Get inside the mind of an award-winning interior designer, Lauren Levant Bland. She recently won 3rd Place for Kitchen of the Year, K+BB Design Award, featuring Country Floors Talya Collection as an eye-catching backsplash in this newly renovated kitchen.
Learn what inspired Lauren Levant Bland to design this beautiful award winning kitchen in our one on one Q&A.
What was the source of inspiration for this kitchen project?
My clients recently relocated from New Jersey to Virginia. They loved a lot of things about their new house, but the kitchen wasn’t one of them. It was outdated, dark, and there was an awkward layout for both cooking and entertaining. Like many people, they like to spend a lot of time in the family room and kitchen, so they wanted to design a space that was beautiful, functional, and that connected those spaces in a pleasurable way.
I decided to create twin islands, each with their own prep and cleanup spaces (a sink, trash, and dishwasher in each) so that the kitchen would function just as well for a big group as it would for their immediate family. Creating a dramatic focal point with the cooking area, which is flanked by matching pantry and refrigerator armoires, created a balanced and dramatic backdrop to the space. One of my favorite details is how much attention we paid to an often overlooked area – the ceiling! The raised tray was given a gleaming border of pressed tin, a rich chocolate tone, and iced with modern crystal lighting. A little New Jersey glamour in a tasteful and clean looking design.
What where the key aspects for consideration when choosing our Talya collection for the backsplash for your clients kitchen?
The color scheme in this design is successful in part because it’s mostly monochromatic. When you’re making big statements with the shapes and textures of a space, a sophisticated color palette helps you keep it classy. The Talya tile is gorgeous, and it was the perfect balance of a classic material (carerra marble) with a modern, high-tech twist (it’s cut with water-jet lasers). The Talya mosaic pulls your eye through the space by providing texture and interest at the rear, and helped the large cooking area feel more intimate and more special. When you’re in this kitchen, you just can’t help but walk up to that tile and touch it.
How would you describe the end result of this kitchen project?
I think we struck the right chords here. The design is bold yet classic, breezy and glamorous. I know the clients and their guests are enjoying the feeling this space gives off – and they’re really putting it to work for them as well. Mark tells me that in addition to gathering design honors, his new kitchen also allows him to cook his wife and daughters some pretty famous pancakes! I’d say that’s a thumbs-up.
What inspired you to become an interior designer and what currently inspires you and is influencing your work?
I’ll be honest – there’s nothing I enjoy more than creating new, exciting things that make people happy. Back in school, I knew I needed to be in a creative or artistic field. I enjoy drawing, painting, cooking, and other creative pursuits as well – but I think of designing spaces as literally making art for people live in – and that’s so exciting! I also love that in design fields, there is a constant state of collaboration where other peoples’ input and ideas influence your own thinking and end up showing up somehow in your work. I’m lucky to have worked with some great designers along the way like Jennifer Gilmer and John Starck – and I feel like I’m always learning and becoming a better listener and designer. In the end, two things motivate me to keep designing and keep learning. First, I’ll admit I enjoy it when I have a big idea and it turns out looking really good – that’s a thrill. But truly, the ultimate payoff is the gleefulness that I get to see in my clients when all our hard work has paid off. It’s an amazing feeling of joy and satisfaction – it’s like putting a live pony behind the Christmas tree, and watching the kids go nuts! It really makes me love this work.
What are your favorite materials or textures?
I try not to play favorites… But I do love me some reclaimed woods and metals. They make modern design feel soft, natural and lovely.
When designing a home, what is your favorite room?
I’ve done a lot of kitchens and I still love them… but right now I’m excited to do more master bedroom suites. I’m doing a few this year (including my own) and I find them exciting because they call for intimate, sophisticated and subtly sensual spaces. I know that in our home, our redesigned master suite is now a welcoming refuge for my husband and I at the end of a day. There are lovely places to read, to bathe, to talk and to sleep. I think that with our frantic daily pace, we all deserve to end our day in a serene and beautiful way.
Is there a design rule that you like to break?
I usually observe the design rules of proportion, contrast, and… gravity. Otherwise I try to challenge myself not to fall on old patterns too much and try to think in flexible ways. I’d like to avoid being the sort of designer who has a signature look- I want to continue to grow and try new things. It’s also the only way to give my clients something that they know will be uniquely theirs.
How would you describe your personal style?
Transitional is an overused word,… so is eclectic, but both are true for me. For example, my husband and I are now living in a Victorian era row-house that we’ve just restored with all the lovely original fireplaces, floors and moldings – yet we’ve injected style contrasts in certain places using fixtures and furnishings from various eras. Our dressing room is very mid-century, our kitchen is ultramodern but it’s mixed with with rustic wood and vintage glass… What can I say? Maybe my design style is “restless”… I enjoy many styles, and sometimes I like to mix them.
Is there a design trend that really stood out to you in 2014 and what is the next trend you see as far as kitchen design and decor?
This year I loved seeing the return of brass fixtures, which seemed to come back in a big way in 2014. Happy little pops of brass showed up in lighting, in hardware, and in plumbing fixtures. The patina of warm raw metals is so appealing to me.
Looking forward, I’m starting to see people becoming more comfortable with putting less on the walls of the kitchen – and I hope that trend continues. I hope in 2015 we will truly be ready to treat the kitchen as what it now is – a living space – and that there’s great value in being efficient with lower level storage so that there’s room for open walls, for art, and for windows. A breath of fresh air!
Stone and Tile: Country Floors www.countryfloors.com
Construction: MR Thornton & Sons www.mrthorntonandsons.com
Cabinetry: Greenfield www.greenfieldcabinetry.com by Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen& Bath www.gilmerkitchens.com
Stone Fabrication www.stoneandtileworld.com
Glass Fabrication: Hutchison Glass & Mirror www.hutchisonglassandmirror.com
Photography: Ettore Mormile www.design-mor.com
Best known for it’s white background and dramatic grey veining attributes, Calacatta marble is the go to for any designer trying to capture a luxurious and elegant style. Originating from Italy, this rare and high-end marble has been around for centuries.
Country Floors has taken this traditional marble and transformed it into two modern collections, Calacatta Gold Modern Polish and our latest Calacatta Gold Modern Honed. Instead of the traditional 1×1 or hexagon mosaics, Country Floors implemented a modernized version of mosaic and moulding options. The two Calacatta marble collections are perfect for any project seeking that bold, sophisticated and effortless show stopping design. The ultimate placement for such a beauty is typically for an entry way, countertop, backsplash or wall to floor drama.
The manner in which various Interlocking Stone Elements maybe be utilized in the world of interior design has been discussed quite a few times in this space. Not only have those thoughts included pattern, but they have also paid attention to other key parts of the design process such as texture and color.
Dimension Water Jet Collection is not your average tile and mosaic. This gorgeous elegant collection is based off of four design elements: color, texture, pattern and form. With it’s curvaceous forms interlocking with one another they create intricate geometric patterns. From neutral colors to finishes of honed, multi and polish this product is soft, subtle and absolutely stunning. Suitable for kitchen, bath or entry way the unique mosaic tiles will have you wanting to plan out your next project.
Curious about how these tiles are created? Well the process, just like the tile itself, will intrigue you. Based off a computer generated drawing the water jet machine uses abrasive particles and ultra high pressured water to cut the material to the precise shape and size of the design. This technique not only offers a unique design element but also endless possibilities surely to impress just about anyone.
Skyline Pave Antico by Country Floors is a dramatic re-adaptation in the pairing of stone and style. The result is the harmony of horizon and terrain as rarely seen.
Our useful friends at Wikipedia say that “a skyline is the artificial horizon that a city’s overall structure creates. Skylines serve as a kind of fingerprint of a city, as no two skylines are alike”. Grabbing the concept that a metropolitan horizon is as unique as a human fingerprint, we can perceive a parallel to the totally individual character that each piece of natural stone possesses.
As seen at the top of this post, the view of Seattle, Washington nicely exemplifies the individuality of the peaks and valleys of its skyline. In juxtaposition, below you can see the blessedly unique features that natural stone, as delivered by Skyline Pave Antico by Country Floors, brings to any interior design plan.
This interesting collection is composed of four wonderful sizes in the Palacio Versailles pattern that are “a statement… a statement of design… a statement of who you are. This stunning yet classic selection of sizes and shapes, combined with the unique characteristics of this stone will add intrigue to every room”.
As always, thanks for reading about Skyline Pave Antico by Country Floors and please feel free to contact us here.
Glamour, Glass and Marble, with the latter two giving us the former, is epitomized by the Glamour Collection from Country Floors. Let’s take a quick peek at the subject of glamour overall and the Country Floors collection in particular!
Glamour is never easy to pin down. Here are two fairly random perspectives . As always, we should hear what Wikipedia has to offer; “glamour is the impression of attraction or fascination that a particularly luxurious or elegant appearance creates”. They also add that, “for glamour to be successful it nearly always requires sprezzatura - an appearance of effortlessness”. Which takes us seamlessly to the next view.
A second perspective presents the late Lauren Bacall, as seen above, and her eternally effortless style. Born as Betty Joan Perske in The Bronx, New York, Ms. Bacall elevated both glamour and cool to heights rarely reached since. Of course, Bogart didn’t hurt on either front!
Today, in the early Fall of 2014, Country Floors feels that the pairing of elegant marbles with stylishly rendered glass yields an irresistible product; that collection is of course the Glamour Collection. As you can see, both at the very top of this post and immediately above, is that the detail and intricate weaving are striking.
Shape, Texture and Stone meld together to provide the homeowner and designer interesting options in terms of both visual appeal and practical usability.In fact, the essence of combining shape and texture, using stone as your medium of choice, creates a real sense of organically derived pattern. Of course, here in the late Summer of 2014, the use of pattern in interior design plans is all too au courant.
To the idea and importance of texture, the ubiquitous site Apartment Therapy recently offered its readers ten ways to add it to a room. One of those ways was the tile shape and they observed that “small variations in tone make these tiles textural”. Interestingly enough the tile shape that this excellent site was commenting on was a hexagon.
The image at the top of the post and the image immediately above both provide an excellent appreciation of the power of texture. As a part of the Country Floors Touch Tone Collection these stone tiles unite texture with two essential shapes, the square and the hexagon. The ability of this Collection to work multiple stone finishes across single sheets of hexagons and squares bring together classic combinations. Form and feel are realized in a unified fashion suitable for luxury modern interiors.
As always, thanks for reading and please find us here.
Pairing marble and ceramic tile is a formidable design statement when done correctly. This synergistic coupling can firstly, add more color choices from the pantheon of ceramic tile to enhance the marble. Then secondly, the marble can contribute depth, formality and general gravitas to the ceramic tile. Taken together they are greater than the mere sum of the parts. Let’s dive into this for moment. The image at the top of this post is a reasonably refined example.The marble in the image is from the Country Floors Afyon Sugar Harmony Collection and the ceramic tile is a part of the Miradouro Collection. The perceived refinement and elegance in the pairing lies in the intertwining of the veining in the stone with the featured colors in the ceramic tile. In essence, distinct patterns cohabiting in the space to the greater benefit of the design plan.
Of course, almost all elements of interior design in 2014 have historical precedents and pairing marble and ceramic tile is no exception. Shown above is the iconic Alphonso XIII Hotel in Sevilla. Originally commissioned by the Spanish monarch of the same name in 1916 to host Ibero-American Exposition of 1929, this landmark is a living example of the marriage of marble and ceramic at it’s finest. Thanks for reading and stay tuned to this space for more design plan ideas featuring stone, tile and terracotta.
In many, many years of observation, interior design trends generally contain a certain degree of “what is old is new again” thought. This is certainly true as we discuss antiqued white stone as a viable contribution to sophisticated design plans in 2014. A quick point of clarification will help us quite a bit here, The term “antiqued” can generally be understood as a process that yields an older and more weathered look or appearance. Naturally this process has a perfect partner in white stone. With that said, let’s move on and take a wider view.
Since we we are entering the languid days of summer, a visit to almost any luxury stone and tile showroom in the USA will reveal a few simple design trend truths. Here are three to think about!
- Design plans strive for an open and often times airy approach that aspire to simple class and grace while avoiding some of the overbearing opulence of the heady days prior to the Great Recession. The imagery at the top of this post is a fine example.
- White is abundant as a background color value and as a monochrome style unto itself. Within that subset lies white stone and in particular white marbles and limestones.
- Antiqued architectural elements are used to warm up some of the spaces created by the two points above. Again, take your eye to the edge treatments that enhance the stone flooring at the top of this post and the more detailed view below.
As always, thanks so very much for reading and stay tuned for the launch of Diana Royal- Pave Antico and Skyline-Pave Antico. These promise to be great additions to the Country Floors lineup! Bye for now!
The Versailles Pattern in Stone allows for a design flexibility that is an enviable addition to any interior design plan. As you can see in the imagery above, the pattern is capable of producing an 18th century French elegance and an open, airy architectural style so in demand in fashion forward circles today.
Also known as the French pattern, the Versailles typically consists of four sizes and shapes that work together from a modular and repetitive standpoint. In the image below, those sizes and shapes are: 8”x8”, 16”x16”, 16”x24”, and 8”x16”. All in a thickness of 1/2 inch with all dimensions being nominal
It is generally accepted that this somewhat intricate flooring combination has its design roots in The Palace of Versailles. Originally a humble hunting lodge outside of Paris, the Palace became a symbol of absolutism and the French ancien regime by the time of the French Revolution in the 18th century. Politics aside, Versailles featured the famous “Hall of Mirrors”, intricate gardens and pressurized water fountains that still amaze visitors today.
Country Floors, throughout its history, has endeavored to marry the essential style of European traditions with current design sensibilities. In the summer of 2014, the company continues to search for that beau ideal. Please allow this blog post to act as a preview for two new collections.
Stay tuned for the launch of Diana Royal- Pave Antico and Skyline-Pave Antico, both of which will feature the Versailles Pattern and a very intriguing stone finish. More to come on that finish in this space, but until then thanks for reading.
All interior design plans must pay some sort of attention to a familiar set of considerations. Light, color, scale, shape, texture, pattern, client desires and much more must be addressed in one way or another. Today, let’s chat about patterns. In particular, Mediterranean patterns in tile and how you can pair them with other elements such as marble to create both focal points and visual statements.
In the world of ceramic tile, Portuguese style azulejos have long served as inspiration when patterns and particularly floral patterns have been a design requirement. Here in the summer of 2014, patterns in general and florals in particular are at the top of many client wish lists.
Recently, speaking to the ongoing trend in floral patterns, well known interior designer Lisa Davis said, “not only is Spring about brighter colors in Interior Design but it is also about floral patterns! This year, BOLD floral patterns are a big trend through wallpaper, fabric, area rugs and furniture”. Of course for Country Floors, we see patterns from the viewpoint of ceramic tile.
Our Miradouro Collection features the most elegant and refined Portuguese wall tiles. These artistic elements have enriched the architecture of Portugal and the world for centuries.They are particularly known for their blue on white motifs, but also offer other exuberant floral Mediterranean style patterns that have a rhythm and vitality all their own.
We feel that another option exists for the discerning design professional and their clients.The pairing of our Miradouro Collection with marble, in particular clean crisp white marble, creates a setting that combines the best of modern design with the finest in classic ceramic art. Stay tuned in this space for imagery and ideas on how to do this with Country Floors. Thank for reading!