Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Using Tile as Art in Interior Design

I have always been drawn to tile in architecture and interior design. A backsplash, a shower, a wall or a floor can be transformed into art with the application of richly glazed tiles, intriguing patterns, and subtle textures.

Daltile is an American company of mass produced tile and stone products. Their catalog features everything from the simple ceramic tiles to natural stone, metal, glass and granite. It's so easy to create an affordable kitchen or bathroom using their products and accenting with their specialty lines or special handmade tiles from other tile designers.

This is a bathroom that features Daltile ceramic and glass. What makes it so special is that the homeowner herself came up with the idea for the waterfall effect.

These are two more examples of Daltile installations. A shower using tumbled natural stone...

...and a backsplash using glazed porcelain with granite accents:

Oceanside Tiles produces art glass for architecture. The glass is fired in furnaces reaching up to 2300 degrees Farenheit, depending on the color, and it is then cast and finished by hand.

Seneca Tiles produces a line of handmade ceramic tiles in beautiful soft glazes with a chunky feel, evoking thoughts of handmade tiles in the desert southwest.

A photo doesn't do these tiles justice. They truly have a special tactile quality.

Original Style is a British company that produces a line of traditional art tile.

And they now have a line of pop art designs that are so fun!

Pratt and Larson in Oregon produces a line of hand art tile with wonderful textures and palettes.

We were recently introduced to two tile artisans, both in Minneapolis, who produce handmade tiles and mosaics in the old world tradition with their own exclusive glazes. Bon Ton Designs are all custom made to the client's order.

And Mercury Mosaics produce handmade tile and mosaics in period inspired colors.

I have found that an otherwise timid client will usually be willing to work a bold tile design into their budget.

To borrow a Dan Rice quote from Oceanside's website: "There are three forms of visual art: painting is art to look at, sculpture is art you can walk around, and architecutre is art you can walk through."

Art brings a room to life. And when it comes to interior designer, tile is my favorite medium.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Comfort and Style

It's Spring Break in my school district - so anything I post this week will be done while children tear my house apart (as I write this I hear screams and running water upstairs - I'm afraid to go look...)

So I'll just post a few pretty pictures here today.

My mother feels very strongly that beautiful interiors can also be comfortable - and she won't order any sofas or chairs for the shop that don't offer a comfy place to sit. Of course, this is a bit ironic since I remember a college boyfriend claiming that there wasn't one comfortable chair in my parents' house...but that was before they moved to Key West!

I did a little browsing through some lovely rooms that embrace this attitude, and her are my favorite images:

Happy Monday!

Source: Belle Maison, Brabourne Farm and House of Turquoise

Friday, March 26, 2010

And now - we shall eviscerate Orange*

*Editor's note: Okay - that's not the real title. It's just the one that I wanted to use in light of the last line in the post I wrote on Monday. Here is the real title Mom sent me:
Is that orange in my shop?!

Orange has never been my favorite color. I know that it's a happy uplifting color. The color of friendliness and sociability. But for whatever reason it has never spoken to my heart.

Though recently it has quietly (as if orange could be quiet) crept into my shop.

First to arrive was the best-selling rug "Da Bomb", an instant hit.

And all of a sudden we have pillows, napkins, and...

...oh my gosh! a whole bed cover and a quilt!

Just yesterday we bought some fabulous decoupage plates in stunning lime green with bright orange lilies from Nantucket shop-owner and wonderful decoupage artist Leslie Linsley.

What next? an orange sofa?

I don't think so.

Not yet anyway....

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Outdoor Living - At Our House

The weather has finally warmed up in Key West and the outdoor living is in full swing. This is the newly decorated Loggia chez Coveny:

Hope you're enjoying some sunshine wherever you live!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Collections give a home a real personality - actually an extension of the personalities of the people who live there.

When I was a newlywed, I found an antique green pottery mixing bowl at an antiques fair. I loved it and bought it and then began looking for more of them. Eventually, I branched out to other green pottery: plates, pitchers, mugs...until it became a collection that covered the walls and open shelves of our Washington, D.C. kitchen. Now in this much smaller house it has been condensed into one window but still gives the flavor I love to see in a kitchen and brings me much pleasure.

My collection of antique Chinese Rose Famille porcelain started when my sister gave me a covered rice bowl for Christmas. I thought it was so beautiful I based the color scheme of my dining room on it and began looking for more, buying a piece here and there over the years. This small collection is as big as it will get - there's no room for more.

I love collections of items massed together to make a real statement but sometimes a piece can stand alone or mix with other objets to great effect. As in this tabletop arrangement featuring an orchid in a Rose Famille cachepot combined with pieces from Terry's collection of Egyptian and Roman antiquities.

I love my collections - they make my house my home.

Monday, March 22, 2010

That's so not me...

When it comes to interiors, I've always had a tendency to make definitive decisions about what I like and what I don't like.


Don't like:

I'm sorry - but no matter how many times I see it in good company, I still hate that chair.

It pains me when I see things that make my eyes bleed touted as the embodiment of taste and style. Not because I don't like my own taste being called into question - but because it makes me wonder who is driving the bus here... Are taste makers doing their job? Or have they gotten lazy and said, "okay sure - orange shag pillows on powder blue sofas...whatever."

But at least I'm smart enough to recognize how short sighted that is, and I really have tried to expand my decorating tunnel vision. Step one is knowing that you have a problem right?

And the immediate next step is to start appreciating the value in that which doesn't appeal to us personally. To see beyond the particular style and recognize well made furniture, quality materials and interesting ideas.

So this is where I am now. Since I started working on this project with Style Key West, I've done a lot of thinking about how style is influenced by surroundings. And I've realized that there is something to be said for putting aside biases and considering new things. In light of this, I now allow myself be inspired by the unexpected.

A perfect example would be the color purple. I hate purple. Maybe it's the result of growing up in the '80s - but for me, there is something about purple that brings to mind lowercase i's dotted with hearts, unicorns and Dynasty.

In my mind, purple has always been loud and overly dramatic. It tries too hard and its skirt it too short. It snaps its gum. It makes me wince.


One of the great things about reading design blogs is that you are inundated by other points of view on a daily basis. You see things that may not be your usual style and you get a different perspective. And after a while, you make room for new ideas. You add new dimensions to your preferences, and you find middle ground.

While I would never want to have these rooms in my house...

...I would make myself quite comfortable in any of these:

Seems like a small thing really - to embrace a subdued version of a hated color. But, you know what they say: one small step for giant leap for closed minded traditionalists...

Tune in next week when I slander orange. (Kidding!)

Images via: Brabourne Farm, Decor Pad, Lonny Magazine, Apartment Therapy, House Beautiful, Amanda Nisbet Design, Jim Thompson Fabrics
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