National Tile Contractors Association Features Designer Drains in Tech Issue

This years technological products and trends report from National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) featured our Designer Drains under the “Shower Systems Products” read the article below.

Designer Drains are “Jewelry For Your Shower” unique decorative replacement shower drains made in the USA from reclaimed 304 stainless steel. They will never rust, fade or tarnish and each drain supports the environment, one shower at a time. There are over 50 designs to chose from – and they also come in bronze, aluminum, steel, brass, copper, chrome nickel, weathered finishes and stone, perfectly styled to bring a final touch of beautiful decor to the bathroom. These decorative replacements support the theme of the bathroom and range from .06″ to 1.00″ thick or can be custom sized to fit any brand and size. Also available is the patented oval style drain, which is made of nickel-plated bronze and then polished for a brilliant finish.


2016 World Interior of the Year in Marble Powder

 Amazing interior done in marble powder by Weng Shang Wei

Marble powder creates “seamless” finish for World Interior of the Year 2016

In this exclusive movie, designer Weng Shang Wei explains how he achieved the deep, uniform shade of black inside the Hangzhou fashion store that was named World Interior of the Year at Inside 2016 last month.

AN Design's interior for the Heike concept store in Hangzhou

Black Cant System by Weng’s studio AN Design, which he co-founded together with Jiadie Yuan, is a concept store for a fashion brand called Heike.

AN Design's interior for the Heike concept store in Hangzhou

The boutique is located on the second floor of a furniture showroom in the Chinese city. Customers climb a narrow staircase to enter, emerging into the space from a large, black, wedge-shaped volume.

The idea behind the unusual structure was to conceal the stairway while maintaining the open plan of the store, Weng says.

AN Design's interior for the Heike concept store in Hangzhou

“Originally, the staircase divided the second-floor space,” he says in the movie, which Dezeen filmed at Inside 2016 interiors festival in Berlin.

“I don’t like it when a space is divided like this – it’s incomplete, it’s not united. In the end we found a solution that is somehow separate but allows the space to remain as a whole.”

AN Design's interior for the Heike concept store in Hangzhou

Other functions are built into the same black structure to make the most of the available space.

“The design has multiple purposes within it,” Weng says. “It contains a fitting room, a showroom for accessories, as well as integrating the handrails of the staircase.”

AN Design's interior for the Heike concept store in Hangzhou

AN Design used concrete and steel throughout the store. The monochrome aesthetic was informed by Heike’s clothes, which are largely black.

“Heike as a brand wants to create fashion that transcends age, gender, and all of those barriers,” Weng says.

AN Design's interior for the Heike concept store in Hangzhou

Powdered marble coats the entire exterior of the wedge-shaped structure.

“It is applied mostly on the surface of the wedge, as well as on the supporting columns,” Weng explains. “I like it because marble powder can be seamless, without divisions or lines.”

He adds: “The texture is also very warm, comforting and soft when you touch it. It achieves the completeness that I was looking for in this space.”

Weng Shang Wei of AN Design
Weng Shang Wei of AN Design. Copyright: Dezeen

This movie was filmed by Dezeen in Berlin for Inside festival of interior design. Photography is by Yujie Liu, unless otherwise stated.

Dezeen is media partners for Inside 2016, which this year took place in Berlin in conjunction with World Architecture Festival 2016.

3 Simple Steps to Protect Your Wood this Winter Season.

3 Simple Steps to Protect Your Wood this Winter Season.

3 Ways to Waterproof Wood

That natural beauty demands protection! Choose the products and techniques that work best with your wood.

By Glenda Taylor

How to Waterproof Wood


Some of most delightful furniture, cabinetry, and trim work are crafted from wood, the world’s oldest and best-loved building material. Without protection, however, most wood will suffer from exposure to moisture and high humidity, resulting in swelling, warping, or even rotting. You might even find that some pests try to destroy your wood. That’s why if you find you have woodworm, bring in specialists fast! Protecting your wood is easy if you know exactly how to do it. Fortunately, you can easily avail yourself of products that protect wood while enhancing its natural beauty. When choosing the best method for how to waterproof wood, keep in mind that not all waterproofing products are the same—some are better suited for interior or exterior items, while others are geared towards dark- or light-grained wood. Here, we’ve outlined the three surefire ways to preserve your wood for years to come. If you’re wanting to keep wooden logs safely stored away in winter then look on sites like gardensite for log storage products.

How to Waterproof Wood


Linseed oil, derived from the seeds of the flax plant, and Tung oil, extracted from the Chinese Tung tree, are the basis for nearly all hand-rubbed (a.k.a. wiping) oil finishes. Employed for centuries, these oils beautify and protect such dark-grained woods as walnut and mahogany, and they’re still in use today—with a few improvements. Blending the oils with other ingredients hastens drying times and eliminates stickiness. You can purchase pre-blended Tung and linseed products, or mix your own for a custom finish.

A standard hand-rubbed oil blend consists of one-part oil (either Tung or boiled linseed), one-part mineral spirits, and one-part polyurethane varnish. Stir thoroughly before applying with a natural bristle paintbrush to dark-grained wood that’s been sanded and cleaned. (If looking for how to waterproof wood that is lighter in color, such as pine or ash, skip this method in favor of one of the next two; hand-rubbed oils have a tendency to yellow over time.) Let the oil soak into the surface, and reapply to any spots that look dry. Then wipe off the residual oil, rubbing well with clean dry rags to remove all excess. Allow the wood to dry completely; this can take anywhere from a few hours to overnight, depending on the degree of oil in the mixture. Finally, sand lightly with fine-grit sandpaper. Repeat the process with as many additional coats as required to obtain your desired finish.

As you become familiar with oil-rubbed blends, feel free to experiment with the formula. For a thicker product, reduce the amount of mineral spirits. If you’d like more working time before the finish dries, reduce the amount of varnish. Add more varnish for a glossier finish and quicker drying time. You can create a multitude of custom blends!

Note: Oily rags used to rub away excess oil can spontaneously combust—yup, even without being near flame, because as the oil dries it generates heat. Take precautions by keeping a bucket of water handy while working; as a rag becomes oil-saturated, drop it in the bucket while and continue with a clean rag. Later, hang rags out to dry separately. When completely dry, you can throw them away without risk, but rags should not be reused.

How to Waterproof Wood


Polyurethane, varnish, and lacquer are tried-and-true sealants with excellent waterproofing properties. They’re either brushed or sprayed onto clean, sanded wood and allowed to dry completely, then the piece is lightly re-sanded and recoated. For best results, apply in a “room temperature” environment and never shake or briskly stir sealants before application—that can cause air bubbles that would remain on the surface, even after the sealant dries. Though relatively quick drying (some in as little as 15 minutes), these sealants often contain chemical solvents so ventilation is necessary during application. Read on for the pros and cons of these popular sealants.

• Polyurethane sealants, which contain various amounts of solvents in addition to acrylic and polyurethane resins, let you choose your favorite finish effect, from a high gloss shine to a gentle soft sheen. Plus, today’s polyurethane won’t yellow, so it’s a good choice for light-toned woods. Oil-based polyurethane offers the greatest durability, but brush cleanup requires mineral spirits or turpentine. With water-based polyurethane, cleanup is a snap with soap and water.

• Varnish, a combination of resin, solvent, and drying oil, gives a hard-shell finish that resists scratches without yellowing. To waterproof wood that will be placed outdoors, choose marine varnish, which contains UV absorbers to resist sun damage. For interior use on end tables and coffee tables, spar varnish is a good choice to resist pesky cup rings. Clean brushes with turpentine or mineral spirits.

• Lacquer, a mixture of dissolved tree resin or synthetic resin in alcohol, is the sealant of choice for indoor hardwood furniture. While it can develop a yellowish tinge over time that’s considered unattractive on lighter woods, on deep-toned wood lacquer brings out a rich, warm finish that’s uniquely scratch resistant. It’s available in a variety of sheen choices, and can be thinned with lacquer thinner. For optimum results, apply lacquer in multiple light coats. Note: Lacquer emits off strong fumes, so ventilation is absolutely essential; work outdoors or open windows and use fans.

How to Waterproof Wood


When time is of the essence or you’re protecting a large project, such as a wood deck, go for a stain-sealant combo. These multitasking products add color while providing water resistance in a single step. Stain-sealant products contain color pigments with the addition of binders, which can be oil-, water- or alkyd-based. Depending on the concentration of pigment in the product, the final result can be transparent, opaque, or in-between. If applying a stain-sealer to exterior wood, you’ll want to reapply every year or two to keep the wood protected.

With the exception of alkyd-based products, stain-sealants don’t build up on the wood surface; instead, they soak in and any excess evaporates. Alkyd-based stain-sealants leave a light surface coating on the wood, making them better suited for interior wood items, such as indoor exposed beams or rustic furniture, that won’t require future applications. Outdoors, alkyd-based stain-sealers have a tendency to peel if the wood isn’t perfectly clean and dry when applied.

Curated from Bob Vila

Icehotel opens in Swedish Lapland

 I’ll take extra covers and pillows please! How Awesome?!

Icehotel 365 by Alex Haw & Aditya Bhatt Sweden hotel interior

World’s first year-round Icehotel opens in Swedish Lapland

Twenty themed suites, a frozen art gallery and an ice staircase feature in Icehotel‘s first permanent lodgings, which have now been unveiled in Sweden.

The Icehotel 365 is located on the banks of the Torne River in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden – next to the site where a seasonal Icehotel has been erected each winter since 1989.

Icehotel 365 by Alex Haw & Aditya Bhatt Sweden hotel interior

Unlike its temporary counterpart, which is built annually from ice and snow sourced from a nearby river, the year-round Icehotel has an undulating roof that is snow-covered in winter and grassy in summer.

Icehotel 365 by Alex Haw & Aditya Bhatt Sweden hotel interior

Its interiors have been imagined by over 40 artists, designers and architects, including Norwegian-Italian Luca Roncoroni – who has created an apartment inspired by the Victorian era – and Swedish duo Tjåsa Gusfors and Patrick Dallard, whose suite is based on dancing.

Icehotel 365 by Alex Haw & Aditya Bhatt Sweden hotel interior

British architects Alex Haw and Aditya Bhatt from Atmos Studio in London have created a “Dreamscape” room, which features a winding ice staircase that leads up to a frozen bed.

As well as the 20 suites, the hotel includes a champagne Icebar and a frozen art gallery.

Icehotel 365 by Alex Haw & Aditya Bhatt Sweden hotel interior

“The nature and environment surrounding the buildings are not only a huge source of inspiration for the Icehotel but are also necessary to create the hotel year on year,” said founder Yngve Bergqvist.

“Previously we said goodbye to our guests in the spring, but thanks to help from the midnight sun we can now can invite them to stay year-round”.

The 27th seasonal Icehotel opened on 16 October 2016 but come springtime will melt back into the river.

Icehotel 365 by Alex Haw & Aditya Bhatt Sweden hotel interior

The construction of both hotels took approximately 30,000 litres of water from the Torne River, and the chandeliers alone feature more than 1000 hand-polished ice crystals.

Suites at last year’s Icehotel in the Arctic Circle included a life-sized ice elephant and a recreation of a 1920s cult horror film, while previous editions saw furniture sculpted from single blocks of ice, a Frankenstein-themed room and a recreation of Parisian rooftops.

Curated from DeZeen

10 Architecture trends of 2016 according to Dezeen

Whats your favorite trend for 2016?


Dezeen’s 10 biggest architecture trends of 2016

Next up in our review of the year, architecture editor Jessica Mairs selects the 10 architecture trends that defined 2016, from the resurgence of minimalism to the next generation of prefabs and the advent of co-living.


Minimalist interiors

This year we saw an abundance of austere interiors – from apartments and bathrooms to offices – finished with cool-toned marble, uniform woodwork and block coloured walls. You too could design your office in this style, but first you’ll need to find an available office rental so you can craft your dream space the way that you want to.

Among them is a Barcelona apartment with grey-veined marble and raw concrete surfaces by Raúl Sánchez and the bathroom created by Maayan Zusman in a Tel Aviv apartment, where the only accents are a blood-red tap and a black-framed sink stand.

See more minimalist interiors ›

Retreat in Finca Aguy by MAPA

Prefabricated houses

This year prefabs shook off their makeshift reputation, with architects and designers considering how modular building techniques could be used to build speedy and cost-effective yet aesthetically pleasing long-term housing.

One Uruguayan example by MAPA sits over stone walls in an olive grove, while Japanese design brand Muji began testing its Kengo Kuma-designed prefab house.

In England, ShedKM and Urban splash are creating a whole development of modular housing, and in Estonia Kodasema created a tiny cubic living space that allows its owners to up sticks and move on a whim.

See more prefabricated buildings ›

New Ground Cohousing residential architecture


Over the last year, co-living and co-working schemes have attempted to completely reinvent how people live and work, with shared office and housing blocks largely targeting cash-strapped millennials.

But co-living was also presented as the ideal housing solution for an ageing population and the UK’s first dedicated older co-housing scheme completed in London.

One co-living developer even predicted the popularity of the trend would make us all homeless in the future.

See more co-living spaces ›



While Assemble kicked off the shingle revival with its pastel-hued Yardhouse studios in 2014, it was in 2016 that the trend really took hold.

The interpretation has been broad, with a huge variety of materials and scales demonstrating the versatility of the cladding, from the giant wooden tiles used for a visitor centre resembling a pinecone in Sweden to the subtle shimmer given by aluminium panels to the spire of a chapel in a Japanese cemetery and the dull cement covering used to help a French apartment block blend with its surroundings.

See more projects with shingles ›


Charred timber

The Japanese wood-preservation technique known as shou sugi ban has been used to blacken the cladding of hotels, houses, pavilions and studios the world over.

We featured 35 projects incorporating the technique in 2016. Snøhetta selected the treatment for a cabin set in the crown of huge pines in Sweden, while Studio Padron covered a tiny library and guesthouse in upstate New York in blackened planks and Stal Collectief burnt the moving timber walls of its studio in the Belgian countryside.

See more projects with charred timber ›

50AR by Scenario Architecture

London house extension boom

A thirst for contemporary design transformed the London extensions market in 2016, with architects exploring ever more ambitious ways to expand tight living spaces in the capital. These extensions are gaining in popularity because of their sleek designs and their ability to give the homeowners more space. The cost of home extensions is outweighed massively by all of the benefits.

The couple behind Scenario Architecture added a glass-roofed extension to their own London home, while Studio 304’s sunken washroom allows residents to bathe in a garden setting and Selencky Parsons’ stepped extension to a 1960s terrace diminishes in size like Russian dolls.

See more London house extensions ›

Zaha Hadid Forest Green Rovers stadium


Zaha Hadid Architect’s proposal for an entirely wooden football stadium in England and a net zero-energy university campus in Singapore are taking sustainable architecture to new lengths.

Other concepts from 2016 include a Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners proposal to tackle intensive farming and EFFEKT’s self-sustaining, off-grid village of greenhouse properties.

See more sustainable architecture ›

Brooklyn Garden Studio by Hunt Architecture

Backyard studios

Artists, architects, writers and designers seeking to maximise limited inner city space have been setting up garden studios.

Panovscott used recycled telegraph poles to clad a studio for two artists at their Sydney home, while Nicholas Hunt built a micro studio at the back of his Brooklyn home and Surman Weston created a cork-clad workspace for a musician and a seamstress in London.

See more garden studios ›


Skinny skyscrapers

Architects embarked on a mission to create the world’s skinniest skyscraper in 2016, with the trend becoming so popular in New York that the Skyscraper Museum released an online tool to track the city’s growing number of slender towers.

Many measure over 300 metres tall and have base-width-to-height ratios as extreme as 1:23. In 2016, Rafael Viñoly Architects completed its 425-metre-tall skyscraper in Manhattan and Powerhouse Company proposed Europe’s slimmest residential tower in Europe for Rotterdam.

See more skyscrapers ›


Carbon fibre

This year experts tipped carbon fibre as the building tool of the future, claiming the material combined with robotic construction techniques is paving the way for a fourth industrial revolution.

Amanda Levete proposed using the strong yet lightweight material to create multistorey football pitches in inner-city London, and a University of Stuttgart graduate devised a mini wall-climbing robot to build web-like structures with lengths of fibre.

See more carbon fibre architecture and design ›

Looking at different designs from other architects is always a good starting point, as you can see lots of different ways to layout your rooms or offices, dependant on the purpose of your build. If you are looking for ideas on how you would like to design a new house or building, I would recommend you go to as a starting point. This architecture firm have designed buildings for Microsoft and GM World, so you are bound to get some cool ideas to pass on to your architect.

Granite Counters and the thoughts behind the investment.

Thinking about granite counters for your home? Read this.

3 Things to Know Before You Invest in Granite Counters

Durable and beautiful, granite countertops bring a touch of elegance to a hardworking kitchen. Learn more about this luxurious material and whether it’s the right choice for your kitchen.

Granite Countertops Installation


As the primary work surface in a room that drives the daily operation of the modern household, kitchen countertops play host to any number of different activities—everything from meal preparation and casual dining to bill-paying and homework help. Still, for as much use and abuse as countertops undergo, homeowners demand that they not only resist wear and tear, but also define the overall look and feel of the kitchen. In other words, a successful kitchen countertop must boast beauty as well as brawn. That’s precisely why, according to Jim Eldredge, a product manager with Sears Home Services, granite continues to reign as “king of countertops,” even after so many years of popularity. No other material strikes such an effective compromise between attention-grabbing aesthetics and no-nonsense practicality. Perhaps best of all, though granite connotes the height of luxury, prices have stabilized in recent years, and the market now offers a range of accessible price points. Read on to learn more about making granite countertops part of your next home improvement project.



Granite Countertops Installation - Stone Durability


Granite shines in terms of durability—a boon in busy kitchens—thanks in large part to the material’s pedigree. Formed by immensely powerful geological forces over millions of years, granite isn’t just figuratively “hard as a rock”—it’s literally so. The benefit? You can expect granite countertops to last as long as your house, even as you enjoy the near-term conveniences of such a durable kitchen surface. For instance, since granite naturally resists heat, “you can place a steaming-hot pan directly on top of it” without scorching the stone, Eldredge says. Plus, if you drop something heavy on a granite surface, there’s no need to fear that the impact will do any damage. If granite has any weakness, it’s that the porous material allows oils and acids to seep in and leave stains. That’s why, if your granite slab doesn’t come pretreated with a sealer, it’s crucial to apply one as necessary, typically once a year. Otherwise, apart from routine care that includes regular wipe downs with a moist sponge, “granite takes care of itself,” Eldredge concludes.



Granite Countertops Installation - Colors and Patterns


Considering granite’s longevity, Eldredge advises homeowners not to rush into purchasing granite countertops. “You may like a certain look today,” he says, “but you have to think about whether you’re still going to like it not months, but decades down the line.” Fortunately, in part because every quarried stone has its own unique mineral makeup, granite counters come in a nearly infinite variety of colors and patterns. Indeed, whether jet black, marbled blue, or speckled brown, no two slabs are exactly alike. For that reason, Eldredge advises, “granite isn’t necessarily the right choice for every kitchen.” For instance, in a modern setting, homeowners sometimes favor solid colors or uniform patterns. Other homeowners, however, find that the rich variability of the stone means that no matter what colors or textures are present elsewhere in the kitchen, there’s a granite counter to match or serve as a visual complement. Further, while most people picture granite as polished and glossy, Eldredge notes that it’s also often available in a low-glare, matte finish. As Eldredge puts it, “The possibilities for granite are truly endless.”



Granite Countertops Installation - Affordability


Accounting for 10 or 15 percent of the budget for the typical kitchen remodel, countertops don’t come cheap. According to Eldredge, however, “It’s a popular misconception that granite costs more than anything else.” Certainly, compared with a countertop made in a factory, you can expect to pay a premium for quarried, shipped, and fabricated natural stone. But over the years, prices have come down enough to make granite all but ubiquitous in kitchens around the country. Neither uniformly expensive nor cheap, granite “really runs the gamut [in price],” Eldredge says. “You can easily spend a small fortune” on an extra-thick slab of a rare variety, but granites that are in greater supply compete in cost—or come in cheaper than—many other popular options. Renovating on a shoestring? Eldredge points out that many homeowners keep a lid on the budget by specifying granite for select application in “hardworking, high-profile areas,” such as the kitchen island, rather than throughout the entire room. In the end, although granite countertops may be a luxury, many homeowners find them to be an affordable one.


Of course, at the end of the day, the total project cost depends not only on the granite itself, but also on the installation fees. If you’re a budget-conscious do-it-yourselfer, the idea of handling the installation on your own may be tempting, but experts advise against it. For one thing, granite counters weigh about 18 pounds per square foot, so merely moving a slab often requires the combined strength of a small crew. For another, cutting and fitting big countertops requires specialized skills and tools that the average homeowner handyman simply doesn’t possess. Finally, there’s the fact that many homeowners view a kitchen upgrade as an overwhelming prospect. The valuable experience and perspective that the best pros bring to this complex enterprise often equals or surpasses the value of their labor. Sears Home Services knows this perhaps better than anyone. That’s why Sears project coordinators work with you from selecting a granite slab all the way to seeing it secured into place. Ready to get started? Schedule a free in-home consultation with Sears Home Services today!

Curated from Bob Vila