Jul. 23, 2010
My First Time Designing a Kitchen Backsplash with Fireclay Tile
By Eric Edelson, Fireclay's Business Guy
As one of the owners of Fireclay Tile and the person responsible for day-to-day operations, finance, marketing, etc, I rarely get the opportunity to work with customers on a one-on-one level. Many of our staff encourage me to do so, yet designing with tile, much less something as beautiful and unique as Fireclay's, is not something I am used to. I can barely pick out what to wear on any given day and generally defer to jeans and a polo. But yesterday I was fortunate enough to be in our San Jose Factory Showroom when a couple, Joelle and Chris Hamming (Elk Grove, CA), visited to discuss their kitchen counters and backsplash.
The Hammings were the runners up in the 2009 California Go Solar Sweepstakes, and one of their prizes was $5,000 of Fireclay Tile merchandise, including a BottleStone countertop and kitchen backsplash. They told me they also received 40 hours of design help from a designer, as well as furniture and other home goods - quite a win if you ask me!
Unfortunately, the Hammings had a challenging design process with their designer, and like we hear from so many customers, the designer failed to really listen to what the client wanted and instead presented what the designer wanted. When the Hammings arrived at Fireclay yesterday, after several months of trying to work with a designer, they were still at square one and were not entirely sure what they wanted to do.
Our showroom was packed when they arrived so the only person available to work with them was me. As I told them I was pretty much clueless when it came to design, but they were ok with that, so it seemed like a perfect fit. I was thrilled with how nice they were, their open attitude, and their willingness to be adventurous when it came to thinking about their kitchen.
We first set out to pick a backsplash pattern. Joelle thought they wanted a subway tile look, but Chris wanted something a bit more unique. I took them over to our design concept wall (shown below) and together they set their eyes on a blend pattern featuring our Debris Series Recycled Tile in gobi, pampas grass, and demistasse.
Like I said, though, they wanted a subway look, not a pinwheel as shown in this photo above, and they wanted something unique. Fortunately for them, at Fireclay we offer all of our colors in almost every size and shape imaginable. They looked at 3x6, 2x6, but ultimately decided on a very cool look with long 2x8 planks of the various colors. We laid out the pattern in those sizes, and being able to visualize it right there helped the Hammings realize that 3 colors were too much. They still had their sites set on a 3rd color, but wanted to minimize the demitasse just like it was done on the pinwheel board. I showed them some decorative pieces from our catalog, and soon they had settled on a 2x2 Snowflake in demitasse that they would put in various places throughout the backsplash.
Watching them look at all of the design concepts, I was thrilled to see their imagination run wild but to ultimately settle on combining a few aspects from each. For those who can't see these in person, we actually post them online under design concepts for both our Debris Series Recycled Tile and Vitrail Series Handmade Tile.
And to help them think through sizes, shapes ,and decorative tile options, they referred to our catalog, which we post on the bottom right corner of the Fireclay Tile homepage or under Sizes and Shapes within the product listing of any of our Debris, Vitrail, Claymonde, or Express products. While talking through size options, it also became clear that Chris didn't know much about our company and our history or commitment to sustainability, or how our Debris Series features over 60% recycled materials all sourced locally from the Bay Area from other companies' and peoples' waste streams. As I told him about it, I could see him perk up and get more excited, and that's before even showing him the video on how we make our tile!
So, literally 30 minutes later we were done. And best part of all ... they had done it all themselves! I was merely a bystander, fetching product as they needed it. The key things for them in thinking through the backsplash were:
- basic pattern = subway, inspired by friends and magazines
- basic colors = pampas grass, gobi, and demitasse, inspired by a Tile Design Concept Board
- refined shapes and sizes and decoratives, inspired by our enormous catalog and tile offering
We next turned back to the countertop, as that is definitely necessary to think through as you are considering your backsplash. In fact, you should prioritize the countertop when thinking about designing a tile kitchen backsplash. Fireclay designed BottleStone in 2007, and we were fortunate to receive funding from the State of California CalRecycle Division to further develop this product. The Hammings had won a BottleStone countertop, but since we are still developing it we couldn't guarantee them it would be ready. They were going for the Mocha color whch would be a great fit with the pattern they decided on, but I also made sure they picked out a tile countertop option just in case. After calling in the experts for color consultation, i.e. Dearsy, our showroom manager, they picked Malt as the color for their counters and settled on a 12x12 size for the counter.
And just like that, we were done. Now the Hammings will have a beautiful backsplash and counter they designed.
With Fireclay Tile, the options are truly endless. You don't need something extremely fancy, as our colors are so unique and stunning they almost take care of the design for you.
I can't wait to see photos from their project once it is all complete. Now that I have helped design my first backsplash I plan to return to my Quickbooks and website design and let the experts work with our customers. But, having gone through the process, I can truly appreciate the wonder of designing with Fireclay Tile!
If we can help you with a free quote or free samples, just let us know!