There’s no question that today’s clients want their new kitchens and bathrooms to be highly personalized spaces – rooms that don’t look like anyone else’s space. At the same time, another trend is growing in popularity: contemporary rooms that celebrate minimal design, as well as the preference for more tailored traditional spaces. What a challenge! Designers are asked to create very personalized rooms that are also “simple” in design.
One design technique that kitchen and bath specialists can use to create “simple” yet highly personalized rooms is to add style uniqueness by combining various materials in the major surfacing areas.
At all levels of the marketplace, kitchen and bath designers have demonstrated great talent in combining different finishes on cabinets. Let’s move beyond the casework of the room and think through intriguing ways to combine other surfacing materials.
Areas that lend themselves well to mixing and matching include pattern combinations on the floor, countertop and backsplash areas. Rather than studying the attributes of different materials (any good designer can “Google” a category or a manufacturer to get the performance details or the finishing specifications), this month’s article will focus on how various materials are joined together, highlighting design and engineering concerns.
One of the best ways to add detail to a kitchen or bath project without “blowing the budget” is to combine differing shapes, colors and textures of one specific material category as part of the floor treatment. Ideally, the material should come from the same manufacturer so sizing (nominal vs. actual) will be consistent. Combining various elements within one material category eliminates the installation concerns of variable expansion and contraction ratios seen between different materials that can lead to failure along the grout line.
Ideal materials to combine might be:
- Hardwood floor patterns with assembled border or center rosette offerings.
- Ceramic tile collections available in a wide variety of field and decorative pieces within each family grouping.
- Ceramic tile flooring offered in pre-designed patterns.
- Any material that offers various colors. I recently saw an elegant border created for a family hobby room where cork floor tiles of different colors were combined.
Whenever considering a patterned floor, first decide what the design theme is.
- Is the pattern designed to enhance the overall surface? A tile patterned floor or a checkerboard created with cork, linoleum or other man-made tile is an example of this design approach. The entire surface features the repetitive pattern. Be aware that any type of patterned floor will require more material than a normal square pattern.
- Is the design a “defining” pattern? Is the design one that is accenting the shape of the room, or creating a detail in the room? Oftentimes, this type of pattern will be created by transitioning from the field (simple) tile used in a larger size to a smaller offering in the same material, or a completely different material framing a central design. The material creates an “area carpet” focal point.
Creating any type of a center room accented area requires that the entire floor be laid out on the plan view of the room to make sure the following has been considered: