DEAR DESIGNER: I have a small condo and would like to remove the carpets and replace it with tile. I was told to use 20-inch tile as this would make the condo look larger. Is this true? Also, what would you do with the baseboards that look awful? Thanks. – Ken
DEAR KEN: Flooring choices can have a significant bearing on perception of room size; however, the size of tile you use doesn’t have as much influence on making a room look larger or smaller as the color does. A lighter tile will make the room appear larger while a darker tile will make it appear smaller.
Installing tile into a small condo certainly has its advantages. Unlike carpet, tile doesn’t retain dust mites, is easy to clean and lasts forever. Because tile is such a hard and (seemingly) permanent addition to your condo, it is good to consider a few things before making your final decision.
One advantage to using large tile is there are less grout lines. When adding small tiles, with lots of grout lines, you are adding a lot of busyness to your floor. When you have limited space and need to fill it with furniture and fixtures, the room can look cluttered quickly. Large tiles stop the commotion and look good in any size room.
Forgo the border. A tile border can be a wonderful addition to a large space, but will make a small area appear smaller. If you want to add a little something special, try placing decorative tiles, sparingly, around your floor. They can break up the monotony without making your space seem smaller.
Another consideration is the tile layout. Your tile store or installer can give you a brochure, showing the many patterns available. Because your condo is small, it will be best to stay away from complicated or busy patterns. Try laying the tile in a diamond, brick or straight layout. The simplicity of these patterns will help to make your space appear spacious and neat.
A condo suggests that there are neighbors, possibly above or below you. Tile is a hard and loud surface. Be sure to read your CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions) to see if a sound reducing underlay is required. Noblecompany.com has a sound isolation sheet called the Nobleseal SIS that can be installed under tile or hardwood. It helps to block the loud sound of someone walking across a hard-surface floor. Your neighbors will thank you.
Paint, the easiest fix, can make a huge difference to old and chipped baseboards. If they are seriously beat up or partly missing, they are quite easy to replace. A nice new baseboard can add a wonderful finishing touch to a new tile floor.
Keeping a small space simple and well-designed will serve you well. A simple floor is something that you will not grow tired of and is good for resale. You will be able to change your furniture and accessories to achieve a whole new look, while maintaining the classic look of a well-designed floor.
Cindy Payne is a certified interior designer with more than 25 years of experience, a member of the American Society of Interior Designers, as well as a licensed contractor. E-mail questions to her at deardesigner@
projectdesigninteriors.com or send them to her at Project Design Interiors, 2620 S. Maryland Parkway, Suite 189, Las Vegas, NV 89109. She can be reached online at www.projectdesigninteriors.com.