Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sneak peek at some new tile designs

Cathedral Collection

Colony Collection with Color Wash Silhouettes

Eden Collection

Labyrinth Collection



More photos can be found on our New Products page.

Don't be shy!  Let us know what you think by clicking on the Comments link below.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Delivery before Christmas is still possible!

Getting your home ready for the upcoming holidays? 

Yes, there is still time for delivery of our product before Christmas.

Normal production time 
Ships from San Diego via UPS Ground
in 10 business days.

Rush order 
  Small rush charge and your order will ship 
 out in 3-5 business days.

Rush shipping 
3-Day, 2-Day and Overnight delivery available.

Quick Ship Program 
  In stock murals can ship in 24 hours or SAME DAY if you get to us before 3:00 PM Pacific time. 
Click here
for sales sheet.

Need it really, really, really fast?
We can do amazing things.

Contact your local StoneImpressions Dealer 
to place your order.

Is it just me, or does Santa look awfully tired?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Yes, wood DOES grow on trees....good advice from a Kitchen Designer

kitchen backsplash mural with dark wood kitchen cabinets

Here is a great article from Kitchen Sync about the details of wood and its characteristics in kitchen cabinets.  Excellent information for anyone thinking about a kitchen renovation and for people like us who know nothing about cabinets.  We know stone, but wood is a whole different animal.  That is why we always keep an eye out for good information that we can pass along.

Kitchen Sync is another excellent blog that we recommend.  Kelly Morisseau is a Certified Master Kitchen and Bath Designer and a Certified Interior Designer.  Her blog is overflowing with great ideas, smart ways to solve problems, and excellent advice that you can only get from a person who has an extraordinary amount of experience and training.

Kelly has a tip for people who don't want any natural variations in their wood cabinets - either be prepared to pay extra or go with something else.  As she says, "The beauty of wood is in its characteristics."  

We sometimes run into similar issues regarding natural stone.  We think the natural imperfections, color variations and veining or holes in the stone add to the beauty.  But some people request that we hand pick stone with certain characteristics for their order.  For example:
"Pick stone with no holes at all."  
"Choose only lighter colored tiles."
"Pick a combination of shades of off white and beige colors with a preference towards the beige."

Yup.  That last one is for real.  We do everything in our power to give someone what they have requested and our regular practice is to reject tiles with significant holes, cracks or chipped edges.  But if you know you are too OCD to handle the inherent tumbled edges, shading variations and small imperfections - natural stone tiles are probably not for you.  It's okay to admit it.  There are plenty of ceramic tiles* to choose from.

grape basket mural on light travertine tiles

Our Grape Harvest mural on 6x6 Light Travertine is a good example of how the natural variations in the stone enhance the beauty of the warm, rustic artwork.

*We do have a way to put our designs on ceramic or porcelain tile, but we use an outside service and the lead times can be 2-3 months out.  It is not something we have added to our main product line, but we can do special requests. The lead time on our natural stone products is 2 weeks in production and then it is out the door.

Kitchen picture at the top is courtesy of Bartel Kitchen & Bath in Buhler, Kansas.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pattern tiles for a kitchen backsplash

We just received a picture of this beautiful kitchen from Great Britain Tile.  They used the Minore Antiqued tiles in the Charcoal/Green color as the focal point for the backsplash. The tiles are printed on our 6x6 Light Travertine stone.

The Minore Antiqued is a very subtle fusion of color and patterns.  It is not a design which jumps out at you. Instead, it hints at something old and timeless.  It lingers and slowly unfolds its many turns and mysteries; like an ancient Grecian city or a pathway through the old town of Tangiers.

It is difficult to see the details in this picture, so here is a close up of the pattern:

Minore pattern in charcoal green color on 6x6 light travertine tiles
Minore Antiqued Charcoal/Green on 6x6 Light Travertine

The Minore design is also available in these two colors:

Minore pattern in blue green color on 6x6 light travertine tiles
Minore Antiqued Blue/Green on 6x6 Light Travertine

Minore pattern in salmon green color on 6x6 light travertine tiles
Minore Antiqued Salmon/Green on 6x6 Light Travertine

As with all of our designs, the Minore Antiqued can be made into any size and printed on any stone.  In the kitchen pictured above, it is done on 6x6 Light Travertine tiles, but we can imagine it enlarged and printed on 12x12 tiles for a much bigger impact.  The 12x12 tiles would fill up the 24 inch high by 48 inch wide space in that kitchen and you would have two choices for how to lay it out.   You can emphasize the circular part of the pattern like this:

Or make the more square and linear shapes the focal point, like this:

What do you think?  Would you pick circles or squares?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Custom Tiles and our Fabulous Dealers

This week we held our first Custom & Design Program Webinar with some of our Authorized Dealers.  We presented all of the options available to create custom tiles and shared pictures of some of our custom tile projects.  Our Custom Program is actually not very complicated.  We can make changes to any of our designs or work with customer-supplied artwork to create a truly personalized tile.  We have a great deal of flexibility and options since we always start with a digital image.  See more information about our Custom Program here.

A Celtic pendant was used to create a custom tile from our Amaretti Dawn design.

We have been embracing technology recently and love how it can keep us connected.  Our webinar brought us together with people all the way from Merrimack, New Hampshire to Santa Barbara, California - and lots of places in between.  The dealers around the country who carry our product lines have proven to be a smart and committed bunch of people.  They are always looking for opportunities to improve their knowledge so that they can better serve their customers.  They always impress us.

This is why customers who contact us directly will be strongly encouraged (gently shoved?  politely pushed?) to go see one of our Authorized Dealers.  When you call us, our customer service team is always happy to answer your questions about any of our products.  But when it comes down to making a decision about purchase, it is to your advantage to work with a local, knowledgeable Authorized Dealer.  Here's why:

Dealers have full-size, in-store samples.  You can browse the beautiful pictures on our website, but there is nothing like seeing the tiles up close and personal.  Touch the natural stone tiles to feel the texture and weight of the stone. Look closely at the detail and colors in the artwork and the shading in the stone.  Taste and smell the tile if that's your thing. (Please bring your own antibacterial wipes.)  Seeing the full-size samples will give you a much better idea of what the StoneImpressions tiles will look like in your home.

One of our Floor Tile Sample Boards featuring the Clermont design. 
Clermont also looks great as a kitchen backsplash.

Dealers are trained.  They can answer your questions and they might even have a few questions for you to help you determine the best way to approach your home improvement project.  They have experience working with StoneImpressions and will be able to make recommendations about other items that you might need - grout, cleaner, adhesive, or the phone number of a good tile installer.

Dealers are a part of your local economy.  They employ your neighbors, contribute to the local tax rolls and have a vested interest in your community.  Nobody likes to pay taxes, but wouldn't you rather have your money stay in your own backyard?  Especially in this economy, shopping locally supports your community in a very tangible way.

One of our full-size (24" x 30") sample boards featuring our Dolce Casa tile mural and Regatta listello.

Dealers can assist you in other ways.  We do one thing - decorative natural stone products.  But our Dealers can help you with other aspects of your home improvement project.  Some have Certified Kitchen Designers on staff, like DJ Dietz Designs in Reedsburg, Wisconsin.  They can help you with your total kitchen remodel from planning and design, all the way to installation.  Other Dealers carry a wide variety of products including kitchen cabinets, sinks, appliances, marble countertops, bath and shower fixtures, and all types of flooring from carpeting to hardwood.

We are always happy to talk to you when you call.  But when you want that fabulous face-to-face customer service experience, you can find an Authorized StoneImpressions Dealer by going to the Showrooms page on our website.

Kitchen display in the DJ Dietz Designs showroom.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Finds - You can't eat stone

Our previous entry showed off the tiles in our Herb Collection.  As much as we love these pretty tile accents, you can't eat stone.  Or drink it for that matter. 

For today's fun Friday distraction, let's look at some fabulous ways to use real-life, aromatic, fresh and tasty herbs.

Over at The Nibble they have some interesting recipes for Herb Infused cocktails using tarragon, basil and rosemary.  The Shinnecock Cocktail features rosemary, peaches and rum.  Sounds divine!  Is it five o'clock yet?

You can't beat The Pioneer Woman Cooks for drool-worthy recipes with gorgeous photos and easy to follow step-by-step directions.  Try her Buttered Rosemary Rolls or Sweet-Roasted Rosemary Acorn Squash Wedges.   Mmmmmmmm.   We hope they invent Scratch-n-Sniff web pages soon because the aroma is probably twice as tempting as that photo.

Remember Snow Cones?  The make-your-teeth-ache, syrupy sweetness that you loved as a kid?  Well now there are more to Snow Cones than your summer flashbacks of sticky hands and fructose-induced mania.  How does Blackberry Lavender sound?  Or Watermelon Basil?  Lemon Prickly Pear?!

Linday Laricks and her Fresher than Fresh Snow Cones offers these flavors and more.  Selling to the lucky folks in the Kansas City area from her vintage 1957 Shasta trailer, she uses all natural ingredients and sweeteners, along with fresh fruit and herbs grown in her own organic garden. 

She only sells these refreshing treats during the summer (yes, we are way behind) but we hope she will consider hauling that trailer of hers over to our neck of the woods for the winter months.  What do you say, Lindsay?  San Diego is calling... endless summer days, beautiful beaches, all the fish tacos you can eat?  It's 70 degrees and sunny today.  How about it?

Whether you are snuggled up against the cold this Friday or sporting your tank top and flip flops - have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Featured Kitchen Backsplash Design - Herbs

herbs backsplash tile installed in kitchen

Our Herbs Collection has proven to be an undeniable favorite for kitchen backsplashes.  The pretty bundles of herbs - Sage, Basil, Rosemary, Oregano, Peppermint and Chives - are fresh and cheerful.  These kitchen backsplash tiles will awaken memories of your summer garden, in all its blooming glory, even through the coldest winter.

This kitchen is a great example of mixing material - natural stone tiles with multi-colored ceramic tiles.  
Click on the picture for a larger view.

The Herbs artwork was derived from the works of Annie LaPoint, a California artist known for her rich watercolors of fruit, flowers and topiaries.  You can see more of Annie's art at Penny Lane Publishing.  Some of the designs in our American Country Collection were licensed from her work.

The accent and listello tiles can be used together and configured to fit a number of openings in different sizes over the range or kitchen sink.  See below for some examples:

herbs kitchen backsplash layout in a 48 inch wide size
Opening is 48" wide.  
Uses 6x6 Herb Accents and 2x6 Herb Listellos 
and trimmed with Pencil and Rope Liners.

herbs kitchen backsplash layout in a 36 inch wide size
Opening is 36" wide.  
Uses 6x6 Herb Accents and 2x6 Herb Listellos 
and trimmed with Pencil and Rope Liners.

herbs kitchen backsplash layout in a 30 inch wide size
Opening is 30" wide.  
Uses 4x4 Herb Accents and 2x6 Herb Listellos 
and trimmed with Pencil and Rope Liners

The Herb Accents can also be used alone, to add a simple flourish of beauty to the otherwise boring backsplash tile that runs underneath the kitchen cabinets.

herbs accent tiles under counter backsplash layout

We truly can not do justice to the Herbs Collection without showing you a close up picture so you can appreciate the beauty in the details.  Go on the picture below and soak up the charm.  You can see all of them here - Herbs Collection.

sage herb accent tile on durango stone

We have other designs and layouts in our Kitchen Backsplash Design Ideas booklet.  A great place to browse for inspiration.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pattern Inspiration

In a previous post, we talked about our custom designs and the availability of thousands of options that you can find by using our licensing partners.

Just wanted to mention - it's not all about murals.  You can find plenty of still lifes, landscapes, and wine scenes; country farms and roosters; New England seasides and Tuscan valleys.  But there are also patterns and motifs - and lots of them!

At Rosenstiel's website you can simply search for the world "Pattern" and you come up with results like this:

 Geo Mosaic
by Douglas

by Douglas

by Max Carter

by Max Carter

Or if you are feeling adventurous, search for the word "Abstract" to find things like:

by Carney

by Holman

by Hedy Klineman

by Lunden

by Lisa Butcher

If you are stumped as to how you would turn any of these patterns into a tile mural - contact us!  Our designers love the opportunity to be creative with such bold inspiration as the starting point.

Below is an example of our Zeal Tile Collection mixed with other materials like recycled metal tiles to create an eye-catching and colorful focal point with a modern feel.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How to grout StoneImpressions tile

One of the questions that we get asked most often is "How do I grout my StoneImpressions decorative tile mural or pattern?"

The short answer is this:
"Grouting is a matter of personal preference.  You should always talk to your installer to discuss how your tiles will be grouted.  And make sure your installer reads our Installation Instructions before starting your job."

And now you are thinking, "Okay, thanks for nothing. That answer doesn't help me at all!"  The long answer is what you need - so sit back, grab a drink and get ready to read for a while.  It isn't really so complicated but there are certain things you should know about the different options for grouting and how each will affect the look of your StoneImpressions decorative tile.

Grouting - Ceramic vs. Natural Stone

In general, grouting is usually done by smearing grout all over the tiles to get it in every joint and space between the tiles.  When you grout ceramic tile, the only place the grout can go is in the spaces between the tiles.  The ceramic tiles themselves have a smooth surface and do not have holes in the tile where the grout will fill in.

It is a different story for our natural stone tiles.  Depending on which type of stone you choose, these tiles can have naturally occurring holes, cracks and crevices.  When you smear the grout all over these tiles, it will not only fill in all the joints and spaces between the tiles, but every hole, crack, and crevice too.  With that in mind, let's talk about some options for how to grout our decorative tiles.

Option #1 - Smear Method
Spread grout over the entire image just like you do for any other tile.

This will fill the natural holes in the stone and can cause the image to become randomly spotted with grout.  This is not necessarily a bad thing.  There are two points to keep in mind for this option:

1. What kind of stone are you using?  
Our Light Travertine has a lot of natural holes and pits in it.  It has a more rustic and aged look to it.  Grouting the Light Travertine using the Smear Method will result in many spots of grout.  But if you like the more rustic look, this might not be a problem for you.  On the other hand, our Tumbled Botticino and Tumbled Durango tiles do not have many natural holes or pits.  They do have some pitting, but not much compared to the Light Travertine.  When you grout the Botticino by spreading the grout all over, there may be some spotting, but usually not very much.  You can see the different stone types that we offer on our Materials page.

2. What kind of design is on your StoneImpressions tile?
If the design that you have chosen has a lot of dark colors, the light colored grout in the holes and pits will be very apparent.  If your design is a lighter color, the grout in the holes will not be as obvious.

light travertine wine mural with dark ink
This is a mural with dark colors on Light Travertine.  Notice the many holes and pits.  If you smear grout all over this mural, you will see grout spots in the dark areas - especially on the wine bottles and the grapes.

light travertine lemons mural with light ink
This mural is also on Light Travertine, but the colors are much lighter.  The grout will again fill all of the natural holes and pits, but the spotting will not appear as prominently.

durango mural with dark ink

This mural has dark ink, but it is printed on the smoother Tumbled Durango stone.  When you spread grout all over this mural, it might fill in some smaller holes, but not many. 

The same is true with our accents and listellos.  The listello shown below is on Light Travertine and has many holes and pits.  But the ink is a very light color, so grout filling in the hole might no be a problem for you.

light travertine listello with light ink

Option #2: Grout Bag Method
Use a grout bag to fill only the grid lines of the mural.

A grout bag is just like a pastry bag that is used to decorate cakes.  You fill it with grout and then squeeze the grout through a tip which allows you to put the grout only where you need it.  

You use the grout bag to grout only the joints and spaces between the tiles.  That way you avoid getting grout filling in every hole and crevice in the natural tile.  This can be more time consuming than the Smear Method.  If your installer uses the grout bag for a single mural, then it is probably no big deal.   If you expect your installer to use a grout bag on twenty or fifty square feet of tile - you should also expect to pay them for the extra time it will take.

This method gives you the best of both worlds.  You get the sealing and protection that the grout provides, and you avoid spots of grout showing up throughout the design and detracting from the overall look.  In many cases, this would be the ideal way to grout your decorative natural stone tile.

More information about how to use a grout bag.

Option #3: No grout at all.

You can place the tiles right up next to each other and skip the grout.  This is the best way to keep the design of a mural intact - it displays the image without spaces in between that can interrupt the design or pattern.  This option will result in some gaps between the tiles depending on what type of stone you are using.  Stone with very tumbled edges will leave gaps where the four corners of the tile meet.  Like this:

example of tumbled botticino marble tile in 6x6 size
The gaps are not gigantic, but they are there.  Click on the picture above to see a close up view.

If you are using stone with a straighter edge, like our Micro-bevel Durango, you will not have many gaps. See picture below:
example of micro-bevel durango tile in 6x6 size

Leaving the gaps and spaces without grout could create difficulty in the future, because dirt, dust and moisture can accumulate in those holes.  This is one of the main reasons that people use grout in the first place.  It seals the spaces in between the tiles to prevent any accumulation of dirt and moisture which can eventually damage the wall behind the tile.  You should consider where the tile is located to decide whether you want to use this method.  If you are installing in a room in your house where you don't expect much moisture, this method might work for you.  You could also try using the grout bag to apply grout only to the bigger gaps between the corners of the tumbled tiles.  That will give you some protection.

If you are thinking about the no grout method you should definitely talk to your installer first.  There are many things to consider and a knowledgeable tile installer will know what questions to ask to determine the best course of action for you.

Grouting wrap-up

We hope this information will help you in deciding how to grout your StoneImpressions tile.  And perhaps you can understand why there is not just one simple answer to fit everyone.  Your taste, your stone choice, your installation location and your mural or pattern design will all be factors to consider when determining how to grout.

Let us know in the comments below if you have any grouting tips for us or additional questions that you'd like us to answer.