Monday, September 18, 2017

Ceramic vs. Porcelain: What's The Difference?

When I am designing a bathroom or kitchen for a client, I naturally specify tile as a finish material and clients often speak about ceramic or porcelain tiles. Many people use those words interchangeably but the truth is there is a difference.

For this transitional guest bathroom, I used Strands porcelain tiles by Emser in a vertical orientation
for the shower walls and a Crossville Cotto Americana stone-look porcelain tile in black for the floor.

Ceramic is a name for any material that is made from either white or red clay, then fired in a kiln and glazed. Porcelain tiles fall under the ceramic category but are generally more dense, harder, and most important, impervious to water. Therefore, all porcelain tiles are ceramic but ceramic tiles are not necessarily porcelain.

Although it may look like aged, patinated metal panels, these shower walls
are actually covered in a grey shimmery field tile by Porcelanosa.

Because of its water-resistant nature, porcelain tiles are used in wet areas like bathrooms and areas that are prone to liquid spills like kitchens. And tile applications in outdoor areas certainly need the extra protection of porcelain tiles considering the constant exposure to the elements. In fact, to be called a porcelain tile, the body must not absorb more than 0.5% of moisture. This makes porcelain tiles virtually impervious to water. And what makes porcelain such a durable, hard material is that the clay is compressed and compacted under tremendous pressure and then fired at a higher temperature than ceramic (between 1,200 and 1,400 Celsius, or 2,100 to 2,500 Fahrenheit).

This modern master bathroom features shower walls clad entirely in a very large format
porcelain tile which replicates the look of a light Calacatta Gold marble, giving the room
the elegant feel which comes from natural stone without the porosity or tiresome upkeep.

The strength of porcelain tiles also make it a good choice for kitchens--I tell clients if they drop a plate or glass, the chances of denting a wood floor or cracking a ceramic floor is greater than if they have a porcelain material. Porcelain is naturally tougher, more scratch resistant, more durable, and more resistant to stains. And if you choose what is called a through-colored porcelain tile--a tile whose body matches the color of the glaze on top--any small chips or nicks will be unnoticeable!

Happy designing!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Abstract Lighting by Sonneman

River stones inspired the new Abstract series of LED lights by Sonneman. The organically shaped white metal panels diffuse the light, making these fixtures intriguing additions to any space. They are modern but their simplicity would allow them to fit into transitional or even traditional design schemes. And the sinuous lines speak to the natural world, something that is making its way into our homes more and more with biophilic design.

“Driven to discover new insight and to test boundaries, our creative process achieved a new wave of sculptural expression,” says founder Robert Sonneman. “In our pursuit of technology-driven design, we took functional decorative to a fresh aesthetic with new forms and materials.”

The Abstract Rhythms series comes in different sizes and configurations...

...while the Abstract Panel sconces come in 18 or 14.5 inches.

Happy designing!

Monday, September 4, 2017

A Dramatic, Modern Bathroom by Fiorito Interior Design

After living with the average master bathroom designed by the development company of their condo, my clients decided they had had enough. Longing for something sleeker, more modern, and with some style and flair, they hired me to create a space that would feel welcoming but unique. At their request, we removed a rarely-used bath tub and replaced it, as well as the adjacent small standing shower, with a much more spacious wet area. A vanity better sized for the room with undermount sinks makes the counter area seem roomier as well. New LED light fixtures, and mirrors outlined in oil-rubbed bronze to coordinate with the faucets, shower hardware, and vanity handles and towel bars bring a crisp, clean-lined sense. A deep, moody color on the walls and a fascinating, mineral-like wallpaper in the water closet serve to make this new master bath feel like a suite in a dramatic, contemporary hotel, the kind you might see in New York or London.

And all that from an average, builder's bathroom:

If you have a bathroom in need of some modernization, contact me!
Happy designing!

Monday, August 28, 2017

You Only Get One Chance To Make A First Impression

It's a cliché but clichés are based in truth: you only get one chance to make a first impression. When someone approaches your home, the first thing they see is, of course, the exterior. And the focal point of most home façades is the front door.

The easiest way to announce your style to visitors is an alluring color choice and an intriguing door handle. Handles can be like jewelry for your door and if you are looking for a little pick-me-up for your entry, Rejuvenation has some lovely modern door sets.

The Tumalo handle comes in a variety of finishes with either a round knob or a lever. A beautiful option is a walnut addition for the interior side of this door set. It's sleek and architectural...and could compliment a modern interior, an eclectic style, or even a traditional home.

The Titan door set has a marvelous starburst pattern that beautifully evokes a Mid-Century Modern style.

And the Samba door set bridges Mid-Century Modern with a Hollywood Regency sensibility.

Happy designing!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Slab and Template: Together Forever

I am currently working on a whole-house remodel for a client and we are in the kitchen phase. After we picked out our color scheme for the cabinets, counter, and backsplash, we set about choosing materials. I found a gorgeous backsplash made out of crosshatch pieces of light cream marble punctuated with decorative squares of variegated Dream Stone.

Since the feeling of this house is light, open, and calm, I wanted a counter material that would have very minimal movement in terms of a pattern so as not to compete with the texture of the backsplash. My clients prefer natural stone and one of the prettiest out there is Crema Marfil. This stone is a marble, and while I generally try to steer clients away from using marble in a kitchen setting as it can etch from acidic foods like vinegar and lemons, Crema Marfil is a little heartier. If properly sealed, and if you are the type of cook who cleans up as you go, then this marble could be for you. The cream color has beautiful clouds of tan and warm grey, making it a soft visual statement.

But choosing the type of material is only half the story. When buying slabs for a kitchen, I always like to bring clients to the marble and stone slab showroom so we can choose the exact slabs we want. Stone is a natural material and variation in color and pattern is an inevitability. So it is wise to have the slab warehouse open up what is called the "packet" (the bundle of stone slabs in their order of how they were mined from the quarry) for your inspection. After all, the sample you saw might be from a packet or bundle that was quarried years ago and the material being quarried now might not look the same in terms of color or veining.

My client and I went to the slab warehouse where they used a special mechanized crane to lift and lay out seven slabs for us to review. Only three are needed for the kitchen so we had a nice selection to choose from. Below you can see the rows and rows of slabs under the movable crane that travels up and down the aisles.

It's a delicate and dangerous operation as these slabs can weight upwards of 800 or 900 pounds each.

And here are the slabs, in sequence of how they appear in the packet, laid out for us to inspect.

After we chose three slabs, they were shipped to the fabricator for a template review. Larger marble and stone warehouses often only sell the material and do not act as fabricators (the ones who will cut the slabs up into counter shapes with properly sized holes for sinks and faucets, etc.). In this case, the fabricator is nearby so transport was relatively simple. If you choose your slabs from the fabricator, this step will obviously be eliminated.

Here are photos of the templates on our chosen slabs. A template is a pattern that is made by the fabricator of the exact dimensions and shapes of the counter top. Sink and faucet holes are cut on site to guarantee precision.

These are just a few of the many thousands of steps and decisions involved in a kitchen remodel. If you're thinking of a new kitchen but feel overwhelmed with the prospect, give me a call. I'm happy to guide you through it all to the kitchen of your dreams.

Happy designing!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Know Your Chairs: The UP 5 and 6 or "Donna" Chair

Gaetano Pesce created this chair for B&B Italia (then known as C&B Italia) in 1969 out of polyurethane foam and a jersey stretch fabric. Primarily an architect, Pesce is also an industrial designer working on creating chairs with organic forms. His UP5 and 6 Chair--5 is the chair and 6 is the attached ottoman--is also known as the "La Mama Chair" or the "Donna Chair" (donna being the Italian word for woman) because the form is unmistakably female. The chair is still in production through B&B Italia who describe the chair this way:

"The chair is a metaphor of a large comfortable womb and recalls ancient statues of fertility goddesses. However, it has something extra: a spherical ottoman tied to the armchair. Therefore, the image of comfort and convenience is combined with a more figurative image of a woman with a ball and chain on her foot. Gaetano Pesce explains the project as follows: 'At that time, I was telling a personal story about my concept of women: I believe that women have always been unwilling prisoners of themselves. This is why I decided to give this armchair the shape of a woman with a ball and chain, a traditional image of a prisoner.'"

Perhaps what Pesce more accurately means is that women, by being themselves, have always been prisoners of men.

Happy designing!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Fiorito Interior Design On Film!

I am very pleased to debut a new promotional film for Fiorito Interior Design! Meet me, and learn about my business and my design process.

If you'd like to schedule a free one-hour initial meeting to discuss a project, please email me or give me a call. I'd love to help!
Happy designing!

Monday, July 31, 2017

L.A. in L.A.: Lindsey Adelman in Los Angeles

Lighting design pioneer Lindsey Adelman opened her first studio in New York Cityin 2006 and quickly became a go-to source for unique, stunning fixtures. And now Adelman just opened up a West Coast outpost, the only other showroom aside from her original in Manhattan. She employs a team of craftsmen and artisans to create each piece by hand, and yes, the glass is blown right in Brooklyn.

Her Branching globe light is an oft-imitated classic, available in different numbers of globes and colorways. It always reminds me of atomic chains...

The Agnes light riffs on the atomic chain design but with rods instead of globes. I love this silhouette for an organically shaped fixture, branching off randomly.

The Burst fixture combines the globes of the classic Branching fixture with beautiful blown glass shards.

The Clamp light is quite unique in the world of light fixtures. It shows in a custom installation for Uber's offices in San Francisco.

The Knotty fixture is a work of art combing knotted rope with spheres of different sizes and colors.

But it's her Fringed Cherry Bomb fixture that has me swooning--I love the addition of chain mail mesh that acts like glittery sparkles of a cherry bomb.

I recently mentioned Adelman on this blog several posts back when I visited the San Francisco Decortaor Showcase and saw the work of Ian Stallings, here. He used a Branching fixture to nice effect for the bedroom of a thirteen year-old boy. Lucky him!

Happy designing!