This Old House Idea House 2016

Hi Everyone,

Let me give a brief introduction to myself. I’m Liz, and I am the “Communications Girl” here at Merola Tile. I took over for Maggie over a year ago, and a lot has changed since then. We are still an unconventional company that sells unconventional products, and I am one of nearly 80 unconventional people that are now employed here. We still get Free Lunch Wednesday (yay for pizza and BBQ!) and we live on boatloads of caffeine. However, we have moved to a larger building with way more space to fit our hugeeee collection of products. And no, our pirate skeleton no longer greets visitors at the door… bummer!

That’s where the new chapter of our story unfolds….

We have grown and expanded tremendously, and one of those recent growths has been teaming up with This Old House to provide the tile used in the 2016 Idea House. I was fortunate enough to be chosen to represent Merola Tile and travel up to Devens, Massachusetts to see the initial reveal of Emerson Green and the Farmhouse. It was a remarkable experience and an amazing opportunity that I was so grateful to be given. It was rewarding to see all of the hard work that we had put into the project pay off when you got to see the reactions of the visitors, fellow sponsors, and most importantly, the homeowners.


The Farmhouse at Emerson Green

Come take a journey with me throughout the day of the Emerson Green Block Party as I recall firsthand the sights and events of the big reveal of the 2016 This Old House Idea House.


The beautiful coral door that welcomes you into the home. The pops of bright color look awesome with the grey.

When we got to the block party, we went straight to the house to set up our information in the garage. The plan was to start by doing a lap of the house, checking out every room and looking at how all of our products were used. We first walked into the mudroom from the back of the home. This space had a lime green built-in with places to hang coats, leave shoes and other various items. The walls had white ship lap and tied together the farmhouse look with the modern lime green touches. When you look to your right, you see the kitchen and dining area and when you walk straight you walk into the hallway that leads to the downstairs bath and office space. The downstairs bathroom had our Tessera Blue Smoke on the wall of the shower and the Metro Hex 2” Matte White on the floor of the shower. The Tessera Blue Smoke looked amazing with the textured wallpaper that matched the color of the tile.

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Tessera Subway Blue Smoke

We continued through the house back around to the kitchen, where there were splashes on Hudson Penny Round Vermilio on the wall behind the sink and the stove. It looked great with the colors used in the kitchen (and I am usually not a huge fan of Vermilio when it is on the shelf, but it was beautiful installed).

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Hudson Penny Round Vermilio

We proceeded upstairs and went to the right and found ourselves in the Jack and Jill bathroom, which featured the Pescado Aqua and Blanco walls and more Metro 2” Hex on the floor. The Pescados looked great paired together, along with the pink accents.


Pescado Aqua and Blanco

We made our way to the final space with our tile, the crowd favorite master bath. In here, they used Metro Hex 2” on the floors of the bathroom and shower, a herringbone Metro Soho Matte White in the shower wall, and the Structure Hex Lava Stone on the accent wall behind the vanity.


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Metro 2″ Hex Matte White (floors) and Structure Hex Lava Stone (wall)

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Metro Soho Matte White

After doing our initial run-through of the home, we finally found Claudia Jepsen, the Vice President of Marketing at This Old House. We were fortunate enough to snag a few minutes with her. She filled us in with insider details about project, including the past couple days leading up to that morning, and what the process was going to be going into this week. She told us that they were running so far behind that the tile guy was putting the grout in the Tessera Blue Smoke shower the day before and it was a mad dash to finish the house. They had the next day to make any last-minute changes and to clean up the home before the photo shoot that was Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday that week.

I was accompanied by a partner-in-crime, Monica, our eCommerce Analyst. We both spent time talking to different people who were walking through the home, answering any questions that they had about the project or our products. I used this time to take some pictures and to get feedback from people who were in the house as well.

We also got the opportunity to meet Christina Carlson, the Project Architect. Talking to her was very rewarding, as it gave us insight into the building and design aspects of the project. For example, she said the original intention was to use the Hudson Penny Round Vermilio in one of the bathrooms, and motioned towards the downstairs bathroom with the Tessera Blue Smoke. However, after they received all of the products, they decided that it was best for them to use it how they did in the kitchen. Also, she said that the tile installer loved working with our products. He was very excited to use them to install in the home and had a great experience with it.

We spent a few minutes walking through Emerson Green as well. Emerson Green is the new community that the Idea House is in. There are currently about 12-15 houses that are in the process of being built on the street, and most of them had already sold. We went inside and got the chance to see what the rest of the community would be like. One thing that we admired about it was that each home was unique and it was not going to be a cookie cutter community.


However, possibly one of the most rewarding parts of the day was meeting Paula, the homeowner. Her and her young family, including her husband and two young daughters moved into the home in early September. She raved about our product and how great it all looked. She said that her favorites were the Tessera Blue Smoke and the Structure Hex. She took a moment to grab the two us and question us about how to design a part of her kitchen. When installing tile in the kitchen, they didn’t install tile on the opposite side of the room, where there is a long stretch of cabinetry, but no backsplash or anything. She felt that this space needed some form of tile, and asked for our opinion and suggestions for coordinating product. One suggestion I had made was extending the Vemilio around to the other side of the room. Other suggestions included the Hudson Penny Round in White and the Metro Lantern White, because she had mentioned that she loved that shape. I wrote up a these suggestions and left them for her, along with my contact information so she could get in touch with us. She was so appreciative of the help and loved the suggestions we offered. Overall, seeing her satisfaction with the home and our product was the highlight of the trip. I was so pleased to see how happy she was with the results.

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Overall, the event was very beneficial for me to have gone to and to have experienced. I was honored to have been given this opportunity as a representative of the company.

… And that’s the story folks! That was my day in a not-so-small nutshell. Yes, I am aware I can write a lot, but that’s because I can talk A LOT. I hope that you enjoyed a look into my day at the Idea House. The first article about the house hit newsstands in October and there is one more article expected to hit shelves soon. Be sure to pick up your copies of This Old House and let us know what you think of the final project!

See ya soon! xx



Summer Fun

Summer is in full swing, and we’re happy to bring you some of our favorite images from the home décor set.  A hot day is made infinitely better when you jump into a pool… an experience made even better when the pool is luxurious and beautifully tiled!

This is a customer-submitted photo of our Modena Cobalt Blue tile installed in their pool. It’s a classic look!


This is available through the Home Depot.

This is available through the Home Depot.


If you’re looking for something a little bohemian, this is very similar to our Coppa Brown Gold and the way it plays off of the shade of the pool water is incredible.

This tile is available through the Home Depot.

This tile is available through the Home Depot.  Photo from Pinterest.

Here’s a way an installer has used tile to make the pool space lush, verdant, and beautiful. This is comparable to our Resort Palm Green tile:

Photo from CasaSugar.com

The Resort Palm Green is available through Home Depot. Photo from CasaSugar.com.

We have a whole Pinterest dedicated to hanging out all summer, and it’s perfect when you’re looking forward to your weekend. Take a look here and give us a follow!  Happy Friday!

Product of the Week: Tessera Subway Blue Smoke

You don’t need a college-level fine arts education to know that blue is one of the most relaxing colors. If you didn’t learn that in high school art class, you probably know instinctively: there’s something about a space swathed in blue that’s soothing and safe.  This knowledge has been used time and time again by designers and decorators looking to create a welcoming atmosphere for the home or workplace.

To that end, check out our Tessera Blue Smoke, which is a foil-backed 3” x 6” glass subway tile.  It’s a lovely gray-blue color that definitely subscribes to the relaxing blue ideology:

The Tessera Blue Smoke installed in a kitchen.

The Tessera Blue Smoke installed in a kitchen.

A quick look through Houzz proves that blue is a classic color staple that’s also incredibly versatile.

Here it is in a super-sleek modern kitchen with stainless steel appliances.  With just an ordinary white wall, this may have been a little too industrial for some- but adding the glass tile was a brilliant way to make it more personal:

What’s interesting is that the designer confirmed it’s actually a green-hued tile, which shows how adaptable glass tile can be- it definitely has a washed out bluish tinge in the photo because of how the light is bouncing off of it, the appliances, and the countertops. Overall, a modern marvel without being too modern.

Here’s a strikingly similar tile in a contemporary kitchen.  It’s a great way to break up the light colors and perfectly complements the grays.

If the color is just a touch off from what you had in mind, it’s worth noting that this is a glass tile. That means the grout will dramatically change the look (more on that here) and so will the lighting.  So if you like the color but don’t necessarily love it, try taking a sample home and seeing how it looks in different light and with different color grout- the effort is 100% worth it once you get exactly the shade you were looking for. See how the grout changes this one?

This is an unusual combination of natural stone elements paired with the glass mosaic subway. It’s a totally unique installation and the resulting effect is a vague feeling of being in an underwater cave. Altogether, a very inventive application!

And then finally, here’s an installation around a fireplace. Picture a bright orange fire in there- the contrast would be magnificent and probably match the couches. It’s an interesting idea- coordinate your décor not just with the furniture, but with the fire!

For its flexible beauty and range of application, the Tessera Blue Smoke (and the looks it can achieve) is the product of the week.  Order a sample here!



Product of the Week: Castle Antic

Wood look tile continued to be a dominating force at Coverings this year, cited in several recaps as a major player in this year’s convention.  It seems that though our lives have become busier and more complex, there is no need to sacrifice style. That’s why this is a triumph for anyone who’s enamored with the aesthetic of wood flooring but less enthusiastic about its upkeep:  while wood flooring requires meticulous attention right down to the types of shoes you wear in your own home, wood look tile requires the same amount of cleaning as any other tile.

That’s why this week’s Product of the Week is our Castle Antic ceramic floor and wall tile.  It has a distressed look with a tonal and grain variation that adds authenticity to each box.  That slightly worn look immediately conjures an image of a rustic, well-loved home- and who doesn’t love to feel welcome whenever they walk in the door?


Another point in its favor: distressed wood looks great in almost any setting.  Contemporary or rustic, Asian-themed, the options are pretty endless. There’s always room for wood, and the older it looks, the better.


Interestingly, it pairs well with last week’s featured product, the Riverstone series.  Here it is in an Asian-themed bath, blending these pleasing natural elements together for a spa effect:

They add a subtle elegance to this transitional bath on Houzz by providing a warm touch to an otherwise cool-toned room:
You can install wood look tile in places where you normally wouldn’t put wood due to water exposure or other factors. Take a look at this intriguing shower and bath space- if the floor was plain tile, the room may seem a bit sterile. The addition of the dark wood-look tile adds warmth and contrast.

And outside:

Because of its versatility and durability, the Castle Antic is this week’s Product of the Week.  This unique tile mimics wood right down to the texture.  Because it’s opened up the possibilities of wood looks to rooms where authentic wood flooring could prove problematic, wood look tile is here to stay.

Sources: Here, here, and here. All photos are from Houzz.

Origins of Lantern Tile

There’s no denying that lantern tiles are hugely popular. Not only are they among our top sellers, but they’re all over photos on Houzz, written up in blogs, and featured in a variety of décor magazines.  It’s strange though- even though it’s a prevalent style, there is still something distinctly exotic about them, even in modern kitchens.

Lantern Blue, available through Home Depot.

Merola Tile Lantern Blue, available through Home Depot.

The lantern tile as we know it today is crafted in the popular Moroccan style, which is a modern adaptation of a long tradition of the arches, curves (or ogees), vibrant colors, geometric patterns, and elaborate artistry that comprise Moorish architecture.  The Moors were conquerors of North Africa, Spain, and the islands of the Western Mediterranean in the 8th century, and their characteristic aesthetic, which evolved around the 11th century, was heavily influenced by the Islamic architecture found in the Middle East.  Islamic architecture is an amazing fusion of mathematics, structural design, and respect for the Quran, all three of which carried over into Moorish architecture.  The Quran forbids the copying of natural forms such as animals, humans, and flowers. To accommodate this, these styles developed geometric patterns heavy with stars, squares, crosses, crescents, hexes and octagons to express the importance of natural unity and order.  There is special emphasis on arches, carved masonry, and decorative tiles.

The Mihrab of the Great Mosque of Cordoba- Spain.

These pronounced styles have since been softened and updated to accommodate modern home decor, with wide use in the United Kingdom and the United States.  The selection of tile colors (red, blue, green, white, silver and gold) tend to stay true to the original looks from long ago, but updates in glazing methods and styles has resulted in an evolution of the look into multicolor glass mosaics.  As we continue to borrow more from ancient architectural styles, it will be interesting to see how we adjust the looks accordingly to suit modern décor and appliances.  As the 25th annual Coverings convention unfolds in Las Vegas, I’m sure new looks will pop up that answer this question- and I’ll report accordingly in next week’s post.


Sources: Here, here, and here.

Ally Tarbous, Mosaic Maven

We recently donated some of our mosaics to Ally Tarbous, an artist based out of Philadelphia.  We were fortunate enough to see some of the photos of the amazing work she did with our tile!

Some of our Penny Round tiles on a table. This is a very creative color scheme we hadn’t thought of before, but the tan offsets the blues beautifully!


PICTURED: Penny Round Blue Eye, Penny Round Caffe, Penny Round Light Blue.

Here are photos of an installation on 5th Street in Philadelphia:

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Pictured: Penny Round Vermilio, Penny Round White, Mini Lantern Glossy White, Lantern White, Arabesque Glossy White, Moonbeam Diva Blue

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PICTURED: Modena Cobalt Blue, Penny Round Caffe, Penny Round Vermilio, Lantern Cotto, Lantern Black

More shots of the installation, along with a zoomed-out photo of this amazing mosaic, can be found in this album (this directs you to Facebook). Be sure to support a local artist and Like her on Facebook!

Photos courtesy of Ally Tarbous; used with permission.