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Thank you to the lovely Annabel for popping into see us last week.
Our conversation inspired me to me to draft some top tips for busy, design-conscious mums. The tips include; designing a dual purpose bathroom – for your kids and for your house-guests; creating the perfect transition between your kitchen and garden; selecting the right grout; plus staying on trend with Victorian encaustic tiles.
There a couple of tips here, especially if guests will also be using this space too.
Option 1: Spend a good chunk of your budget on some really beautiful mosaics, using them sparingly in niches or on a single shower wall. Tile the rest of the wet area in something simple, perhaps varying the sizes rather than the colour. The bathroom pictured below was for a client in north London. Her children picked the mosaic (SICIS Grapes) and she picked the neutral Chromtech tile. Her children also supplied the artwork for the walls which really helped to personalise the space.
Option 2: Select a tile which appeals to kids and adults alike. One that’s proved popular with several clients in Coombe Hill is a porcelain tile called Folded. Created by talented design duo Raw Edges, Folded simulates paper folded randomly. Kids love the tile because it’s fun; adults appreciate the almost Dali-esque surrealism of papering a wet area.
Top Tip: Not all walls need to be tiled, but you should avoid tiling only the areas that absolutely need to be. In other words, don’t stick a single tile behind a basin and don’t go one tile high around a bath. This looks considered than fully-tiled wall.
We probably get asked about this most and there are a couple of tips here. If you’re going for a seamless look, select a porcelain range which has a natural (smooth) and a bush-hammered (slightly rough) finish. Select the same colour for both finishes and place the natural inside and the bush-hammered outside. The bush-hammered provides grip when it rains and makes it less slippy underfoot.
Top Tip: In a kitchen/garden situation where kids are involved, we’d also advise that you use a tile with a bit of detail, especially if you decide to opt for a lighter colour. A light, matt stone-look tile will hide the dirt from little shoes and paws more than a completely plain glossy white tile.
There a two things to consider when choosing grout; type and colour.
Whether you use glass, mosaic or metro tiles for your splash back the choice of grout you use is important. Epoxy grout is a really good idea for splash backs in kitchens as its non-porous so doesn’t stain – very useful behind the hob. It was designed originally for hospitals and industrial kitchens where hygiene was the most important driver – something most mums are pretty big on. It does cost about three times as much as regular grout though and you would need to check with your tiler first that he’s happy to use it as it’s not straightforward, and he may charge more.
Top Tip: Buy a large tile and cut it to fit the length of you counter – this will give your kitchen a very high-end, designed look. The latest innovation in technology means that tiles can be produced at much, much larger sizes. Check out the Alabastri range which includes a tile that measures 1800 x 800mm – a marble look splash-back has never been so affordable.
When selecting the right colour, the main rule of thumb is try and get as precise a match to the tile as possible. If it’s a cream tile, opt for Jasmine (off-white) rather than white – your eye should be drawn to the beauty of the tile rather than the lines between them! Earthy tones can be quite tricky to match so it’s probably best to ask for in-store advice on this.
Grouting mosaics needs careful consideration. 25% of your wall or floor will be grout so it’s crucial you get the colour right. A good store will show you an array of grout colours and help you choose the best colour.
Top Tip: If you still can’t make your mind up, ask for some sheets to be grouted in the tones you think will work. It takes a little longer but you’ll be far more confident with your final decision.
If you’re coveting your neighbours path or hallway you can go one better by taking advantage of the latest advances in technology. Traditional encaustic tiles (which also sell) are made of cement and are fragile – chipped pathways and cracked hallways ringing a bell? If you’re looking for something more durable and contemporary, you could opt for a beautiful porcelain range called Azulej instead. Designed by Patricia Urquiola – one of the most recognised and celebrated international designers of our time – this range is truly beautiful. The colour palette and the range of patterns are inspiring.
Top Tip: this range comes in pre-packed combinations of 27 patterns but you can also select from 9 individual patterns and create something completely unique – by far the best way to impress the Jonses!
If you’re looking for expert advice about a particular project we always recommend dropping into our showroom on Queenstown Road – all our sales team have a design background and very willing to help. The entrance might look small but the showroom is over 6,500 SQF!
Surface Tiles: 60 Queenstown Road, London, SW8 3RY. T. 020 7819 2300
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