Posts tagged ‘architecture’

Space as Story – Traction Architecture

“Color can be a powerful way to evoke feelings and to connect interior and exterior spaces.”

Jody Beck

Jody Beck of Traction Architecture

Jody Beck of Traction Architecture became interested in architecture through studying art and architectural history.

“I loved the way that buildings could be unraveled to tell stories about distant times, places and cultures. By understanding the soaring space inside the nave of a Gothic cathedral, or the meticulous proportions of Palladio’s villas, you can learn a lot about the aspirations of the people who built them.”

Bougainvillea House

Bougainvillea House

The view of space as a conduit to story inspired us to learn more about this successful Florida-based company that often uses Modwalls‘ tiles in their work.

How does your company’s approach differ from other architects?

Seagrape House

Seagrape House

The phrase that most defines our work is “design for thoughtful living,” and by that we mean creating architecture that addresses the spirit of a place – not just its physical characteristics, but also the subjective narratives that it evokes. Many of our projects are houses, which, while humble in scale, are the single most important piece of architecture to the family who lives there.

We strive to create thoughtful spaces that address the way that people live and interact. We are interested in design that celebrates the mundane activities of the everyday, in creating moments that are suggestive of old memories and capable of generating new ones.

How do you use color in your work?

Our work is generally pretty subtle, especially when it comes to finishes. Sometimes we like to let a well-chosen color set the mood for a space. We try not to overpower the sensory experience but a judicious flash of color can have a big impact.

“Seagrass” is a favorite but also, in the strong Florida sun, we like some of the quieter shades such as “Thistle” & “Rain”. We like the richness and consistency of the colors in the Modwalls’ tiles.

Seagrape House

Seagrape House

Color can also be a powerful way to evoke feelings and to connect interior and exterior spaces.

In one of our projects, the Bougainvillea House, a deeply inset window is positioned at eye level to serve as an oculus to focus the view. The exterior head, sill and jambs of the oculus are painted a vivid blue that casts a calming glow into the space suggesting the sky and the nearby sea.


Bougainvillia House – Interior

Speaking of color – you lit up the sky with your Sky Striker installation. Can you tell us a little about that and how you came up with it?


Sky Striker

Sky Striker was an interactive urban experience that transformed an iconic cylindrical-shaped Tampa skyscraper into a giant carnival game.

Participants – young, old, big and small – lit up the city’s skyline by swinging a mallet and striking a carnival high-striker that was wirelessly connected to light fixtures throughout the Tower. With each hit, the puck shot up the machine and simultaneously illuminated rings of light around the building, broadcasting the strength of each participant across the skyline.

We wanted a way for the average ‘passer-by’ to be able to interact with this landmark in Tampa’s skyline and have that person be able to transmit what they were doing visually to people across the city.

Inevitably, people miles away were staring at the blinking lights in the skyscraper thinking ‘what’s going on downtown?’ Tapping into that sense of wonder and observing people engage with architecture on a range of scales was both fun and thought-provoking for us and our firm.

Sky Striker

Sky Striker – Across Town

What are some examples of how design can enhance the every day?

One example that comes to mind is the creation of framed views. Sometimes, instead of providing the maximum view possible, if you deny a general view but curate a specific view, you can draw attention to aspects of the environment that may otherwise be overlooked. For example, a view highlighting a single tree or branch of a tree can illuminate the texture of the bark or the arch of a twig – the details that are hard to notice when viewing the whole forest.

How can transformed spaces transform lives?

We design many of our homes around an open den area, which we think of as a “modern hearth.” It’s often elevated above the main living space, so that it is visually connected but separate. It’s a special space where family can gather for a wide range of interactions – helpings kids with homework, working on a puzzle, planning the next pillow fort, or simply a place for quiet contemplation.

Traction Architecture has been covered by ABC and Fox News, LUX Life, Archello and Custom Home Magazines. For more information, email or call 813-992.2798.

September 15, 2015 at 5:11 am Leave a comment

Modwalls Colorful Tile is in Stock for Online Shopping



May 8, 2015 at 2:29 pm Leave a comment

Jennifer Ott Interior Design : You can have it all

Have you ever gone to a paint store, fell in love with a color, then came home and put it on your wall and your beautiful little heart sank? How did that warm “Bahamian Coral” (Ok, 80’s, I know) turn into the interior bathroom wall of One Flew OverDesigner Jennifer Ott the Cuckoos Nest? Who knew that “Sea Breeze” was really lost-in-the-back-of-the-fridge pea soup? That’s where a color expert comes in.

“It is absolutely overwhelming to be confronted by seemingly millions of different colors, especially if you are also under time constraints,” says Jennifer Ott of Jennifer Ott Design.  “Even if you don’t have the budget for full interior design services, you might be able to swing a quick consultation with a designer or color consultant. Many color pros will work for a fixed fee, or will charge hourly but are willing to take on small jobs — as little as a few hours worth.”

Jennifer’s company provides exterior color consultations to homeowners anywhere in the world. They use renderings and large-size paint swatches to help clients visualize the colors they recommend, all for a fixed fee starting as low as $395.

Photography by Whit Preston

Photography by Whit Preston

“When you factor in the cost of numerous unsuccessful paint samples, or, worse, the cost of having to repaint your entire house because you are unhappy with results, a few hundred dollars up front to get a great color palette can be a smart investment.”

For those of you that happen to live in the San Francisco Bay area, Jennifer can also help you with interior color consultation. But if you don’t, fear not! We have some handy Jennifer Ott tips just for you.

“When selecting color for a space, I advise clients to focus first on items that are big, expensive, and come in limited colors and patterns. By picking those items first, a palette will start to develop, and it’s easier to then add in things like tile, paint, and decorative accessories that come in all manner of colors and tend to be the less expensive items in a space. I find this is more successful than trying to select colors for everything in one fell swoop, which is almost always overwhelming and stressful.”

Single family residential interior renovation located at 410 West Johanna in the Bouldin Creek neighborhood of Austin, TX by Loop Design, Shoal Creek Construction and Jen Ott Interior Design

Dandelion House, photography by Patrick Wong/Atelier Wong

What about color trends? How do you update your home without running into the fear that soon it will become outdated? Jennifer advises to avoid trends unless you’re willing to change everything when the next trend comes along. She works closely with clients to help them figure out what colors they love and then advises them on the best way to incorporate them.

Photography by Whit Preston

Photography by Whit Preston

“I’m not a design tyrant or diva and I don’t let my ego get into the way. I want to partner with homeowners to find the best solutions to their design challenges. I crave and savor the back and forth interaction I have with clients who care about and are engaged in the process.”

What if you like bold, vibrant colors and lots of texture? How do you find the right balance? (Which is really the key to having it all!) Jennifer suggests that a good rule of thumb is to limit those colors to items or areas of your home that are deserving of the attention. If you have an item with an interesting texture that you want to highlight, it’s good to let it stand on it’s own and leave the bold colors to draw attention to shapes and forms.

“This is actually the basis of a successful light and neutral palette — you need to include items that have pleasing and varying textures, sheens, and finishes, to create a rich and interesting space. My most frequent piece of advice is to use bold colors for items that are relatively easy and affordable to change out — items such as paint, accent pillows, throws, etc. Neutrals are great for things you want to keep around for a good long time, such as your flooring, countertops, and cabinetry.

Austin Condo Kitchen, photography by Whit Preston

Austin Condo Kitchen, photography by Whit Preston

There are so many way to use color. You can use color to make a room seem larger, warmer or cozier.

“I follow the notion that cool colors visually recede and warm colors advance. So if you want to create a warm and cozy vibe, go for the warmer hues of red, orange, yellow or brown. If you are looking to make a room feel more open and expansive, go for the cooler hues of green, blue, purple, and gray. Darker colors usually feel heavy and somber, so I avoid using them in large amounts. They are best limited to accents in a room, and are actually great for adding drama to a space. I also tend to tailor the color palette to the homeowner’s climate. Those residing in cold and overcast climates should consider bringing in warmer tones, wheras those in hotter climates might favor cooler hues.”

So the key to having it all is working with a color specialist, clarifying what you love, and creating spaces and places that make you feel good.

April 29, 2015 at 12:36 pm Leave a comment

Introducing American Made Textured Glass Subway Tile CRAVE


Introducing American Made Textured Glass Subway Tile CRAVE

Modwalls_Crave Oasis Glossy_Alt 1

CRAVE – color Oasis

Modwalls_Crave Colors

Modwalls© all NEW American Made Texture Glass Subway Tile is CRAVE.

Available in 7 stunning colors, this CRAVE Collection features 3″x8″ glass subway tile with a glamorously textured surface.  Ideal for any wall application including kitchen backsplash tile, bathroom tile, fireplace tile, feature wall tile, and pool tile.  CRAVE tiles can be in stalled in a stacked or offset pattern.  Would be dynamic as a solid tile installation or feel free to mix and match with other CRAVE colors.

Contact us at for samples.

Modwalls® invites you to discover our own brands of colorful modern tile and experience delightful customer service. Buy online or call us toll free at 877-439-9734. 

We look forward to doing business with you!

December 18, 2013 at 4:59 pm Leave a comment

We love it when our tile gets noticed!

The entire crew here at modwalls tile company loves it when we get a kind word from our customers or a bit of notice in a fabulous magazine.

Right now there are two great publications giving us a little shout out.

We love Dwell magazine and have been loyal advertisers ever since they gave us a mention in their new products section during our early days,  several years ago.  Our Lush Poppy glass subway tile is shown in the TILE section of Dwell’s Spring 2013 special issue “Renovate Today!”.   We are honored to be included among some great tile manufacturers.



Though we didn’t make it to Neocon this year, fortunately our  CorkDotz cork mosaic tile was chosen to be featured in the Materials Pavilion there.  In addition it got a mention in the “Neocon issue” of  Interiors & Sources Magazine interiorssourcesmag

For more information on modwalls tile and all of our unique and colorful collections go to:

Buy online 24/7.  Samples with free shipping and discounts to the trade.

June 18, 2013 at 4:22 pm Leave a comment

Tile Design vs. Electrical Outlets & Switches

We get asked this great question quite regularly:  

“I LOVE my new tile, but I need some advice…What should I do with the electrical outlets that fall within the kitchen backsplash area?”  

Good news!  We’ve got several creative solutions for you – yay!!!

These little necessary items can possibly ruin your beautiful, and often pricey backsplash!  We are confident that if you consider the locations ahead of time, you will improve the finished look of your kitchen or bathroom. :)

Details on outlets…

It’s required by law that you have electrical outlets within your kitchen – which is a good thing!

Your kitchen has many electrical needs:  major appliances, small appliances, built-in appliances, lighting, exhaust fans, and basically anything you might want to plug in or switch on while you’re in there.

In regards to your kitchen or bathroom, the National Electric Code requires:

  • Small appliance circuits feeding countertop receptacle outlets are required to be Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) protected
  • Any countertop wider than one foot requires a receptacle outlet
  • Receptacle outlets must be installed every four linear feet at minimum – more is totally fine too
  • Countertops separated by range cook top, refrigerators, or sinks are considered separate countertop spaces
Modwalls_Counter Top Appliances

Examples of kitchen appliances in need of electrical outlets.

Are you in the planning phase of your new kitchen or bath remodel?  

If you are planning your kitchen or bath remodel, congrats(!), you are thinking ahead!  Here are some helpful questions you can ask yourself and discuss with your electrician regarding your kitchen or bath’s electrical needs:

  • What fixed/portable appliances do you plan to install/have in your kitchen? What are the locations and their power requirements?
  • What kind of lighting do you want/need: Ceiling? Under cabinet? Toe kick? Pendant or chandelier? Recessed? Surface Mount? Ceiling fan?
  • What kind of lighting controls do you need?
  • Where do you want your light switches and appliance outlets?
  • What materials/installation practices do you need to comply with National Electric Code requirements? Hint: ask your electrician
  • Do you have special requirements due to disabilities and/or the Americans with Disabilities Act?
  • What are the brand specification of all fixtures you want?  Have your electrician check these out too.

After you discuss your electrical needs with your electrician and have a final layout in mind, the electrical outlets and switches can be located and installed.  Don’t worry if you already have your outlets in place, it’s really easy to move them around and make adjustments before the installation of your backsplash.

There are several different ways to approach this without ruining your backsplash with a bunch of ugly, poorly  placed outlets and switches.  Here are some creative solutions as to how you can address the outlets & switches within your backsplash.

Implementing Creative Solutions…

#1 – Flip your outlets horizontally to coordinate with the pattern of your backsplash (but if your backsplash has a vertical pattern to it, keep you outlets vertical too)


Horizontal Outlet Sketch
Manhattan Ave Residence - modern - bathroom - los angeles - Michael Lee Architects

#2 – Install a power strip under your upper cabinets


Undercabinet Power Strip Sketch
Wyncote home - exterior - eclectic - kitchen - philadelphia - Colleen Steixner

#3 – Install the outlets or switches on or within your cabinets…(some additional planning involved).


Outlet Sketch001_2

Photo by Rockwood Cabinetry


#4 – Install your outlets where you know you’ll need them!


Outlet Sketch001

Image 4


#5 – Install custom pop-up grommet outlets where you know you’ll need them!


Kitchen Power Grommet - modern - kitchen - los angeles - Doug Mockett & Company, Inc

Find these at

South Fork Kitchen - eclectic - kitchen - phoenix - Troyer Kitchen and Bath

Find these at


#6 – Specify outlet and switch plate covers to coordinate with your material selections: making them a design element instead of an eyesore!


mendocino kit rspitzer2

1x4 cloud kitchen laura ricks_2


#7 – [Bathroom specific] – Install the outlets or switches within your bathroom mirror and trim with a mirrored cover…some additional planning involved.  Look closely for them!


Playhouse_Modwalls Lush 1x4 Sunset

Playhouse_Modwalls_Brio clear peridot


Q:  Have some other creative outlet and switch solutions?  Share them with us and we’ll add it to this blog! 

Modwalls® is making tile modern™ with colorful and unique designs that are in stock and available for purchase online 24/7 at

May 17, 2013 at 5:27 pm 4 comments

On a Budget? Meet Brio Custom Blends!!!

Brio® Custom Blends Fit Every Budget!

Customizing your kitchen or bathroom gets extremely pricey!  Especially if you’re working within a specific color scheme.

Meet our Brio® Custom Blend Program!  With literally millions of possible glass mosaic color combinations right at your fingertips, you can easily create the right tile blend for your project…Plus, it’s totally budget-friendly and fun to do!!!

How-to Create Your Custom Blend Recipe:

Step 1) Access the blender at:



Step 2)  Select the colors that you’d like to blend by clicking on the Brio® ¾” glass tile images.

The colors will automatically move into the blender after 2 colors have been selected.  Remove any color by dragging it away from the blending area.

If you wish to start over, just click RESET.


Step 3) Feel free to adjust the color percentage by moving the arrows up and down on each color. (Note: your design must add up to 100%)


Step 4) Think you reached your desired colored combination?  Click on REMIX to randomly remix the colors. (Note that all of our custom blends are random, not patterned)


Step 5) Optional, but highly recommended:  Select grout colors to see how this changes the effect of your blend.  The grout colors shown are part of modwalls® StarGlass/ Dimension Urethane Grout collection. Grout is sold separately, but we believe this is the best choice available for any glass tile installation.


Step 6)  Order Your Custom Blend Sample here.  Be sure to enter your blend recipe on the Customer Comments area – including color names and percentages.  Note:  you will be prompted to enter your recipe on page 2 of checkout.


Why should I order a sample?

We strongly encourage creative customers like yourself to order samples of your custom blend – which eliminates any online purchasing woes.  Each computer monitor may slightly distort the true colors and it’s always good to have a sample in-hand.  Btw, samples are about 5″ x 5″ and are not refundable.

Once you have received your sample and are ready to order your Brio® custom blend, simply call us toll-free @ 877-439-9734.  We have real people ready to take your order Monday-Friday from 9am – 5pm Pacific Time.  Please note that there is a 20 sq.ft. minimum order per custom blend.

How is my custom blend assembled?

Since 2005, we proudly and locally outsource our modwalls® custom blend production to the wonderful people at HOPE Services.  HOPE Services is a non-profit organization which employs developmentally and physically disabled adults to do a variety of production work. Their mission is to assist individuals with disabilities to live and participate in their communities – and we LOVE this.

HOPE’s clients are responsible for making each sheet of your custom blend – a true work of art – made with pride and love!  There are currently over 30 HOPE clients dedicated to the modwalls® custom blend production.

Here are some photos of HOPE’s client’s in action:

Hope Services putting together modwalls Brio custom mosaic tile blends

At Hope Services working on a modwalls Brio Custom Mosaic tile blend
HOPE Services receives our customer’s custom blend recipes on a weekly basis. Each individual Brio® Mosaic Color comes with a paper facing that HOPE soaks off prior to mounting and assembling each blend.  Tiles are then set individually onto plastic grids in a random pattern according to your recipe.  Each completed grid (or 1.15 sq.ft. sheet) is then reviewed for quality control.  Once approved, a plastic film is placed over the top or “face” of the tiles to hold it in place for installation.

This entire process generally takes about 1 week to complete.  Once your blend is complete, we’ll ship it via UPS and email you the tracking number.


Real Customer Satisfaction!

Here’s a recent client review we received about their custom blend experience:

Brio Custom Blend


Installation Location: OUTDOOR SHOWER (see below)

“We created an outdoor shower using a custom blend. It turned out really great. It was so easy to work with ModWalls.”

-Keith (of Palm Springs, CA)


Be Inspired:  Some of our favorite Brio® Custom Blends to date…

Brio custom blend with Reggie the cockatiel- 1

Brio custom blend inspired by Reggie the Cockatiel



modwalls brio custom tile blend pool

whiteness (custom) afranta

custom kitchen bduncan

gardner and rocks ahill_2

bishop's blend apacker1

modwalls brio custom mosaic tile blend as seen in dwell magazine

zen custom 3


Atomic Ranch Winter 2011 - modwalls Brio tile Atomic Ranch blends

happy customer with modwalls Brio custom glass tile blend

modwalls Brio 3/4" custom tile blend for Shrewsbury, NJ lulu storefront

Want to see more?  Check out more custom glass tile blends created and installed by our customers here.

Modwalls® is making tile modern™ with colorful and unique designs that are in stock and available for purchase online 24/7 at

January 16, 2013 at 4:39 pm Leave a comment

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Rebecca Lonergan

Founder and Creative Director of, a designer of modern tile with an online showroom at Modwalls are colorful tile designs with a uniquely modern sensibility in a wide range of materials.

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