I've been wanting to tile the entry porch for years. And, when we added two back porches a couple of years ago, we wanted to tile those too.
The floor was concrete that had been incised to look like tiles, and was painted a terra-cotta color. I have cursed those grooves more times than I can count, while trying to clean the floor. The paint was not a pretty color, and getting scuffed, to boot.
After much deliberation and delay, the tiles are finally in and I am thrilled. The black/white tiles on the front porch were a risky choice, as they are visible from the main rooms. I was so afraid it would be too dramatic and busy for me, since I am all about neutrals and soft colors and not much pattern. But the design is a classic, so it was my fall-back when I couldn't find a pattern that really spoke to me. I hoped it would add a lot of style.
What a difference. But of course, now I really need to get a proper linen slipcover made for that ottoman, and just a few other things to complete the room.
"If you get the background right, you don't have to overdo what you put into it."
Suzanne Kasler: Inspired Interiors*
I wasn't quite prepared for how much the tile would change the feel of the entire house. What I also wasn't prepared for: the need to re-think the furnishings in the room to work with the patterned floor. I had never used the space at all, except as a pass-through to the living room. Admittedly, some of the furnishings were there because there was no other spot for them in the house. Mainly, my two beloved antique French wicker chaises and the bench, given to my husband by his mother.
The bench got to stay; sadly, the chaises will have to find a new home.
The great news, and the biggest surprise of all, is that we now have a room that is a pleasant place to sit and enjoy a morning cup of tea and the newspaper, or to flip through a design or art book for inspiration. Who knew that just tiling the floor could create a new living space? And such an elegant one, at that. Reading Suzanne Kasler's new book, I realized that, by putting too many things in the room, I had been trying to over-compensate for its shortcomings: the too-small windows on the front wall and the scruffy floor underneath.
The view from the living room into the porch. The front door can be seen at left.
What you can't see well in photos is the irregularities in the colors and patterns of cement tiles - they almost remind me of block-printed fabric. They are rustic and sophisticated, all at once, and don't feel like you'd expect cement to feel. They are very cool, smooth and almost silky to the touch. Similar to marble, but denser. Really nice, and even luxurious on bare feet.
I chose a different tile pattern for the back patios. I think it adds a lot of pizzazz, but is just subtle enough to work conceptually with the entry porch (although you don't see them at once) and with the ceramic tiles that will eventually go on the in-ground fountain in the back yard (which needs to be re-built - oops another project.) Now I just need to get the new patio curtains made up. I have the fabric, a nice white open weave that will billow nicely in the breeze. I'll need new white canvas for those chairs, and then there is the matter of the landscaping ...
Wait, wasn't my list supposed to get shorter?
A closer look at the tile pattern. Click to enlarge. This patio is directly off the living room, and there is an identical one off the master bedroom, that is being tiled to match. Hmm, I spy a little face at the door, looking quite peeved. Mitz likes to be in the middle of everything!
Other projects on my list: removing the modern slate floors in the kitchen and master bathroom and replacing them with antique terra cotta tiles. I'm insisting on antique tiles because they have so much character, so I may have to wait a long time for that. Then the kitchen countertops will need to be redone in Calcutta marble or limestone. And the stainless steel backsplash replaced with white beveled subway tiles. I think I need a job!
It really never ends ... but for right now, today, I'm happy.
A special thank you to my great friend, Nina Long, former owner of Wholesale Tile + Assoc. Porch design by Roger Grunke. Tiles from Wholesale Tile by Aguayo.
More about cement tiles here.
* I'll have a sneak peak soon of Suzanne Kasler: Inspired Interiors, by Suzanne Kasler with Christine Pittel, Rizzoli New York, 2009. Available November. Preorder here.