K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Nov 20 2014

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Tile 101: Study Up Before Specifying

Color body porcelain tile

When it comes to specifying tile for the first time, you quickly come to realize there is a lot more to tile than just squares, rectangles and neutral whites. Tiles these days come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and materials from small glass mosaics, to large-format, wood-look planks. Beyond just finding a collection that matches your design inspiration visually, there are a few terms you are likely to come across when it gets down to the nitty-gritty of specification. Here is a quick guide to help you read between the (grout) lines:

Through Body Porcelain vs. Color Body Porcelain

Through body porcelain (sometimes referred to as unglazed porcelain) tiles are produced using colored raw materials that permeate the entire tile, incorporating uninterrupted color and pattern features seen on the surface all the way through the tile body. The surface design is evident in a cross-section of the tile body, providing outstanding abrasion resistance and durability.

Color body porcelain tiles (above) are created with continuous colored stains from the glaze surface throughout the body of the tile. Synchronizing the color of both the glaze and body lessens the visibility of any impact chips that may occur. The color remains consistent throughout the tile, but any surface design does not continue through the tile body.

Through body porcelain tile

Through body porcelain tile

Wall Tile vs. Floor Tile

Generally speaking, any tile designated by the manufacturer as floor tile can be installed on vertical surfaces and countertops. The reverse is not true, however. Wall tile is not suitable for use on floors. It is usually non-vitreous, i.e., not manufactured to withstand excessive impact, abrasion or freeze/thaw cycling.

One caveat when considering floor tile for wall or countertop installation is the abrasiveness of the tile. A highly abrasive product would be more difficult to clean on a wall or countertop since commercial floor scrubbers could not realistically be used for maintenance. Otherwise, continuing the chosen floor tile on walls adds great cohesion to an installation and continuity of design flow.

Rectified Tile

A tile that has been “rectified” has had all its edges mechanically finished to achieve a more precise facial dimension. This allows for installation of tile with very narrow grout joints, creating a more seamless look across walls and floors. Thanks to rectified edges permitting minimal grout lines, the latest large-format, wood-look porcelain planks are even more difficult to decipher from natural wood. If your tiles are larger than 15 inches, however, there are certain precautions to take when installing, and it is recommended that you consult a contractor experienced in large tile installations for a sure fit.

Rectified tile

Rectified tile

Shade & Caliber

A tile’s shade (dye lot) refers to the coloration and reflectivity of a tile. A tile’s caliber refers to its facial dimension (size) and is measured with a tool called a caliper (often the terms are confused). Since natural materials are used in both the body and glazes of the tile, slight variations in shade and caliber are normally inherent from one production run to the next. Typically, tile shades (dye lots) are indicated by either an alpha/numeric combination or a three- or four-digit numeral (A16, 3408, 250, etc.), while caliber sizes are normally shown as 07, 08, 09, 00, 01, 02, etc.

It is important to purchase tile that has the same shade (dye lot) and caliber, if at all possible, to ensure a pleasing aesthetic appearance as well as consistent grout joints. This is especially important for larger tiles. Normally, two adjacent calibers (i.e. 07 with 08 or 08 with 09 – not 07 with 09) can be used in an installation if the installer is aware of the variation before the installation is begun because the slight difference can be adjusted within the grout joint.

Even with these terms under your belt, don’t hesitate to ask questions when working with a tile dealer or distributor – they may have ideas for unique applications you never imagined possible.

- By Marianne Cox, Marketing Manager for Marazzi USA

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Nov 12 2014

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Before and After Bathroom


Pamela Wilmoth, ASID, renovated this master bathroom in a 1920s cottage-style house in Oregon that was designed by local architect Frank Clark.

The client’s goals were to: 

- Improve the storage opportunities
- Update the overall design but retain some ambiance of the home’s original style
- Install a larger shower and a claw-foot tub
- Improve the dim lighting

Before 6

Wilmoth and her team provided the following solutions:

- They discovered a hidden space under the eaves that was used to enlarge the shower and include the tub.
- She refurbished the overhead chandelier, which was period-dated to the house, and used vintage sconces on either side of an antique mirror over the sink.
- She updated the pink/brown color scheme with a light blue hue from Benjamin Moore’s Historic Colors Collection on the ceiling and walls to complement the white marble.
- They reclaimed and adapted a serpentine-front dresser for the sink and added a marble top with a marble backsplash.



Wilmoth and her team learned that the tub on the second floor, which was tucked under the eaves of the original structure, was leaking, and there was very little storage available.

“There was a potential space behind it in an unused hall closet, but the slanted walls met the ceiling there at just 5 feet high,” she said. “We ended up rearranging the footprint by opening up the side walls and ceiling to take advantage of the angled planes created by the deep-pitched roof line.”

Before 3

Another challenge was where to find the room to include a separate shower and a claw-foot tub.

“A light went on during discussions with the plumber when we thought to put the tub in the shower space,” said Wilmoth. “An added benefit was that we were able to use the existing drain pipes without having to use costly additions.”

The tub was eventually tucked back under the eave of the shower area, which Wilmoth said left plenty of room to accommodate both.


Design: Pamela Wilmoth Interior Design; Photography: Gerry Katz

Faucets: Jado & Mico Designs; Showerhead & Valve: Delta; Sink & Toilet: Kohler; Tub: Victoria + Albert

Bathroom-Floorplan-before-after copy

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Oct 30 2014

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Bathroom Update Wins Award


Nate Coombs and his team won the DreamMaker Bath and Kitchen’s Franchisee of the Year award for the redesign of an outdated master suite. The owners wanted a modern, elegant look without using too much tile.

The homeowner wasn’t happy with the following:

-       White tile

-       Gold (polished brass) fixtures

-       Empty wall between the vanity and tub deck

-       Inadequate storage space

-       Floor tile that did not flow from the vanity/tub room into the shower, toilet room and closet

-       Too much grout on the tub deck and shower tile

-       Small, enclosed shower with too much glass and a metal frame (below)


Improvements included:

-       Installed stone-simulated porcelain floor tile in warm, earth tones that flows into all spaces

-       Modified the tub deck and updated it with marble slabs with no grout lines and a stone/glass mosaic splash (below)


-       Added cabinetry – painted white maple – for more storage and a new makeup area

-       Installed marble vanity tops

-       Updated plumbing fixtures

-       Enlarged the shower so it is now a walk-in with light marble slabs, a glass/stone mosaic and a frameless piece of glass to allow light in (below)


Cabinets: Wellborn Cabinetry
Countertop: Emperadora Dark by Bedrock Quartz
Glass/Stone Mosaics: Daltile
Hardware: Jeffery Alexander
Lighting: Kichler
Marble Sheets on Tub Deck and in Shower: ForzaStone
Photographer: Andrea Hanks Photography
Plumbing Fixtures: Moen
Tile: Unicom Starker
Toilet: Gerber

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Oct 27 2014

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An Inside Look at Generation Y (Millennials)

Moen Watch NYC Image_1

Millennials – or Generation Y’ers – as they are often called, are shaping the future of design and upcoming trends. Millennials are described as people who are between the ages of 19 and 36, and they make up about 24 percent of the U.S. population. They also represent a generation in flux – while some are in college or recently graduated and are living with their parents, others are already married professionals caught in the work/family crunch. No matter what stage of life they’re in, the reality is they represent between $1 and $1.7 trillion in annual spending power,and that number will only increase as their youngest members mature.

Recently, Jack Suvack, senior director of consumer and insights for Moen, gave a presentation on this rising generation of these young consumers.

“This up-and-coming generation of young consumers is unlike any segment we have seen in the past,” he said. “They are the most educated, socially aware generation with the potential of possessing a large portion of spending power. These individuals are prepared for what lies ahead and are looking to interact with brands that can offer them a well-rounded, meaningful experience.”

Generation Y holds two-thirds of all outstanding student loan debt. They’re also waiting to start their next stage of life after college. Twenty percent have put off marriage, and 22 percent have delayed having children. In addition, the rate at which Generation Y heads their own households has declined, compared to the population growth[1].

Gen Y holds a clear set of values and attributes, which serves as an important lens for their everyday lives. When looking to engage with brands, these individuals seek out companies with traits that align with their own. Some of these include:

-       Authenticity – This group prides themselves on being true to who they are, and they have come to expect the same from the brands they interact with on a daily basis. These individuals actively seek out companies that position themselves with integrity and promote honest communication.

-       Personalization –This generation has matured under the value that everyone is unique and should be celebrated for individuality and has an innate desire to tailor their experiences to fit their needs.

-       Connected Experiences –These individuals came of age in a connected world with the ability to access anyone and any piece of information at any time. A lifetime of connectivity has caused this generation to expect and value a connected existence.

-       Socially Conscious –While this generation may be known as self-involved, they value the concept of social consciousness. Growing up in a globally connected environment, they are more likely to pay a premium for items offered by socially conscious brands.

So, we can see that this budding generation is educated, tech-savvy and optimistic for meaningful experiences, both personally and professionally, and expect a higher level of service and experience from the brands with which they choose to interact.

[1] Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University tabulations of US Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey & Intercensal Population Estimates

- By Ryan Bellinghausen


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