Unpacking the Envelope of the Home



Ways that Travel Influences Hard Surface Selection





We love helping clients source and specify the architectural finishes that will make their home uniquely theirs.  Whether we are asked to help on a micro project, like selecting kitchen tile backsplashes and countertops, or selecting all of the architectural finishes for a brand-new home, we love contributing to the design of what we call the envelope of the home.  And like the rest of our work, we strive to ensure that these selections are timeless as well as interesting and unique. And here is where the inspiration from travels becomes so important – whether the travel is mine, my client’s, or simply a bucket list destination – buildings and structures that have stood the test of time are literally timeless.



Italian marble, Belgian brick, Moroccan tiles…the list of global influences that appear in tiles is far-reaching. Beyond that, they are imprinted with historical significance. Carrara marble dates back to the 8th Century BCE in Ancient Rome. Zellij, the distinctive Moorish tiles used extensively in Moroccan architecture, dates back to the 10th Century. 


Today, these pan global influences are continually shaping design. From hand-painted terra-cotta tiles to regionally-sourced stone, tiles embody this cultural crossover perfectly. While this photo was taken in Ephesus, the Roman mosaic is one of the most beautifully preserved that I have seen. When our client requested a lyrical and beautiful element for her shower floor, Waterworks was my first stop for a stunning selection of mosaics, inspired by ancient forms.

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I have not had the pleasure of visiting Morocco – yet! But there is something very reminiscent of Zellige tiles in this photo of a Dutch blank tile backsplash. These are the plain or blank tiles for the famous Delft tiles and yet they have the subtle variations in color and glaze that is typical of the Zellige tiles. We love to work with Clé Tile and used their fabulous product in this kitchen.

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Our travels leave our minds open to shapes, patterns, textures and colors that express themselves in even in our selections of hardware. Ancient Chinese temple bowls inspired my selection of a Linkasink vessel sink in this powder bath. And yes, that is a 20-something me literally immersing myself at the Summer Palace.  

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This Belgian beguine, or nunnery, sports the most amazing spires on its roof.  And that beguiling shape is featured in this wonderful Phylrich faucet collection and eventually found its way to another terrific powder bath.

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Light Fixtures

The proper light fixtures are the crown jewels of architectural finishes. And unlike other hard surfaces, which are difficult to replace or swap, light fixtures can be taken from home to home, or even room to room.  So here, we feel comfortable recommending a bit of drama or whimsy.


I lived in Japan for a number of years and found the pagoda form to be charm personified. And I am not alone, as many people adore the shape and it the most recognizable element of chinoiserie style. If you like one pagoda, then two is even better, and so I hung two exquisite Italian crystal versions over this dining table.

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Venice is known as La Serenissima, or most serene, but it’s a source of artistic inspiration due to its elegant blend of European and Islamic architecture. While this photo was taken at the Red Fort in New Delhi, its marble arches would be right at home in Venice. The whimsical curves of the Venetian fixture by Urban Electric have found themselves in a few of our projects, most colorfully so in this garden room.  

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Inspiration is everywhere! If you are remodeling or building, be sure to find photos of places you have been or would like to go and incorporate some of those colors or patterns into your newly imagined space.  It will bring back memories and mark the space as uniquely your own. 

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