tile as a decorative element, but rather as a building material. “I wanted to use large-format tile because they have fewer joints, so it reads more like a mat rather than tiles,” he explained. “It really becomes the stage for all of the furnishings, art and appliances.”
Once Johnson settled on white tile, he looked to Italian manufacturer Imola -- which has its U.S. office based in Miami, FL -- for material options. He eventually selected “Time,” a full-body porcelain, in 2- x 4-foot pieces. “I wanted a white tile, and I wanted large-format tile,” the architect said. “Imola is a company that I have worked with in the past, and they are always easy to deal with.”
According to Johnson, all of the tile is mud set, which creates an even substrate. “You can’t use thin-set for this type of application because you need a level floor,” he explained. “The construction of the substrate is concrete, and you can’t get a perfect surface with thin-set. The mud set levels out the structural floor surface.”
Tile from Imola’s Time collection was used for flooring in the living room, bedroom, hallways and bathroom, creating a clean, crisp movement from one space to the next. In addition, the bathroom features a tub and shower surround made of Corian.
“The homeowner is a single man who fancies himself a connoisseur,” said the architect, adding that he was extremely happy with the outcome of the project.
Mediterranean Style ResidenceAnother lavish example of stone use is a private residence located in Atherton, CA, where architect Rafi Bamdad utilized approximately 9,000 square feet of stone for both interior and exterior features to create a Tuscan Villa design.
The stone selected included Jerusalem Grey Gold limestone and Jerusalem Gold limestone from Jerusalem Marble A. Grebelsky of Jerusalem, Israel. The material was employed for elements such as flooring, walls, the pool deck, terraces, balconies, stairs, countertops, a fireplace hearth, barbecue and benches.
The house interior is paved with Ramon Grey Gold in a patina finish. The 16- x 24-inch tiles were installed in a unique herringbone pattern. The stairs were made from 1 1/4 -inch-thick Grey Gold stone in a patina finish, including ogee edges. The countertops in the kitchen were produced from Jerusalem Gold in a patina finish, also with ogee edges.
The entrance wall of the home is clad entirely by natural cleft veneer, which is the exterior part of the block as it is in nature. The area around the pool and the garden pathway is paved with Grey Gold in a tumble with an acid-wash finish. This material mixes both gray and gold shades and creates a unique natural looking floor. Furthermore, 1 3/4-inch pool copings were also made from Ramon Gold Grey, in tumble with an acid wash finish, including a full bullnose on the long edge.
“The stone played a major role with our custom antique finish in designing a villa, which seems has been there for many years, with history alongside the 150-year-old olive trees, which we brought in, and the 120-year-old clay reclaimed Italian roof tiles and reclaimed bricks used on groin vault ceilings,” explained Bamdad.
“The project has been appraised highly in the community in large,” he said, adding that construction on the home began in September of 2005 and ended in July 2007.