Showing Your Style With Tile
The enduring nature of tile, not to mention the untold scope of styles lends it to all aspects of a home.
What makes one’s home their own? The particular selection of a color palette, the addition of quirky décor, or filling shelves and coffee tables with family photographs or a curated book collection? Or could it be the tiny, almost hidden details that a homeowner delicately installs that bring personal meaning and stirs their heart?
As one of our highlighted businesses reminds us, “What was once a functional product in the home now plays a part in the aesthetics of a home.” Tile, in this case, is the product that makes all the difference. Whether it be installed as the backsplash above the oven, added in the shower for an extra pop of color, or integrated into the walls of an office or bedroom to create a scenic display, tile has staked its place as a permanent artistic installation in the home.
Tile can act as a chameleon–some blending in as an accentuating element while others stand out in their fanciful design–all dependent on the vision and inclination of the homeowner.
The following “round up” of various showrooms and artisans demonstrates the great assortment of the options available to current connoisseurs of tile. Once the overall choices have been made–types of pattern, color scheme, location, size–artisans then take over to lay in fishbone or hopscotch patterns, paint tiles in bright colors or rendered images, and create a mainstay in a home for many, many years to come.
Ariel Shoemaker’s creative spirit provides beauty and interest for any spot in the home.
For Ariel Shoemaker, creating original art from broken pieces of something that was once whole is a befitting metaphor for a personally difficult and transitional phase of her life. “I made my first mosaic in the wake of the September 11th attacks in 2001,” Shoemaker recalls, who at the time was working in the high-powered, orderly world of high tech and suddenly nothing made sense anymore. “A close colleague and friend was on Flight 11 that went into the World Trade Towers and I kept imagining creating something beautiful from the shattered existence we were all left with.”
Twenty years later, Shoemaker has not only refined her craft, now a fulltime occupation, but also has embarked upon a journey of creativity and possibility with each project she creates for her clients. Part of her exploration began as she researched best practices and the sage expertise of other mosaic artists who were producing the kind of design that spoke innately to Shoemaker’s instinctual art. “I have been characterized as a mosaic artist,” she explains, “but really I consider myself to be more of a mixed-media, abstract impressionist.” The thoughtful and deliberate designation she has adopted as her title aptly describes her materials, her process and her ultimate expression that is her art.
Shoemaker creates custom pieces for her clients that run the gamut from a small wall-hanging to a full kitchen backsplash or large piece of fine art that anchors a room. Her clients are not limited to any geographic definition as she is able to produce her designs on either a concrete-backed composite sheet or meshed netting, both of which are suitable for any standard tile installation. Backsplashes, walls, and columns are just some of the elements Shoemaker has been able to transform with her brilliant and intricately imagined designs.
“Many of my clients know exactly what they want,” she explains. “And I have lots of clients who just know that they want something extremely unique, but with some sort of design impact.” For every project, Shoemaker says it begins with a casual, yet informative conversation about what the client envisions, followed by confirmation of the design through a sketch process along with choice of color and materials. The titles of her vast body of work are the culmination of the heart and soul Shoemaker puts into every piece. “Life Force Convergence,” and “La Route Enchantee,” are examples of the love-inspired journey of creativity she now shares with so many others.
With the largest selection on the Cape, the Bellew family offers generations of experience.
In the late 1980s, Jimmy Bellew’s father
and grandfather were working as tile installers in Boston when they saw a need for a tile store in Massachusetts, and ultimately opened their flagship store in Rockland. In 2018, after seven years in the service, Jimmy Bellew moved his family moved back to the area, and added his life experience to the foundation his father and grandfather instilled in him, by expanding the business and opening a 6,000-square-foot showroom in West Yarmouth as well as a full-service warehouse.
Today, Bellew Tile offers the largest selection of tile on the Cape. Their fully-staffed, non-commissioned showroom caters to every customer at any budget, providing the same exceptional experience to each individual. “We walk customers through the entire design process, whether it’s a bathroom, kitchen, entire house; whatever the project calls for,” Bellew says. “My dad is a big believer in providing a quality experience. I really believe that’s the reason why we’ve had such growth.
Three years ago when we opened the showroom, I was the only one here. We just hired our 11th employee, so the growth has been very steady, I think it was a good decision.” Bellew Tile & Marble offers a range of tiles and stones from around the world, including the United States, Italy and Spain. Whether your preference is for porcelain, marble, glass, granite, or handmade ceramics, you will find something to spark your creativity within their extensive selection. Entering the showroom, customers are instantly greeted with educated staff trained to fulfill most projects. “We put a lot of time and effort into who we are hiring, by focusing on personality and an aptitude for design. We give our staff the flexibility to bend over backwards and do what they need to help the customer.
We definitely have great customer service and a fantastic selection, but I think the customer service is the key pillar that distinguishes us,” Bellew shares. As a relatively new player on the Cape, Bellew Tile & Marble has already shown remarkable growth and promise in its first three years. With generations of experience, and a commitment for service the Bellew family and its staff will only continue to better serve its clientele for years to come.
Classic Tile & Stone
This team prides themselves on crafting everlasting expressions of style in the home.
Remaining true to their name, Classic Tile & Stone creates enduring masterpieces that accentuate the character of a home.
Classic Tile & Stone stays true to their name. When Kristin and Julie opened their showroom in Hingham in October 2003, little did they know that they would be representing about 50 companies 18 years later. With approximately 1800 square feet to fill, Julie claims that most clients are surprised by the amount of products they have to offer. “The showroom may not be large, but we are selective about what we carry,” she says. “We work hard to make sure our curated collection offers the best.”
With word-of-mouth referrals as the mainstay of their business, Classic Tile & Stone works with a mix of both professional designers and homeowners. “Each job is different,” Julie explains. “This is what makes our job continually changing. Some clients have specific ideas as to what they want, and others come in and have no idea as to what they want.” Kristin and Julie recognize and appreciate that every person and every home is different, and that “each space we work on is unique.”
Reflecting on their namesake, Kristin and Julie always have a vision for quintessential looks. “Natural stones such as marble and limestone are classics. Mosaic and waterjet patterns are timeless,” Julie offers.
With products and styles that are constantly changing, Classic Tile & Stone has taken on a larger role in the design process. “What was once a functional product in the home now plays a part in the aesthetics of a home,” says Julie. “Kristin and I feel it is important for clients to make selections based on colors and styles that they are always attracted to. Loving a certain color in the moment is better for accessories rather than something that is permanently installed. We want clients to be happy with and love their tile for years to come.”
Susan Davies brings a new meaning to custom-made, artisanal tiles.
Susan Davies began her journey into the tile business with the Cape Cod Whale Trail Project in 2006. Near the end of the event, she connected with RPM Carpets & Floor Coverings in Harwich, who had requested an artist to design his whale using tile. “I had never done anything like that–but I wanted to be a part of it. I asked him, ‘What would be available to me?’ And he said, ‘You can use whatever is in this showroom.’”
Nowadays, Susan uses her artistic prowess to tell visual stories that people can incorporate as centerpieces in their homes. “I think I think I’ve had more people interested in tile this year than ever,” she explains. “Usually they do ask for a custom piece. They might see something I’ve done, but it doesn’t fit into the size they want, or maybe they want different sized tiles.”
As an artist on the Cape, Susan finds herself often working with aquatic and nautical inclinations. “My clients appreciate the landscape and beauty on the Cape,” she shares. A recent tile project that Susan painted was for a client in Florida who expressed how she would love to have a Cape Cod touch in her home. “She contacted me and asked, ‘Can you paint a tile of our sailboat sailing into Nantucket Harbor?’ The family had since sold this special boat, but estimated they had sailed into Nantucket Harbor over 50 times throughout the years. She sent me a photo of her sailboat and her wish list of items for the tile.” On the list was the Nantucket Light, a local church on the hill, sailboats, and a fisherman on Brant’s Point, as well as their family boat. Once her rendering was complete, and after a request for a bit more sea grass on the beach and less sand, Susan began to paint. Ensuring that her tile illustrations distinctively reflect what the homeowner has in mind is of utmost importance.
“I do many hours of research. I probably do more research than anyone cares about,” Susan laughs. “Depending on what the topic matter is, I’ll go on location to photograph. One woman wanted historical Nantucket with a view on the water. During COVID, I was calling the Nantucket Whaling Museum while everyone was working remotely. I also went down to the museum in New Bedford.”
The detailed projects necessitate a dual-style of artistry that Susan brings to her work. “I make a grid and sketch it out. I actually do it in color with gouache, so [clients] can see where each item lays out. I try to avoid the grout lines or not have an image by the grout.”
With such an extensive community of artists and creative businesses on the Cape, there’s plenty to choose and learn from. “I use many of the different tile showrooms around here to pull to paint on. We’re all a community. Everyone’s got their own wonderful, different tile lines that somebody else doesn’t have. It’s like having a number of different art stores to go to,” Susan shares.
Her clients’ passion and dedication to the stories they want to share in their homes plays a crucial role in the creative process that Susan pours into her art. “I love anything that I can link with history,” she expresses. “I always say I think everyone’s got a little pirate in them.”
The Tilery at Trees Place
With one of the longest running showrooms on the Cape, The Tilery works from conception to completion
For the past decade, The Tilery at Tree’s Place has been upholding its legacy of quality tiles, appreciation of artistry, and attentive customer service under the ownership of Bert Czuchra. Czuchra stepped in with his own retail experience to develop the local business, established 40 years ago by a couple who owned a gift shop and art gallery in tandem with the tile shop. “Over the course of the years, they developed a nice assortment of suppliers, both larger importers and tile artisans. We still have access to that market where there are even more suppliers with very unique products,” Czuchra says. The Tilery offers every tile category, including ceramic, porcelain, natural stone, and glass, and can help clients design solutions for any area of the home. “When a customer comes in, we work with them on selecting their tile. We will do design work, give them an idea on how to lay the tile out, particularly when there are decorative accents involved,” Czuchra shares. Further, the team will show clients the current inventory of a particular stone, as opposed to its sample, to ensure it will fit within their project. When a stone is selected, The Tilery works with installers to order the material and everything is inspected before it is delivered to the job site.
For custom designs, Czuchra and his team work with many suppliers that do custom manufacturing, whether it be hand cut mosaics or custom tile colors. In the tile design world, Czuchra is seeing a shift to more color as of recent, as well as texture, particularly in kitchen backsplashes. With fine attention to their offering, The Tilery team constantly changes its display to showcase unique and distinct material. “We carry the same basic tiles as the larger tile shops, but it’s what’s different that has made the business successful over the 40 years. I am continuing that formula and trying to offer what is very new and unique when you come in the shop. We try to give you an ‘oh wow’ sensation by showcasing things you may not have seen anywhere else, and I think that is what makes us unique in the marketplace,” Czuchra describes.
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