It can’t be denied, the kitchen is the hub of a house. Even though there are comfortable living areas within a residence, homeowners and their guests always seem to congregate in the kitchen. It has become a social space that brings family and friends together in good times and bad. The kitchen is not just for eating, but for sharing stories, doing homework and even making important decisions. As a result, homeowners are willing to invest in this multipurpose living space.

And when it comes to investing in quality materials, more often than not, consumers are turning towards stone and tile. These materials not only hold aesthetic value, but they also offer durability, and in many cases, ease of maintenance. With the seemingly limitless supply of stone and tile lines available today, there is a product to meet each individual design style.

These materials are not just a popular choice for the kitchen. Stone and tile products are also commonly used in residential bathrooms — another personal space where homeowners seek quality material. Bathrooms have become a retreat. Consumers want a soothing environment where they can relax after a long day, and stone and tile offer the versatility and sustainability that is needed for these types of design.

“ The whiteness of the space makes it so clean and spa-like, and using a larger format gave it a W Hotel-like feel  ”

--- Anna Marie Fanelli 

Floor & Decor

Celebrity style

Anna Marie Fanelli of Floor & Decor in Tenafly, NJ, recently completed work on two bath remodels and construction of a third for an upscale private residence in northern New Jersey. Fanelli was actually contacted by Departure Films for the residential project. The 9,000-square-foot home is featured in the DIY Network series “Rev. Run’s Renovation,” which follows Joseph Ward Simmons — otherwise known as Rev. Run from the rap group Run DMC — and his family, as they renovate their six-bedroom, eight-bathroom home. Commissioned for three bathroom designs, Fanelli turned to a selection of Italian porcelain tile to create just the right look in each space.

“I received a call from the production company,” explained Fanelli. “I asked them how they found me? There are so many people out there. They told me that they searched ‘luxury tile,’ and I came up.

“Tile design is a different specialty than interior design,” she went on to say. “That’s how the journey started.”

Fanelli worked closely with Justine Simmons, Rev. Run’s wife, on the tile selection process. Simmons was able to give the tile designer each of her children’s vision for their individual baths.

“Personal style was a major consideration,” said Fanelli. “Justine gave me the feeling of what they wanted. There were two existing bathrooms for her sons, Diggy and Russy, and her daughter, Miley, took a suite area and we made an entire space to create the bathroom.

“Diggy is 18 and travels a lot,” Fanelli went on to explain. “They created a suite area upstairs to the left. We changed the bathroom configuration a bit. They really wanted to transform the outdated bathroom to his style. They kept saying he could live anywhere, but they wanted him to feel he can always come home. They wanted it to be inviting.”

Since the bedroom suite is complete with two large windows and a skylight, Fanelli was inspired by the home’s natural surroundings. “I wanted a clean relaxing spa-like feel,” she said. “Bringing in nature makes it feel like a serene space. [Also], Diggy is very hip — looking at his sneaker collection. I wanted to create a hip young gentleman’s space, but with a spa quality. They wanted it to be cost effective and maintenance free.”

For the bathroom floor, 12- x 24-inch Serenissisma Silver Travertini polished porcelain tile was employed in an offset pattern. The same material, but with a matte finish, was also used for the shower floor in 2- x 2-inch format.

The walls are clad in Design Positive 8- x 20-inch Blanc Blanc Brilliant porcelain tile. “It brings silver gray hues to the space,” said Fanelli. A subtle accent is added with ½- x 12-inch Mugwort gray stone pencil trim pieces, which encase Starry Night stone and glass mosaics. Complementing the wall and floor tile is a vanity top fabricated from white Carrara marble.

“The whiteness of the space makes it so clean and spa-like, and using a larger format gave it a W Hotel-like feel,” said Fanelli.

When it came to the design of Russy’s bathroom, 12- x 24-inch Streaming Ivory porcelain tile from Marca Corona was the material of choice, and it was paired with 4- x 12-inch Color by Number Tour Glass wall tile from Crossville. A wall detail was created with Linear Sonoma Mosaics.

“Russy’s directive was to have a zen room,” explained Fanelli. “The bedroom has stone pebbles. It is a very soothing environment. The porcelain is a little contemporary with a refined flair to it. Ten years from now, that bathroom will still work.”

Miley, the youngest child and only daughter, has a bedroom suite that was transformed into a castle. “With that in mind, I wanted to create a jewel box effect,” said Fanelli. “She wanted purple originally, but I talked her into a white theme. I said we could give the walls a color, but when she’s 15, you don’t want to have to rip out the floor.”

The floor has a majestic aesthetic with Mother of Pearl ovals bordered by 1- x 1-inch Mother of Pearl tiles forming a border. Just as in Diggy’s bath, Design Positive 8- x 20-inch Blanc Blanc Brilliant porcelain wall tile was employed. A wall detail was created with 1- x 12-inch clear glass liner pieces encasing four rows of mini brick Mother of Pearl mosaics to create a “jewel box” bath.

“It will make her feel like a princess every day,” said Fanelli. “When I was finished, Miley kissed me and said, ‘Thank you so much for my jewel box.’ What better compliment is there?”

The entire project was completed in a couple of months. “We mixed a lot of elements,” said Fanelli. “Porcelain is maintenance free. The home has a very strong influence of tile.”

California casual

When it came to remodeling a 500-square-foot kitchen of a 1950s ranch in Malibu, CA, Jimmy Reed, President of Rock Solid Tile, Inc. in Los Angeles, put a great deal of thought into the new design — leaving no surface or detail left over from the original kitchen. Interestingly enough, he had remodeled the kitchen for the first time over 20 years ago.

Referred to as a “California casual”-style kitchen, high-end materials such as granite countertops and a glass mosaic backsplash set the tone in the new space, which comes with a private bluff and stunning views of the Pacific shoreline as it crashes on the coast of Malibu.

“Jimmy did all of the work for our first remodel,” said the private homeowner. “We knew exactly who to get in touch with when it was time to do it again. We’re big fans of his work, and he’s actually remodeling a guest bath for us right now. This time, we totally started from scratch and reconfigured the entire kitchen to increase the size and make it easier for us to walk around in.”

The entirely brand new upscale California-casual kitchen design revolves around a center island feature fabricated from Madura Gold granite and supplied by Stoneville USA, Inc. in North Hollywood, CA. Surrounded by bar stools, the center island reinforces the concept of family and friends “casually” gathering in a relaxed setting.

Additionally, Madura Gold was also employed for the kitchen countertops. The rare exotic granite is quarried only from the town of Madurai in the far southern state of Tamil Nadu, India. The material had to be cut and fabricated to fit three different spaces as part of the same counter.

Reed selected modern stainless steel appliances for the kitchen, including a Wolf range that’s flanked on either side by sections of Madura Gold granite countertops. For the Wolf range in the center of the far wall, Reed also custom fabricated and installed a stainless steel tower that’s capped by the actual oven hood where the kitchen walls meet the low-slung ceilings of this 1950s California Rambler. On both sides of the Wolf range and the custom stainless steel tower, the Madura Gold countertop spaces continue until being joined by the next bank of stainless steel luxury kitchen appliances.

“The granite island is pretty dramatic,” said the homeowner. “And the same matching granite was used on both sides of the stove as well. The kitchen has a warm glow to it now that flows really well with the rest of the house. The colors are all soft, muted, stained and not glossy. The six lights above the island and the dimmers on the side create an amber-like glow. It gives the kitchen a really nice, warm-feeling.”

Running above and in-between the granite countertops and cabinetry in all three sections is an unique, linear glass tile backsplash that Reed specified and installed as one of the kitchen’s signature design features. Reed selected the color-style “Extrados” from the Oceanside Glasstile Elevations series of 1 ¼- x 10-inch linear glass pieces. The convex-shaped glass tile pieces from the Elevations collection add depth and life to the kitchen by providing bold lines and a geometrically complex, three-dimensional backsplash the eye simply can’t ignore.

Spanish influence

For another project, Reed completed the remodeling of the master bath, powder room and guest bath in Hollywood Hills for the California-style, Spanish colonial mansion of multiple Grammy and Latin Grammy award-winning pop star Draco Rosa. After growing up in Puerto Rico, Rosa left to chase his musical ambitions and landed in Hollywood at just 16. Back in San Juan — and all over Southern California — Rosa was exposed to the traditional Spanish-style mansions. When the timing was right, Rosa bought a classic, white-stucco, Spanish colonial luxury home originally built in 1926.

Rosa, who won his first American Grammy in 2014, ironically for “Best Latin Pop Album,” also had vivid memories of the vintage, handmade Malibu custom tiles and colorful murals that were featured prominently in traditional California Spanish colonials. Looking to restore the wonderful, colorful and vintage look of Malibu-style custom tile design inside his new 3,800-square-foot mansion, Rosa started to ask around about the top tile installers in the affluent neighborhoods of West Los Angeles. It wasn’t long before he was connected with Reed and the two artists were together planning out the tile designs for the Rosa’s spacious Spanish colonial just below the infamous Chateau Marmont in Hollywood Hills.

In the master bath, Reed surfaced the walls with different sizes of mostly square and rectangular tiles, including the bold linear “Blood Red Cross” deco stripe that runs along the top of the field tile design. For the shower in the master bath, Reed recreated the arch-shaped tiled shower entry and round tiled port holes that help achieve a timeless, yet modern appeal. The master bath suite, like the powder room, was designed to restore the look and feel of the vintage Spanish colonial-style mansions that represent a classic era in California architecture and design.

The smart tile design for the powder room or vanity suite was every bit the classic equal of the master bath, featuring handmade custom tiles from Malibu Ceramic Works. Like the master bath, but in a different color scheme and softer finish, the tiles for Rosa and his wife feature custom 5-inch octagon-shaped red clay body floor tiles glazed in a soft cream-like shade of green. The field tile design was done in a vintage Spanish colonial-style pattern that was colored in by working closely with the tile artisans at Malibu Ceramic Works.

The design concept started out with Rosa explaining a certain round table design he had come across and liked a great deal. Those early conversations helped steer Reed in the right direction to achieve the project’s intricate design that features four pieces of inverted custom tiles to create a repeating circular pattern.