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Design & Inspiration

Ask an Installer: Icon Tile & Design

By Ted Ryan

Ask an Installer: Icon Tile & Design

Chanel always had a passion for design, gravitating toward interests in fashion and makeup early on. But it was tile where she found the tools to express her creativity, designing tile installations in homes for her family's business.

Today Chanel runs Icon Tile and Design, a Five-Star NTCA contracting firm in Kirkland, Washington that she founded with her husband Jamen.

Chanel and Jamen just wrapped their first project using Fireclay Tile, sharing their process on social media. That caught our eye and we wanted to reach out and hear how it went.

Meet Chanel and Jamen

tile designers and clients in kitchen
Chanel and Jamen with their happy clients

Let’s talk about the project. What was the space you worked on and what were the homeowner's wishes for the project?

This was a mid-century home kitchen that had been freshly remodeled. The homeowners were looking for that finishing touch of interest with the backsplash. We think they made a great choice!

This was your first project using Fireclay. What did you think?

We enjoyed working with Fireclay tile very much. It’s always fun working with decorative tiles that make a statement in any space they are used in.

tile backsplash
Tile Shown: Frost Chaine Homme

Are there any special considerations when working with handmade tile?

Absolutely yes there are. It’s important to always read the manufacturer's instructions before you begin and really this should even be done before a contractor gives a proposed price.

There may be a few more steps to the installation than an installer might typically come across. It’s always nice to have those conversations and understandings prior to any commencement of work.

Something of a side note here: we discussed grout release in our video. It’s important to note that drying times vary. An installer may think that he can apply it on and start grouting as soon as it dries but it could be from 4 to 12 hours from the products that we’ve used.

Tile Shown: Frost Chaine Homme

The video of Chanel installing the backsplash went mega-viral. What do you think it is about watching tile be installed that’s so appealing?

Tile work like this takes a high level of skill and is technical. Those are fun things to watch! Especially when you watch someone create a space from nothing to something. It’s just gratifying I guess.

What’s your favorite tile application to work on?

Anything really that turns into a specialty space. From a complete bathroom to an accent wall or splash. It’s fun leaving behind a beautiful installation.

What should a homeowner be thinking about when deciding on a tile design?

First, is the tile suitable for the space it’s intended to be used?

Next, we feel that the geometry of the tile is critical to the feel of the space and how well it lays out in that space.

Tile Shown: Frost Chaine Homme

What trends are you seeing these days?

We're seeing a lot more fun and bold installations as well as installations with smaller tiles. The trend had been tiles getting larger and larger, however, the smaller format tiles in varying shapes and sizes seem to create a lot more interest lately.

What’s one question every client asks (or should ask)?

What are their expectations of the finished product as well as the logistics related to the installation and…how do they communicate that clearly and effectively.

On your site, you say, “Tile keeps evolving”. Can you talk a little about that?

Tile is not a one size fits all for installations anymore. Tile sizes, compositions, and products continue to evolve making successful installations a little challenging. It’s helpful to be a little versed in ANSI.

These requirements are in manufacturer instructions and data sheets and will guide the installer to the correct substrate conditions as well as suitable adhesives.

tile designer in kitchen
Chanel and the finished installation

In the Kirkland, Washington area? Give Icon Tile and Design a ring or follow them @icontileanddesign on Instagram. Anywhere else, we're here to help with all of your tile design needs with free personalized design assistance. Or start here with five free samples!