Louisville Interior Design Trends With Gretchen Black

Louisville Interior Design Trends With Gretchen Black

Welcome to this edition of the Louisville Custom Home Builder podcast series brought to you by Louisville’s leading luxury construction team Artisan Signature Homes. I’m Greg, your host, and for today’s episode we’re joined by Louisville’s best known and most accomplished custom and luxury home builder, Jason Black, and we have a repeat guest again, Gretchen Black. Good to see you both.

Jason:    Good morning Greg. Thanks for having us.

Gretchen:    Yes, thanks for having us.

Greg:    I hoping between the two of you, you can predict the future, sort of wave your hands over the Magic 8-ball and let us know what’s coming down the pike as far as some home trends that we might see either inside or outside of home.

Jason:    Gretchen, I’m going to let you start, because you kind of always direct my trends and I follow, so …

Gretchen:    That’s very kind. Very kind of you. Couple things, I guess we can start with flooring. I think for hardwood, for so many years now we saw the dark, which is still very beautiful, dark stains, wide planks, but I am seeing a trend, and we actually did this in our own personal home and in the Homearama house I just designed, of light floors.

I will tell you from a personally standpoint, I love light floors and I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to figure this out. I think it’s the right light floors. I think a lot of times you would see the light floors and they would have really, it a white oak or it’s a oak, but the clear coat stain that got put on them would really make them have a yellow or golden hue, and now we’ve kind of changed that up a little bit and instead of having that clear coat and bringing out the gold, the guys are putting like a white wash type stain over the floors so really dulling down that kind of golden aspect and really just making it look like a natural flooring.

Jason:    One of the things that helps with that, instead of using the traditional polyurethane to seal a floor, which tends to yellow over time, we’ve used or switched to a water based finish, and it does not tend to yellow over time. We also will go with like a matte finish that just gives it that kind of very natural look. Sorry, to cut you off there Gretchen, but…

Gretchen:    Oh, no problem. Yeah, so what I find, just being a mom with three boys in house including a husband and a dog, is the lighter floors just don’t show the dirt and the traction like the darker floors do. The dark floors are beautiful and often I will call something, when I’m talking with clients, magazine worthy living or reality living, because people will show me a picture and I’ll say “You know what, that is gorgeous and that’s beautiful, but you know what, it looks beautiful in that magazine shoot, but the reality is are you going to sweep your floors six times a day?” That’s a huge trend that I’m definitely seeing is lighter floors coming back just with a new twist on it.

Greg:    What about the size of the planking? I know you mentioned wide plank earier. Is that sort of mix and match, whatever the client wants, or is there narrow or wide plank that is more prevalent?

Jason:    I think people, we went with a narrow plank at our Homearama house, like a 2 1/4, but Norton Commons being the traditional neighborhood and having the traditional homes that they have, the client was coming from an older Highlands home, very traditional, so they wanted that old school look, so we do some narrower boards. I think the majority of our clients still like a wider plank. Distressing is still pretty prevalent in our floors. Yeah, I think the wider board is probably more popular.

Gretchen:    Yeah, I think so, but again it really just comes down to what the clients want.

Jason:    We are seeing some random… people still like the random width, so you might have some narrower, some medium, and some large with boards that really give it a different look and feel.

Greg:    Then what about including some of the, either abnormalities that you find in a normal piece of wood or some knots or something like that? Is that something that people ask for or is that just part of putting down a hardwood floor, that you’re going to have some, like a linen shirt, you have some individuality in each one? Is that something that we’re seeing more of or is that not the case?

Jason:    No, I think you are. You get a, I think it’s more of a character grade wood. We do some more modern finishes sometimes for some clients and they want a select wood that has really no imperfections, very fine, very perfect wood that it’s a very homogeneous look and feel across the whole floor, very consistent. Then some of the other more relaxed homes we’re doing with that kind of southern casual feel. We’ll definitely have some knots, some scrapes, some worm holes in them and kind of a quarter sawn to them as well, wire brushed I guess might be a good term for those.

Greg:    Okay, and then what about some other rooms in the house?  What kind of flooring trends are you seeing?

Gretchen:    Definitely cement tile, the painted pattern cement tile is a huge trend that really kind of started west coast is where you saw it first and it’s made it’s way through Louisville now. I’m seeing it in more homes. I know it was in several different homes in Homearama. It’s just a great fun way to add a pop of color in a bathroom or a laundry room without using a natural stone, and the price points are all over the place for the cement, because you have to take into consideration that this is actually, these are cement tiles that are handmade and hand painted. They can get pricey, depending on the pattern and the tile, but they are a great alternative and I even love seeing them tied into a back splash in a kitchen.

Greg:    I’m a little, I guess when I walked through Homearama I saw a lot of tile work and I didn’t know which tile was what kind of tile, so can you, like what would the cement tiles have looked like that I might have seen or just if I look at Pinterest or whatever, how do I know I’m looking at a cement tile?

Gretchen:    I kind of emulated that it looks like someone has actually hand painted or stenciled a pattern. It might be like a floral pattern on the tile, like the on that I like to use often is it’s a white and a aqua, a mix of a, it literally looks like someone has put a stencil down like the old school stencil and stamped and painted on the tile. That’s the best way I could use to describe them.

Jason:    Because of their popularity, when we first started using the cement tiles, we’d ordered them out of California and they were true cement. Now a lot of the major manufacturers like the Tile Shop and Louisville Tile here in Louisville, they have some ceramic tiles that have I guess they’ve been painted but they’re not quite as pricey as some of the true cement. Again we talked a while back about finding some budget friendly options, so there are some alternatives out there that can give you that look.

Greg:    We’re talking about the floor still right?

Jason:    Correct.

Greg:    Okay, and then are we looking different things say on the wall somewhere? Are there other floor options that are coming down the line that listeners need to know about?

Jason:    I think one of the things that’s tried and trued for Artisan for a while has been the use of carrara marble or some form of marble, there’s some different forms, whether it’s a smaller tile laid on the floor. A good herringbone or chevron pattern never goes out of style, and that’s still probably one of the most common requests we get is to have some type of floor laid on a herringbone either in the master or one of the other bathrooms in the home.


Greg:    I’m curious how you balance, because you talk frequently about classics and aesthetics and things not going out of style, so how do you balance trying to be not trendy and doing something just for the sake of doing it, but how do you balance new materials and new ideas and being classic at the same time?

Jason:    Well, one of the fun things that we’re able to do as a team, and having Gretchen help me, is we build some spec homes and we do a lot of spec home building in the traditional neighborhood of Norton Commons, so we may experiment when we don’t have a buyer involved with some new ideas. Sometimes they go over really well, and others maybe may not be as received as well as we think. Sometimes we don’t experiment too much with clients, but sometimes they like to experiment and they want something different than their neighbor has. But keeping with that, we try to keep things, even if they are newer to the market, that are just still tastefully done. Wouldn’t you say that’s a fair statement Gretchen?

Gretchen:    Right and maybe with the cement tile I would encourage a client “You know what, how about we try it in a powder room?” You know where five years down the line, ten years, you’re not ripping up an entire kitchen floor done in cement tile, you know you’re over it. It’s a smaller space. It’s kind of like the old school wallpaper. You don’t want to wallpaper your whole entire house. I mean you can if you want to, but you kind of just do those new super hot trends in small areas that are easily changeable down the line and without making a huge investment to change them

Jason:    You mentioned wallpaper, and since we’ve talked a decent amount about floors, what are you seeing? It seems like wallpaper’s making a little bit of a resurgence here lately.

Gretchen:    Definitely.

Greg:    Really?

Gretchen:    Yeah.

Greg:    Okay. I was going to ask and I did not… okay.

Gretchen:    Yes, definitely. I think for the past probably at least five years it’s been creeping back in and more so I’m just seeing it like in accent rooms. Again, not an entire house. Maybe it’s your dining room above the chair rail. You’ve got nice trim work below it, and then you’ve got wallpaper above it and in that powder room. Maybe just an accent wall in a bedroom I’m seeing wallpaper, but yeah it’s just a fun way to play with a pattern and color in a room. Wallpapers, again, are all over the place. You can find some that are pretty reasonable and then you can go the route of grass clothes which are beautiful and timeless, and they start to get a little bit more pricey, but definitely wallpaper is definitely on trend. I just think it’s just a matter of finding the right one in the right spot in your home.

Greg:    Is wallpaper better today than it was way back in the day? Is likely to curl up or is that a… depends upon the skill of whoever installs it?

Jason:    I think you’re showing your age Greg.

Greg:    Not the first time.

Gretchen:    Yeah, I definitely think finding the right installer is key. They’re all still pre-pasted, where you add the glue on the back and you put them up. I’m sure the quality is better, just like anything that gets better with time.

Greg:    Okay, so we’ve talked about a couple rooms and I can’t let you all go before talk about bathrooms and kitchens, so I guess we’ll try to make it brief in each one, but are we seeing anything in bathrooms, maybe size of the showers or material used or anything like that or flooring I guess?

Gretchen:    I think for me, gone are the days, and again I just haven’t, with new builds seen this in a while, are the jetted tubs that had the big surrounds built around them. People seem to like the free standing tubs, the claw foot tubs where they really want that kind of vintage feel. Even just a modern sleek tub that is freestanding, that seems to be what most clients I’m working with now are enjoying and wanting.

Jason:    Yeah, and I think on the showers we still do a few rain-head showers, but it seems like more people are opting for maybe two shower heads but one would be on an adjustable arm or more of a handheld so you could take it off, clean out the shower, wash you legs down. We’re not doing too many open showers. Most of our showers are pretty closed, pretty private. Then as far as kitchens go, gosh the trend lately and continues to be white. I mean people love their white kitchens.

Gretchen:    Agree.

Jason:    Doing a lot of, people still like inset cabinetry, it’s usually a pricier option, but beaded inset is a nice option with a shaker door panel front. We always like to take our cabinets to the ceiling. We’ve been doing that for, gosh, ten plus years now with decorative lighted cabinets above. We’re seeing a trend now with hoods being a little bit different with Gretchen introduced the ship lap hood in one of our spec homes coming up here. Also, we’re doing some brass, metal accents on some of the hoods we’re doing, so it’s not your traditional swooped or mantle style hood. I think the hoods are being a little bit more creative in their implementation now. Island, for the classic kitchen is white but you still may see a gray island or a lightly stained island or people still like a distressed island. What am I missing in the kitchen?


Gretchen:    I think so. I think the glazes are, if a client chooses to go that route, their getting lighter. They’re not quite as heavy of a glaze as maybe as in the past that would make the cabinets seem more creamy or have that brown glaze effect on them, and if they are choosing to do a glaze, a lot times I will see the gray glazes on it or maybe they have a kitchen island that’s done in aqua and they put a white glaze over top of it.

I still think across the board, as far as like finishes, I still think you’re seeing brass, of course brass is back and it’s not the 80s brass, it’s a matte pretty brushed brass, but chrome is always still going to be timeless choice and a great choice. Really kind of all over the board with as far as oil rubbed bronze is still always a great choice for some people.

Jason:    People still mix and match. You can have brass in kitchen and you can have chrome throughout or bronze throughout, and I think it’s totally acceptable.

Gretchen:    Yes.

Jason:    Whatever works ever the buyers like. That’s what I tell the clients all the time is, “Make sure you like it. Just because your neighbor or your best friend has something, pick it because you like it not because that’s what they like and their buddies like.”

Greg:    One last question before I let you all go. When you’re looking at a new idea, and someone says “I want to try this” or you all want to try something, do you know usually if that is going to be a classic, like some things just never go out of style, or we’re going to have to redo this in five years because people will be tired of it? Do you know when you’re doing it?

Gretchen:    Well, I was going to say you can go into an older home in Louisville, tried and true white kitchens and carrara have been around and will continue to be around. You can never go wrong with white and carrara marble, in my opinion. The finish of your handles and pulls may change. I like a good simple, classic cup pull. I think that is always tried and true, going to be on trend whether it was 75 years ago or whether it’s 100 years from now. That’s just my opinion, but I think those are two finishes and materials that you are always going to see.

Jason:    I would agree with that. I think too are clients see what we’re doing in our spec homes and they see what are other folks are doing and once we introduce a new design feature, there’s no guarantee that it’s going to be accepted, but sometimes people do gravitate to them. We’ve done a lot of kitchen islands with say an x pattern with ship lap. It’s been a very very popular request in a lot of the kitchens lately.

I know we’re wrapping up, but a couple of things I forgot about in the kitchen is, on the islands we’re getting to a point where we’re moving appliances and sinks and cook tops out of the island. People are going towards a simple island where you have a big solid work station all on one level, so we haven’t been seeing the step up islands that we’ve seen over the past few years.

Then people still like the professional style ranges, really a lot of times the budget doesn’t allow, but people will splurge for a 36 or a 48 inch… we’re doing a lot of Wolf, a lot of Thermadore, and even GE Monogram ranges that just really have that really substantial look to them and feel to them. We’ll top those off with either a nice subway back splash, or again we’re seeing a trend to a full slab back splash of either marble or granite or we just did a cool soapstone where you take one whole slab of granite or marble and you lay that as your back splash in one piece, which is really a dramatic look. It’s tough to do, but it really turns out well.

Greg:    All right, well I appreciate you both giving us a little insight on a few of the trends and now I’ll go home and comment on how untrendy my house is, so thank you both.

Jason:    Find some space for that wall paper.

Greg:    That’s right!

Gretchen:    We can help. We can help.

Thank you for joining us on this episode of the Louisville custom home builder podcast. If you’re looking to build a home and would like to reach out to Jason with any questions about the process, or maybe just your individual needs and desires, please visit the website at artisansignaturehomes.com. We appreciate your time with us today and look forward to bringing you another episode next week.