Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tile Mosaics at the Cologne Cathedral

Recently I had the pleasure of traveling to Cologne, Germany as part of BlogTour Cologne and while I was there I visited The Cologne Cathedral.

First I think I should give you a little background on The Dom ( Kölner Dom, also The Cologne Cathedral)  as it was started in 1248 and completed in 1880 so the next time your contractor says it's going to take a bit longer to finish your project, think of this one. In all fairness there was a long period of time when not much was done from 1473 -1842.
The structure is totally incredible to see in person and can be seen from all over Cologne as the spires rise up 515 feet in the air. When I was walking around one day I actually used the spires to redirect me back to where I wanted to go.

If you look in the above photo to the spires at the top, they of course must be large but in fact this is an actual reproduction of one in front of The Dom. It is massive!

So this gives you a very small perspective but I hope that it helps you understand the undertaking and efforts that went into constructing this incredible structure. Everything about this building was done with grandeur, style and greatness.

Kölner Dom, The Cologne Cathedral
Looking up at The Cologne Cathedral

Now while there I also had the opportunity to view some amazing mosaic work that if you didn't look closely could assume was a painting or even a rug. Yet that would be incorrect. These mosaics are incredibly complicated and detailed with thousands of pieces that comprise each one.

Mosaics at The Dom, Cologne, Germany
Mosaics from the Cologne Cathedral 

Mosaics at The Dom, Cologne Cathedral
The detail is incredible

Mosaics at The Dom, Cologne Cathedral
Can you imagine the time and skill that was used to make these mosaics?

Mosaics at The Dom, Cologne Cathedral
Look at this closely and you'll see that various tiles are used for the shading.

Mosaics at The Dom, Cologne Cathedral
If you didn't know better you might assume this was even a rug by the detail.

Mosaics at The Dom, The Cologne Cathedral
Take a close look at the number of pieces in this mosaic and try imagining doing it.

I went back to The Dom twice during my trip and each time I saw something I had missed earlier. I tried to take as many photos as I could because they deserved to be seen by others that aren't yet able to view them in person.

Mosaics-The Cologne Cathedral

Mosaics-The Cologne Cathedral

Mosaics-The Cologne Cathedral

As you have seen the mosaic work that was done was and is after all these years outstandingly detailed and true works of art. Now add to the fact that on average over 20,000 visitors a day walk through The Cologne Cathedral is a testament to the lasting value of tile and quality workmanship.

PS: If you ever get a chance to be in Cologne, Germany you will never regret stopping and visiting The Dom. That I guarantee! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Finding the Right Cement Tile Adds Personalized Touch

Meet Mark & Erin C from central New York and their recently remodeled kitchen. What a great space and design!

Mark and Erin's Kitchen After Remodeling

They have been on quite a journey to get here. It's hard to believe, especially when you see where they started. Here's Mark and Erin's kitchen before remodeling.

Mark and Erin's Kitchen Before Remodeling

It was due for a little updating, wouldn't you say?

I was fortunate to join them on a small part of this journey. I had the pleasure to work with Mark. Avente provided both the design services and ultimately created the custom cement tile you see here!

Mark and Erin's Custom Cement Tile Design created by Avente Tile

Serendipity can be a wonderful thing. Mark kindly shared all of the photos of their kitchen you see here. He also provided a great summary of how they decided on this tile design, the decisions he and Erin struggled with to make, and the custom design process of cement tiles. It's a great story and thank you, Mark, for allowing me to share it with our readers today.

I asked Mark, "How did you find this cement tile pattern, and why did you decide to work with Avente?" Here's his reply.

Finding the Right Tile

We explored different avenues locally and online. We basically worked with the design we saw in a design-oriented magazine, Traditional Home. My wife saw it in a featured home's kitchen and said, "I want this!"

Reclaimed Cement Tile featured in Traditional Home provide inspiration
This clipping from Traditional Home magazine featured reclaimed cement tile and was the inspiration for Mark and Erin's design.

As with many design magazines, they list the designer or manufacturer of the elements in the room being featured. Of course, the cement tiles we loved, were reclaimed 19th century tiles. Not like they were still in production. We investigated local options to no avail. Online searches led us to several different sources. Some were simply vendors of reclaimed tile, flavor of the week, and when they're gone, they're gone. Some had designs that were close, but just didn't offer exactly what we wanted. Some would replicate the design by simply transferring our design onto porcelain tile. The cost was excessive and in our mind, the integrity of the product, structurally and philosophically, would forever remain suspect. A cop out, if you will.

Ultimately, we found Avente Tile. Avente's tile's were delightful and flexible, while maintaining an integrity beneath the face of the tile. They offered similar designs with color customization options. I called and spoke with you. After deciding the cement tiles would offer the hardy, stout, handmade look we desired, we focused on the design itself. The Traditional Bayahibe pattern was so close to what we had in mind that we decided to try to make it work. We ordered the Heritage Color Chip Set and chose our colors. It was a more expensive option. Once I'd crossed THAT threshold, I made the executive decision to just go for it and have custom tiles made. We would focus on doing it right, getting exactly what we wanted. No compromises.

Mark and Erin's Remodeled Kitchen featuring Avente's Cement Tile

It was a tough pill to swallow, spending the money for custom tiles, but the end result and focal point of our vision will never be regretted. Worth every penny to get it right!

I spoke with you frequently and the process took flight. I'd say it was three months total. From the time we said "yes," it took almost the exact time frame as predicted. It tool a week or two for the design and coloration, probably four weeks until we had a hard sample, and four to six weeks until they were delivered. There were no mysteries or overages involved in the cost. Your estimate was correct, to the penny.

Our contractor raised an eyebrow when he saw them, but by the end of the installation, he was a believer. The proof is in the finished product. There is an ultimate satisfaction in knowing these tiles are handmade, just for us, to our specifications. They incorporated so well with he preexisting brick, it's like it was meant to be.

Seeing the smile on my wife's face when she says "I LOVE my new kitchen," is priceless. Don't regret it for a second.

Erin enjoying her new Kitchen

It's been great fun, and being featured is a nice compliment.

Thanks for your participation and guidance!

I'm so glad I could help, Mark and Erin. Custom jobs are always fun. This job went smoothly because you both had realistic expectations and a clear sense of what you wanted. It was a joy working with you and nothing makes me happier than knowing you will be enjoying the tiles and your new kitchen. Great job!

Great Choices Make a Great Kitchen

Smart choices in appliances making cooking and clean-up easy and fast. Combine that with stylish surface coverings and the kitchen can easily be your favorite room and cooking becomes a joy. The kitchen can be the place to entertain guests and relax after a long week at work. Here's Mark & Erin's choices for making a kitchen great!

The cabinets are by Medallion. The style is Rushmore in maple wood with a ginger snap finish and paired with handmade pulls by Artesano Iron Works. Nice touch!

For the appliances, they decided on a Thermador 36" Professional Series Convection Gas Range with a custom vent hood by Faber. A Thermador microwave and a Thermador Emerald Series Dishwasher with matching cabinet facing provides good looks with function.

The countertops are "black titanium" granite. The flooring is Vallano in caramel. It's a porcelain tile with the look of lightly weathered stone.

Mark points out that, "Of course, the star attraction... custom cement tiles by Avente Tile for our backsplash." And, how could I possibly disagree?

Cement Tile Projects from Avente Customers

If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy these Tile Talk articles that show how Avente customer's have used cement tiles in their homes. These posts will show you how cement tile can be used on floors and kitchen backsplashes. You'll also discover the decisions, trials and tribulations that each customer experienced as part of the project. I thank these customers for taking time to share these tips and ideas.

Ceramic Tile Projects from Avente Customers

Our customers have also used our hand-painted ceramic tiles to add style and a personal touch to their home. Here are a few posts devoted to tile floor accents and kitchen backsplashes using our hand-painted ceramic tiles.

What pattern and colors would you choose for a custom cement tile? Where would you use the cement tile, on the floor, or for a backsplash? In three weeks, I'll explore the custom cement tile design process in detail. You'll see examples of pattern development, color choice, and the manufacturing steps from Erin and Mark's design.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2012's Top 12 Cement & Ceramic Tiles

Before we get too far into the new year, I want to share our most popular selling tiles of 2012. For the first time in three years, a white tile was not our top seller! In fact, you won't see a white tile until position #8. In 2012, our top selling tile was a Heritage Olive Green cement tile in a 14" x 14" format - the largest format available in cement tile. So without further ado, here's Avente Tile's Top Selling Tiles of 2012!

  1. Heritage Olive Green 14" x 14" Solid Color Cement Tile (Polished Finish)

    Heritage Olive Cement Tile
    For your trend-spotters, there's something to be said about large format tiles and Pantone's color pick for 2013, Emerald Green.

  2. Traditional Anillos Cement Tile 8" x 8" (Polished Finish)

    Traditional Anillos Cement Tile

  3. Classic Athens A - 8" x 8" Cement Tile

    Classic Athens A Cement Tile

  4. Traditional Bayahibe 8" x 8" Cement Tile (Polished Finish)
    Note: This tile ranked #5 in 2012

    Bayahibe Cement Tile

  5. Cuban Heritage Design 230 3A - 8" x 8" Cement Tile

    Cuban Heritage Design 230 3A

  6. Cuban Heritage Design 140 1A - 8" x 8" Cement Tile

    Cuban Heritage Design 140 1A

  7. Portuguese Ruan - 6" x 6" Ceramic Tile

    Portuguese Ruan Ceramic Tile

  8. Classic Solid Color White 8" x 8" Cement Tile


  9. Traditional Bayahibe 8" x 8" Cement Tile (Raw Finish)
    Note: This tile ranked #5 in 2012 & takes 2 positions this year.

    Bayahibe Cement Tile

  10. Classic Cluny - C 8" x 8" Cement Tile

    Classic Cluny C Cement Tile

  11. Geometric Pattern #09 8" x 8" Cement Tile

    Geometric Pattern #09

  12. Geometric Pattern #10 8" x 8" Cement Tile
    Note: A tie for #12 (same pattern, different colorway)

    Geometric Pattern #09 Geometric Pattern #09

Cement Tiles Remain Popular

As you can see, cement tiles continue to remain very popular and dominate this year's list. Cement tile's popularity continues to grow for several reasons:

  • Cement tiles provide stunning designs with straight-forward installation and minimal maintenance.
  • Existing patterns can be easily customized with a myriad of colors.
  • New patterns can be created and customized for minimal costs.
For these reasons, I expect cement tiles to remain popular among homeowners, designers, and architects.

Nevertheless, our timeless ceramic tile patterns are not to be outdone! At least one choice from our Portuguese, Spanish or Antigua Colonial lines makes an appearance in each year's list. This year wasn't any different.

Top Selling Tiles from Previous Years

If you liked this post, you might enjoy seeing what tiles have been top sellers in previous years.

I always enjoy re-discovering what tiles were the top sellers. Do you have a favorite cement tile or hand painted ceramic tile? Let us know by adding your comment below.

— Written by , Avente Tile

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Custom Cement Tiles Add The Right Touch

Project Pick: Custom Cement Tile Design Adds The Right Touch

Custom Cement Tile Design for Kitchen Backsplash

This month's Project Pick is from Mark and Erin C. from central New York and features custom designed cement tiles by Avente for their recent kitchen remodel. Avente thanks them for sharing these photos of their remodeled kitchen. Great job!

Mark and Erin were considering different designs options and found the tile they loved when leafing through the pages of a design magazine, Traditional Home. There was a problem though. They discovered the cement tiles they loved were reclaimed 19th century tiles. They wouldn't be picking up a box of these tiles at Lowe's.

Mark called to discuss what he wanted and Avente explained the different options. After looking through our extensive pattern library and existing cement tile molds, we had no exact match on the pattern or mold. If they wanted this exact design, Avente would need to design the pattern and create a mold for the cement tile. The process requires additional cost and time. They wisely considered some of our existing patterns that allow for easy color substitution from the existing color palette. None of them quite worked.

"It was a tough pill to swallow, spending the money for custom tiles, but the end result and focal point of our vision will never be regretted. Worth every penny to get it right!"
- Mark C.

Mark and Erin knew what they wanted and partnered with Avente to develop the pattern while they finalized the colors. Their unique design was manufactured to their exact specifications.

Do you want to understand how Mark and Erin worked with Avente to create their very own Fleur-de-Lis Pattern and Tile? See what inspired them, understand the design process, and see more photos of their stunning kitchen! Read our latest Cement Tile Design Idea, " Custom Cement Tile Design Adds Personalized Touch. "

Learn How Custom Cement Tiles
add a Personalized Touch in your Home!

Pinterest logo

Pinterest: Celebrating the New Year with Color, Style

Avente Tile's Color of the Year BoardAvente Tile's New Year Pinterest Board

A new year brings a fresh beginning, allowing us an opportunity to set new personal and professional goals and to start planning projects! We wish you a great 2013! May it be filled with good health, family, friends and spending time on what you enjoy most! Approach each resolution with a clean slate that the new year brings!

For the past 13 years, designers, decorators, and fashionista have looked forward to seeing which trend-setting color the experts at Pantone have chosen. This year, it's Emerald Green (PANTONE 17-5641). Since 2000, when Cerulean was the chosen shade, Pantone's color of the year has continued to influence paint palettes, fashion, home design, product packaging, and so many other industries. In choosing Emerald Green, Pantone said it is "A color of elegance and beauty that enhances our sense of well-being, balance and harmony."

In honor of the Color of the Year, we've selected a sampling of ceramic and cement tiles that would fit in perfectly with your current or upcoming projects!

Best Wishes for 2013!

May the New Year bring you joy and fulfillment, and the constant warmth of being surrounded by friends and family! All of us at Avente Tile wish you a happy and healthy New Year.

Celtic Botticino Moorish Star Hand Painted Ceramic Tile
Celtic Botticino Moorish Star Handmade Ceramic Tile

Our Celtic ceramic relief tile simulates the look of hand-carved antique stone.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A New Year, A New Goal

From Avente Tile's Winter pinboard. Image via  Izabela Reimers.

As I get older, I'm amazed at how quickly time seems to pass. For the most part, I've always been the type of person to say “Now is not the time,” or, “Let me get this done, and then I’ll figure out what to do.” Well, friends, now is always the right time to answer the door when opportunity knocks, especially if that opportunity leads to other things. However, in the wake of the recent tragedy in Connecticut, and the heartbreak and confusion that continues to this day, I am more determined than ever to make the most of each moment, especially when it comes to my boys.

In this day of handheld electronic devices, like most working parents, I'm guilty of texting, checking email, or making and returning calls while in the presence of my boys. Unfortunately, it took a devastating event for me to realize work-related phone calls, emails, and texts could and should wait. I have hugged and kissed my kids more than ever since December 14, and have relished the time I spend with them more so than usual. I’m lucky. There are parents all over our world who are not so lucky. As cliché as it may sound, I have taken count of my blessings: their names are Gregory and Christopher. In the wake of this, and other horrific events around the world, we must make changes with the future generation in mind. Otherwise, no lesson will have been learned, and the mistakes we have made with our inaction are sure to repeat themselves. 

And now, let's move forward.

As many of you know, Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2013, Emerald, was announced recently. Depending on who you ask, people either love it, or are disappointed by the choice. Both Bill of Avente Tile, and I like the choice so much that we dedicated a Pinterest board to it: Color of the Year: Emerald. Not only does the board include a variety of emerald-toned objects and settings, but it also includes thematic and intricately patterned cement and ceramic tiles.

Avente's Pinterest pinboard celebrating Pantone's Color of the Year, Emerald.
Avente's Pinterest pinboard celebrating Pantone's Color of the Year, Emerald.

During our daily interactions, we discussed including pinboards in each Avente Tile enewsletter, Avente Tile Talk. Of course, as a Pinterest-addict myself, I can’t wait to see what new boards and concepts we come up with! Have you seen Avente’s pinboards? If you haven’t, then you’re really missing out on some serious eye candy! Here are some great examples of how tile, the color of the year, and design go hand-in-hand!

Geometric Geo 10 Handmade Cement Tile
Geometric Geo 10 Handmade Cement Tile

Portuguese Braganza Green Hand-Painted Ceramic Tile
Portuguese Braganza Green Hand-Painted Ceramic Tile

Textured Circular Handmade Cement Tile
Textured Circular Handmade Cement Tile

Traditional Handmade Constanza Cement Tile
Traditional Constanza Handmade Cement Tile

That being said, I wish nothing but happiness, health, and wisdom to all of you for 2013! May your dreams be achieved, may your home always be warm and comforting, and may you always be embraced by the love of family and friends.