Unique Design Industry Terms: Tile

Last week, I wrote about what unique interior design terms I had learned the past two years.  The blog dealt with furniture, fabrics and accessories but I didn’t even begin to touch on terms that have to do with tile.  So I sat down with our associate designer, JR and asked him everything he knew about tile.  Turns out he is an expert and that there are some interesting and humorous terms to describe tile that you might not know if you don’t work in the design industry.  Here is a handy dandy list:

Field tile is the material that makes up the majority or the ground of the project.  Usually, the field tile is a plain or solid color.

Bullnose Edge:  Bull nose tiles are pieces that are installed on outside corners to achieve a finished, smooth, clean edge.  This is often seen on the edges of counter tops, shower dams and window casings.  I suppose it also gets its name from the nose of a bull which is smooth, flat and round and also it’s just fun to say.

Quarter Rounds: (above) These pieces of tile are cylindrical and used in the same way as a bull nose on an outside corner.  Designers often choose to use this type of finish to create a softer, rounder more artisan style.

The beak is a small piece of tile that goes on the outside corners where quarter rounds meet.  It looks like a little rounded triangle (and a little like a bird’s beak).

Crazing:  I think I love this term the most.  No, it doesn’t mean losing your mind about tile, even though sometimes tile is so pretty we almost do!  Crazing is a process that occurs after installation in low fired handmade tiles.  Over time cracks start to appear on the surface from environmental factors.

Crackle Glaze: 
This is a process that happens intentionally when the surface of the tile is fired with the glaze that creates a not so smooth finish that results in cracks and imperfections.

Honed Finish: 
A honed finish means that the surface has been ground down to a consistent, smooth finish that is dull/matte and not too shiny or reflective.  This finish is adequate for areas of high traffic which is a perk.

Niche: (above) A niche is just a fancy word for shelf.  This is something we often plan into shower walls that looks like a cut out box.  A niche is great in a shower as a place store shampoo bottles and soaps.  The proper pronunciation is “neesh” but many people also say “nitch.”

Shimmer:  (below) shimmer is often found in glass mosaics.  This is when the surface of the tile is reflective, and has a luster or glow.  This can be especially beautiful on surfaces that are exposed to direct light.

Undulated: This is when the tile has actual waves and shapes that give it rhythm and depth not just texture.  Undulation creates beautiful pattern not just with tile but with shadow.

Butt joint:  No, this term is not intended to make you laugh even though it does make me giggle.  This is when tiles are placed very close together and they create a very thin grout line between them.

Written by: Liv Amend Steingart
Photo credit: Erika Bierman Photography

Unique Interior Design Industry Terms

The design industry is a fascinating world with a language all its own.  I began working for Charmean as her project manager two years ago and since then these are some of the terms that I have learned over the years and use often in my day to day business.

Finial:  Doesn’t this sound like something that should live in the ocean?  A finial is not a fish but rather the piece that is screwed on the top of a lamp and holds the shade on.  The great thing about finials is that a designer can have them custom made for you so it doesn’t need to be a boring round one like you would see at a retailer.  Charmean collects small pieces from Etsy, Ebay and antique stores then have holes drilled in the bottom to make into finials.

Banquette:  (above photo) It sounds fancy but a banquette is just an upholstered bench or booth that provides seating for a table, usually in a breakfast room or kitchen.  We have styled banquettes for many of our clients.  It provides a more casual space for a family to gather than a formal dining room.

(below photo) If you think this sounds like something that keeps you warm, you are correct.  A coverlet acts as a lightweight blanket that is warmer than a sheet and lighter than a standard duvet.  Coverlets are a good “in between” in places where the weather is warm and you don’t need a bedspread all year round.

Matelassé: We often make our coverlets out of this fabric which has stitching design, cushioning and a thickness that has a cozier feel than a standard fabric.

Memo:  Memos are small samples of the fabric that our vendors offer.  They come bound in books or as single pieces.  When Charmean begins a project we lay everything out, rugs, art and furniture that inspires her and then she adds memos of fabrics with patterns and colors that will make the custom pieces in the room.

Double Rubs:  Every fabric has a rub count that determines how durable the fabric is and where you should use it in your project.  There are two methods of testing fabric, the Martindale and Wyzenbeek Fabric Rub Tests.  These two tests both involve a machine that rubs the fabric back and forth until you start to see wear.  We typically use fabric with over 20,000 rubs for most of our furniture to ensure its quality and durability. (Example of upholstery weight fabric in photo above.)

Dye Lot/ Batch:  Not all bolts of fabric are created equal, nor is every roll of wallpaper exactly the same.  Dye formulas can change slightly over time.  It’s important when you buy fabric or wallpaper for a project to make sure all cuts of your yardage and rolls of your wallpaper are in the same dye lot or batch or you will certainly see a difference.

Sidemark: A sidemark refers to the project we are working on at the moment.  This is often needed when working with vendors.  When placing orders, many of our trade accounts ask for the “sidemark” to distinguish the fabric and organize orders on their end.  We use the client’s last name or street as the sidemark.

Pile:  This can refer to textiles as well as rugs.  For both, it describes the raised loops of string that stand up from the ground of the cloth or rug.  In fabrics pile is most dramatic in a cut velvet or upholstery weight textile.  If you rub your hand over these you can really feel texture, bumps and raised areas.  That is why when you touch certain velvet pieces you see marks.  Rugs have pile as well and the height of the pile can get as high as an inch or two on a very shaggy rug.  Generally, the shorter the pile of the rug, the tighter the weave and the longer the rug might last.

Contrasting Welt: (above photo) This is a fun little design trick to add more interest to a pillow or piece of furniture.  This is when the main parts of the piece are made with one pattern of fabric and the welt or piping, which looks like a cord that goes around the edges of the piece, is made with a different color fabric.

Written by Liv Amend Steingart
Photo Credit Erika Bierman

Caring for Your Home: Cleaning Tips and Tricks

When you furnish your home with nice pieces and especially if you invest in custom furniture, it is important to take care of it.  Use the following tried and true tips to keep your home in mint condition.

Wood Floors
To clean wood floors, use Bona® Hardwood Floor Cleaner.  Also, invest in a good dust mop that will pick up lint, dust and dirt.  Start by vacuuming and using the dust mop and then spray the floor with Bona and wipe up with a cleaning pad or soft cloth.  Excess liquid and wood floors don’t pair well together so a light misting of Bona is all you need.

Ceramic & Porcelain Tile
Sweep or vacuum regularly as small particles of dirt can be ground into the floor.  Make sure to use a vacuum without a beater bar to avoid dulling and scratching the tiles.  Vacuum attachments are also useful to help suck up dirt between tiles and behind furniture.  Your ceramic and porcelain tile should be damp mopped using a manufacturer recommended grout and tile cleaner.  For heavier soil, spot clean the floor with a sponge or clean cloth using the same recommended cleaners.

Carpets and Rugs
Keep your carpets and rugs vacuumed and free of dust, hair and dirt that is tracked in from outdoors and can get ground into the material.  Use a good vacuum like a Dyson or Shark for weekly cleaning.  For stains, try club soda.  I always keep a bottle on hand.  Soak the stain with the bubbly liquid and let it sit and foam for about thirty seconds.  Lift stain and club soda with a dray towel by gently blotting.  This should significantly reduce if not eliminate the stain completely.  This method works best on a fresh spill.

Make sure to keep your upholstered furniture vacuumed.  Use the upholstery attachment on your vacuum which should look like a brush.  Fluff pillows weekly and if sofa and chair cushions can be turned over do that every month or two for even wear.  Should a bigger emergency arise, a carpet/upholstery care service should be able to help with hard to remove stains.

Wood Furniture

Simply dusting wood furniture without any product is an important first step in keeping the pieces clean.  Use a soft rag or feather duster to remove dust particles that can otherwise build up and cause scratches.  Only after dusting should you use a soft rag and a few drops of oil.  Make sure to rub the product in gently until the surface is not oily.  Do not overuse the product.  I use oils such as Old English®, tung oil or beeswax.

All photos by Erika Bierman Photography.

Vendors I Love: De-Cor

I spend a lot of time at De-Cor in Pasadena shopping for the perfect pieces for my design projects.  Deepali, the owner, and I have had a relationship for many years now.  It all started nearly 18 years ago when De-Cor used to be located on Mission Street in South Pasadena in their treasure chest of a shop.

De-cor has now moved to a large showroom in east Pasadena.  They are a “Vendor I Love” because of the rustic and beautiful carved pieces I can find there, especially ones that are truly upcycled.  We use their beautiful and unique pieces in many of our projects.

I spoke with Deepali to get a sense of what she loves about her business and what challenges her the most.

(I found the wood piece on the kitchen hood at De-cor and incorporated it into this Spanish kitchen.)

What is the concept for the store and what offerings do you specialize in?

The concept for De-cor revolves around showcasing an intricate collection of antiques from traditional parts of the Indian subcontinent and many other countries with rich histories. We specialize in carved daybeds, benches, and develop our own line of reproduction furniture inspired by 17th-19th century designs. We also offer a vast collection of textiles, and create one-of-a-kind pillows by repurposing vintage and antique fabrics into modern designs.

(Drum coffee table from De-cor.)

How do your travels influence what you have in the shop and how do you make the time to travel?

My travels greatly influence De-cor in many ways as the culture and history from each country I visit inspire what we carry here in the store. Many of the motifs used for our daybeds and other carved pieces are inspired from architectural patterns from buildings. Even the colors and designs on garments I see on my travels influence the types of textiles we have in stores. Traveling is a very fulfilling experience because there are so many things each country has to offer that seldom make it here. Being a full time mother, making time to travel can be tough. I find the best time to make my trips is during my son’s winter and summer vacations, where we can all travel together as a family.

What challenges do you face in your industry?

Challenges are inevitable when running any business, but keeping an open mind full of new ideas is what helps us overcome them. This is why traveling plays an important role for De-cor. There are times where we see our designs being reproduced in the markets. Being able to travel and find more inspirations for new pieces is what allows us to refresh our designs every few months. However, when sourcing pieces on my trips, there are times where it is difficult to find good quality items. We are also known for our antique architectural collection of beams and panels as clients use them in custom pieces. Sometimes the demand on these pieces can be really high, and our inventory isn’t enough to supply them with the amount they need.

What is the most rewarding part of running De-Cor?

We feel an immense sense of pride when a designer or customer takes one of our architectural pieces and customizes the piece to fit into their own home. Many of our architectural pieces come from old buildings, so when the piece is repurposed, life is breathed into it once more.

I think the most rewarding part of running De-cor is being able to help Indian artisans by creating a market that showcases their traditional craft. We source and carry a vast collection of handcrafted furniture and textiles where the techniques used for these pieces are passed down from artisan to artisan through the generations. An example of one of these crafts is our collection of Jaipur Blue Pottery. It has a tedious creation process, and because of that, it is becoming an art form that newer generations of artisans are not partaking in. It’s rewarding knowing that their craft and artistry will live on and is not just available in their native countries, but here as well.

(Chinese armoire from De-cor.)

Photos by Erika Bierman

CNI Houseplant Guide Part Two: Easy Low Light Plants

Many clients hesitate to add plants to their homes because they are worried about keeping them alive.  The great thing about the two plants in part two of my houseplant blog series is that the upkeep is minimal and the results beautiful.

ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas Zamifolia)

This plant is an easy one to care for and its beautiful emerald green shiny, waxy green leaves are a crowning touch in any room.  This plant likes light but can grow in low light which makes it perfect for the guest room or den that doesn’t get as much light or foot traffic.  Do not over water the ZZ plant, it can go for a week at a time without much water.  Overwatering will cause the roots at the bottom to rot and the leaves to turn yellow.

Snake Plant (Sansevieria)

This is another plant that is easy to take care of for those of us without green thumbs.  Snake plant, also called mother in laws tongue, plants can deal with lower light but if you want the leaves to grow taller place next to a bright window but not in direct sunlight.  Overwatering can cause rot so make sure to plant a snake plant in a pot that drains well.  Make sure to water along the sides of the plant and not directly onto the plant.  Water only when the top of the soil has dried.  These plants have a very modern feel and go well in this modern Japanese Loft.

Photos by Erika Bierman