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Designer Spotlight: LaTonya Yvette

By Kali

Designer Spotlight: LaTonya Yvette

Images: Nina Barry // Installation: Dziewa Construction

When LaTonya Yvette purchased a 172-year-old colonial-style house in 2021 she had a clear intention in mind: equity. After a year of thoughtful renovations–with plenty of carefully curated Fireclay Tile–she opened the Mae House, embodying her dream of providing a place for BIPOC to rest, find joy, and commune with nature away from the hustle and bustle of NYC.

We sat down with LaTonya to chat about the process and inspiration behind the Mae House restoration, her goals for this space, and how she transformed an unexpected hurdle in the primary bathroom into her favorite tile moment.

Sample the Mae House Palette

Sample LaTonya's favorite tile colors.


Meet LaTonya!


Can you tell me a bit about yourself and what you do?
I am a writer, author, parent, multi-hyphenated creative, and steward of the Mae House, a 173-year-old house in Upstate, New York.

The Mae House.

Image: LaTonya Yvette

When did you first become interested in design? How did you get your start?
I grew up with a mom in the 90s that was a designer in her own respect, which fueled my love for home keeping, caretaking, and several aspects of design. My career started out as a personal stylist, and this overlapped naturally with the home through the years. Design, clothes, all of it, was a way for me to craft a story. And my history as a blogger for over 10 years, was an outlet for my home ideas, design, and perspective.

Designed with eternal summer in mind, LaTonya Yvette’s 173-year-old colonial-style rental home features a sunny primary bathroom that shines like a jewel box thanks to Glass Tile.

Tile Shown: 2x6 in Oriole Gloss with 3x12 in Falcon Gloss (Currently unavailable--for a look like this try 2x6 in Falcon)

Can you tell me about your design process? What is your favorite part?
Seeking, finding, and coming upon inspiration is likely my favorite part of the design process. Pinning images on Pinterest, saving images on Instagram, or ripping out a page in a magazine. I also love going over to a friend's house, filling up the ways they've arranged a place to fit their needs, desires, and eye. I feel most invigorated when I see the way a place is taking shape, and how different objects thought-through or by happenstance, allows a space to feel different, entirely.

4x4 tiles make for a classic backsplash in this cozy kitchen.

Tile Shown: 4x4 in Hunter Green

How would you describe your aesthetic?
Oh, this is hard! Colorful, minimal, leaning towards things that have an existing identity and story.

Warm toned tiles make for an inviting bathroom at the Mae House.

Tile Shown: 2x6 in Oriole Gloss (Currently unavailable--for a look like this try 2x6 in Falcon)

Where do you draw inspiration from?
History, people, and my life as a parent, writer, and style.

What are your three best design tips?
Don’t be afraid of color, embrace it. A little mistake can be a beautiful adjustment. Pick things that existed before you.

Designer LaTonya Yvette chose vintage-inspired tile to blend into her colonial-style rental home, using 4x4 Ceramic Tile in Sea Glass along the walls and shower surround and a floor of 3

    Tile Shown: 4x4 in Sea Glass with 3" Hexagons in Clover and Eucalyptus

    How do you factor sustainability into your designs?
    I try and pick used and vintage pieces before purchasing new. I often opt for fewer materials made of plastic. I love art that's made by my children, family, or personal photographs and relics. Leaning on natural materials and items that are vintage that you know you'll keep. And of course, working with and shopping from brands, and companies, that have a sustainable ethic throughout their business plan and process, from those they hire and the items they make.

    Tile Shown: 4x4 in Hunter Green

    Why do you like using tiles in your designs?
    In my opinion, tile gives a room dimension, while also being an easy-enough landing place to clean. It becomes a direct line for the eye, while often, simultaneously, allowing a space to evolve as a whole.

    Sit back and soak in the beauty of LaTonya Yvette’s thoughtfully renovated rental, The Mae House, in the inviting tub perched atop our 6” Hexagon Tile in Feldspar.

    Tile Shown: 6" Hexagon in Feldspar

    Let's talk about The Mae House! Can you tell us about this home? Was it a remodel or renovation?
    I love calling it both restoration and renovation. A lot of the work I describe is “care work” which helps sustain the house so it continues to live a long life well after I am the one guiding it/ letting it guide me. I kept the same layout throughout the house (i:e keeping the bottom kitchen counters) but found ways to renovate around what already was well and fine and existed. Part of my work was staying somewhere between bringing it up and bringing it back.

    Sit back and soak in the beauty of LaTonya Yvette’s thoughtfully renovated rental, The Mae House, in the inviting tub perched atop our 6” Hexagon Tile in Feldspar.

    Tile Shown: 6" Hexagon in Feldspar

    What were the goals for this space?
    Since The Mae House is a rental that also creates room for rest for BIPOC in our rest as a residency program, it was important that the house was a place that inspired, helped spark conversation, and also allowed for the function of rest and ease. And believe it or not, tile had so much to do with that.

    LaTonya Yvette knows a joy-filled home starts with a joyful entryway. At her thoughtfully renovated rental home, The Mae House, she brought joy to the forefront with a pink foyer and 6” Hexagon Tile in warm white Feldspar across the floor.

    Tile Shown: 6" Hexagons in Feldspar

    What sort of look were you going for?
    The Mae House is on nearly an acre of land, so it was important for me to bring the outside in, while also embracing the age of the house and its ideal layout. I choose a lot of different shades of greens, to help me with this, and used plants and other objects and a natural wood palette throughout.

    Designed with eternal summer in mind, LaTonya Yvette’s 173-year-old colonial-style rental home features a sunny primary bathroom that shines like a jewel box thanks to Glass Tile.

    Tile Shown: 2x6 in Oriole Gloss (Currently unavailable--for a look like this try 2x6 in Falcon)

    We love the kitchen! How did you choose this color palette?
    Thank you! I pinned several photographs of kitchens in the 1980s, and I was struck by how much green existed and natural wood too.

    A timeless backsplash of 4x4 Ceramic Tile in Hunter Green grounds the natural brightness in this thoughtfully appointed space

    Tile Shown: 4x4 in Hunter Green

    Although I originally wanted to keep the bottom cabinets of the kitchen their natural color, I opted to paint them this lavender purple, pink that almost nearly looks grey. Which also makes the grout on the green tile look lavender. It's a delightful eye trick, that also makes the kitchen feel less like a kitchen, and more like an art space/ room.

    With a clear vision of what–and who–she was nurturing a space for, LaTonya Yvette transformed her colonial-style home into a retreat that emphasizes Black joy and rest.

    Tile Shown: 4x4 in Hunter Green with 12x12 in Feldspar and Red Rock

    I was drawn to the idea that a kitchen can be both completely functional and beautiful (the 80s) and really wanted to turn away from the oversaturated neutral, super modernized kitchens we often see in renovated spaces. I loved that I got to embrace it as it was while bringing new life to it through playing with color and the eye.

      In the welcoming kitchen she brought her checkerboard floor dreams to life with 12x12 Ceramic Tile in Feldspar and Red Rock, while a timeless backsplash of 4x4 Ceramic Tile in Hunter Green grounds the natural brightness in this thoughtfully appointed space.

      Tile Shown: 12x12 in Feldspar and Red Rock

      How about the bathrooms? Do you have a favorite?
      While the yellow primary bathroom was my favorite to watch in transformation, I am loving the kids' bathroom the most. It feels like you’re underwater, and is the bathroom I water the plants in. So often, the hue of the plant leaves, the tile, and the wall tiles, gives this delightful unexpected warmth.

      Take a journey under the sea in the family-friendly bathroom at the Mae House.

        Tile Shown: 4x4 in Sea Glass with 3" Hexagons in Clover and Eucalyptus

        Do you have an overall favorite tile moment in the house?
        When we freaked out about not having enough tile for the primary bathroom when it was being installed, and I JUST posted a photograph on Instagram stories of a bathroom from the 80s that was half tiled with yellow and wallpaper above, and Kali said, “Oh, I love this.” and on a whim, because we ran out of tile anyway (our mistake, oops!) we decided to go with a half tiled primary bathroom and do a hand-painted mural above it as our “wallpaper.”

        Designed with eternal summer in mind, LaTonya Yvette’s 173-year-old colonial-style rental home features a sunny primary bathroom that shines like a jewel box thanks to Glass Tile.

        Tile Shown: 2x6 in Oriole Gloss (Currently unavailable--for a look like this try 2x6 in Falcon)

        Inspired by LaTonya’s vision? Rent or donate to the Mae House. Want to embrace color through tile in your home like LaTonya? Bring home up to five free samples to find your perfect colors.

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