When it comes to combining tile with a tiny home, you need a solution that is beautiful, functional, and makes the space feel as big as possible. Rita Carson Guest of Carson Guest Interior Design took her inspiration for the Coverings Installation Design Showcase (IDS) tiny home from the Crossville Tile she chose, and which the expert installers from J&R Tile brought to life in the CG Villa of Coverings 2018.
We caught up with Rita to learn more about the design side of this project.
Rita Carson Guest Discusses the CG Villa and How Tile Affected its Design
CTEF: Tell us about your background and how you got started in design.
RCG: I have a bachelors’ degree in interior design and have been practicing since the early 70s. I started my career working for a design firm that specialized in a wide range of design projects including clubs, banks, offices, and law firms while doing work in the architectural studio.
I opened my own firm in 1984 after working there 11 ½ years.
CTEF: What is the specialty of Carson Guest?
RCG: We specialize in law office design and luxury residential design.
CTEF: Do you normally design with tile on every surface?
RCG: That depends on what you mean by tile. Most people mean synthetic products. We use a lot of natural products, both tile and slab materials.
Since this home was for a tile show, I wanted to show how tile could be used in different ways than normally considered.
CTEF: What did you have to consider that you normally wouldn’t for this project?
RCG: Budget is always a part of all projects, but this budget was much lower than any we’ve ever encountered.
The tile materials and installation were all provided by the sponsors, but all of the other materials including furniture, cabinets, plumbing fixtures (other than the faucets and shower fixtures provided by our great Hansgrohe sponsor), appliances, sinks, accessories, artwork, hardware, rugs, handrails, closet rods, shelving, and specialty lighting were all out of our budget.
A carpenter was provided to install the cabinets and shelving we provided, and a plumber to install the plumbing fixtures.
CTEF: What was your design inspiration for the CG Villa?
RCG: The design inspiration started with the tile that we selected from Crossville.
Most of the tile we used was their thin panel Laminam material for most walls and floors. The material is really beautiful. This is a large tile panel that can skin both floors and walls. It's a durable and creative solution for tight spaces. Laminam tile panels are available in thicknesses of 3+mm and 5.6mm, which is perfect to keep the weight light for mobile Tiny Homes where weight is a concern.Our home is contemporary in style using neutral colors with light colored walls to make the space appear larger.
We used the tile as a starting point for our design and built the design around the tile which is used for walls, floors, the shower, and the countertops.
We wanted to feature a beautiful tile solution since Coverings is a tile and stone show.
CTEF: What unexpected situations came up?
RCG: We used Crossville’s beautiful glass tile for the shower walls and for the backsplash in the kitchen. The contractor called to say the tile was breaking when drilled to hang the kitchen shelving. Our wonderful tile installation partner, Erin Albrecht told us we could use their Ardex glue to install the shelves. It is very powerful and bonds to tile quickly and well.
We also got a call to tell us that there was not enough of our planned tile for one of the walls so we had to select an alternate material.
Then we got the call that the special light fixtures were not working so we had to rush to find new ones for our one week install.
The contractor ran out of time to install our handrail to one of the lofts, so we installed planters on the stairs to prevent people from walking up for safety.
We got a call that the cabinet drawers would not work around the plumbing in the kitchen, so we had to get new drawers to fit.
Another call to say the refrigerator planned would not fit through the front door which was built smaller than we showed on our plan.
We had another scare that the washer/dryer might not fit since the walls were not built exactly as dimensioned, but we were able to squeeze it into the space.
The sectional sofa lounge section was deeper than noted when we ordered it so it didn’t fit, so we had to take it apart and reconfigure the sofa.
Fortunately, we were able to put the lounge section in one of the lofts.
There were rescue dogs at the show and were able to donate the dog bed we purchased for the loft for one of the dogs that we fell in love with when she visited our Tiny home. She was so happy with her new bed.
Carson Guest's Kim Seiger and a happy rescue puppy
We ended up being at the site almost the entire construction period because of issues to be resolved or running around town finding products needed to work. It was definitely challenging; however, it was fun to work with Erin and her great team as well as Hummingbird, the Tiny Home builder who built the shell.
CTEF: What new perspective about tile installation did you gain because of this project?
RCG: We found that working with a quality tile installer like Erin Albrecht’s company, who knows how to install the thin panels is critical to a successful installation.
CTEF: Do you normally work with Qualified Labor and Certified Tile Installers?
RCG: We try to but have worked on projects where we couldn’t use thin panel materials because the tile installer was not capable of doing the installation.
CTEF: What did you love most about this project?
RCG: I loved working with Erin and the team from J&R and learning about the Ardex products that are really incredible. The Coverings team were also very helpful.
CTEF: What was most frustrating?
RCG: The most frustrating part of the project was finding parts of the home that we understood would be built as part of the shell, not built.
We had to work hard to find materials quickly to be used to finish the home.
CTEF: Any final thoughts?
RCG: This was definitely a new experience for our team. It was fun to design something totally different than we had done before and to shop and find affordable solutions to work that were available immediately.
We are fortunate to have the resources we have here in Atlanta to pull this off. It was also fun to meet the other design teams and share experiences. All of the teams were great designers.
CTEF: Rita, thank you and congratulations on the CG Villa!
Coverings Ambassador Alena Capra on the left with Erin Albrecht, J&R Tile, in the middle and Rita Carson Guest, Carson Guest Design, on the right.
Did you have a chance to explore the Installation Design Showcase and the CG Villa tiny house while you were at Coverings? What was your reaction to the space, the tile and this showcase of talent?
Thanks for reading!