Designing with tile: texture and dimension

Designing with tile: texture and dimension

The inherent ‘smoothness’ of tile – and its subsequent ease of cleaning – makes the material a popular choice for bathrooms and kitchen splashbacks. But for those looking for more dimension in their designs, textured tiles offer some exciting decorative possibilities.

Concave and convex, folded and indented, rippled and bevelled tiles can turn the ordinary into extraordinary. Even the slightest variation to the face of a tile can capture and reflect the light in a space, immediately adding interest and a tactile calling.

In this feature, we’re exploring some of the ways KBDi Members have successfully designed with tiles to introduce texture and dimension.

Melbourne’s Jasmine McLelland (Jasmine McClelland Design) added lux to this lavish space with a Carnivale Tri Grey Italian Porcelain Tile. The three-dimensional run of faceted pyramid shapes is beautifully balanced by a no-nonsense, large format floor tile and discrete frameless shower screens.

The same designer introduced a beautifully embossed white tile to this sturdy family bathroom. Mimicking a woven textile with a classic chevron pattern, the selection softens the space while adding interest and movement.

In a textured-tile-trifecta, Jasmine played with concave circles in this spectacular kitchen splashback. The tiles both absorb and reflect the light in a most unusual way, adding a new dimension to the black and white geometric space.

The natural light flooding this bathroom emphasises the surface variegation of the rippled subway tiles specified by Melbourne’s Matthew James. Balanced with a large format floor tile and fuss-free fittings, the overall look is simple, clean and timeless.

The subway tiles in this gorgeous bathroom (designed by Adelaide’s Janine Izzo, Antipode Interiors) are just one of four in a prettily patterned space. The bevelled-edge of the subway adds weight and substance to the window wall, contrasting perfectly with the delicate tiles elsewhere in the room.

Have a favourite from the selection above? Share your thoughts below.

How will COVID-19 change kitchen and bathroom design

How will COVID-19 change kitchen and bathroom design

As Australia’s peak industry group for kitchen and bathroom designers, we’re often asked to share our perspective on changing trends in these much-loved spaces. COVID-19 has prompted a new line of questioning, and we’re considering how the response to the virus could change design in 2021 and beyond. We’ve looked into our crystal ball to start the conversation, and invite you to add your predictions in the comments below.

Function of Space

In the past year, the long-recognised ‘hub of the home’ has hosted a variety of tasks alongside traditional kitchen duties. With homeschooling, working from home and a renewed enthusiasm (by necessity) for in-house cooking and entertaining, well-designed, multi-functional spaces are more important than ever. 
Bathrooms will further transform from a utilitarian space into a wellness escape, as set out below.

Wellness in Design

A well-designed kitchen or bathroom will encourage wellness in several ways: 
  • Natural light and refreshing and invigorating palettes can make an enormous difference to the ‘vibe’ of a home, and minimise feelings of claustrophobia. 
  • Access to natural airflow, practical air ventilation and thoughtful storage planning, combined with sensitive product specifications, can reduce toxic exposure in the home. 
  • Ergonomic consideration and future-planning can create an environment that will accommodate accessibility for a range of abilities and ages. 

Colours, Patterns & Texture

We anticipate an exciting shift in home environment finishes, with a variety of inspiration sources:
  • A renewed appreciation for nature will see earth and sea-inspired hues work their way into our palettes. Cool whites will be ‘warmed up’ with brown-based creams, beiges, tan and terracotta tones. Forest greens and sea-blues will feature more distinctly.
  • As international travel stalls, we look forward to seeing how consumers and designers introduce flavours of afar into home design. Through colour, texture and pattern, homeowners have a fantastic opportunity to add glimpses of their favourite cities to their everyday environment. 

Appliance, Product and Material Specifications

As many Australians move to work from home on a more regular basis, we’ve seen a considerable uptake of appliances once reserved for office premises. KBDi partners have reported a significant increase in sales in boiling water taps, sparkling water taps and microwaves as homes convert to live-in offices. 
Hygiene and air quality will be of greater interest to homeowners focussing on health. We expect to see more emphasis placed on the antibacterial properties of benchtops and tiles (grouts, specifically), and the chemical make-up (VOCs) of paints, cabinetry and furnishings. We’ll see more attention paid to air extraction systems – both in kitchens and bathrooms – and a greater appreciation for natural airflow. 
We’d love you to look into your own crystal ball (or tealeaves or tarot cards or whatever takes your fancy) and share your predictions in the comments below.
Beautiful bathroom curves

Beautiful bathroom curves

Last week we shared some of our favourite curving kitchens from the KBDi Designer Awards of 2020. This week we’re showing off some soft-edged bathroom spaces, where Australia’s best designers have used curves with great effect.

This award-winning bathroom by Perth’s Kyle McGregor (Lux Interiors) is an organic-oasis. From the custom-round skylight to the gently curving wall, and from the oval-shaped mirror to the cylindrical basin, the bathroom is a soft-edged delight.

This heritage home had some outstanding architectural features and was an excellent example of 1900s craftsmanship. Sydney designer, Darren Genner CKD Au (Minosa) was determined to create a space that would reflect the home’s history – with a dramatic twist. A custom-curved vanity is an ultra-contemporary contrast, but its artful execution pays homage to the history of the house. The carefully detailed bulkhead reflects the curving archways throughout the grand residence, and lighting emphasises the organic forms.

Melbourne’s Sally Wilson reinvented the constrained space of this typical 70s bathroom, creating a homely oasis for her client’s family of five. The gently curving wall is clad with stunning marble tiles, with its soft edges replicated in the curved bath.

New South Wales designer, Gavin Hepper CKD Au (Concepts by Gavin Hepper) created a curvaceous haven in this 80s era abode. The designer softened the edges of the custom vanity unit, repeating the curved feature in the basin and bath selections. A curved shower wall adds drama to the space, while at the same time creating a glorious cove within the shower recess.

This dynamic waterproof wallpaper was the starting point for Sydney’s Donna Allen. The curving lines of the design inspired the detailing of the vanity and mirrors, and the organically shaped basin and bath are a perfect match.

Have a favourite of these five? Share your comments below.

Linear and point shower drains

Linear and point shower drains

While they may seem an insignificant detail in bathroom design, drain grates can have an enormous impact on the overall appearance and workability of a shower space.

A poorly selected drain grate can cause all manner of issues for your client. The cosmetic qualities of particular styles may be apparent, but cleaning concerns and drainage inefficiency are often not discovered until the shower is being used regularly.

While there are many different products on the Australian market, there are essentially only two types of drains used in domestic shower applications:

Linear Drains

Also referred to as strip drains or line drains, linear drains are – as the name would suggest – long and narrow, and available in a range of lengths. They’re most commonly located along the wall parallel or perpendicular to the shower entrance (depending on where the plumbing has been aligned). The floor ‘falls’ in a singular direction towards the linear drain, allowing shower water to flow efficiently to the waste.

In some instances, installing the linear drain at the threshold of the shower will prove advantageous. While this takes a little more planning from the tiler (with falls required from within the shower and from the surrounding bathroom area), it does eliminate the need for a raised threshold. If your client has mobility challenges (through age, injury or disability), this may be an option worth considering.

Linear Drain Pros

Directing fall to a linear drain requires fewer tile cuts than would be necessary for a point drain. This makes it an ideal option for large format ‘hero’ tiles.
Fewer cut tiles mean fewer grout lines: if your client is wary about keeping grout clean, this may help them make their decision.

On the subject of cleaning, a linear drain that can be easily removed will appeal to homeowners with long hair or spoilt fur-babies (are your clients planning to wash their dogs in the shower?).

Linear drains with tile inserts received 57% of votes from KBDi Members when they were asked to nominate their most-often used drains. Members love the clean, seamless aesthetic lines of this option, as you can see in the examples below.

Linear drain with a tile insert (bathroom designed by Paul Coulson, QLD)

Linear drain with a tile insert (bathroom designed by Sari Munro, NSW)

Linear drain (in shower) and point drain (main floor area) with a tile insert (bathroom designed by Sonja McAuliffe, ACT)

Linear drain with a grate (bathroom designed by Alan Nasrallah, GIA Bathrooms & Kitchens, VIC)

Linear Drain Cons

A linear drain may not be suitable where existing plumbing cannot be relocated from a central area to a wall.

A poorly specified linear drain may not allow for the volume of flow required in an open or double shower. Ensure that the specified drain meets the flow capacity of the shower/s.

Linear drains with grate inserts (as opposed to tiles) may seem harder to clean for some clients. Ensure that you specify the highest quality stainless steel version to allow ease of maintenance and long-term appeal.

Point Drains

Point drains are traditionally located in the centre of the shower area. The floor in the shower recess must fall towards the (generally) 100mm square or round drain from all directions (i.e. from all four walls/screens). This fall allows the gentle funnelling of water into the drain, but may require significant tile angles and cuts to ‘meet in the middle’.

Point Drain Pros

43% of KBDi members use point drains in most of their projects, predominantly with a tile insert. They cited cost efficiency and ease of cleaning as their primary reasons, and we consider both of these factors to be ‘pros’ for the point drain.

Point drain with a tile insert (bathroom designed by Eliesha Paiano, NSW)

Point drain with a grate (bathroom designed by Teresa Kleeman, VIC)

Point drain with a tile insert (bathroom designed by Teresa Kleeman, VIC)

A high-quality, well-designed, removable unit is essential: always consider the finish (grade of stainless steel) and flow capacity, and consult with your plumber to make the best decision for your client.

Point Drain Cons

As indicated above, your tiler may need to make significant cuts to get the appropriate fall to a point drain. If you’ve picked a premium large format tile, consider how these cuts may compromise your design.

It’s not surprising that you’ll get what you pay for when it comes to point drains. If a low price means a compromise in quality, remind your client that they’ll lose that cost efficiency if they’re replacing the unit in a couple of years or less.

Have your own opinion about drainage grates and inserts? We’d love to hear your thoughts – feel free to share below.

About bathroom basins

About bathroom basins

We recently surveyed our Members about their bathroom basin preferences. As we hoped it would, the survey proved that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to vanity vessels. Basins have varying aesthetic and practical values, and all come with a list of pros and cons. In this feature, we’re breaking down the basins our Members use most often.

Above bench basins took the lion’s share of votes for favourite basins: the sculptural values of a well-made basin can add a sense of drama to a space (as perfectly demonstrated in this award-winner by Darren Genner CKD Au).

New South Wales member, Cate Liedtke, selected an above counter basin to cleverly replicate the vanity detailing in this super-smart bathroom.

Under bench basins took second place, with designers citing a long list of pros for the classic sink selection: ease of cleaning, optimum bench space and – most notably – flexibility and control of bench heights make the under bench basin a stayer. This beautiful bathroom (by NSW designer, Tameka Moffat) illustrates all of these qualities.

The under-counter basin in this bathroom (by Melbourne’s Teresa Kleeman) allowed a family-friendly bench height, well-placed wall taps and ample bench space.

Inset basins prove the perfect in-between for many of our members. The additional vertical volume offered by an inset basin adds the element of drama we like in above bench basins, without complicating the overall height of the vanity and mirror above. This beautiful space by New South Wales member, Sari Munro, is an excellent example.

His and her inset basins suit the country styling of this Adelaide Hills beauty, designed by Janine Izzo.

Integrated basins are an excellent solution for many applications. With their ultra-streamlined appearance and absolute ease of cleaning, the integrated basin was a popular choice amongst KBDi members. Melbourne’s Kia Howat (GIA Bathrooms & Kitchens) chose a solid surface integrated basin for this stylish space, and it works a treat.

Brisbane’s Darren James CKD Au, CBD Au (Darren James Interiors) made a striking statement with this custom stone vanity top. The seamlessly integrated basin allowed the palette and patterning of the Chambord Grey limestone to take centre stage.

A semi-recessed basin is an ideal solution for a bathroom with size constraints. WA designer, Kerrie Richardson CBD Au (Lux Interiors) had limited space to play with in this powder room, but a semi-recessed basin saved the day.

We’d love to know why you lean towards (or avoid) particular basins. Share your wisdom in the comments below.

Features and benefits of solid surfaces

Features and benefits of solid surfaces

As we look for ways to impress and service our clients, it’s essential to be informed about the features, benefits and design considerations of a wide range of products. With an in-depth knowledge of surfaces and materials, you’ll be better placed to extend your design potential in kitchen and bathroom design. In our new Design Bulletins, we’re helping you build a bank of references to start your material investigations. In this month’s product highlight bulletin, we’ve partnered with Austaron Surfaces to outline the features and benefits of Staron® Solid Surfaces.

The Bulletin summarises how solid surfaces can be used in all kinds of kitchen and bathroom applications. It outlines the key considerations you need to make when designing with solid surfaces, including support and structural requirements, designing with pattern and selecting colours. Most importantly, this handy cheat-sheet sets out the compliance and warranties associated with the product, making it an invaluable resource for all good designers.

Members can access this Design Bulletin (along with our full suite of Technical and Business Bulletins) in our exclusive Members Portal. Simply click on the Members Portal tab at the top of your screen and log in to your account. (If you’ve not yet registered for an account, this process is straightforward: simply complete the details where prompted and we’ll set you up.)

Not yet a KBDi Member but keen to learn more? Complete the form below and we’ll be in touch.