For anyone in search of beautiful and innovative
surfacing ideas for their new home, the Coveringsglobal tile and stone expo is an overwhelming source of
inspiration and ideas. To help us navigate innovative offerings from all over
the world, New Home Source asked Nikki Cristofalo, senior design consultant at
Winter Park, Florida’s Trinity Surfacesto
select tile and stone materials and patterns at the 2019 show that are on-trend
with her clients who are planning new luxury homes. “We’re seeing clients be
budget-conscious but willing to spend for smaller areas where they are able to
make things a little more special,” she says. Here are five of Cristofalo’s
favorites that can make a big statement in your dream home.
1. The Moroccan Vibe in Tile
The trend this year, says Cristofalo, is going
toward a Moroccan vibe based on zellige tiles — an ancient Moorish art form
using chipped earthenware tiles to form geometric patterns. Spanish tile
company WOW Design EU has “really outdone themselves,” she says, “launching six
to eight collections this year,” with several of them based around the zellige
look and others exploring a mix and match of shapes, textures and colors that
can be used to create completely unique effects.
For a field tile (tile that covers a floor, wall
or countertop), the Mestizaje Collection offers random blended embossed
texturing and extreme shade variations on ceramic tile. “So within a box of
black, there may be 30 different shades to give you a beautiful variation on
the wall,” Cristofalo says. The Fez Collection comes in a brick shape and
offers the same color range as Mestizaje, in both matte and glossy finishes.
“That look has really taken off. I have specified it so many times since it
launched, usually on backsplashes and shower walls,” she says. Though the color
range is wide and inviting, Cristofalo says that white and light gray are most
popular, though mustard also acts as a surprising neutral background.
WOW Design’s Mud Collection is earthy and modern
and also speaks to Moroccan decor. Mud Diamond Paths comes with a random blend
of stripes in rhomboid shapes mixed in the box. They’re installed one at a
time, as you would a 4-by-4-inch field tile, but the variety of patterns and
textures and field color makes a big statement, says Cristofalo. The Mud
Collection is porcelain, which makes it incredibly durable and able to be used
in a wide range of applications.
“WOW is definitely at the forefront of three-dimensional
design and a creative mix of all components,” she says. “There’s not really
anyone else that I know of that’s doing something similar. Their products are
all stocked and ready to ship so you get a custom look without a custom price tag.”
2. Large-Format Slabs That Mimic Marble and Stone
Fiandre is an Italian
and U.S. tile company known for its large- format porcelain slabs that are used
to face larger surfaces, giving the look of marble and stone. Also, because
they are porcelain, they are extremely durable and can be used in a wide
variety of applications, ranging from kitchen counters and bathrooms to wall
surfacing for a major wow.
The surface designs are all digitally printed,
so you don’t have to pay extra to achieve a high-end look, says Cristofalo,
such as one that mimics a book-matched marble slab installed as a luxurious
feature wall behind a master bathtub.
These large-format tiles come in 5-by-10-foot sheets.
“You can use them in a shower and have minimal grout lines,” Cristofalo says,
“with seams only in the corners.” She also uses Fiandre tile for bathroom
renovations without the need for demolition. “It’s so thin that it can be
installed tile-over-tile on walls and floors,” she says.
Also, because the porcelain is so thin, it’s
easy to miter the edges of countertops (and since it’s porcelain, not stone,
you don’t have to worry about red wine stains), allowing homeowners to have the
effect of spacious marble or stone slabs without the cost.
Clients don’t have to worry about finding an
installer who can handle this material. Fiandre provides training at its U.S.
factory, and Trinity Surfaces sends installers there to learn how to handle,
cut and install the large-format tiles. Trinity sends a list of its trained
installers to contractors. “We also have all the specialty tools that they can
use. We invest in the tools so contractors don’t have that as a barrier to
using these beautiful products,” Cristofalo says.
3. A Feature Wall as a Custom Art Piece
New York City artist Allison Eden is like the Lady
Gaga of tile and textiles. Her art glass creations are made in Brooklyn, and
her personality is as colorful as her imagination. Eden’s bold, intricate
patterns are now also reproduced as carpets and upholstery fabric, but her
ability to design custom pieces for clients is the ace in Trinity Surfaces’
pocket when they have a client seeking a bold, colorful statement piece for
“She is an artist and the creativity just flows
from a client’s beginning of an idea,” says Cristofalo, who shared the story of
a current project for a client whose inspiration was the back of a cell phone
case. “We sent Allison a picture of the case and the dimensions of the wall.
She is creating something to fit those colors and that space.”
4. Made-to-Order Terra-Cotta Tile
Family-owned Syzygy Tile produces hand-made,
hand-glazed terra-cotta tile in its Silver City, New Mexico, workshop. The
company’s lines come in an astonishing range of shapes, molds, mosaics and
colors. Here you’ll find 3D tiles and interesting mosaics — many of which fit
that Moroccan theme that Cristofalo pointed out as being so on-trend.
Designs run from earthy to geometric, classic to
contemporary. “Everything they do is made to order and you can 100 percent specify
what color you want on each piece [of a mosaic or pattern],” says Cristofalo,
who loves that she can order samples made specifically for clients, at no cost.
“I use their 1-by-1-inch blends a lot for
backsplashes because it ties in to countertops, cabinets, floors, wall colors
and sometimes there’s also a living room nearby whose sofa and rugs are
completely different colors,” she says. “The sky is the limit with Syzygy.”
Cristofalo also notes that terra-cotta is fired
at high temperatures to make it incredibly durable. “It can stand up to heavy
traffic on a floor and continue looking like new,” she says.
5. Customizable Mosaic Tile
Another American tile company at the top of its
game is Virginia-based Appomattox Tile ArtCompany, which specializes in fully customizable stone and glass mosaics.
You choose your pattern and specify your colors
and it’s made to order, says Cristofalo. Here, expect intricate patterns with
the options for curvy edges, achieved only by water-jet cutting, “which is an
expensive process,” she adds. “There are actually diamond granules in the water
to cut the material.”
One showstopper idea Cristofalo highlights is
using Appomattox mosaics in a master bathroom as a rug inlay, “to anchor a
freestanding tub so it’s not just floating in the middle of the floor. It makes
the tub look framed out and special looking.”
Putting These Tiles to Work in Your Home
Cristofalo mostly sees clients selecting these
specialty tiles to make a statement on kitchen backsplashes, powder room
floors, laundry and mudrooms, outdoor kitchens and master bathrooms. How will
you use them in your dream home?