Touring the Country Floors Ceramic Tile Showroom

Project: Bob's Shingle Style Home, Episode 19, Part 2

The landscape architects are on site to present their plans for the yard, and we take a look at what’s been done to prepare for the work.  Bob takes us to the Manhattan showroom where he picked out the tile for the house, then back on site we see the correct way to install it in tricky places like the shower.

Part 1: Reviewing the Landscaping Plans
Part 2: Touring the Country Floors Ceramic Tile Showroom

Bob visits with Beth Kaufman at the Country Floors tile showroom in New York City. The showroom displays a wide range of styles, including patterned European, tumbled, terracotta, and relief. Beth explains the tile design process and reviews the selections for the bathrooms in Bob’s home.


Part 3: Installing Tumbled Marble Tile in the Shower
This project centers around the remodel of Bob Vila's own gracious Shingle Style home in Cambridge, MA. It's a house with a lot of history and beautiful architectural details, many of which were obliterated in remodels of the 50s and the 70s. On the centennial of the house's construction, Bob gets together the best talents in the business to recreate and renew it to its former glory, making some important modifications along the way that will transform this into a dream house for today.

Also from Bob's Shingle Style Home

Hi. I'm Bob Vila, welcome home again.

It's a rainy day in Cambridge, but we're going to be talking landscape architecture today with Rick and Nancy Lamb, our architects, who are here to present their ideas for creating real urban spaces. I said I didn't want to mow a lawn in Cambridge.

Also, we're taking you on a real urban expedition to the heart of New York city, where we'll be talking ceramic tile at Country Floors, selecting some beautiful tiles from all over the world that will go in this house.

Also a look at how some of them will be installed. Stick around, it's good to have you home again.

Bob Vila's Home Again.

Well, let's get started with Rick and Nancy Lamb, our landscape architects.

Hi, Bob.

Hi Rick, Nancy, good to see you.

Hi, Bob.

And i guess we're gonna look at the proposed conversion of the whole landscape, right?

We are. We are standing right here on the front porch ; it's your house.


And out here is the street.


And What we're proposing is that we draw from the neighborhood, create a hedge enclosed area. Creating a parking place here, moving it from where it was along here because the new parking will then relate to the activity of getting in the kitchen and the whole family space.

Which makes a lot of sense.

Then we're going to sort of, bracket this by drawing again from the neighborhood with birch trees on both sides.

So by drawing from the neighborhood you mean using the same types of plant material that you find up and down the street.


And we do have beautiful birches around here?

We do.

What are these two here, Nancy?

Well those are two crab apple trees, and always a plan is moving and changing around.

And we feel that we should move them away from the house, and put them out by this tree, which will capture this part of the garden for the house.
Give you a lovely view from the dining room of the changing leaf color, the flowers, and then the apples in the Fall, so.

I like that idea. I also like keeping larger material away from the siding of the house, and so forth. To keep the moisture away.

It's a good idea. It is a good idea.

Speaking of moisture, we have a mud puddle behind, I mean, we've already.

It's called progress.

It's progress. That's right. We've removed all the concrete, the broken-up driveway that was here, and this will eventually become my service yard, dog run, or whatever.

That's right.
And the great thing about the rain today is that we're putting down the base for this future terrace in the back, and this rain will just help to give it a really solid feeling.


That you'll be talking about later on, so.

Yeah. My big request was to be able to have a backyard that I didn't have to mow.

That's right. Just sweep.

Yeah. Let's take a look out here, though, in the mud.

Bob, we're going down here to the front yard, where we're using this as the whole staging Area for all the construction materials?


And so everything is being delivered here, dumped here. Crushed stone, stone dust, and I see that most of the blue stone for the backyard terrace is here, right Nancy?

We're really thrilled with it. It's a lilac color, has nice texture and we have all of this staging area for the stone to go underneath the blue stone so it won't move.

It really is a lilac colored stone, it plays well against the color of the house.

Well, it does that but that may change in time, but it's very nice with your foundation as well.


So it's a great color.

Good choice, that's what you hire a landscape architect for. What have you done with all the landscape that was here, Rick?

The material that you and your family decide to keep, we've all balled, we've removed, we've put in the back and protected it.

I see, OK.

This tree, this birch tree that was here is a little small for one that's been here a long time. We found that, we've put it in its permanent place It was right in the middle of where they proposed the parking tree.

Exactly, which is in this area.

But it's healthy, right?

It is healthy, we have, because we we found some clay we've put it on we've dug extra deep put a gravel base so it drains well. And then have put it in place the burlap is wrapped when it was moved.


And that will then be removed, and, and cut back.

Exactly cause otherwise it can wake up and really damage the bottom of the tree.

And create a damaging area right around the trunk base.


Well, I hope it stops raining cause we've got to do a lot of work here.

It's good for this.

Thanks, Chris.

Thanks, Dan.

So we've got to break messages. When we come back we'll be shopping for tiles in New York city stick around. We're in New York City right around the corner from Union Square, and we are visiting Country Floors. A wonderful company that was started about 30 years ago by Normal Carlson, a New York City photographer who traveled extensively every year in Europe, and discovered the beauty of the ceramic tile industries and the tradition of tiles in countries like, Italy and Portugal and France and Spain and he started importing them.

He started the business out of his basement on 26th street here in a New york, but today its grown to be one of the best sources for ceramic tiles in the country.

Beth Kaufman is going to be our design consultant. She'll give us a tour because we're not only going to look at European tiles but also the revived Artisan-ship of the American ceramic tiles, come on in.

Hi Beth.

Hi Bob, how are you?

What a busy place?

Oh it's beautiful. Isn't it?

You need a need a design consultant though. This is like going to a candy store your eyes can be overwhelmed and I mean right away the first thing I look at is very reminiscent of Malibu potteries that we used when we were out building a house in Malibu, California.

This is something very familiar to me, is this new?

Right, this is a manufacturer that have out in California.

The tiles can be used for wool material and for floor material and also light commercial use.

So it's been, it's really replicas of the work that was pioneered in Malibu back in the 1920s.

Yes, it is.

Now something like this carpet. How much hat is that worth?

Something like this can cost six thousand dollars approximately.

They have the Capabilities of making it bigger and small to fit your needs.

And then over in over in this corner.

This is what I really associate with country floors.

The, the pattern European tiles.

Right, a lot of people do.

This material is manufactured in Holland it is hand-painted, a lot of the design s are of Dutch life.

What I like is how you've mixed the ceramic tile with stone.


To create this mantle and over mantle it really sets that the tile off.

Right. Natural stone is something that's very popular right now, it's tumbled marble, it comes in a lot of different colors and different sizes.

So these were actual squares of marble. They're cut to tile size and they're tumbled to make them look old.

Exactly, exactly.

Cool. Wonderful.

And what about this corner set up here, is that also stone?

This is, this is an other display that have of our natural stone. It, this one variation of one color and it shows how we mix different colors together to make a really nice vinyette for a bathroom.

And this is the traditional Dutch Blue Oak right?

Exactly, exactly.

Boy, look at this tell us about all of these displays on the wall here.

This material over here is that of a factory in Portland, Oregon. They have the capabilities of making all of these relief tiles in different colors and different sizes.

So the relief is actually applied to the tile?

The relief is a mold.

I see. Sure.

And then they apply the glaze to that.

I love the . . .


. . . display back here with all the little wild critters, and the fish, and the bears, and.

Right . Again, this is another example of how we can combine all these different materials. We have these great branches right here . . .


. . . that can frame the mirror.

Mm-hmm. It's beautiful. And what about a staircase like this?

Well, this tile is terracotta from Italy . It goes also indoor and outdoor.


It's non-slippery when wet. And these tiles right here on the risers . . .


. . . are from Spain. They're in our stock in our warehouse in Queens. This is reminiscent of a Moorish design and it's also a very classical design.

Yeah. I love the white and blue combined with the terracotta. It's very, very . . .

Oh, it's great. very nice.

Lot of places.

And then what about some thing like this. Is this antique roman mosaic or what?

Well, it could be, but it's, it's new. It's a mosaic that it comes pre-netted. it's sold by the linear foot.

By the, almost like a square foot there?

Right, well this particular one is a square foot, but they're usually sold by the linear foot.

What the price range for something like this?

Something well, somthing like this can run any where from 25 dollars a linear foot to 175 dollars a linear foot

So some thing like might be just 25 bucks a foot?

Exactly, exactly.

Because of how complex, I guess. Yeah.

And we can, we can change colors as they work for your home

Well that fountain, that floral thing is really gorgeous, tell me about it.

This is a floral from France. It comes in different sizes. This particular one is forty one hundred dollars.

And do they come netted or are they loose?

No, this is a loose tile. They'll have numbers on the back so that you can make it, you know you can put the picture together.

Now over here this looks like the work station.

This is where we have all our fun, and we design all of our different bathrooms.

And these are some of the ones that are going into our project.

This one, for example, I believe is the guest bathroom, right?

This is the guest bathroom. It's a very traditional 3 by 6 metro tile with a Portuguese floral design.

Beautiful. And then over here right next to it, this looks very familiar.

Right, right. This is going to be the border tile in the floor with a matching tile that is going to be made in this color and then the walls are going to be this 4 by 4 hand molded terracotta tile.


And over here, is this the powder room choice?

This is the powder room, this is a mosaic tile. Again it comes pre-netted. The floor is actually going to be this color mosaic.

And than this is going to be the molding around the base of the floor.

Fabulous. And this is the tumbled stone we were talking about.

That's the tumbled marble again.


But it's going to be in smaller sizes.

But these are my favorites, the cobalt's and the blues. For some reason I really associate this with country floors.

Yes, this again is a Spanish tile used with our Portuguese brush stroke this is a scroll border also Portuguese with Spanish cobalt blue tiles that we are going to be using on the counter tops.

It is a beautiful blend, and this is such an extra-ordinary place with kids and moms and interior designers, and everybody all wants. We hate to leave.
Thanks for the tour.

Thank you.

Stick around will be right back after these messages And here in the master bath Eddie Zuiko has gotten a head start with some of this beautiful material. And he is working on the shower. But, I wanted to get a close look at this, this tumble marble.

Because right now it is kind of in a rust stage look like ancient stone, but when it sealed later on, they look like that, of course Eddie already
got it place here.

And you can see this going to be just a beautiful contrast between this terracotta brisk right here, that's you know what you see is what you get. And then this stone, but we are in the shower you know the key thing when you building a shower is to make sure that it's not going to leak.

And I want you to take a look at the flashback that we shot about a month ago really. Where we went through all the different steps of waterproofing this area, watch.

And joining us now as Frank got to roll our plumbing contract. We are talking the shower stolen in my bathroom here, Frank.

Why do we have to have a cop. Pan in a shower stall.

Well its actually what we call a safe pan.

What it does is collect any of the water that leaks through the tile, or through whatever material is Do you use to finish the shower off.

Especially we have a some sort of a grout failure.

And it start to get water seeping in between the ceramic tiles.

We are going to have a very high quality American made ceramic tile in here.

But still, you never know, the grout won't fail at some point.


So your working on the drain area. What kind of drain is that?

Well this is a shower strainer and its adjustable so that we can adjust the height for. the pour, which is the cement floor into the pan that is going to be the base of the of the tile you want to put in.

Right, it'll be a mud job and what you're saying is into that piece you bring the second piece, which is the finish has over an inch of adjustment so that you can have that much mud thrown in there, right?


OK. So do you have to sadder this now?

Yes, I will. I just flexed it up Bob, so I'm going to. Give it a little heat, and I'm going to fuse the shower strainer to the pan.

We've got two different thickness of metal here, Bob. And what's important is that we make sure that we get the correct temperature, which is 450 to 500 degrees in both metals, and that we melt the solder at the same time we reach that temperature. So it's kind of a touch and go situation between the using of the torch and the solder.

But how can you tell when they're both hot enough?

When the solder starts flowing, and it sticks to both pieces of metal then we know we're blowing. If it doesn't then I have to work it until it does, it's starting to flow right now. So you can see, I'm starting to move the solder along the the thing behind me is the finished product. There's two ways of doing this. You can do this with soldering iron, or you can do it with a torch.

The thing with soldering iron is that you got to continually use hot irons, and sometimes you have to stop and wait for the iron to heat up. But with a torch, if you can see I got a continuous flow here and I'm doing, doing a continuous job of soldering along this pan.

Terrific. Now, aren't you worried about burning the PVC pipe there?

No Bob, because this is temporary, it's what we call a gunner and its only to line up the picture that we are installing in the proper location. We remove this and place the permanent piece in later on.


Now in addition to all this preparation, the walls of the shower stall are gonna be tiled in actually a marble product, and because marble is somewhat porous We want to take extra precautions, so Danny Rufini is helping us to put on a moisture barrier.

Which is the same material that you use as a icened water shield on the roof.

Let's see this of course is pretty forgiving stuff so that we can trim it as we need.

Alright, onto the studs over the insulation's since we are questions outside wall here need to put a little bit of a cut on this corner over here.

There we go. This is number three.

Alright, now we're installing the sementitous board, right over the felt paper and the moisture barrier.

And we're using a double-threaded screw made out of a corrosion resistant metal. And were taking all of these precautions as I said, because you know you don't want to have to repair a shower stall do to any kind of water damage for many, many years to come, if you can avoid it.

All right.

And we put these in every couple of feet right there?

Yeah, every foot or so.

OK. We've got to break for some messages. Don't go away.
The tiles that we selected from my bathroom here are a combination of beautiful wall tiles from Italy. And then this exquisite border and floor tiles that are actually made by artisans in California. And Greg Rockland, our architect had a pitabal role in putting together the design.

Why don't you explain it because its one thing to have a client deal with a tile setter, if your just doing a plain simple bathroom, but with something this complicated, you need help?

Yes, you do, I think. Each one of these tiles has a way of going together and you have to be very careful when you do the whole bathroom as the tiles all the way come around, they still meet, and the design flows all through the bathroom.


And this was done through a set of drawings which were prepared on a computer. Computer is very useful cause I can repeat patterns which often happens in tile situations. And on the floor we had very difficult design to resolve in this border which is very nice. nice. Was, had no corners. And one we had to turn 135 degrees or over here ninety degrees.


You have to find a place in the tile pattern that'll make that turn.

Yeah, because when you say it has no corners, if you look at the straight run of it, the design of the tile is just almost like a chain, in continuous links. But when you try to, well you'll explain it?

Yeah, when you try to make it go here is just a 135 degree cut you see this doesn't work. But you can find a place where this, move the towel back and forth like we did here where the pattern does continue so we can get the chain to go around this corner.

So that all the green lines at least intersect here and create another shape. But at least it comes out logically correct.

That's right. And this is the kind of thing that an architect can do. So when the mason gets to lay the tile he doesn't have to try to figure this out in the field.

Now, what about the whole issue of ordering and , and the inventory that you need. And not ordering too many. Because these are not inexpensive.

Yes, once you draw All the bathroom walls which I did, then you can count the tiles up, understand which shapes you need, and you can make sure the tile order is complete, 'cause once the mason starts laying this,


You're going to want all the tile here.

Right, and the complexity of this also has to do with ordering tiles from different parts of the world.

That's right.

Pretty complicated. Thanks a lot. We're running out of time.

I hope you can join us next week. We're going to be working on the landscape, interesting stuff, Hard-scape really, creating a retaining system , retainer wall for a terrace and then a large blue stone paved terrace in the backyard.

And a little trip to the home of Fredrick Law Olmsted, the landscape designer, who designed Central Park in New York.

Hope you'll be around. 'Till then I'm Bob Vila.

It's great to have you home again.



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