It’s terribly topical at the moment isn’t it, all this talk of buying British. It’s also easy to fire off a tweet and consider your part played, we’re all guilty of that. But it takes more. It takes action and decisive behaviour and putting your money where your mouth is. We all too easily think it’s someone else’s problem to solve. British Steel are going under? Blame the government! But think about it, have you bought cheap Chinese steel? Or has your company / business / purse insisted on British metalwork? It’s quite simply down to us all as individuals, the buck stops at our own doorsteps.
So I’m considering where my buck is going to stop for Moregeous Mansions. We already reclaimed all the bricks and slate and used them for the build, and I’ve even salvaged wallpaper from the hallway and tiles from the old fireplaces to cleverly use, um… somewhere. They’re all so old they were definitely Made In England. But now my designing mind is processing the house interior – five bedrooms, three bathrooms, an office, dining room, living room, kitchen and utility. Plus workshop/garage. Phwef. I’ve Pinterested and dreamt about the design direction but as we weren’t ready for the next stage of the build there was little point making final decisions, partly because I see so much fantastic stuff, I’d only change my mind a few months later 😉
But…… now it’s time!! It’s time to make those decisions, plan that kitchen, choose those tiles and pick those colours. And I’ve decided to try and mostly specify British made / designed products. I’m not going to be daft about it and some items won’t be UK OK but in the main, that’s what I’ll strive for. Why not eh, there’s so much homegrown talent here that Moregeous Mansions will be fantastic with mainly Brit sourced stuff!
I’ve ascertained that this will involved much ‘research’ i.e. wine fuelled cosy internet surfing and snack fuelled exciting roadtrips, the first of which was to KBB in March, then the second to Lancashire manufacturers Dresser Mouldings. At KBB, after I’d finished posing in their cute Mini, I chatted to the British Ceramic Tile team and found out their showroom was just across the Pennines from me. Knowing they manufactured in the UK, I figured it’d be rude not to pop across, so last Friday did just that, getting not only a fab nosey round the showroom but also the low down on how and why different finishes, styles and designs were chosen.It’s always fascinating to get inside someone else’s design head and hear how they break down trends and ideas and turn them into reality, whether that’s a restaurant, a product, a kitchen or an individual tile. Chatting with Jayne, BCT’s Marketing Manager, was great fun, it’s clear she’s a creative dynamo with her finger firmly on the design pulse, working with a company focused on innovation, creativity, workmanship and heritage. I hadn’t known that they are largest manufacturer of ceramic and glass in the UK, with a factory in Devon sourcing 85% of raw materials locally and the swish showroom up in Yorkshire.
Not only do they design and make hundreds of different ceramic & porcelain tiles for their own range and other companies, but they also manufacture beautiful glass tiles. The metallics and shimmering whites were right up my street! I once fitted a full bathroom with glass tiles in 2001, when glass tiles were brand spanking new and very, well, glassily green. It cost me a fortune and the tiler never spoke to me again but they were super thick and impossible to work with back then. Put it this way, they were nothing like these beauties!I was also challenged to tell the difference between the ‘real’ stone and the HD ink jet printed tile and it was not easy. The advance in print technology are astonishing and I can only imagine how incredible tiles are going to be in a few years. I think I know something which is going to be a hot trend in a few years but am saving that for another blog post 😉I instantly recognised their tiles from both trade and design press and was particularly partial to the Ted Baker range in glass and ceramic. The kitchen splashbacks are funky, fun and spot on for the growing trend back towards individuality in interiors. I also liked the square ceramics in the encaustic style, with a new colour range due out shortly.Texture and relief on tile surfaces is growing in popularity, especially more subtle ranges which almost look like fabric, like the grey & white ‘padded’ ones below. BCT make these tiles below in their Laura Ashley range and you might not expect this kind of dark bravery from that brand. This deep charcoal but still very pretty floor caught my eye and I keep thinking about it… it’s gorgeous! Hexagons keep on getting more and more popular, probably because they’re so darned versatile! Mix the colours up, zone them, stick to one shade, use them in kitchens, bathrooms, on floors and walls – no wonder they are one of this decade’s biggest trends. Will I have them at Moregeous Mansions? Oh I’m so tempted, even though I’ve been designing around hexs for a few years now!Everyone’s adored white marble for a while now, but shades are definitely going darker with greys and blacks starting to appear on the radar. I like this development, as my new black marble chopping board in our makeshift kitchen will attest.I loved these patterned tiles too, particularly the deep grey and cream/white ones – no surprise there. Very much a fabulous hallway or utility tile for me this one, hmmmmm…Like you, I’m seeing a lot of herringbone and parquet around. Timber effect ceramic tiles are far more practical on kitchen and bathroom floors than real wood, slightly more work to fit but stain and water resistant for wet areas. I also like the shimmering metallic style to these wall tiles on the right, though I’d have used a darker grout.It was brilliant exploring the design room to see the ideas coming together and it got my creative juices well and truly flowing. I might *even* have found the tiles for our luxury en-suite, no wonder I was sporting this huge grin….If all of that wasn’t good enough, I was lucky enough to be there in time for a North/South mash up of roast beef Yorkshire puddings, fish n chips n mushy peas, locally made cheese & Devon jammy scones. Seriously, if this is what UK manufacturers thrive on, I need to get out on way more product-sourcing roadtrips 😉
N.B. No payment took place for this blog post. If you don’t count the chips that is. I’m just out and about seeing great stuff and blogging about it!