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Guide to Choosing the Right Tile for your Home

How to get the most out of your tile

 

There are endless options when it comes to tile; the trick is finding the right one for you. Here we’ll split the decision making process into two phases:

Phase 1: Functionality

Renovated bathroom
Studio S Interiors bathroom renovation demonstrating various tile applications in a single space.

 

Where and how will the tile be used?

   Floor  Wall  Counter  Back splash
 Kitchen  Porcelain
 Natural Stone
 Anything  Porcelain
 Glazed Ceramic
 Glass
 Natural Stone
 Anything
 Bathroom  Natural Stone
 Ceramic
 Porcelain
 Ceramic
 Glass

* These are simply suggested applications based on durability, moisture absorption, and traction. Ask a professional if the tiles you chose are suitable for your intended application

 

Shower with various tiles
Studio S Interiors bathroom renovation demonstrating different applications of tile based on their traction.

Reasoning:

  • Porcelain, Glass, and Glazed Ceramic are the easiest to clean.
  • Natural stone provides better grip.
  • Porcelain vs. Ceramic
    • Ceramic tiles are more susceptible to moisture than porcelain
    • Porcelain tiles are more durable than ceramic
    • Ceramic tiles PEI ratings can range from 1-5, but the majority of ratings are on the lower end

 

The PEI (Porcelain Enamel Institute) scale is used to measure the strength of porcelain and ceramic tiles, to help you determine where they’re best suited for use in your home.

 Class  Amount of Foot Traffic  Suggested Applications
 PEI Class 1  No foot traffic  Walls only
 PEI Class 2  Light traffic Walls and bathroom floors
 PEI Class 3  Light to moderate traffic  Counter tops, walls, and floors
 PEI Class 4  Moderate to heavy traffic  Kitchen floors, entry ways
 PEI Class 5  Heavy to extra heavy traffic  Any

 

Phase 2: Appearance

What feeling do you want to evoke?

Colour

Tile colour can play a large part in the overall impression of a room. Lighter colours make for a brighter room, while darker colours add warmth and an air of prestige. Sticking with a neutral palette allows you to change up your accessories. Continuing with one consistent colour throughout a room is also a great way to make the space seem larger.

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Studio S Interiors bathroom renovation showing how lighter colours can brighten up a room.

Size

Generally, larger tiles give the illusion of a bigger room, while smaller tiles have a tendency to make a space feel more enclosed. Small tiles such as mosaics are great for adding a personal touch with something like a backsplash or accent wall. You can also use them as a border around larger tiles to define a space. If an installation is going to require a lot of cuts, for things like fixtures, consider choosing smaller tiles to give the room a better flow.

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Studio S Interiors kitchen renovation showing small tiles being used as a backsplash/accent wall.

Shape/Direction

Rectangular tiles can be used to establish the flow of a room, or to give the impression of increased width/length. You can mix up different tiles in the same space but make sure they follow a consistent direction to avoid a room that seems disjointed.

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Studio S Interiors bathroom renovation showing the use of rectangular tiles oriented to give this smaller room the illusion of more depth.

At the end of the day, the tile you choose should be something you love! Trust your instincts and consult a professional if you’re looking for a little guidance.

 

Pricing

Now how we see it, tiles should be looked at as an investment rather than an expense. That being said, here are some general price ranges to give you an idea of what you’re dealing with.

 Tile Type  Price Per Square Foot
 Ceramic  $2 – $20
 Porcelain  $3 – $25
 Natural Stone  $7 – $20
 Glass  $7 – $30

 

Well you’re all set! We wish you good luck on choosing the perfect tile for your home!

7 Awesome Kitchen Storage Ideas

How to make the most out of your kitchen space

Not everyone has the luxury of unlimited cabinet space and counter top surfaces that never seem to end. That’s why it’s important to make the most out of the space you do have in your kitchen. Here are 7 kitchen storage ideas that optimize every square inch!

1. Pull out Pantry

Take advantage of a slim space that still has plenty of depth. Rather than the traditional cupboard with inset shelves, consider installing a pull out shelving unit. This solution gives you full access to every item in your pantry, which means that box of crackers you had in the back won’t go stale before you remember they’re there.

Pull out pantry kitchen storage

 

2. Tool Drawer Insert

Everyone has that one drawer where they toss everything from their can opener to their pizza cutter. Rather than subjecting all those poor tools to a life of chaos, try an organized drawer insert. This way, everyone has their own spot and you won’t waste time rummaging through to find the ice cream scoop.

organizational kitchen tool drawer insert

 

3. Pull out Spice Rack

Having all your herbs and spices displayed beautifully on your kitchen counter may be ideal for letting your guests know that you’re the greatest chef in the land, but not everyone can afford to spare all of that prime real-estate. Pull out spice racks are a great way to keep organized, while also taking advantage of some tight cupboard space that might have otherwise gone to waste.

Pull out spice rack kitchen storage

 

4. Cutting Board Sink Insert

Now this one isn’t really a “kitchen storage idea” per say, however it is a great way to take advantage of space. While preparing a meal, you can never have enough surface area. Utilizing that second sink basin as a cutting board is an awesome way to temporarily extend your counter tops! And an added bonus, some come with draining inserts to help cut down on messy juices.

Cutting board sink insert

 

5. Pull out Dish Dividing Rack

Stacking dishes on top of each other in your cupboard may seem like the best way to store them, but we all know the struggle of trying to pull out that handful of plates trapped underneath a mountain of bowls. Alternatively, consider installing a pull out dish rack that evenly divides your dishes, while providing you easy access.

Pull out dish dividing rack

 

6. Hidden Step Stool

Part of optimizing your kitchen space, means installing cabinets with shelves that may be just a touch out of reach. Finding the room to store a step stool close by shouldn’t be something you have to worry about. As part of your cabinet installation, add a hidden step stool right into your toe kick!

Hidden toe kick step stool

 

7. Pull out Corner Cupboard

One of the hardest spots to access is the dreaded inner corner cabinet of any kitchen. Clever pull out shelving units allow for all of that space to be utilized, while still allowing access to everything in the cupboard.

Pull out corner cupboard

Successfully Illuminating your Kitchen

Lighting is no simple task; however, lighting if done right can make a big difference in enjoying your kitchen. In the past, when it came to illuminating your kitchen, some builders would simply install overhead fluorescent ceiling fixtures and consider the job done. Today, elegant and beautiful lighting has climbed to the top of most people’s wish lists.

The most effective lighting for the kitchen involves four layers blended together: task, ambient, accent and decorative lighting. If implemented correctly, the end result will be a warm and inviting environment that works with your other design elements to create a practical workspace and lively entertainment area for family and friends. Lighting the kitchen is not a complex matter, but it is important to remember that ‘layering’ is key to creating that warm and inviting space.

Task lighting is what most people and designers consider first when designing the lighting system, mainly due to the fact that preparing food is one of the key activities within a kitchen. Ensuring that you have adequate task lighting is imperative for any design. It is important to remember that if task lighting is misplaced, it can actually create shadows, hindering the ability to work efficiently in the newly designed space. Task lighting can include undercabinet lighting (which can act as ambient lighting as well), pendant lights over an island or peninsula, in a pantry where you will be reading labels, as well as anywhere you will be reading recipes, and preparing food.

Sleek modern kitchen with large bay window behind the sink
Task Lighting, Taken from Studio S Interiors, 2013

Ambient lighting is an important layer that is often overlooked in the kitchen. Lighting designs are typically done throughout the day, when daylight is a premium in the space, so many do not think there needs to be any other lighting aside from task lighting. Ambient lighting sets the mood of the space; it softens the lines and shadows on people’s faces, and can create a warm and inviting space in just about any kitchen.

Accent lighting is the least common layer in the kitchen, but as it is becoming more common that people prefer to entertain in their kitchens, accent lighting is an important aspect of lighting to highlight or accent an object. Types of accent lighting include track lighting, up-lighting from the floor or wall washing, wall sconces or directional recessed fixtures; all of which can light up and accent a piece of art, glassware or even a specific detail in cabinetry.

Indoor living area with a large skylight above a fireplace
Accent Lighting taken from Studio S Interiors, 2014

Decorative lighting tends to be the most expensive element within your lighting design scheme. Two major considerations should be made when determining what type of decorative fixture you will incorporate into the space; the scale and the type of shade. Depending on the size of your kitchen, the decorative lighting should be considered in direct proportion. For example, the larger the space, the greater importance chandeliers and other hanging fixtures play within the space. If you have a smaller kitchen, you may opt to choose a lighter decorative fixture.

Lighting can be fun, and can make or break any space. Ensuring that the layers all work together is very important. Coordinating the lighting levels can be done by installing dimmers on all fixtures, so that adjusting the lighting to any mood is just a switch away.

Selecting Cabinet Hardware

Choosing cabinet hardware is like the jewelry we choose to go with our outfit. Like jewelry, changing the hardware can dramatically change the look of any kitchen or bathroom vanity. Choosing the hardware can feel like a daunting task for any home owner, and is sometimes the last detail chosen. Hardware is a fine detail that can bring together an entire kitchen, you need to feel and see the hardware up close before purchasing it. It is a very personal accessory for your kitchen; many prefer to have a smaller knob, whereas others prefer to have a pull. Others may choose a simple pull that may prove to provide a more stable and ergonomically correct handle for those with arthritis.

Studios S Interiors' large showroom tile and hardware selection
Studio S Interiors Showroom Display, 2015

There is a wide variety of hardware companies out there and trying to limit the type of hardware can all come down to price and quality. It is a good idea to take a few samples of hardware home and place alongside with the materials selected. Seeing them in your lighting will give you a better idea as to whether or not they will work or not. Some finishes, like brushed nickel offer a slight pink undertone, and others may look a bit more yellow. It is important to consider both price and quality, but also important to not over look the quality of hardware because of its price. Sometimes, the difference in quality can be determined by simply holding a lower quality one with a higher quality knob. You will notice the difference immediately.

When selecting hardware for your cabinets, you want to consider the look and how well it will pair with the kitchen cabinets. It is best to find a showroom that offers a wide selection from a few different brands to give you a sense of what is available. Don’t be afraid of a little bling either, sometimes it is that unique handle that adds character or sparkle to your space. The Chareau collection from Top Knobs is one of our favorite collections. It’s charming, and can provide a bit of glimmer to your kitchen. You can also pair it will the matching pulls from the same collection – don’t be afraid to mix it up a bit.Various cabinetry hardware

The Importance of Good Design throughout your Home

A good design can have a positive impact on our lives, and sometimes the best designs are all about simplicity of something that is not only aesthetically beautiful, but functional that brings you and your family together. The importance of good design has been a hot topic for centuries, and if you think about it, every object that we see, touch, or hear is a result of someone’s creative vision. Architecture and interior design have come a long way, and it is the space and someone’s vision that brings the space to life. A good designer intends to make your environment personal and comfortable for you; the design process is an intentional process that takes your personal needs and desired aesthetic, customizable to suit the architectural integrity of your home. In other words, good design is everything; good design will impact your life forever.

Modern open concept living and dining area with stone fireplace
Studio S Interiors Living Room, 2014.

 

The emotional connection in which you experience within your space is what is important; any good designer will be able to pick up on these emotional cues and give you that space your heart desires. It is up to the designer to really dig deep and ask clients what to look for in a space, and what their lifestyles require in order to understand how they would live in their new kitchen or bath. This creative process is where the creative ideas really begin to come together. The best designed spaces are a result of studying the space and inquiring about the needs of the occupants. The room, whether it is a kitchen, bathroom, basement, or family room should be a reflection of your own character and personality; a well designed space will tell your story to others.

Beautiful light coloured kitchen in open floor plan home
Studio S Interiors Kitchen, 2014.

Outdoor Kitchens

Nothing marks the start of backyard season quite like a cookout. We’re going to discuss the process, as well as offer smart tips for creating your outdoor kitchens. Outdoor living is now a growing trend as more Canadians transform their backyard into elaborate extensions of their home. Whether the purpose is to enjoy with family functions or for public entertaining, turning your space into a fully functional outdoor kitchen takes serious planning and design.

Step #1: Backyard Assessment Always check to see if permits must be applied for and determine what codes are required. Determine whether or not your future outdoor kitchen is conveniently located to the indoor kitchen, whether or not you have adequate lighting and shelter from the sun. Lastly, check to make sure the area is properly leveled.

 Step #2: Plan the location of your outdoor kitchen and what equipment is required and how will this affect the installation/placement of your gas, water and/or electricity supply.

“Outdoor Kitchen” Designed by Phil Kean Designs
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Image Source: http://www.houzz.com/outdoor-kitchen

Step #3: This next step is really getting into the design phase of your project in determining the function of the space. You will want to think about where the cooking will be taking place, where the cleaning will take place, and lastly where the prep areas will be.

Step #4: Your next step is to choose what equipment you will be using. The types of equipment will depend on not only your style, but also on how you intend to cook and entertain. Remember that the appliances can be a costly adventure, so make sure to incorporate these costs into your overall budget.

Step #5: Once the appliances and equipment has been decided on, you can now look at the landing area and space requirements between each appliance and sitting area. A few space recommendations include having a minimum of 18” of open counter on each side of the sink, allowing for a minimum of 24” on one side of the grill and on the other 12”. These measurements will depend on the space you have available to work with, but the second most common design mistake is not allowing for enough landing space on either side of the appliances.

Step #6: It is important to ensure that there is enough storage space. Since this is an outdoor kitchen, it is not imperative that there be an over abundance of storage since there are less pots and pans to store, but this would most likely be for seasonal items for safe storage. It is often said that for a small kitchen, you are to have a minimum of 21” storage cabinets, 72” for a medium kitchen, and 96” for a larger kitchen.

 Step #7: There are a number of factors that should be considered when planning on your seating arrangement. Firstly, you would want to determine just how many people typically take part in any entertainment activities; secondly, determine the traffic area and determine how much space you would like to leave clear for people to come and go; thirdly, determining the seat width which is typically 24” for normal seating and 36 for accessible seating; and lastly, allowing for enough knee space for either table height seating, counter height seating, bar height or accessible seating.

Step #8: The last step in ensuring your outdoor kitchen has been properly planned and designed is to ensure that all safety measures and considerations have been implemented, and to properly prepare for extending the life of your outdoor kitchen. Providing proper shade will help keep the cabinetry finish and other finishes from fading, having a shelter overhead to protect from rain (ensure that is made from non-combustible material if over the grill), provide adequate but safe heating and cooling options for users.

Designing a Kitchen for Wheelchair Accessibility

When designing a kitchen for clients who require wheelchair accessibility or other designs where ease of mobility is important, one must have a deep understanding of the client’s needs. The clean design of a newly remodeled space must remove all obstacles by providing easy access to appliances, sinks, counters, and cabinets for storage while allowing enough turning space for a fluid transition to adjoining areas. These areas depend on the floor plan itself, but could include a living room, media area, dining room or beverage bar.

“Accessible Housing Modification” Designed by: Kon-Strux Developments
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Image Source: http://www.houzz.com/photos/wheelchair-accessible-kitchen-/p/8

Depending on the clients needs and requirements, some kitchen designs may vary depending on how often the residents entertain, how often they cook, how many people typically use the space at one time, whether an island is required, etc. Appliances like the cook top should be at an appropriate height in order to allow the occupant to easily access the cooking area while being able to maneuver around the space easily. In the image shown above, the cooking area is fully open with ample knee space allowing the client to wheel up to and under the unit.

Technology also plays an important role in designing a kitchen for wheelchair accessibility. Full motorized wall cabinets can be incorporated into the design and can be lowered to countertop height, so the client can easily reach into the cabinets.

“Motorized Cabinets in Lower Position for Access” Design by: Kitchen Design Inc.
Wheelchair accessible kitchen with lowered motorized cabinets
Image Source: http://www.kitchendesigns.com/blog/designing-a-kitchen-for-wheelchair-accessibility/

“Pull-Down Shelving System for Wall Cabinet” by Rev-A-Shelf
Extending accessible kitchen shelve unit with grab bar
Image Source: https://mcfaddens.com/p-10873-rev-a-shelf-5pd24crn-chrome-5pd-series-premiere-pull-down-shelving-system-for-24-inch-wall-cabinets.aspx

Other options include pull-down shelving equipment designed specifically for upper cabinets. This can allow for the clients to access their upper cabinets with ease by simply reaching for this unit. With it’s soft suspension, it slowly recessed back into the cabinet once finished.

Easy one touch opening and closing automatic cabinet doors

Another option includes offering the SERVO-DRIVE for cabinet hardware; allowing the doors to open at a single touch on the front door. This system is typically hard-wired, so ensuring to hire a professional installer is important to ensure that the systems open smoothly and close effortlessly. More information on this product can be found on the Blum website (http://www.blum.com/ca/en/01/60/20/10/).

With the help of innovative products, technology and of course hiring a professional interior designer, options for accessible living are limitless. Kitchens and other living spaces can be designed to maximize the users independence, convenience, and functionality.

Interior Design Trends

Say goodbye to boring white and beige tile, say hello to tiles featuring exciting and bold patterns being used in fresh new ways to create stunning interior design schemes for a variety of spaces. Whether it be the Moroccan inspired tiles, modern geometric, or other patterned tiles, the key to pulling off this edgy and fresh new look in any space is to let the tiles be the focal point. Try letting the simple, streamlined, architectural furniture and lighting pieces take the backseat of the design, and allow for the tiles to be the main attraction. This can create a modern look accompanied with added character and artistic flair.

Bathroom floors and accent walls are a great place to add a large scale patterned tile; fewer floor lines amount to less visual chopping which result in a visually large space.


Large open bathroom with old stile tub and eccentric coloured and patterned floor tiles
Image Source: Cera Gres; Product: Mix and Match Floor Tile


Bathroom shower stall tiles with unique designs
Image Source: Cera Gres ; Product: Memory Porcelain Tile

For something really different and unique, try combining the tile with hardwood flooring within the same space. Other application examples could include using a modern floor tile with modern elements such as furniture, lighting, etc.

Tiles have always been a great option for all areas within the home; whether it be for the bathroom, kitchen, entry way or any other area that requires the ability to withstand higher traffic areas, for wear and tear purposes, tiles introducing bold patterns are making a comeback. There are so many wonderful design options available today for both residential and commercial applications; there are so many new ways of introducing them into a home, whilst keeping the look fresh, modern and exciting.

Accessible & Universal Design

Universal design in a bathroom with visually appealing support bar and fold out shower seat

Universal designs are implemented into a space in order to accommodate the functional needs of everyone: children, adults and seniors with or without limitations or disabilities. A successful design of a universal accessible space or bathroom focuses on the functionality of the space in order to maximize the usability of environments. Universal design can be incorporated into just about any space within a home; whether it is your bathroom, kitchen, or common area, the objectives are to meet all users’ needs in order to become more adaptable and comfortable for individuals and families.

Facts & Tips About Universal Design:

  1. Use matte and low-gloss finishes on floors, and avoid highly polished surfaces, particularly near large expanses of glass or direct overhead lighting. Using unpolished surfaces on the floor reduce the risk of slipping or falling.
  1. The Flexibility in Use is extremely important of Universal Design. The design of the house or product has been developed considering a wide range of individual preferences and abilities throughout the life cycle of the occupants.
  1. The layout and design of the home should be simple and intuitive for the current user and future occupants. The layout should be easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience of cognitive ability.
  1. Minimal physical effort is vital when designing universal spaces. Limiting the amount of strength, stamina and dexterity required accessing spaces or to use products or devices is imperative.

 

Projects Incorporating Universal (Accessible Design Elements)

Here are a few examples of projects that incorporated accessible design elements.

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View more of our projects here.