Mimi Hogan wanted the tile in her kitchen to match the cheerful colors in the floral design on her new china. Lynn Tomalas wanted something reflecting her interest in bunnies because "they just give me a real nice, warm feeling."
Both women found exactly what they wanted for their homes in custom hand-painted ceramic tile.
A large bay window in Hogan's kitchen and an area over her cooktop are now framed by tiles with delicate, intertwined flowers in shades of rose, yellow and blue. And Tomalas feels good every time she walks into her kitchen and sees the tile mural above her cooktop. It features three bunnies romping in an English garden scene.
Hand-painted tile, which was popular in the 1920s, is enjoying a resurgence in Orange County.
The tile is being used in kitchens and bathrooms, on floors in entryways, on the face of fireplaces and on decorative murals. It is being used outdoors for addresses and garden murals and in barbecue and spa areas.
Generally, a homeowner purchases the tile and brings it to an artist for painting. The cost of the tile itself varies and may range from as little as $2.50 a square foot to as much as $18 a square foot.
The cost of having tile painted depends on the intricacy of the design but usually ranges from $5 to $20 for each tile. Murals, which continue across several rows of tile, cost $250 to $500 and up.
Once the tile is painted and fired, the homeowner hires an installer to follow the artist's directions and lay the tile. Installation costs depend on the number of tiles required and how complex the installation is, according to Charlie Ognibene of C.O. Tile Co. in San Clemente. He says installation in a kitchen requiring 75 to 100 square feet of tile with a simple design might range from $1,200 to $1,600. Installation of a tile mural would be an additional $100 to $200. A complex tile installation requiring extra time to match intricate designs might cost up to $2,000 or more, according to Ognibene.
Some people want designs that match their wallpaper or drapery fabric. Others, such as Hogan and Tomalas, both Lido Isle residents, may want something very personal.
"My clients are people with special needs and tastes that can't be met by mass-produced tile markets," says Nancy Dawson of Handpainted Tiles in Santa Ana Heights.
"What started as a quiet trend some years ago has become a boom. Decorative painting is back in vogue now. People are discovering the charm of this almost-lost art form," says Dawson, who runs her business out of her home with partner Mary Jane Blackwell.
Hogan worked with Dawson to create a vine design for her white tile to match her china. The design that frames the kitchen bay window and an area over her cooktop is also picked up in painted tiles on a work station in the center of the kitchen.
Hogan also had Dawson paint pillow tops in a similar design for the adjoining family room. Then Hogan selected what she calls a "nondescript" white wallpaper with tiny green dots for the kitchen so that it wouldn't overpower the tile or the white cabinets. The tile painting for Hogan's kitchen cost about $500.
In addition, hand-painted tiles were used in one bathroom of the Hogan home, and Dawson painted an ivy-and-flower design in a china sink in another bathroom--using patterns that match the wallpaper. (Sink painting, which costs $350 to $500, is an extra requested by many people having hand-painted tiles installed, Dawson says.)
Tomalas, an interior designer, saw hand-painted tiles as a way to personalize her home. "There's no other kitchen that will ever be exactly like this," she says. "And I think that hand painting, if it's done well and doesn't look amateurish, just gives a real richness."
Tomalas also worked with Dawson to create the tile for her kitchen, which has glossy white cabinets and a split-brick floor.
Tile on the back splash above the sink is painted to coordinate with the wallpaper, which is white with clusters of green ivy leaves and delicate pink flowers. A few of the tiles are painted with ivy clusters, while others have only tiny green dots. One tile above the sink shows a bunny peeking from behind some grass. Items from Tomalas' bunny collection sit in the bay window above it.
The counters have a green border along the edge with all-white tile on the surface, except for the tile on which an ivy cluster and the names of the entire family are painted. All of this coordinates with colors in the bunny mural above the cooktop.
And Tomalas didn't stop there. She wanted hand-painted tile in three bathrooms, too. In one bathroom, she had hand-painted sailboat tiles in the tub area replaced with tiles decorated with bouquets of pink and yellow flowers encircled with a blue ribbon. The border tile has a blue rope design with a tiny fleur-de-lis to match the wallpaper.
When Joan Linder of Joan Linder Interior Designs in Newport Beach wanted something special in tile for a balcony in her home, she went to Elaine Cain of Decorative Tile in La Habra Heights.