The Tile Commandments, Antonella Romano Rustic tiles for a mountain retreat — News -

The Tile Commandments, Antonella Romano Rustic tiles for a mountain retreat - News -

The Tile Commandments, Antonella Romano: Rustic tiles for a ‘mountain retreat’

Photos courtesy of antonella romano

Practical porcelain tiles in a much-used bathroom can be dressed up with mosaic accents of real stone.

In the spirit of the vacation season, let’s discuss another type of vacation home. In my last column, I wrote about beach houses. Now, with the fall coming up, the second most popular vacation home is a lake house or mountain retreat.

Coming from southern Italy, where we have mountains and beaches just 20 minutes away from each other, I love the idea of a mountain retreat almost more than one at the beach.

Natural slate makes a beautiful, non-slip flooring for the entrance hall of a «mountain retreat» home.

I spent most of my childhood in the cool and relaxed mountain home of my grandmother Rosa in Calabria. After coming to the U.S. I spent a lot of time in the Poconos and the Catskills with my parents — mostly because it reminded us of home.

Working on projects with clients who have lake houses in Pennsylvania, the Catskills, the Berkshires and even the Finger Lakes, I enjoy the rich colors nature has to offer. Recently, I worked on a house in Rhinebeck, N.Y. atop more than 20 acres with 180-degree panoramic views of the Berkshire Mountains.

The project was for a large family from Bergen County, who like to ski in the winter and lay by their pool in the summer time. This house gave them just that.

The challenge was to create a relaxed feel while still keeping the majestic look of this large, Craftsman- style home. The homeowner wanted a little formality in many areas, using black and white, blues, greens and lots of neutral colors, and also bringing some warm shades of autumn into the living spaces.

When renovating a vacation house to host a large family, it’s important to put a lot of thought into the materials. Unless you are an empty nester with time to pamper the foyer floor, and always have a coaster to set a glass of red wine down on a countertop, you need to think about function as much as about looks.

When you think of mountain homes, wood floors come to mind as the natural solution in the foyer or kitchen. How-ever, these floors can require a lot of maintenance. The porcelains available today that imitate wood look like the real thing. Where real wood creates warping, splitting and the need for painting and staining, you don’t need to think about these things with the wood-look porcelain. These tiles are frost-proof, water-proof and resist scratches and stains. They can be perfect for a foyer, a kitchen or a bath. Not only does the porcelain tile look like real wood, it also comes with faux knots so it feels like real wood. Most of the time, you can’t see the difference.

Natural slate, of course, would be perfect for the floors of a weekend mountain retreat. But slate also needs a lot of protecting and pampering. Fortunately, thanks to modern technology, there are porcelain alternatives in grays and tones of gold and red that will reflect the autumn colors of the Berkshires. Yet they are unbelievably easy to clean and will not require any sealing. I particularly love the ones that have a «cleft» or «riven» finish because they add that authentic touch. In this project, we used natural, multicolored slate in the powder room off the kitchen and the slate-look porcelain in the guest bathroom. For the foyer, we chose a light beige slate in multiple sizes to bring in the feel of the outdoors. This floor does need to be sealed; however, with its layers of texture, it makes a great anti-slip surface when you’re coming in from the outdoors.

The Tile Commandments, Antonella Romano Rustic tiles for a mountain retreat - News -

In the kitchen, we went with black granite (which is virtually indestructible) that has an aged, leathered look. It can also be done in a honed finish — smooth, but not polished — and a riven finish, similar to an acid-washed stone. Either way you’ll have a relaxed, weathered look rather than a formal polished stone. There are granite options in rainforest stone, brown Labrador antique or even rich emerald green, for those who want more color in the kitchen countertops.

For the backsplash, since this kitchen was keeping the true Craftsman, semi-formal tone of the house, we went with honed Calcutta gold marble. The white background, with the blackish-grey and beige veins, brought in the kitchen surroundings perfectly. This splash will have to be sealed once a year, but the look is definitely worth it!

The master bath turned out magnificently with honed Carrara marble, and a border of blue, green and white mosaics. Most of the children’s bathrooms were done in porcelains that resembled marble and slate, using the real materials in mosaics and borders. I find it important to use natural accents in bathrooms to create authenticity to the porcelain tiles.

The pool bathroom was the only place I introduced glass mosaics — light green and blue glass with a beige porcelain backdrop. Since this room was located away from the house, we got a little carried away with a large glass waterfall, which sat right below a rain head fixture in satin Nickel finish.

It was a pleasure putting together this magnificent home with all the various stone and tiles, and to choose materials with the homeowner that reflect her style as well as the natural beauty of the Berkshire Mountains. These looks are classics that achieve the beauty, serenity, and relaxed feel we envisioned for this special project. I wish them many years of enjoyment in their new vacation home.

Antonella Romano is the owner of Antonella Romano Tile & Stone, Wyckoff, www.stoneandtilenj.com.

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