A guest blog about sustainable tile, and ethical design by Nayeli King. Pictures by Bradford King.
I’m a big believer in designing with intention. I want my space to be a living mood or manifestation board speaking to my and my young families' subconscious at all times. I wanted to create a space that reflected my history, my soul and my future. In design I focus on the full body experience, subconsciously, aesthetics affect us through all of our senses. As an Austin Realtor I see a ton of homes. So, I was well versed in the current trends. But I knew I wanted something more tailored and personal in a holistic way of design.
Why Sustainable Tile?
For me, it starts with tile. Clay Imports was my first choice because I knew it was handmade and hand painted making each piece unique and different. Also, it was sustainably sourced and I was supporting local. I try to be as conscious as I can within my budget. And tile is where I felt I got the most design impact for my Eco-dollar. They also have so much variety that I knew I could find something I hadn’t seen on the design blogs or in a home I’ve toured.
My main inspiration is Nature herself. In a world so disconnected from our roots, it was imperative for me to bring the outdoors into my conditioned space. Which was beautifully reflected in the Estrella tile, that to me felt more like Sunbursts. It was the one tile I saw that gave me goosebumps. The simplicity reminding me of something one might see on the walls of Native ruins. Similar to sacred geometry but more childlike and warm- something I thought my boys subconscious would appreciate. What better way to remember your childhood home then with Sunshine streaming from the heart of your home, the kitchen! We did have the tiles customized by making them larger 6" tiles and the blanco puro, pure white, background gave it a more modern feel.
The Kitchen Tile
The kitchen wall was removed and we put in an island for more of an open flow. White shaker style cabinets and quartz countertops elevated the design into more current times. The island needed more warmth which we accomplished by putting in three terra-cotta pendants. This is how we can bring that Clay-Earthy outward dimensionally and tying it into the potted plants on the shelf.
The open shelving was also sustainably sourced from Harvest Lumber, a local company that hand-crafts lumber from fallen’ trees. The Elms brought in so much warmth and good feels knowing they came out of Austin’s backyard. With open shelving I had to be mindful and incorporate my dishware into the design. I always incorporate antique + vintage where I can because I feel like a home should feel lived in. And well-worn objects bring a sense of comfort. So I use hand-me-downs like my granny’s wooden salad bowl set, repurposed boxes, or old thrifted cutting boards.
We keep it sustainable with hand blown Mexican glassware and coffee mugs, salvaged pots for plants. We even stripped Spanish moss out of trees for free filler. I’ve adopted a minimalistic approach to my kitchen functionality which makes my mind feel more clear. But I kept the color in my dishes for adding vibrancy and vitality in my daily habits. You can find me picking my coffee mug based on my morning mood! Watch out, hunny!
The Fireplace Tile
The fireplace was originally beautiful cedar wood cuts but felt like an old hunting cabin. So we repurposed the wood for other projects and decided on a traditional brick lay in matte and semi gloss black brick handmade by Clay Imports. They each had an organic feel, similar in shape but just the right variation piece by piece.
We used about a 1/3 matte finish and 2/3 semigloss which gave an organic feel to a very classic look. Great advice from the team of designers at Clay Imports. The differential in the finish combination gave it so much more dimension and texture. The mantle was another piece of sustainably harvested wood locally from Harvest Lumber that matched our kitchen shelving. It brings the warmth around the room in a uniform but naturally cohesive look. Our decor was scavenged from thrown out used pots, elk bones from a ranch, thrifted antique insane asylum transom, or just pieces of driftwood or stones from our nature walks. And plants.
The Master Bath Tile
In the master bath we wanted to capture a tropical feel. And the designer Palmas tile in aqua from Clay Imports exuded that essence best. We kept with the hex-honeycomb-esk feel wrapped around the surrounding walls. We chosea non-slip pebble floor lay underneath the rain shower head. Again we brought nature in through plants, with some speciality tropical finds from Ceremony Botanicals in Wimberley. That made our staghorn fern mount and xerographica air plant mount. The bath is my reflective + restorative time so I wanted to incorporate a soaking shelf, which was reclaimed wood from the original fireplace. It holds bath salts, candles, white sage and palo santo.
Sustainable Tile Design - Local and Approachable
This was the first time we’ve done a DIY remodel. We did as much as our skill set allowed learning so much through the process. However, we did get professionals to lay our tile as it was such an important investment to us. Some of the tiles were so delicate and installation needed a special skillset. Everyone we worked with through Clay imports was really great at advising us through the process. And the design team even gave us visual renderings of the tile in the different spaces so I see it more clearly. Nothing makes me happier knowing I found a place like Clay Imports. A place that sources materials responsibly and ethically. Materials that are handmade and hand painted, supporting the generations of people that have truly curated their craft.
All Clay Imports products are ethically made. Our sustainable tile offerings inspire outstanding design and support the craft of Mexican tile making.