The point is that not every day does one have to choose a coating. On the contrary, most people who buy a house, or build their own, make this choice only once in a lifetime.
It is a remarkable fact, that a choice which will give its effects along the years, maybe the decades, is often made superficially, or maybe by only considering technical features – hardness, wear resistance, non-slip finish – and underestimating the visual impact.
Yet more so when the house, which is being built or restored, must live up to the high expectations of an owner, who only wants the best.
Let us see how to avoid the seven most common mistakes.
1- It’s A Bore!
Are we sure we really want the bathroom tiled in that nameless light beige? Of course we read the architecture magazines, which advise the use of light colours to make rooms more luminous.
However, it must also be remembered that the bathroom is one of the rooms in which we spend quite some time… in total intimacy, alone with ourselves, and to many people the bathroom is where they can relax, and find time for themselves. Some read a newspaper, others catch up on their profession; others still, with the ever-present smartphone placing the world in our hands, will watch videos or listen to music.
So let’s work up a bit of nerve, and bring out the grain of folly that we all carry in ourselves.
Beige tiles can be all right; but let us break the monotony with a colourful inlay, small but visually imposing.
We suggest an «a strappo» mosaic, which is a mosaic whose borders are not geometrically defined. It is the ideal choice to lend some colour to a room, which would otherwise be on the verge of boredom.
2- All Black!
It was a trend of he 1980s: a black-tiled bathroom is classy and elegant.
Nowadays it is much less seen; and architects from the magazines advise against using colours that are too dark – and so do architects «live».
But here’s a brilliant idea: accompany the black stoneware on the walls, with a pavement in black-and-white Roman marble mosaic.
You can choose your patterns from the rich decorations of Imperial age baths: this is the easiest choice, though not the most original one. Otherwise you can have them made for you, following your own taste and likings, which will result in a unique, one-time work of art, in which the charm of ancient opulence joins present-day creativity.
The owner of the house will have the choice of either leaving the cut marbles raw, which results in an effect of movement, and a higher slip-resistance, even when barefooted or wet; or have the floor polished up, to give the surface physical uniformity and smoothness.
3- No compromise
Let us not forget that rooms coated in tiles or mosaics are those rooms in which we spend most of our time at home: kitchen and bathroom.
I read an aphorism, many years ago, which has turned into something of a motto for me: «Important persons are to be received in the living rooms; friends, in the kitchen».
In the past twenty years I moved five times. In each of the homes, the kitchen was regularly one of the most welcoming, cosiest rooms. One of the houses had actually two kitchens.
Is it really worth saving money, in decorating those rooms in which we are going to spend our quality time? Of course it is not. So choose your tiles with care, add mosaic inlays, or maybe a floor decoration taken from a Roman bath, or still the pavement of the shower made in Genoan «rissêu».
No compromise in order to express the top of yourself, in an environment in which you have the right to feel a king.
Do not make the mistake of considering gaps between mosaic tiles just as «wasted space waiting to be grouted up»!
It is true that some manufacturers offer grouts and sealants, which can be used to fill, level and straighten the gaps in a composition made of conjoined elements, such as a tiled or mosaic-covered wall.
But the same manufacturers also have a limitless fantasy; our own provider of choice, MAPEI, sells a full range of sealants, in different colours and formulas – including, for instance, the one you need to grout the coating of a swimming pool, which is subject to the aggressive action of chlorine water.
So please let us not consider gaps just as «wasted space». Come on, use your fantasy! And if you have none, enlist the support of someone who does, who will help you out.
Gaps in mosaics are composing elements. We have always firmly believed as much, and we were happy to have our belief backed up by the late master Dario Narduzzi, once director of one of the oldest, most prestigious mosaic ateliers in the world: the Mosaic Study at the Vatican in Rome.
Tiles, after tiles, after tiles. Blah blah blah. From end to end, or rather from floor to ceiling.
At the time of our grandparents, this was how coatings were made. Boring, monotonous, without the slightest hint of fantasy.
Then in the 1980s tile manufacturers began offering modular products: uniform tiles for the background, and geometric or floral motives for the framing edges. This breaks monotony down, and makes the end result more interesting and personal.
Yet there is more that can be done. Instead of following the manufacturer’s indications of using components in the same series, we can experiment by joining different series. The result will be even more original, more «our own».
One further step ahead consists of putting together components of different series, harmonising them in a creation of our own, and adding some parts in mosaic, which we have had made just for our very own. It might be an abstract motive, a meander, or we might replace a few tiles with mosaic compositions made for the purpose.
This will make the place like no other.
6- In the Kitchen
Remember what we mentioned above, about friends being received in the kitchen.
It is not just when friends come to visit: even when we are on our own, within the intimacy of our family, we want our kitchen to be appealing, comfortable, and original.
Kitchen fittings, which are to be found on magazines, are often very beautiful; however, precisely because they are published on a magazine, they cannot be considered as one-of-a-kind. We can add some fantasy here, of course taking care not to fall into bad taste.
When planning for the kitchen, a common mistake in choosing coatings is thinking only of function and forgetting beauty; ending up with kitchens all white, like operation theatres: certainly clean, but banal.
An interesting compositional element which offers large opportunities for creativity is the backsplash, that is the wall behind the stove and/or the washbasin. As its name suggests, this is that part of the wall which will receive the splashes during cooking.
Therefore, its two main requirements are: resistance to corrosive elements, and hygiene.
Many of the ingredients in what we eat are corrosive: tomato sauce, lemon juice, vinegar. An inappropriate surface, such as a porous or exceedingly raw one, will soon be damaged.
In addition, everything around the cooking stove must be easy to clean, so as to remove food remains and dirt, which endanger the food we prepare.
Mosaic lends itself well to making backsplashes; it must be especially designed, in order to make its surface as smooth as possible, and the gaps filled with grout that makes them waterproof and easy to clean.
An idea which is even more interesting, consists of a collection of mosaics made of the two backsplashes – behind the stove and above the washbasin – and inlays within the doors of the cabinets. If well planned, the collection gives a warm, enveloping and cosy impression, like nothing you may have seen anywhere else.
7- Terrace and Garden
In the open, mosaic is yet an easier choice. Its resistance to weather and accidents is proverbial; and opportunities for composition are unlimited, so that even the most demanding house owner will find something up to his palate.
Think of Roman mosaics, or the vision of Antoni Gaudì; of Genoan or Greek pebble mosaik, or of venetian «Terrazzo»; the design can be integrated in several different elements, which make unique creations possible. For instance, the path leading to the swimming pool can bear a design which merges with the decoration of the coating of the pool itself.