Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Subway tile

Last year, I wrote a post about items that might be considered ‘trendy’  design elements that scream the 2000s (click here to see post).  There were a few elements that my readers considered to be ‘trendy’, yet also classic given that they are elements that seem to come back into vogue every 25 years or so.   Subway tile is perhaps the best example of this phenomenon.  Given that this ‘trend’ has been around for quite a few years, I often read posts on home improvement boards that one should think very carefully about whether to install subway tile in a house, given that homeowners and designers have been using it (and maybe overusing it) for years now.  I think there might be a feeling of fatigue with this style.

And yet, it is such a clean and tailored look, and speaks to a simple, classic, and low maintenance style that appeals to me.  It can be quite economical if a simple machine made subway tile is selected, although it can be quite expensive if a hand made tile is selected (easily double the price of a nice natural stone).

Subway tile gained its name from its use in the New York City subway system, which opened in 1904.  The rectangular, white ceramic tile was selected for its durable and stain resistant nature, and the light color and high gloss were a good choice for the subterranean spaces of the subway.  White subway tile represents a vintage, early 20th century style that has seen a huge resurgence in popularity in the first decade of the 21st century.  A good write up on the history of subway tile can be found here.

I tend to be very low key about bathroom decor, and when we selected the tile for the kids’ bathrooms, my request was simple, classic, low maintenance.  Whatever goes in the bathroom now will be there for many years. Both my architect and designer like a simple bathrooms for kids, so we are going to go with subway tile on the walls of the bath/shower, and a pretty basketweave mosaic on the floor. 

Waterworks Paxton border
Waterworks Winsdor rail
Waterworks Cottage subway field tile

We were planning on adding a decorative border to add an interesting element to the simple subway tile design – the charming Waterworks Paxton border and the matching cottage field tile.  All was fine, until we realized that we needed an additional rail piece above and below to frame the border – and the combination of all of the elements puts me way over budget for the kids bathrooms.  I am mulling over switching to a simple machine made 3”x6” glossy white subway tile with no decorative border – but I have not made a definitive decision yet. 

When searching for images of subway tile, I came across this one – the simplicity of the tile, combined with the vintage character of the floor, really reminds me of the NYC subway!   Source unknown.

It is not uncommon to install subway tile with no decorative element, which makes for a very simple and clean look – but maybe a bit too tailored?  Although I like the look of this shower, somehow it seems a bit bare.  House Beautiful, image via Houzz.

An interesting floor, and in particular an interesting vintage style floor, helps to give some interest to this bathroom, where the walls appear to be simple subway tile with no decoative border. Image via Houzz – Valerie Pedersen Interior Design.

Another simple subway tile design on the walls, with a fabulous floor.  Image from Artistic Tile and Stone, via Houzz. Click here for more images of this bathroom.

A bathroom posted by a Gardenweb reader, simple with no accent border.  The grout is darker, and the subway tile is by Daltile – Rittenhouse Square arctic white 3x6 subways. Gray or dark grout is another way to make the pattern of the subway tile more pronounced (and also hides dirt quite well!).

Another look that is frequently employed when installing subway tile is a decorative border of some sort, in order to add interest to the simplicity of the design.  Image via http://www.rossingtonarchitecture.com/

This bathroom uses a small shimmery mosaic tile as a decorative element to break up the expanse of the subway tile.

The guest bathroom in designer Lori Tippins’ home is really exquisite.  The hexagon marble mosaic on the floor, the clean subway tile with white grout, the beautiful green/blue on the walls – it speaks of a spa-like serenity.    I love how Lori added a special touch to the shower space by bordering the window with a decorative tile.

Erika  @ Urban Grace Interiors uses a simple, clean subway tile, but also uses a decorative border at the top.  Via decorpad.  I am definitely a fan of contrasting the crisp whiteness of the subway tile with a pretty paint color on the wall.

I like this look – little mosaic tiles, an accent stripe, a border, and subway tiles above.  The mosaics repeated in the niche are a beautiful and effective accent.
I think a lively wallpaper works beautifully with the simplicity of the subway tile.  It appears as if a dark gray grout was used with this tile, which works quite well with the tone of the floor. Image via Remodelista – William Sofield design in the Soho Grand Hotel.
Another look that I love is subway tile in a beautiful color.  This one, via Milk and Honey, caught my eye.

Brooke Giannetti selected a beautiful green tile with herringbone accent for this bathoom.

The subtle taupe of the handmade tile, available at Renaissance Tile in Atlanta, is the perfect accent to the mosaic on the shower floor, also available at Renaissance.  I love the square drain!

A soft, spa-like look is achieved with the light blue of this subway tile.  http://www.lda-architects.com/ via Houzz.  As much as I like the look of the colored subway tile, it seems like such a color commitment.  I am more in the camp of using a neutral/white subway tile, and bringing in the color with paint.

So, readers, what are your thoughts on subway tile?  Are you tired of this trend, or do you see it as a classic element that might date to the early 2000s, but never really be out of style?

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Friday, December 24, 2010

A Christmas House

In 2009, I posted about a charming Atlanta house that is decorated for every holiday, including the 4th of July.  I dubbed the house ‘the 4th of July House’, although now that I have seen it decked out for Christmas, I might need to rename it ‘the Christmas House’!

There are quite a few houses in Atlanta that are decorated for the holidays, but this one looks as beautiful during the day as it does during the night.

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is upon us!  I had grand plans for a post on Atlanta houses decorated for the holidays, but the bitter cold we have experienced this December all but eliminated my dog walks (the best time to take pictures).  Luckily, the intrepid Helen of Whitehaven had the same idea, and captured some of the beautiful homes in Atlanta all decked out in their Christmas finery.  Thank you, Helen, for these wonderful posts!

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas, and best wishes for a great 2011.

The light of the Christmas star to you
The warmth of home and hearth to you
The cheer and good will of friends to you
The hope of a childlike heart to you
The joy of a thousand angels to you
The love of the Son and God's peace to you.
An Irish Christmas Blessing

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Designers’ favorite books (and mine too)

I had a meeting with Suzanne Kasler this week.  Her office is filled to the brim with beautiful design books, and she has the most amazing reference library.  Given that we are in the season of gift giving, I asked Suzanne as well as Keith Arnold, VP of Suzanne Kasler Interiors, to name their favorite design books.  These are the books that first came to mind for Suzanne and Keith.  

First Suzanne’s picks:

Style, by John Saladino.  This is one of Suzanne’s ‘go-to’ books for inspiration. Purchase on Amazon here.


Michael S. Smith – Elements of Style.  One of the all time great books of interior design.  Purchase on Amazon here.

Suzanne also loves this book by Jacques Grange – I have seen this out on her desk many times. Purchase on Amazon here.

Over the course of the project, Suzanne has also referenced Vogue: Houses, Gardens, People as one of her sources of inspiration – one of the best books that epitomizes the stylish life.  Purchase on Amazon here.

Keith Arnold also cited Style by John Saladino as his favorite design book, and added to the list:

The Private House, by Rose TarlowPurchase on Amazon here.

Of course, Suzanne has written an amazing book on her approach to interior design, and it is definitely one of my all time favorite books.  Purchase on Amazon here.

Blog readers often ask me about my favorite architecture and design books.  I love books; in recent years, they have become my favorite Christmas gift to give and receive, and I enjoy spending the afternoon of Christmas day looking through and reading books.  I have gathered together all of my favorite architecture, design, and art books in one place – the Things That Inspire Amazon store.  Click here to visit it, or go to http://astore.amazon.com/thithains-20.  I have also posted about my favorite architecture books here

I have a few special recommendations that would be perfect gifts for the holiday season.

There are some books that I love for their decorative quality, as well as their literary quality.  I have been slowly but surely collecting the beautifully designed clothbound volumes from the Penguin Classics.  This is one of the newest books in the collection – Sonnets by Williams Shakespeare. Available from Amazon here.

Also new in the collection of Penguin Classics is Little Women.  I love the cover! Can't you just imagine Jo taking the scissors to 'her only beauty' when you see these scissors? Available from Amazon here.
This little gem would make the perfect hostess gift for a holiday party.  It’s not too late to order! Available from Amazon here.

I have gathered all of the special Penguin Classics in my Amazon bookstore.  They are little treasures!  Click here to see the whole collection: http://astore.amazon.com/thithains-20?_encoding=UTF8&node=4

New to my book list are several excellent books that came out this fall.

Peter Pennoyer Architects: Apartments, Townhouses, Country Houses. This book is full of exquisite town and country homes, with the thoughts of the architect behind the beautiful work.  I appreciate the beautifully rendered floorplans that are included with each project; it gives me a whole new level of appreciation for the work.  Also of note is that Pennoyer works with some of the best designers in the industry, resulting in spaces that are not only architecturally stunning but also decorated with great beauty. Click here to purchase on Amazon.

French Country Style at Home, by Sébastien Siraudeau.  Take a trip into the real country homes of France, and be inspired by beautiful and charming examples of true French country style.  I love the variety of homes shown in this book – from the grand to the simple.  Click here to purchase on Amazon.

The Irish Country House. A beautiful book full of homes that most of us would never see if not for the carefully collected images in this book.  The homes in this book speak to generations of families who love their homes, with interiors that have evolved over decades and even millenium. Click here to purchase on Amazon.

The Home Within Us, by Bobby McAlpine.  Although this book was published in the spring, I only recently purchased it.  I am not sure why I waited so long, because I have already referenced this book many times in the course of seeing my own home spring from the ground.  To paraphrase a concept that McAlpine mentioned in the book, he noted that some people have a home that is within them, and no pre-built home will ever fulfill them like building one from scratch.  This perfectly captures the reason why I looked for a house for over a decade and could never find one that was ‘me’ (and the home that we are building is very much a reflection of my husband and me).  I love that this book talks about the narrative of many of the houses, why they were built, what the owners and the architect were trying to achieve emotionally and physically by building the house.  Fascinating stuff. Click here to purchase on Amazon.

A few other notable books that look quite interesting, and might very well be under the tree for me:

The Architecture of Happiness, by Alain De Botton.  A friend recommended this book – she said it was perfect for me, as it is about how architecture influences our lives and reflects our dreams, hopes, and desires.  The review says this book opens up our eyes and really look at the buildings in which we live and work.  Click here to purchase on Amazon.

At Home, by Bill Bryson. This book was selected as Amazon’s best book of the month for October 2010, and it looks fascinating.  It is based on a reflection on Bryson’s own home, a Church of England rectory built in the 19th century; Bryson reconstructs a history of the home room by room, and how the home and the objects within it (which have changed greatly over the centuries) have impacted both the architecture and the inhabitants. Click here to purchase on Amazon.

2012 books on my Christmas list: 
2011 books on my Christmas list: 
Small art, perfect for special, one of a kind holiday gifts or hostess gifts! 

To see design, architecture, art, and decorative books that I recommend, please visit the Things That Inspire Amazon store  (newly updated!).

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

A few of my favorite things…

Cote de Texas linked to the wrong post - to visit the Jackye Lanham post click here: http://www.thingsthatinspire.net/2011/02/jackye-lanhams-beautiful-new-website.html
See my latest post on working with Suzanne Kasler on the interior design of my new house click  here: http://www.thingsthatinspire.net/2011/02/interior-design-begins.html

I have found that the most meaningful gifts are those that are unique and one of a kind, and selected with great care.  For your consideration are some beautiful items that are available for immediate shipment from the Quatrefoil Design store. 
I am very excited to announce a new offering in the Quatrefoil Design store, available right now!  Artist Melissa Tubbs, well known for her exquisitely detailed original ink drawings, has created a series of four finely rendered bird drawings for the store.  These are original drawings - one of a kind - and are all signed by the artist. 





I have custom framed them in a high quality, hand painted black frame, which sets off the drawings to perfection.  The bird drawings are sold individually, and would look lovely as part of a collection on a gallery wall, and would look equally exquisite as a set.  They are so amazingly detailed, and are truly works of art!

Also available for immediate shipment are a beautiful series of antique French documents that date from the late 1700s to the late 1800s.  These are original and one of a kind, and are custom framed in a beautiful wood frame hand gilded in our signature ‘gilver’ finish (silver with a translucent gold glaze).  These are sold as a set. Click here for the store item: http://www.quatrefoildesign.bigcartel.com/product/18th-and-19th-century-antique-french-documents-framed.  


We also have the exquisite original gestural drawings by Tina Steele Lindsey.  One is framed and ready for immediate shipment (the others can be framed to the customer’s specification).  The framed gestural drawing can be found on the store here: http://www.quatrefoildesign.bigcartel.com/product/gestural-figure-drawing-3-by-tina-steele-lindsey.  Please check the art section for the other renderings.


We also have a few architectural renderings that are framed and ready for shipment.

‘Palmette’, available in gilver frame (black frame can be ordered): http://www.quatrefoildesign.bigcartel.com/product/framed-architectural-rendering-palmette-limited-edition




Finally, we have a few original paintings by Nancy B. Westfall available – the crab and lobster series.



There are several more crabs looking for a good home, please see the art page of the store website to see what is in stock: http://www.quatrefoildesign.bigcartel.com/category/art

As always, framed intaglios can be ordered, however they will not be ready for Christmas.

To visit my store, Quatrefoil Design, click here.
To subscribe to my blog by email, click here.
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To see design, architecture, art, and decorative books that I recommend, please visit the Things That Inspire Amazon store.


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