A customer wrote to us a while back, asking for some decorating ideas. "Diana" was considering tile murals, custom tile floors as well as some accent pieces for her home, including custom accent tiles. Something was wrong with the rooms, she told me, but she couldn't put her finger on what was missing, although one glance at the first photo told me that the missing element was color. She sent me photos of her kitchen and living room, asking for ideas. "I just love the artwork you have available," she told me on the phone, "but I am not sure how to incorporate it in my home." The rooms in the photos were very elegant: rich marble countertops, parquet floors shined to a glass-perfect finish, couches in which one could dive into and never surface, a rococo glass and mahogany coffee table that looked like it had been intricately carved by hand by someone who had clearly been carving wood since embryonic stages. Silk throw pillows with delicate, subtle embroidery. (The thick, plush carpeting, off-white, was so beautiful I'd be afraid to even breathe on it; since I am always dropping things I'd have to fly around her house without ever lighting anywhere.) A beige chenille throw was artfully tossed across an easy chair that looked big enough to fit two comfortably. I won't even get into her magnificent floor-to-ceiling windows, capturing mallards outside floating gently on an impossibly aqua lake. The lake was the only color in the scene. The room was perfect. And lifeless. "How about an accent color?" I suggested. "A color you love, a powerful color, that we can use in small touches throughout the house. You can be bold, because it will be in touches, and practically anything you choose will work with your whites, creams and beiges." She started to tell me she did that already, as she had brown specks mixed in with her off-white marble counter, as well as a Chippendale chair with a brownish-burgundy cushion. When I mentioned vermilion and aqua, I thought she'd hung up on me, her pause was that lengthy. "I don't know..." she finally said, haltingly. I asked her what pieces of mine she particularly liked, and she quickly rattled off about six or seven. All of these images were boldly colored, with lots of bright, rich reds, oranges, pinks, yellows, golds. These were the colors and combinations she was drawn to, but she was afraid to bring them, these colors she loved, into her home.
She's not alone. The fact is, many people are afraid to bring color into their personal space. I truly don't think it's because people don't love color, because we are all naturally and viscerally drawn to color. Color uplifts, it heals, it delights, it impacts mood and even behavior. (Ever hear about the prison walls painted pink or the fast food places painted orange, yellow and red? The prison studies illustrated that inmates were calmer when living within pink walls, and fast food places learned that the discordant color combination forced people to eat and run. That's why most fast food places are painted in this combination.) I believe one day we will learn how powerful color really is, and use it for healing, in the form of light. Laugh if you want to, but someday, when you're being scanned by that lavender light machine to get rid of your arthritis, you'll think of me. Science is beginning to embrace the truths us color fanatics already know: color is very, very powerful. We're only beginning to scratch the surface in learning just how powerful.
The reasons for colorless homes are various, I am certain, and include tentativeness about "clashing," or preconceived ideas of what is supposed to be elegant, or easy to live with, or "proper". Painting a wall vermilion is as daring as walking around topless, no? With color, please remember one rule: there are no rules. There is only what pleases you and gives you joy. I have seen even colors work together beautifully in a room, colors you'd think would be a cacaphonous scream of an eye offense instead can look absolutely breathtaking together. Diana ended up with a glass wall mural of her favorite image ("Fire Asters" from our Dreamscape Gallery) and she coordinated the image with a Tuscany Bistro Mirror which I designed using individual art pieces of similar hues, an Ornate Serving Tray with "Fire Asters" and various glass accent tiles and similarly colored art pieces such as glass tile keepsake boxes through her home. We used other pieces throughout the home including "Dawn Field", "Golden Ladies" and "Kyoto Autumn". At my urging, she also brought in vermilion, pale gold and deep pink throw pillows, and huge, vermilion pillar candles. Her home, she says, now looks joyous and alive and she can't even remember what it used to look like.
Color Trend Slaves™ (CTS)
Me? I love love love purples and greens together, although I certainly know that's not everyone's cuppa. From a color theory standpoint, they are the exact perfect color opposites, or "lovers", as Chagall would say; but the two colors together have only been recently deemed "acceptable" though they might never achieve the level of respectability other color combinations, like peach and hunter green, for example, have. Or the erst popular, albeit cliché, dove gray and mauve. A woman I know, one who annointed herself the last word in good taste, considers my personal favorite, and one very evident in my own home, purple and green, "too Mardi Gras," whatever that means. But then again, she's most assuredly a CTS, or Color Trend Slave™.
For those of you old enough to remember '70's decor, if you can call it that, those fearsome "earth tones" were "in." Everybody had mustard yellow refrigerators and avocado green stoves. We walked on "burnt orange" shag carpets and everything was in varying shades of boring ecrus and lackluster browns. But then, In the eighties, "hunter green" was suddenly hot, and everybody was buying rich hunter green couches and bed linens with matching towels. Some brave souls, like my friend in New York City, painted three walls of her bedroom pale apricot and the main wall (her bed wall) hunter green. It was fabulous, if eyebrow raising, for the time. But bucking the current color trends is always guaranteed to be immensely satisfying. Having been a "purple girl" since birth, the level of frustration of not being able to find things in purple has only recently abated, and even then not fully. White (or off-white) isn't purple's only friend, it has lots of friends: greens, blues, yellows, peaches, pinks. And *gasp*, sometimes even red (yes, you read that right!) works wonderfully with purple, if the red is chosen carefully (I've found that orange reds tend to work better than blue reds, depending on the purple) and used cleverly.
Today, more people are ignoring trends and choosing the color schemes that they want to live with, without regard for what interior decorators or trends dictate. Don't choose a color scheme unless you love it and it resonates with you. That's the only thing you should take into consideration. I wonder how many burnt orange shag rugs would have gathered dust on the shelves if people had only done that.
The Big Question: art or wall?
We have had variations of the following conversation more times than we can count:
Customer: Hello. I want to buy two tile murals. My color palette is gold, white, off-white and has some touches of green. I would like to get (insert art piece name(s) here) because it has the same gold color and I want to pick up some of the green, which is in the image background and matches perfectly. Do you have any suggestions for me?
Us : Since you've asked, yes. Don't buy art that matches your decor. Buy art that makes your heart sing every time you look at it.
If you are considering a tile wall mural, consider some of the wonderfully creative and dynamic looks you can create for your home. For example, on our home page, our header graphic shows three versions of the same art piece but in different colors. This graphic was based on a recent project we did for a customer who loves color and is unafraid of trying unusual ways to display it in her home. Instead of one large glass tile mural, we ended up doing three smaller ones, side by side, of the very same image but in different hues. Another possibility is separating two or three murals by dividing the same image, having it flow across the wall with breaks in between. Or you can do two, three or even four different images in the very same mural. For one customer, I added the words, "hope," "faith" and "charity" in a beautiful, elegant script font (with diminished opacity so you could still see the image beneath) across "The Three Graces" for her tumbled stone mural. Bottom line? Murals are astonishingly beautiful whether you display them traditionally or not. If you like these ideas for your home, we can take any image you choose and either divide it for you to make multiple murals, or we can selectively change the colors of the art which results in a beautiful, colorful designer look, a wonderful technique that will totally remake your room.
Marvelous Mixing and Matching
Picking up your mural image and using it for matching accent pieces is guaranteed to give the "main event," the mural, even more impact. Be creative and have fun by using the same image for a piece of furniture, serving trays, placemats and napkins, wall sconces, switchplates, coaster sets, keepsake boxes, etc. You can even have us crop part of the image and use the cropped part instead of the whole image. Imagine your beautiful wall mural with a matching end table, console table or plant stand, custom stained and grouted. For coasters, you can take cropped pieces of the mural as well, instead of using the full image for each coaster.
Patterns and Motifs and Styles Oh My!
Patterns are simply wonderful for borders, backsplashes, floors, accent tiles. Patterns are especially good choices when you don't have a lot of space to work with, or you have a particularly narrow space (long and narrow, either horizontally or vertically). In these kind of spaces, sometimes regular art images won't work because they need to be cropped so dramatically that the image would be compromised. Though you may know we have dozens of patterns to choose from, did you know we can create one custom, just for you? Your colors, your style. In fact, we can take any image at all and turn it into a pattern. For example, let's say you wanted an art piece for a mural, or even a serving tray. We can take that image and turn it into a matching pattern to be used for coasters, border tiles, or whatever else your imagination can dream up.
Family Photos, Precious Memories
Photos fade, memories don't. Most people display their photos in frames, whether they are hung on the walls or propped on an end table or China cabinet. But even under the glass of the frame, paper will rip, stain, fade. Glass will not. Further, your creative options are limited: you have your photo, and your frame, and that's it. With our printing process for glass tiles, the image is printed on the *back* of the glass, not the front. This means that it will not fade with sunlight, or time. Since it's printed on the back, you are looking through the glass to the image, giving it a lovely 3D effect, almost like looking through the calmest of water. With glass, you can display your most precious photos in ways only limited by the imagination. Either in or out of frames, you can display them singularly or in groups on your walls, giving them a three dimensional look and beautiful texture that framed paper isn't capable of. So the next time you're going through your family albums, think of glass. Paper just cannot compare. -Mindy Sommers, ©2007