In Style With Glass Tile

Date: 26 February 2007

Glass tiles are the new jewelry for the home. They’re colorful, reflect light and add an artful sophistication to the trophy kitchen, spa bathroom and any area that cries out for attention.

Architects, designers and skilled do-it-yourselfers are going for the glass look on backsplashes, countertops and floors. They’re surrounding fireplace mantels and covering supporting pillars in high-rise condominiums.

Make no mistake. Glass tiles are pricey. Uninstalled tiles typically cost $30 to $60 a square foot and can go as high as $350 for custom applications. But diehard fans insist the result is well worth the cost.

“Glass tile is strikingly beautiful in so many different ways,” says Patricia Hart McMillan, a South Florida designer and co-author with her daughter, Katharine Kaye McMillan of the new book “Glass Tile Inspirations for Kitchens and Baths” (Schiffer, $19.95).

“It’s a material that tile designers can work with to change the colors, textures and patterns. It has unlimited possibilities for constant invention. The design potential is inexhaustible. No wonder people are totally intrigued by it.”

This ancient material has become a must-have, McMillan says, because new technologies have allowed tile designers to produce it in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors and textures. The choices are as varied as decorating styles. There’s cast glass, enameled glass and fused glass. You can find pastels, neutrals, jewel tones and metallics as well as black and white. Finishes are frosted, crackled, gloss, gold flecked, iridescent, matte and opaque. Textures are fused, molded or tumbled.

Besides looking good, those made out of recycled glass are ecologically correct.

No wonder many more homeowners are seeing their homes in glass tiles.

Jaime Eldridge, senior project designer at Expo Design Center’s Davie, Fla., store, says about seven out of 10 of her customers ask about using glass tiles.

“A few years ago it was used in bathrooms and kitchens as inserts, but now people are doing full walls of glass tiles,” she says. “Their first question is: Where can I put it? The answer is basically everywhere — in the shower, on the walls and on the floors, on backsplashes and countertops.”

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