Friday, March 30th, 2012
Happy Friday! Here at Fox Interiors I’m always on the hunt for something beautiful to enhance my current and future projects. This week I stopped by Mercury Mosaics, run by my dear friend of 8 or so years, Mercedes Austin. We met at the annual Minnesota Tile Festival at the Swedish Institute in Minneapolis back when she was running her business out of her live/work studio in St. Paul and I was just starting a business designing custom throw pillows. All these years later, she has 5 kilns, a great team of tile craftsmen, and an inspiring design studio not far from me in Northeast Minneapolis.
I love visiting the studio because they are always developing new color blends and tile designs that showcase just how many possibilities there are when designing with their handmade tile. I’ve shared finished projects of theirs before with you (first see the process and then the finished results for this stunning bathroom), but I thought you might enjoy seeing the different styles that caught my eye this week.
The bubbles with organic edge field tiles is one of their most recognizable designs, and one of their most popular. I love the color variation in the Denim blue tiles. Did you know every tile is cut and painted with glaze by hand?!
This board was created for a client trying to decide between two different colors of Stix to anchor their Bubbles. Notice they were going to have the Bubbles floating on the wall without all field tile above. A great way to make an impact (and save a little money). Which would you chose?
Here you can see how a band of Bubbles can be framed out with liner pieces to create a focal point, like over a stove, while the rest of the backsplash could be in a white field tile. Throw in a few clusters of Bubbles around the room to continue the theme. This is good for both the budget and the design. Check out their portfolio online and you’ll see some beautiful examples of this concept in practice.
The Bubble Grid Stagger is not utilized as much as some of their other styles, but I was really struck by how great it looked on this mirror. The Olive Green glaze has a nice range of variation to it, which adds interest without adding in a handful of colors. I love how the grout color becomes a strong element of the design. Imagine it with a khaki or charcoal gray grout… really changes it, doesn’t it?
The Moroccans is another fun mosaic shape, and I love this fresh color palette… so springy! It looks great in the dark reds and browns you may have seen them feature in the past, but this color palette really showcases it’s versatility.
Here are more examples of the newer color blends Mercury Mosaics is showcasing. The new leopard texture on the green Moroccans is fabulous!
You may have noticed the pricing on this panel and the mirror above. You might recognize Mercury Mosaics from their very popular Groupon classes. You get to come in and make your own art panel or framed mirror, and you even learn how to grout it yourself. It’s a super fun class, and the pieces they develop during these classes are for sale in the showroom. I love how this panel utilizes a field of Stixs and a few Bubbles that were cut on the wet saw to add additional movement to the piece. I think this could easily be recreated on a backsplash or fireplace surround.
In a similar vein, this little panel showcases the variation of the Denim glaze and I love the rings of Bubbles integrated with the field tile (I’m guessing that’s a 2×6, but Mercedes could tell you for sure).
Finally, this piece showcases Mercury Mosaics custom mosaic capabilities. I think this overlapping concentric circle design is beautiful and such a work of art. They’ve created some custom designs in the past that incorporate this style, and I’d love to see more examples.
For more examples of their work, be sure to check out their portfolio on Houzz. If you haven’t played around with the over 385,000 images in this database yet, you are going to be ADDICTED! All you need to do is set up an account with an email address, set up a couple of Ideabooks to tag your favorite images into, and then go crazy! Fox Interiors has a portfolio on Houzz as well, (search “Fox Interiors” under the Professionals category to find us) and you can see my Ideabooks if you need ideas for categories. What’s great about this site is that you can add notes to yourself about what you like in each photo so that you remember it was the light fixture or the color palette that caught your eye. Oh, and there’s an iPad & iPhone version too, especially handy when you’re bored waiting in line. =)
I also love that once you’ve created an Ideabook you can Share it with others, including… your Designer! It’s a great resource for helping you figure out your style that you can then pass to your designer to help them understand what you are looking for.
I can’t wait to hear what you think of Mercury Mosaics and Houzz!
Thursday, September 1st, 2011
I know you are supposed to live in your home for a while to get a sense of how you will actually live and move in it before you start making big changes. But how many of us can resist plotting changes to a new space the minute you find out it’s yours? I think I have it worst than most as an interior designer since I am constantly finding new fabulous products that I’d love to live with myself, not just put into clients’ homes. Of course with the wide diversity of styles I like, if I did some of everything my house would look like a hot mess (I love that expression!)
So I’m working hard at being patient, letting the house speak to me, and keeping my eyes open for products that fit THIS house and OUR life. (I have a hard time writing the word “lifestyle” in print thanks to a high school english teacher who hated that word and was adamant we never use it in front of him.)
Our kitchen was completely remodeled by the previous owners only a year ago, and while they made some real improvements, some of their finish selections drive me bonkers. The rough slate floor varies in height by up to a quarter of an inch tile by tile, creating the effect under your feet my husband equates to walking on rocks in the Boundary Waters. I’m just waiting for that first toddler still finding their balance to try and walk across it…I foresee lots of tears and bruising. Yikes.
Here is a picture of the kitchen the day we moved in.
IKEA cabinets, black granite countertops, stainless appliances – a good foundation. I was pleasantly surprised how much I can store in these cabinets (the 36″ wide drawer units are fabulous!)
Since the kitchen is the heart of the home (geographically and figuratively), I’ve been trying to select new floor and wall tiles since pretty much the day we first visited the house to make it ours.
Now here’s where the waiting pays off. I recently was flipping through a design magazine and spotted an ad for Ann Sacks tiles that caught my eye and totally changed my vision for the backsplash.
Now before this I was looking in a couple of different directions to pull together the colors in the adjacent rooms.
I still love this tile I had in mind for our previous house, and it could work here.
It has some beautiful blues in it as well as browns, grays, whites, etc. The shape is updated from the typical glass squares you see in every big box store.
Then I thought about going with a ceramic with texture like these examples from Pratt & Larson Ceramics.
The shimmer effect of these glazes really sets them apart.
But with the darker cabinets and black granite countertops, these options were feeling too dark. The Ann Sacks ad made me think what I need to embrace it a lighter color palette, maybe even a gold tone to get that sophisticated drama I like in the copper tiles on the left above. Totally not my usual direction, but that’s the fun of it afterall.
So I did a little research and discovered a gorgeous kitchen example on the Ann Sacks website using this tile.
Talk about a picture selling a product! I’m loving it even more now. The light fixtures are a brilliant pairing and the lines of those stools would totally work in my house too. I just wish my cabinets were white too. Oh well.
Another idea is this beautiful arabesque tile, but I don’t think you would get to really appreciate its form in a space only 18″ high. Maybe that’ll be in the master bathroom (later on).
So now I’ll marinate in the idea of that tile and see what I think in a month, two months from now. If I’m still in love I’ll have to start looking for the right floor tile to coordinate with it. Stay tuned.
What would you pick?
Thursday, August 12th, 2010
It’s always the foreign Elle Decoration & Vogue Living magazines that get me to cave in (see my previous post if this comment makes no sense).
So here’s the Australia Vogue Living Before + After Special Issue I couldn’t resist. These images literally grabbed my attention at the newsstand, and after reading the magazine they still stand out as my favorites, though I’ve certainly tabbed plenty of other great photos and ideas. Even the cover is a stand out. Love that plank style table with metal base and the orange painting.
I think trend inspiration boards are a great way to show how different pieces can be combined. I would love to have the wood shelving unit in the lower left corner (so classic and clean!) but what actually got my brain spinning was the rug. Now I love a well-done global aesthetic mixed in with clean classic timeless pieces. But that rug is something I would normally not be drawn to for my own home.
But sitting at my bar counter reading the magazine it struck me how powerful that one piece could be in changing the style and vibe of a room. I have a grey couch and pair of chairs in my living room similar to the color of the couch in the layout. Switching out the white shag rug we have for this rug would give the room a whole new personality and really brighten up the space. These are the thoughts that keep me up at night dreaming of all the ways to tweak my home.
This hallway was transformed with these bookshelves lining one wall and a creative solution for hiding ventilation in the ceiling while providing lighting.
I love the detail shot that shows that the shelves are actually made of thick plexiglass. Even the back of the unit is lined in frosted plexiglass, allowing light to flow from the kitchen into an otherwise dark hallway. Plus you wouldn’t have to worry about little hands accidentially breaking all those shelves (since they aren’t glass).
This is about a less obvious part of design and architecture: the experience of moving through a space. Just like in public spaces, as one looks through a space one needs something to focus on in the distance. The visual balance of the sculpture, sofa, artwork and open space is wonderful in this photo. And the shadows from those amazing windows makes me want to lay on the floor in the warmth of the sun and breathe in and out in peace (I may be spending too much time with my cats).
The homeowners and architect were inspired by a book on Japanese gardens. This influence is clearly visible in the window shutters filtering light and creating framed views. Wood is treated with both simplicity and reverence in this room. Notice there is no art on the walls because the details of the architecture and furniture are art and anything more would be a distraction and clutter the view.
Finally, what struck me about this kitchen is the use of a large format rectangular marble tile for the backsplash. They consistently used the same marble on the countertops (in a nice chunky profile), on the table serving as an island (a thin profile), and then on the backsplash. Using a slab for the backsplash works well and looks beautiful. Using a marble subway tile is more affordable and still gets the look. But this large tile is something I haven’t seen before and I really like the modern feel it creates.
Alright, those are my favorites from this special issue. These foreign magazines tend to cost more than the domestic magazines, but like a fine cheese, it’s a different experience that’s worth the $$ to me as a special treat. Which makes me wonder: what is the special treat you’re willing to spend more for? Let me know in the comments section. Upgrading your cable package just for a few weeks or months for “Mad Men” or the Tour de France? Great olives? The $70 make up brush that performs in a way no Target brush ever could?
I’m really curious now!