European Flooring

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Three Design Boards using Reclaimed Veneer Belgian Red Bricks

There are a lot of bricks on the market today.  Brick has been a building material for centuries across the globe for exterior structures, but thanks to the industrial vintage trend, finding an exposed interior brick wall is like discovering gold.

Reclaimed Belgian Veneer Bricks for Focal Walls, Back Splash and Fireplace Surrounds

Of course, if one is building a new structure, one has the opportunity to erect an interior brick wall. But why all the fuss?  What makes these brick walls so loved by so many?  In terms of design, it's about texture and color.  However, not all bricks are alike and getting the wrong color and wrong texture of brick will not allow for too many design successes.
This is where I want to lavish praise on our Reclaimed Veneer Belgian Red Bricks.  As a veneer, one does not need to create a standing wall of brick to achieve that focal wall - one simply needs to install the brick with cement and use a grout bag to fill-in the joints. The market is inundated with veneer brick so this is not too ground breaking.  But what is ground breaking, is the fabulous texture of the reclaimed Belgian brick and it's inherit color ranges. 
Here is the first of three design boards I created using our reclaimed veneer Belgian bricks. Thanks to time and the clay used over 150 years ago in Belgium, we are witnessing a brick that has inherent oak and stone colors within the soft reds.  This allowed me to create a design board with a tone-on-tone theme while highlighting textural contrast for interest.  The Maison d'Isabelle Aged French Limestone Flooring has a satin and hammered patina that holds the eye while it's color variation remains minimal. These beautiful stone oak colors within the Maison d'Isabelle French Limestone partner perfectly with the stone oak colors inside the veneer bricks.  I then chose in our Kings of France 18th Century Oak Flooring Collection the wide plank floor called Vintage Oak.  The Vintage Oak color is again at play within the veneer brick and the same tonal value as the Maison d'Isabelle French limestone, just a richer color saturation.  This is a circle that they eye finds so appealing.  
Onto Design Board 2:
In this design board, my intent was to highlight the creams and whites inherent in our reclaimed veneer Belgian brick.  This is a twist on a traditional kitchen using our Perfect Cream White subway tile that remains a classic, but definitely with a European vintage feel due to it's soft edging and crazed texture. I love the reflection and smoothness of the subway tile contrasting with the opaque, brick texture of our veneer reclaimed bricks. The eye loves this, for we love contrast - but not a too extreme contrast. Thanks to the soft reds and creams within the veneer reclaimed bricks, our Perfect Cream White subway tile has found a perfect partner for a focal wall. I wanted to continue with a light ambiance so I chose in our Kings of France 18th century Oak Flooring Collection the wide-plank floors in Aged Cask. These lighter white oak colors, like that of a cask oak barrel, keeps the light values on the floor while synchronizing with the cream whites of the subway tile and the creams within the veneer reclaimed Belgian brick. We have completed another circle for the eye and this makes us happy in the interior design world.
Final Design Board...Design Board 3:

This last design board is classic in terms of a Belgian interior design color path.  Mixing oak + blue + red is seen throughout Belgium interiors and not only that, but blending modern with farmhouse styles, hold interest to the eye due to contrasting textures.  In this design board I chose our Mid-Century Modern Aged Belgian Bluestone because I love the satin, smooth patina with slight reflection against the opacity of the bricks and wood flooring.  This modern element, that contrasts with the vintage textures, is sublime.  When it comes to the red element of this style, I love our Belgian veneer reclaimed red brick because it's not the primary color red that screams so loudly, "I am red!".  This is not the goal to mix two primary colors - red and blue - like from a crayon box.  The goal is subtlety - meaning soft reds and hopefully other colors within the red brick, like ours have with the stone and oak colors.  These oak colors, within the veneer brick, are the bridge to the Belgian bluestone, for oak and black blues together have the same light value on the light to dark value scale.  This means our eye reads two colors - but our mind feels a unison of one color group.  This is why I chose Cèpes this time from our Kings of France 18th Century Oak Flooring Collection.  These deep oak colors are drinking in the rich blue blacks of the Belgian bluestone - so again, two colors but one color group.  Finally, having a focal wall or back splash of the reclaimed veneer Belgian bricks adds a light value that brings up the depth of the blues and oaks, keeping the contrast of light and dark at play. The soft, opaque brick textures contrast to the smooth aged wood floors and the satin patina of the Belgian bluestone - which allows a final, third circle to be completed in this study.
Phew! This is a lot of information and perhaps you got through the entire blog?  I hope so and I hope you have become inspired.
Thank you for your time,

Emmi Micallef
Co-Founder, Historic Decorative Materials, a Division of Pavé Tile, Wood & Stone, Inc.

Friday, March 10, 2017

A Gallery of the Kings of France Aged 18th Century French Oak Floors

The Kings of France Aged French Oak Flooring is one of the most beautiful aged oak floors on the market today.  The skill of these artisans reclaiming new oak to render 18th century planks in color and texture is extraordinary.  Available in wide-plank solid, engineered, chevron, herringbone and parquet de Versailles, below are images of installations that help one to understand what a truly beautiful aged wood floor is.

This color in Danish Whitewash creates the authentic ambiance so many people love when designing a Danish inspired ambiance.  This color also lends itself so well when creating a modern farmhouse aesthetic.

The warmth of these Kings of France oak floors, called Cèpes are regal but relaxed at the same time.

Parquet de Versailles flooring in an aged worn oak, exuding it's natural colors, is timeless.

Smolder is the color that has the perfect balance of browns and greys.  A richness that is authentic as it is historic.

This perfect patina of Kings of France chevron floors is an 18th century marvel of the artisans technique, experience and talent.

Mixing textures is essential in any good design.  Browns + Blue = Perfection.  So what if you combine Kings of France Aged French Oak Floors in Cèpes with Reclaimed Belgian Grey Bricks and Antique Belgian Bluestone Pavers?  Gorgeous!

Vintage Oak in the Kings of France collection is a color that unites warm oaks with greys. One can easily enter golden hues as well as steel blacks and charcoals.

Here we see again blues and browns - this time our Reclaimed Belgian bricks within the fireplace hearth is lovely with the lighter tones of our light cognac Kings of France Aged French Oak Floors.  The creamy white French limestone fireplace partners well with the light wood flooring.

As one can see, the Kings of France Aged French Oak Collection is fabulous. As a wide-plank wood floor in either solid or engineered, the possibilities that present itself are extraordinary.

To view the entire collection, specs and pricing, you can go to our new Ecommerce division, Historic Decorative Materials at

Thank you for your time,

Emmi Micallef
Co-founder Pavé Tile, Wood & Stone, Inc. and Historic Decorative Materials

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Design Board: The Belgian Farmhouse Modern Aesthetic

Is it trending or just beautiful?
Mixing materials and styles is the key to achieving the Belgian Farmhouse Modern Aesthetic. The contrast between old world and new makes both elements pop and the eye never tires of these juxtaposed surface textures
Where to begin?  I would begin with LIGHT.  Large windows that fill the room with light is the first essential in a Belgian interior.  After that has been established, the combination of colors for this aesthetic is blue/blacks + reds + oak.
The blue/black colors are achieved with two elements: the stone floors and the metal beams.
Begin with the floor.  Historic Decorative Materials 17th Century Antwerp Aged Belgian Bluestone Pavers are an authentic and beautiful choice to achieve the "farmhouse" part of this Belgian Farmhouse Modern aesthetic.
These 17th Century Antwerp Aged Belgian Bluestone pavers are bar none when it comes to authentic reproduction of 17th century bluestone.  Hand-finished, the rich blue black colors, the variation of the blue tones and finally the light and dark values add historic interest and character.
And when these floors are installed along with the black metal casings and rafters - the magic begins.  Think of a mountainous horizon with the tactile textures of the stone peaks set up against the silky blue sky.  This is nature at her best and the contrast of these two elements is well...divine.
Ok - next up...the color oak.  Oak and blue/black is a match made in design heaven. Why do blues and browns partner so well?  In my opinion, it is about value which is the degree of light an element brings into a room.  The both have similar values on the light-dark scale, maybe a 5 or 6.  This means that even though they are two separate colors, they read as one element in the room because their light/dark contrast is neutralized.  And to create a brown - one mixes it's compliements.  So to achieve an oak color, one could mix blue +orange.  The brown color, holding a blue tone within it as well as an orange tone is an inherent compliment to the blue/black of the Belgian bluestone.
The image above is Historic Decorative Materials Kings of France Aged French Oak Wide-Plank flooring in Weathered Oak. These pre-finished oak floors could easily compare to 17th century reclaimed French oak planks.  Hand-finished with aging techniques held secret on top of that mountain I spoke about earlier, comparing these woods floors to any other on the market would be futile at best.
And finally, the last amazing element in this design blog for the Belgian Farmhouse Modern Aesthetic is reclaimed Belgian red bricks.  The soft color palette of the reclaimed Belgian red brick is not off-puttingly "too red".  Red and blue are both primary colors and it is best to install a soft red that won't compete in saturation to the blues already established in the Belgian bluestone pavers.
The wonderful material that is reclaimed Belgian red brick is that it can be installed as a focal wall, a ceiling, a floor or a fireplace surround.  In the image below, notice how the metal modern elements in the lamp compliment the soft, organic terra cotta textures of the reclaimed brick.
Putting all the deconstructed elements back in place...I am affirmed once again that my eye will never tire of the Belgian Farmhouse Modern Aesthetic.
Thank you for your time.
Emmi Micallef
Co-Founder, Historic Decorative Materials, a Division of Pavé Tile, Wood & Stone, Inc.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Get the Look! Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen's French and Belgian Farmhouse Aesthetic in LA

Spending time in Belgium and France, one becomes accustom to the style of beauty that is seen in the lovely old world European home of Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen. Architectural Digest covered their home in September 2013 with glossy images of light-filled rooms installed with reclaimed and aged French oak flooring and antique Belgian Bluestone pavers.  It is now February 2017 and the Brady/Bündchen home is a beacon of style for American shores, where the aesthetic across that European pond is still a mix-match of styles that I have a hard time defining.  One simply will not find so many materials used in one place as designers and homeowners seem to do in the United States.  I have a three color rule maximum and in regards to material - less is more.
What does this mean then for someone who wants to translate the spectacular look and feel of the Brady/Bündchen home?  Where would one start? 
The first thing is to choose materials that transmit the French and Belgian farmhouse aesthetic into a home and starting with the flooring is the anchor to which all other elements will depend.  To capture the flooring of Tom and Gisele's home, who used antique French oak wide plank wood floors and antique Belgian bluestone pavers throughout, one does not have to look further than Historic Decorative Materials Kings of France Aged Wide Plank Oak Flooring Collection or Original Patina 17th & 18th Century French Reclaimed Oak Flooring Collection.
The image above is an aged wood floor that has an 18th century patina simply unmatched.  From our King's of France Collection, this particular color is called Cèpes (named after the Italian mushroom). I almost want to define this color in terms of the Japanese defined 5th taste that is Umami.  It is the savory color defined by a feeling, that leaves one feeling transported.  The mushroom browns with whispers of grey mingle to the eye's delight, igniting some memory long ago when surely life was perfect.  The aging technique of this French oak floor is a secret locked in a box, into another box, than on top of a a box.  This sentence means you will simply not find anywhere a wood floor comparable in authenticity, texture and aging technique as the King's of France Collection.  
As a wide-plank floor in either solid or engineered, one can also add interest by installing the Parquet de Versailles aged French oak wood floors like Tom and Gisele did in their home.

Onto the stone floor.  Belgian Bluestone pavers are building a reputation in America for it's strength, beauty and refreshing color change that is of a blue/gray or blue/black.  It creates new possibilities for design and is that welcome change from the ubiquitous stone floors that tend to be the same color as the walls...usually some sort of neutral beige. Contrast is the key when designing with Belgian bluestone - juxtaposing these rich saturated colors with whites for a pop or browns for softer aesthetics.

Not all bluestone is alike in terms of color and texture.  Bluestone is quarried all over the world including China and Vietnam.  Of course, my preference is the authentic Belgian bluestone...from Belgium.  At Historic Decorative Materials, we have the original antique 17th century Belgian bluestone salvaged from churches, squares and fine manor homes around Belgium or aged Belgian bluestone pavers that are aged to look like 18th century stones.  The Brady/Bündchen home uses antique Belgian bluestone that creates a sea of blue/black patina that contrasts with their white soft stucco walls and arched porticos.

I am happy to say that the quality and the provenance of their antique Belgian bluestone pavers is found as well with us, at Historic Decorative Materials.  We pride ourselves on not settling for any material that is not the authentic material, and as seen from the images below, the color and patina of our antique Belgian bluestone pavers are extraordinary.
At this point, I am swaying a bit away from the Brady/Bündchen home in terms of style. The article in Architectural Digest describes their home as "old-world European architecture—think French château via the Pacific Coast Highway".  The reality is not everyone lives on the California coast and the final two design elements I am personally adding are not only beautifully authentic with the materials discussed so far, but very much on trend 2017.
The first is the antique blue grey fireplace from Burgundy, France.  In it's simplicity - it is breathtaking.  And it goes without saying that the blue grey French stone with it's sister flooring of Belgian bluestone is a heavenly match of quiet, neutral soft tones, perfectly paired with the warm cognac and cèpes colors of the aged French oak wood floors.  The hearth and firebox would be most complete when using our reclaimed Belgian blue gray bricks.  This will add texture and contrast to the smooth curved stone of the fireplace mantel but remain within the blue grey color tones that would read as one piece on a wall.
And last but not least is a decorative tile that adds refreshing contrast to the subdued surfaces at play here.  In Tom and Gisele's home, they chose a reclaimed Tunisian tile with a multitude of colors. This was back in 2013.  Today, with Elle Decor claiming celestial prints on trend now in 2017 (and I am never one to chase trends...ever), it just so happens I painted a celestial design that is found in our 16th Century On the Road to Florence Italian Decorative Tile Collection.  I unearthed lost Renaissance archives of 17th Century Florentine motifs and repainted the designs onto tile.  I choose a Florentine Midnight blue glaze - a blue black that synchronizes with the blues of the Belgian bluestone and provides a cooler contrast to the warm French wood floors.

The decorative tile above from the On the Road to Florence Collection is called Stelle di Galileo.
I will end this blog with the image that began it...pulling back all the deconstructed elements into one design board for the overall effect.  And overall, when I view these materials, it triggers warm memories with friends I have had in the French and Belgium countryside.  The natural materials with the blue-greys, cognacs and whites make for a peaceful and lovely existence. 
Designing a home today with so much choice on the market is daunting.  I believe this is why many homeowners have gone to a white-on-white aesthetic. While this white design has it's place and is beautiful, it creates a coldness, a not well-lived in, unrealistic environment. Perfection is not the goal here.  Living is.  Adding kids toys and clothing and books and mail to a white-on-white perfection is a constant stain and the need to keep extremely tidy may weigh on  the homeowner.  When a home has an already warm, well-lived in ambiance, perhaps a homeowner will feel more mindful and enjoy the moments of her beautiful home instead of creating a checklist of things that need to be done.
As a wrap up achieving the Brady/Bündchen home, who honors a life well-lived, sticking with a few select, warm materials throughout the home, will help in the design process. As for me, in love with the French and Belgian farmhouse aesthetic, hats off to Tom and Gisele whose home exemplifies this authentic style, ahead of the trends back in 2013.
Thank you for your time,
Emmi Micallef
Historic Decorative Materials, a Division of Pavé Tile, Wood & Stone, Inc.

A Vintage Wall Tile Collection LOOK BOOK

Our goal at Pavé Tile, Wood & Stone, Inc. is to stand true to our passion and niche in the tile and stone market place.  With our love of antique and aged French and Belgian building materials, it became apparent that if one wanted to continue within this aesthetic, what compliment material would equate with these historic materials?

Pairing a beautifully aged French limestone paver or an aged French oak wide-plank floor with a subway tile or a sleek marble water jet mosaic back splash perhaps has its place. It is true that eclectic décor, mixing different design materials, can create intriguing spaces. And it is also true how cloying an interior can become when focusing solely on one single aesthetic, like the outdated Tuscan style ambiance with heavy architectural wood moldings and heavy decorative tile motifs in a multitude of colors.
What was the middle ground?  Decorative tiles that exude beauty, history, elegance and subtlety to pair with historic materials seemed to be more of a yearning for us - not a reality.
Context.  As a former high school French teacher, I learned in graduate school that to teach anybody anything - one must place information in a student's own hierarchical knowledge context.  Direct translation aside, the subject pronoun "I" can be substituted with "je" and so forth.  This knowledge ran through my mind as I toyed with the idea of painting my own decorative wall tile collections for our company.  I needed to stay within a context of what many understood and of course, related to.

I knew from the multitude of design patterns on the marketplace today, designs are accepted and loved by many.  I also realized many of these designs don't have a context for those who purchase them - but they have an instinct to love them none-the-less.  My goal then was to take the love of pattern, fit it into an historic context for our French and Belgian building materials, and hopefully with the story behind the designs, the "why" in creating them - our vision would be completed and understood.

At this point, I have created four historical decorative tile collections, two more on the way, with deep roots in art history.  The colors I have chosen are subtle.  The decorative motifs are elegant and not overdone and they work incredibly well with antique materials without being cloying. Pairing these decorative wall tile collections with antique or aged wood and stone flooring made sense for us within our company.  We know the strength of classic, beautifully made materials that transcend time and trends.  We believe we did add something relevant into this tile world - and this to us, makes for a beautiful home.

To view all our collections of our Historic Decorative Materials Vintage Tile Collections, go to
We hope you will be inspired.
Thank you for your time,
Emmi Micallef
co-owner, Historic Decorative Materials, a Division of Pavé Tile, Wood & Stone,