"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
_ William Morris
, 19th century craftsman, designer, writer

Add your email address here & receive new posts from This American Home!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Tile Style: California Pottery and Tile Works

When Audrey and Paul Smith renovated their upstairs bathroom, they remained true to the 1912 origins of their beautiful Craftsman home. When they added a small bathroom downstairs, however, they paid homage to a different era.

Like many homes in Long Beach, the two-story Craftsman was moved across town and relocated to its present location in California Heights in 1932, and the family decided to honor that history."We wanted our bathroom to look like it had been restored during the 30's," said Audrey.

To achieve the authenticity they were looking for, the artist and her very handy husband sought period-appropriate resources, starting with California Pottery and Tile Works (CPTW), a company dedicated to continuing the tradition of the Malibu and Catalina Potteries popular in the early 20th century.

Working with the custom-order company, however, meant Audrey had to determine the coloration of every tile pattern. She explains the process, '"like coloring in a coloring book -you have to tell them exactly what color you want filled in to every space."

She said first they decided on the pattern of each tile, which looks like a black and white outline, then she added the color. "We knew we wanted to use a lot of green." Audrey said once she sat down in the office with all of the tile samples the coloration process took about an hour.

I asked if she had any second thoughts after she had placed her order. "That's always the case when you get a little wild. Once the colors are picked and you drive home and you can't see what you decided on, you start imagining that you've picked out something awful! I just had to trust that my choices were the right ones." They were.

Of course, it's a little easier when you are armed with a fine arts degree. For the rest of us, Audrey advises, "Just be confident in your abilities, and if you aren't get a professional who understands what mood or feeling you are trying to achieve. Or look for a photograph or painting of the color combos you love and use it as a guide -just copy!"

To test it for yourself, try out CPTW's online design tool, Tile Painter.  If you register with the site you can play and experiment with the patterns and colors. Very cool. Video disclosure: beware the ultra-mellow voiceover that sounds like Mr. Rogers on anti-anxiety medication. Hang in there, it's actually very interesting...


Paul and Audrey chose inexpensive, basic black tiles to compliment and frame the custom pieces -a clever way to cut costs.

Once the tile was delivered, installation by Gurzi Brothers Tile was completed in four days.

Paul and his nephew, Jacob Lara, layed the foundation and framed the new space in addition to building the cabinetry, installing the fixtures and doing the drywall, plumbing, electrical, wood trim and painting. Did I mention they have three kids and host the Scout troops?

Paint color on the walls and trim is Sea Foam by Dunn Edwards; vanity cabinet, moldings, and window trim is Buttercream, also from Dunn Edwards.

I absolutely love the glaze on these tiles!

Audrey says her favorite thing about this jewel box of a space is the, "mural in the shower and the riot of color."
"We all spend so much time in here, it's nice to have something beautiful to look at."

Historic reproduction electrical switches and fixtures were found at Rejuvenation in Los Angeles.


  1. It looks gorgeous! I am sending this link to The Gurzi Bros. What a fabulous way to impress potential clients. Your photos perfectly capture the superb job they did.

  2. Thanks, Audrey! It's easy when the subject is so beautiful! You guys did a great job! And the Gurzi Brothers should be proud too!

  3. I just found this blog and have high hopes for it to continue. Keep up the great work, its hard to find good ones. I have added to my favorites. Thank You.
    Ceramic flooring


Follow American Home here!


This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.