Autumn 2011

Tile Artistry

Cape Cod Home  /  Autumn 2011 / , , ,

Writer: Jill Jansson / Photographer: Amanda Wastrom 

Architects, interior decorators, and homeowners are finding a world of tile treasures at Tree’s Place Tilery in Orleans.

Tree’s Place Tilery in Orleans

Tree’s Place Tilery has a design for just about everyone, no matter what household project they are looking to complete. Photography by Amanda Wastrom

Showcasing some of the finest art in New England and beyond, Tree’s Place, on Route 6A in Orleans, is firmly established as a renowned gallery featuring nationally celebrated artists. Its gallery walls gleam with an array of distinguished works by contemporary American artists, many of them local to Cape Cod.

Quietly emerging as a formidable interior design force of its own is the Tree’s Place Tilery, upstairs from the art gallery. The ceiling here is the limit—literally—when it comes to creating art with materials that are imported to the Orleans location from distributors and craftspeople around the world. Tile was added to the varied Tree’s Place gift and art offerings in the 1980s, as the previous owners traveled the world and brought back their treasures to sell and proliferate in discerning Cape Cod homes.

The Tilery’s cozy showroom is filled with an expansive display of tile in a rainbow of colors, designs, materials, and sizes that cover every square inch of display space. Nason Wastrom, the Tilery manager, envisions the space as a showcase of the best and newest tile products in the world. Tree’s Place’s central location at the fulcrum of the Cape ensures that Wastrom gets to work with all kinds of projects and budgets.

“There’s an awful lot to choose from in this day and age, which is great because every single project we work on is very, very different,” says Wastrom, a native Cape Codder, who notes the diversity of the Cape’s population has created a melting pot of trends and design preferences. “That’s part of being located in a place where everyone likes to spend their time. We have people who come from all over the country and they have diverse tastes. Whether they’re more contemporary or more traditional, we have products that cater to everyone.”

The Tilery has cultivated a selection of luxury materials like natural stone, porcelain, ceramic, and glass products featured in exclusive lines such as Pratt & Larson Tile, Artistic Tile, and New Ravenna. It also offers a full range of the most popular staples with high quality, solid value lines such as Dal-tile, Florida Tile, American Olean, and the Spanish and Italian porcelain ($3-$5 a square foot) ordinarily found in many homes.

Tree’s Place Tilery in Orleans

Wastrom is one of many tile experts that work daily with customers to help their visions come to life. Photo by Amanda Wastrom

These eye-catching materials swathe virtually every square inch of wall and floor space in the showroom, which is a feast for the senses whether one is an interior design maven or a window shopper who simply appreciates beautiful crafted items. In one corner, hand-sculpted and painted ceramic tiles beckon to be touched. In another niche, the light ripples off the reflective surfaces of an ultra modern counter tiled in small octagons of stainless steel. Or perhaps you might be attracted to the ancient, delicate, blue details found in each of the hand-painted Delft tiles in a fireplace surround.

Tree’s Place Tilery in Orleans

Making a fireplace more formal can be made easy with a simple tile job. Photo by Amanda Wastrom

From private residences to commercial retail spaces, Tree’s Place design projects can be found throughout the Cape and beyond, whether in an intricate mosaic floor in a powder room, decorative glass accents brightening an outdoor swimming pool, or adding an artistic touch to a custom backsplash in a rustic kitchen.

With such a myriad of design possibilities, a step into the showroom may seem a bit overwhelming, but experts like Wastrom are there, waiting to greet the customer and help them through the process step by step. Wastrom is quick to emphasize the collaborative nature of the design process. His number-one job is to first listen to what the customer is looking for, whether seeking to match wallpaper or wall-paint color samples, finding tiles for a set of architectural plans, duplicating a cut-out magazine photo, or simply bringing to life a vision in their head. For each customer, he’ll pull samples and educate the homeowner about their options.

Porcelain ($2 to $9 per square foot) is the easiest material to maintain—frost-proof, resistant to moisture, and relatively stain-proof—and tends to be the most popular selection for Cape Codders. “For someone looking to install a worry-free floor in a second home that will look identical to the day it was installed 20 years later, porcelain is the ticket,” Wastrom explains.

Traditional, glazed ceramic tiles ($2-$5 per square foot) are a staple—adorning people’s bathrooms for generations now, Wastrom notes. “While ceramic tile is made from the same clay as porcelain, it is fired at a lower temperature, making the material more prone to moisture collection on the edges.” The tiles are generally sold exclusively in the form of wall tiles, but some are sold as floor tiles for areas with light, residential foot traffic. Tree’s Place also offers locally, hand-painted ceramic tiles ($42 per six inch tile) that can be sent out to a New England painter, who will recreate a family portrait, or unique Cape landscapes for personalized custom orders.

Tree’s Place Tilery in Orleans

Tile can be used for more than just flooring and bathrooms, such as a marble window accent. Photo by Amanda Wastrom

Currently de rigueur in any upscale residence but equally elegant in rustic cottages and antique homes, natural stone requires a different type of maintenance, advises Wastrom. Marble, limestone, or granite can be very easy to take care of, but will wear with age. “In my opinion, all marbles tend to get better with age. They wear and tell the story of your life,” Wastrom says. Tree’s Place carries colorful selections of marble ($8 to $14 per square foot) from almost every country in the world that has a quarry, from Brazil to Vermont. Other materials are imported from South America, Mexico, England, Holland, Italy, and France as well as being carefully selected from numerous American sources.

With its slick, reflective surfaces, glass has become popular in the past 10 years, expanding from just a few Italian lines, such as Sicis’s mostly small mosaic lines, to American companies like Artistic Tile, known for using different shapes to create unique designs. “Glass ($10 to $30 per square foot) is relatively maintenance-free, but setting the tile correctly and selecting the right grout color makes a huge difference,” Wastrom explains.

Having worked at Tree’s Place for the past eight years, Wastrom has developed quite a niche in the lower Cape as the go-to guy for tile and stone. He has worked in the tile industry since graduating in 2000 from Champlain College with a degree in Graphic Design. Working as a dealer sales representative for Artistic Tile gave him insight and knowledge into the products he sells and how they are produced, maintained, and installed. Constantly researching current trends and ideas, Wastrom also maintains professional relationships with some of the top innovators in the industry. His experience combined with his evolving connections to the building and designing community on Cape Cod adds nuance, depth, and understanding to his work with customers.

Although Tree’s Place doesn’t offer installation services, Wastrom always sees the project through from beginning to end to ensure the final result is exactly as the homeowner imagined. He meets with any contractor or architect—per the homeowner’s choice—on site to work out all the final details. He has jumped in the car to meet with contractors in Boston or other off-Cape sites. “We ship everywhere…I haven’t had to fly anywhere yet, but I wouldn’t rule that out,” says the East Sandwich resident.

Whether it takes a couple of minutes or months and months to create that perfect space, seeing someone’s dream room come to life makes it all worth it for Wastrom. “I love to have customers come in and say, ‘Oh it looks beautiful, it puts a smile on my face every morning when I walk in there.’ I just had a customer this morning from Rhode Island that came in to share photos of a mosaic staircase I helped him with a year ago,” says Wastrom.

The key to buying and selecting tile is to “give yourself time,” advises Wastrom. It’s a good idea to take a day or two at the local bookstore, searching all the home and dwelling magazines and books. “Buy the one you like, bring it into Tree’s Place, and we’ll help to find out what material it is, how to get it at a great price and send you off with it…it’s as simple as that,” Wastrom says.

For information on Tree’s Place Tilery, go to

Jill Jannson is a freelance writer for Cape Cod Life Publications.