Surface Selections Must Consider Chromatic Harmony, Desirability, and Durability
Choosing the Right Palette for Your Space
Quite often, the decade in which a home was built can be confirmed by the colors and textures used on essential surfaces. Trends in fashion, color, home décor, and architecture are cyclical and are often influenced by other factors occurring within a given time period.
Whether or not you are an adherent of feng shui, the basic principle of cultural and emotional association with color is difficult to dispute, say the bloggers on the Artistic Tile website. We’ve heard plenty about the popularity of earth tones and the neutral palette lately. Not surprisingly, the feng shui earth colors are sandy/earthy beiges and light brown. Earth colors are associated with security and grounding. The popular white and gray that have been ever-present in our homes the last few years would fall under metal, which is said to stimulate mental strength and intellectual abilities. It is interesting these earth and metal colors have been dominant over the last several years when you think about what people wanted to feel coming out of the Great Recession—secure, grounded, and wiser from the experience.
Feng shui colors are associated with one of the five elements: earth, metal, water, wood, or fire. Traditional feng shui practitioners believe working with all five elements is the only true way to restore or correct positive chi (or energy) flow in your home. This is music to the ears of those who assert it’s time for home décor to move away from purely monochromatic motifs.
So, if you’re ready to add some color and some chi, know that water is often associated with “drifting,” which can either be a positive or negative state of mind. Blue shades invoke soothing feelings — a serene river or a clear blue sky. If there’s a room in your home where you’d like to relax, recharge, and/or meditate, a blue palette is a natural option. Black can be linked to deep ocean waters and is considered to have very heavy energy. Consider using black in moderation and, ideally, below eye level, as too much can impart an untethered feeling. Used sparingly and thoughtfully, however, it can provide grounding and protection.
Green, a wood element in feng shui, is associated with health, vitality, and growth. Green serves well in areas you’d like to grow in or grow your business from, like studies and home offices. A generally optimistic color, green can also be overpowering, so it should be used sparingly in places you’d like to rest, like bedrooms or lounges. Of course, real wood floors and wood-look tiles also support the introduction of wood chi and remain popular surface choices.
Representative of the fire element, a bit of gold in any room creates excellent energy. The colors gold and yellow are an expression of the sun and can inspire passion, confidence, and drive. Like gold, red is also associated with the element of fire. The color of risk-taking, desire, and excitement, red is the Chinese color of luck and love, and in India, where red bridal gowns are the standard, it is the color of marriage. Every room in the home can benefit from touches of gold for energy and red for luck, but it’s especially useful in an area of your home where you’d like to (figuratively!) light a fire, Artistic Tile advises, specifying this could mean your office, your bedroom, your family room, or workout spaces.
The mix of red and yellow is, of course, orange, and designers recommend it as a great choice for spaces where you’d like to facilitate cheerfulness, warmth, and sociability, such as living or entertaining rooms. We’re starting to see more of these colors used either as the main color for signature surface areas or subtly but intentionally introduced as accent colors weaved into a neutral palette.
Any Look, Anywhere
Mother Nature herself is not one to shy from color. Her magnificent and one-of-a-kind choices make every visit to a natural stone slab supply warehouse awe-inspiring. One of the reasons natural stone became the norm for countertops was people’s desire to have something unique; no two slabs are exactly the same. Granite proved to be the best choice due to its resistance to chipping and scratching and became widely used as it became more affordable.
It was reported about 75 percent of new kitchens had granite countertops just a few years ago. But around 2018, Houzz reported granite was no longer the most popular countertop material. People had turned to other natural stones and engineering simulants for a clearer and cleaner countertop look with less pattern than granites.
Specific treatments that protect polished marbles, onyxes, and soft quartzites from etching and staining make it possible to use just about any type of natural stone slab if proper care is taken. However, when granite began to decline in popularity, the durability of engineered quartz countertops and their ability to mimic other highly coveted stones of the era vaulted them to the top. They are made by combining ground quartz with polyester resins. The resins bind the pigments to create color and help make these surfaces stain- and scratch-resistant as well as nonporous, so they never need to be sealed.
Lately, builders and designers have begun to look to other countertop materials since the International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled Chinese quartz manufacturers were being unfairly subsidized and began enforcing duties on incoming quartz counter-tops. Simultaneously, to encourage more domestic purchases, the current government administration added an additional tax on many building materials, including quartz.
The Italians seem to be poised for a countertop takeover in the U.S. with porcelain technology. Only recently have porcelain countertops gained notice in the United States, though Europeans have been installing them for quite some time now. Several years ago, with an investment of more than $50 million ($30 million of which is in Italian technology), Italy’s Del Conca Group arrived in the U.S. with one of the most modern production plants of porcelain stoneware in the world, producing “Designed in Italy, Made in USA” tiles. Owned by Italy’s Iris Ceramica, one of four major producers of porcelain tile in Italy, Stonepeak Ceramics cut the ribbon on its new large-format porcelain panel line at its Crossville, Tennessee, production facility last year. Atlas Concorde, Panaria, and Florim, the other major porcelain tile producers in Italy, also have American production facilities.
Inkjet technology has already trans-formed the ceramic and porcelain tile flooring industry. Digital technology achieves an ultra-realistic appearance with deeply layered graphics. Not only has it made possible more realistic reproductions of marble and other surface materials (e.g., wood, stone, or brick), but those reproductions also feel real because the printing includes texture. Patterns are basically printed onto the top of porcelain, made from clay and mineral oxides, which together are responsible for its strength and durability. Printed or unprinted porcelain tiles or slabs are put into a kiln and fired at extremely high temperatures. The result is a super-dense material nearly impervious to stains, heat, UV rays, scratch-es, chips, and cracks, making tiles that can be used both indoors and outdoors. A matte or high-gloss glaze is applied, then it is fired a second time so the glaze adheres completely.
Porcelain has been making its way onto other home surfaces as well. Mirage porcelain veneers set a new standard for modern masonry design with high density and an ultra-low water absorption rate that creates a tight surface. This allows the veneers to fend off surface mold, moss, dirt, and other types of stains found in exterior environments without requiring any treatments (sealers) and to remain unaffected by efflorescence or discoloration. The units are small and thin, at 4 inches wide by 18 inches long (nominal) and with a thickness ranging from .30 to .60 inches, making them a perfect option for vertical wall coverings for interior or exterior applications.
The brick industry reports brick glazes are increasingly popular for creating striking feature walls. Clear, green, and black are some of the most popular glazes, lending sleek, metallic finishes that shimmer with light rays. Here, the design is complemented by Opus floral wallpaper by Giorgia Beltrami with a waterproof fiberglass backing.
Crossville Inc.’s Reformation porcelain tile collection is a unique, concrete-look product offering unprecedented visual depth with movement, pitting, aggregate, and sheen variations.
Mirage Ardesie Veneers by Oldcastle are a resilient choice for both interior and exterior vertical wall applications.
The Fight for Relevance
As artisans and manufacturers fight to retain and regain relevance in our country’s tile and porcelain industries while brick manufacturers and wood flooring companies continually adjust their color and textural offerings, so must builders fight to stay ahead in each local marketplace in which they are competing. Consider floors, countertops, walls, and ceilings the canvas of a home, and study the trends and opportunities (and, perhaps, the ancient philosophy of feng shui) to drive surface selections that are on the cutting edge of interior design for 2020 and beyond.