As a kitchen and bath designer, I am always looking for new and innovative products to enhance my projects. Thanks to technological advances and an ever-evolving industry, there are more material options and applications than ever before. Whether using large format porcelain slabs, dimensional wood panels, or sculptural tiles, designers are pushing the boundaries of creativity and incorporating materials in unique and unconventional ways into their designs.
Porcelain is a term that may conjure images of small, uniformly shaped floor and shower tiles, but the invention of large format porcelain slabs has completely revolutionized the industry. This versatile, lightweight material can be used on practically any surface, horizontal or vertical, indoors or outdoors. It can be used for countertops, backsplashes, fireplaces, patio floors, outdoor kitchens, or wall accents. The options are limitless!
In the kitchen above, porcelain was used to clad the sides and front of a custom-built hood as well as a full-height backsplash. With careful planning and precision, the fabricators seamlessly integrated multiple pieces with flawless results. The bold veining harmoniously ties in with the black and warm wood toned cabinets, dramatic granite countertops, and gold accents.
Wood paneling? Really, you say? No, not the paneling seen on “That 70’s Show” alongside shag carpeting and avocado green appliances, but rather newly reimagined designs like tamboured, fluted, and slat wood. These wood veneers are offered in a variety of styles, easy to install, flexible enough to cover curved walls, and often including acoustical benefits. The applications are endless. They can be used as wall cladding to create an eye-catching accent wall, on the back of an island for a pop of texture and color, as a statement headboard in a primary bedroom, on ceilings, or anywhere you can imagine.
The wood veneer on this fireplace below creates a stunning focal point in this living room. The combination of contrasting colors, materials, and textures lends itself to a modern aesthetic while remaining inviting and warm.
Incorporating tamboured wood to the end of this island adds a distinctive element to this kitchen. Integrating texture or dimensional materials in your design adds visual interest and personality to any space.
We all know quartz is a favored countertop material, but there are additional applications that can elevate your design. Quartz, either a remnant from your countertops or a piece that best matches surrounding materials, can be used on the curb of the shower, as the top of the shower knee wall, or for shelves in a custom niche. Quartz can also be used on the top of a built-in shower bench to reduce grout lines and create a more seamless finished product. While seemingly minor details, these small touches add an element of sophistication.
In the photo below, a single piece of quartz sits atop the knee wall behind this tub creating the perfect ledge for the tub filler. It also provides an ideal resting place for a book or glass of wine.
The world of tile has seemingly infinite endless options of colors, textures, and patterns. Geometric, patterned, dimensional, and large format are taking center stage and are being applied to virtually any surface. Dramatic colors and finishes bring texture and depth to vertical applications while large format tile can mimic the beauty of natural stone.
Instead of a typical 4-inch countertop backsplash, we used a honed marble geometric mosaic tile behind the vanity to create a distinctive and stylish focal point.
Rebecca Lenz, founder of Lenz Designs, LLC, is recognized by the National Kitchen and Bath Association as an Associate Kitchen and Bath Designer (AKBD). She specializes in residential new construction and remodeling in the Greensboro, North Carolina area. As the daughter of a custom home builder and having grown up in the building business, Rebecca has a lifetime of experience in the building industry. With her construction knowledge and discerning eye, she guides clients towards the best designs and selections to create highly functional spaces suited to their personal tastes.
Photo credit: Jordan Younce NC Photography
Countertop fabricator credit: Marble Granite World
Builder credit: Building Dimensions Inc.