Great Design Ideas

Good Design is Timeless

A Templer Interiors project was  featured recently on Houzz, see it here

We have been featured fairly often on Houzz, and it is always very complimentary and satisfying to have one’s work recognised. But in this case, it is particularly pleasing as the photo used is from a project that was completed 10 years ago.

That’s proof that good design is timeless!


By |November 21st, 2016|Blog, Great Design Ideas|0 Comments

Tile Design for Kitchens and Bathrooms

I’ve been thinking about tile design lately, maybe because I am designing my own renovation and so I’m thinking a lot about all design details. Or maybe it’s because I just love tile, and tile design. The trend today is for very simple, plain designs. Often described as “clean” it is essentially the absence of detail or colour. We have all seen this look: one colour throughout a bathroom, perhaps with a darker shade on the floors than on the walls. A nice trend that adds interest even to the one colour simple designs are all of the new brick tiles, rectangular rather than square shapes, in various sizes. But the trend for simple has these tiles installed in straight lines, like soldiers on parade, rather than the more classic offset installation.

But what do you do when you want something different? A little pizzazz, a little ooomph, or even just a little colour? It’s not that hard to make simple interesting. And if you are daring, I have some more extreme examples, so keep reading.

Simple, classic, yet still interesting is a good place to start:

tile design

There isn’t much design needed for tile layout, anyone can do it. But what makes this example work, and look great, is the attention to detail. Most important with any type of stone is to match the pieces before installation. This particular white marble – and there are hundreds of quarries around the world so be assured that not all white marble will look the same – varies in the veining, from subtle to very agressive, and even in the colour – some of the white was not white at all, but tinged with green.

Here is a way to use large, relatively inexpensive tiles in an interesting and special way:

tile design

The wall and floor tiles are the same, just in two colours. It’s a beautiful, dramatic tile because of it’s size and modern shape. And yes, available in New Zealand. But what’s different? It’s use on the walls – this is generally a floor tile – and that it is running vertically up the wall, making low ceilings feel taller. But most interesting is that little accent strip. This is a very beautiful art glass tile that has been inserted at intervals around the walls to lend interest and draw your eye.

Here is another simple way to add something special:

Tile design

A sheet or two of expensive glass tile, using just two or three rows, running around a floor or on a wall, can elevate a basic tile installation. And at relatively low cost because of the small amount your will need.

Or use the same treatment to highlight a special keepsake:

tile design

This is a hand painted tile picked up on trip to Mexico. It has great meaning, is very personal and in this application, helps create a very unique kitchen splash.

What about classic design gone modern? Have a look at this updated villa fireplace surround:

tile design

Any tile will do, and how much more interesting is this than brick or stone slab?

Sometimes a little accent can go a long way:

tile design

This is an inexpensive porcelain tile, the kind we all love to use, with the look of stone but the durability of a man made product. Simple squares laid on the floor, in the shower and up the walls. Not that special. Except when you add a colourful trim piece as a cap, plus a dramatic wall colour, and your inexpensive little guest bathroom is design magazine worthy. And without breaking the bank!

Another simple idea that will add interest to your basic white brick tile design:

tile design

You don’t need to find these specific tiles, the design idea is the same with any tiles. Whatever tile runs on the wall, pick a height to add a detail strip. Often a decorative tile with a design within is the easiest to add into your field tile (the field is the main tile used). In this example, we have not used a special decorative strip, simply a different colour tile in a different shape. Then added a small feature strip top and bottom to highlight, accentuate and add colour.

The same bathroom, using the same tile in a different application:

tile design

Using the same accent tiles in the back of the shower alcove lends interest to the alcove and also ties the wall tile in with the shower tile design. Another little trick to add interest here: the brick shaped tiles that run horizontally on the walls are run vertically in the shower. This is interesting and gives the illusion of height in this small room.

Which brings me to shower alcoves. I am absolutely mad for alcoves! Especially in bathrooms, where space is at a premium, I love to use all of those gaps between the framing boards for storage. For one of my favourite projects, we put five alcoves into one bathroom! There were two in the large shower, one above the tub, and two set into the walls for flower vases. But alcoves are also the ideal place to have some fun with tile. It’s a tiny area so the expenditure is low, but what a dramatic impact it can have! Here are just a few examples of fun alcoves I have designed:

tile design

tile design

tile design

tile design

Okay, sorry, the turtles are not in an alcove, but I couldn’t resist adding them here ;-)

Some final ideas for you to think about when planning your tile designs, some simple, some not so, but all very special:

tile design

tile design

tile design italian stone tile

And finally, here’s a sneak peak of my custom mosaic backsplash, that moved all the way from San Francisco with me, and will soon re-appear in my Auckland home:

custom mosaic glass tile backsplash

Happy Tiling!

By |February 19th, 2012|Great Design Ideas|0 Comments

The Kitchen Corner

One of my favorite design tricks, and a feature that pops up again and again in my kitchen designs, is to treat an end corner as a special area. Most kitchen designs have open sides, where a run of cabinets will start at a wall but then the end opens to a room. Sometimes there is a walkway there, either heading down a hall or into another room. Sometimes there is a window at the end so the cabinets don’t head all the way to the wall. Sometimes the lower cabinets continue along one side while the uppers stop. Whatever the room or cabinet layout, I always try to finish an end with something interesting. And interesting to me usually means open shelves where the owner can make a personal statement. Some examples:

kitchen design, corner cabinets, pendant lightHere we have a glass fronted cabinet that balances one of the same size and design on the other side of the hood, with a little wine cubby alongside, then open shelves at the very end. Open to a window at the side, and with a counter continuing along in front, this configuration adds interest and draws the eye the way another plain glass fronted cabinet would not.

kitchen design, glass fronted cabinets, open shelfHere a much simpler version. This kitchen has glass fronted doors on all of the upper cabinets, and with a window so close to the end run, plus window trim that would interfere should the cabinets run straight to the wall, I have held the last cabinet away from the wall by just a few centimeters, and added a narrow open shelf. Again it serves to draw the eye, adds interest and allows the owner to display something personal, in this case her collection of antique cookbooks.

kitchen design, kitchen cabinets, open shelves, pendant lightsBeyond the sink, to the right of what is seen in the photo, is a window on the side wall, next to a door that goes to the garden. In this layout, it was decided to not run overhead cabinets above the sink. The result is a wonderful feeling of openness in a long, narrow kitchen with nothing to interfere with the natural light that streams in. But a regular cabinet, with a flat side at the end run would not only look plain, but feel claustrophobic. A narrow shelf cabinet, open on two sides, solves this nicely. It contributes to the open feel and gives the owner a place to display some of her Italian ceramic dishes.

unique kitchen design, personal style, kitchen cabinetsAnd here something entirely different! There are almost no upper cabinets in this large kitchen, except a few at the far end of this counter that are small, boxy and discreet, similar to this display box, but with glass doors. To the left and right of these shelves are windows. But the end of the counter still has something different and something interesting. Rather than end the run with a simple squared off counter and cabinet side, I have extended the granite benchtop with an overhang for a chair, and added an elegant curve to the counter to soften the hard, straight lines running throughout the cabinet design. This is a comfy little space to make a phone call, pay the bills, or just have your morning cuppa! BTW, I just love the colours here, and look closely at the splashback design. This is a great kitchen! Check out the rest of the photos here.


By |November 8th, 2011|Great Design Ideas|0 Comments

Stylish Range Cookers

traditional kitchen, la cornue stove, white cabinets, tile backsplash

A true classic from France, La Cornue has been making high end, fabulous cookers for over 100 years. One of the most sought ofter, luxury stoves in Europe and the US, FL Bone of Auckland has added this to their amazing line of beautiful and hard working stoves from the UK, such as AGA, the standard in olde English homes for centuries

AGA stove, traditional kitchenIn New Zealand, AGA is sold under the name of the parent company, Falcon, along with the Falcon, Rangemaster, Mercury and Rayburn brands of more affordable, while still hard working, great performers. Available in a dozen finishes, including stainless steel, black, white, ivory, and a range of bright colours for the more daring, these range cookers are a great starting point for a unique kitchen design while offering excellent cooking performance.

And I speak from personal experience. Last year I needed to buy a new cooker. The top end US brands, Viking and Wolf, while available here, are prohibitively expensive. And although I have specified them dozens of times for clients, the heavy duty commercial stainless look is not to my personal taste. So I did a massive amount of research to familiarise myself with locally available brands, like Ilve, Smeg, Award and others. I looked at performance and reliability, compared that to cost – value for the dollar – and the look of the appliance. I am very particular about the performance of my gadgets, big and small, and I cook a lot. I also wanted this to be a lifetime purchase, so I needed to get it right.

My research took me to online user review sites, mostly Australian and UK based, mixed in Consumer’s NZ product testing, with manufacturer claims of performance. And I talked to loads of people, including salespeople, kitchen designers and end users of different brands.

All of my research led to one clear conclusion and I became the proud owner of a Falcon Rangemaster Professional+FX in Ivory. And I love it! It will be the starting point for my new kitchen design and I am sure there will be a lot more said about it in future blog posts. For now, if you are thinking of a new range cooker, get yourself down to FL Bone and check them out. My stove cost less than the mid-line Smeg, much less than any model Ilve and I am very confident from all of my research that it performs better and will last longer.



By |November 8th, 2011|Great Design Ideas|0 Comments

Resin panels

resin panels, bathroom design, 3-formWho could not love the look of these panels? These are by a company called 3-Form out of the US, and part of their Varia Ecoresin line. Distributed in New Zealand by Carter Holt Harvey, these are translucent resin panels in a variety of design choices. With a huge range, my personal favorite is the Organics collection, which offers not just a natural look, but is truly natural! They suspend real materials in the resin, things like Bear Grass and twigs with names like Thatch and Ting Ting! The one in the photo above is called “Hydrangea Thatch” and yes, those are real flower petals and twigs suspended in clear resin!

this one is Criss Cross,3-form, bathroom design, door panel

and here’s Green Tea:3-form, resin panel, closet design

There are so many uses for these amazing panels! They add interest while letting the light in. And they can create a look and feel that textured glass cannot. I have used some of the organics as inserts into cabinet doors to create a Japanese style in a couple of bathrooms. For closets and entry doors, there is privacy, but still the light comes through, and these are so much more interesting than frosted glass. For a kitchen, so many different and interesting looks can be achieved with 3-Form inserts in cabinet doors. For a bathroom design, I used Fossil Leaf  as a shower door panel in place of glass. The subtle, clear leaf design echoed the leaf imprint in the floor tiles. One of my favorite San Francisco restaurants uses Bamboo Rings as the back wall for their line up of drinks bottles. Back lit, and a perfect compliment to the bamboo floors and panels used throughout, they look so incredibly cool!

Can you tell that I just love these panels? They are so beautiful, so interesting, so unique! With these, we can create a truly individual accent. Add to that, they are so environmentally friendly! These panels are made from a minimum of 40% pre-consumer recycled resin.



By |November 1st, 2011|Great Design Ideas|0 Comments

Lighting, Lighting and more Lighting!

Lighting is one of my passions. Okay, I do have a few of them, in design that is. I get weak in the knees over beautiful tiles, can get unseemly over shiny taps, and turn to jelly over fabulous, well built joinery. But lighting! Now there’s a really special world. Well, until I moved to New Zealand that is. One lighting store after another had white pendant lights, white ceiling fixtures, plain sconces, with barely a blown glass shade in sight. Even the really high end stores, with European imports, seemed devoid of anything that didn’t look like it belonged in a Woody Allen fantasy of the future. All stark. All plain. All the same.

Until now! Finally, some of my favorite light fixtures are being imported into New Zealand! Hinkley, with their beautiful outdoor lighting and the glamorous Frederick Ramond Collection. Kichler Lighting, voted #1 in 2011, and including a full line of fans with built in lighting. And my true love, Hubbardton Forge Lighting! Here are just a few examples of sconces used in bathrooms:

lighting, wall sconces, modern sink basin, tile design, white tiles

vanity and lightingJapanese bath with lighting

Hubbardton Forge was one of my go-to companies on so many projects, in rooms throughout the house, because of their versatility. They have collections that allow you to have the same, or very similar, look throughout the house. Perfect for our open plan style homes, as you look from one room through to another, there is a consistent design feel throughout. Since they offer all of their models in multiple finishes and multiple design options, this means that rather than all being the same, they can be unique while still maintaining a cohesive design.

By |October 24th, 2011|Great Design Ideas|0 Comments

A Dog Shower

For the person who has everything, including dogs! How about an indoor/outdoor shower to wash the bush and the beach off those pooches before they come inside your beautiful clean home?tile design, dog shower, specialty shower design


These clients live at the edge of a large reserve, and have two large flat coat retrievers. The owner takes the dogs for a run daily, either in the bush or off to the beach. Everyone comes back covered in mud and sand. The solution was to convert the former laundry into this clever and useful specialty shower. One wall of this room is shared with the garage, so a door was placed there. Then the whole room, including floor and ceiling, was covered in durable and easy to clean ceramic tile. The other door, the one shown in the photo, opens into the house.tile design, speciality bathroom design, dog shower

The custom built bench lifts out of the way so that there is plenty of room for washing, dogs and yourself if needed, when coming in through the garage door from outside. When the bench is dropped back down, this creates an area for drying off before entering the house.

And with all of these amenities, who says it’s only for the dogs?!


By |October 24th, 2011|Great Design Ideas|0 Comments