Conversation With A Client | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer


Dear Valentina,
In magazines, marble seems to be the first choice for the master bathroom. I like the traditional look of white or crème marble, but it is more maintenance. I have Corian now with no maintenance. It is great. But I want to be more upscale, age well and the “in look” for resale.
I saw honed beige travertine vanity and floor tile to match. I think honed shows more finger prints. Isn’t travertine softer than marble?
I looked at marble. Seems it’s hard to match the counter top with the floor tiles. Several places had pre-cut counter top slabs but no matching floor tile. Should the vanity match the floor? Can you do granite vanity with marble floors? I have a sample porcelain tile that looks like limestone at home.
I like it, but can I mix it with marble or a quartz countertop. Should I go all natural stone, or all porcelain and quartz?

What is the trend for upscale bathrooms? The bathroom I’m replacing, was remodeled in 1990, but It looks 1980’s. So what look would age well? More important: what’s best for resale. My 2 other bathrooms are light color wood cabinets with white Corian. Do I need to carry the white color to all the bathrooms? Is it important that all the bathrooms be similar? Should the cabinets all be light or can one be dark? For a formal look, would chrome or polished nickel look better?

Has building green really caught on? Then quartz would be in? Do you think quartz will be the replacement for granite? The granite look has been around for a long time, so when does it change? I think all granite kitchens are too heavy-looking. I looked at caesarstone, silestone, and zodiac.
I think quartz maybe more appropriate in the kitchen. But is it the next look?
The big question: what is upscale, ages well and good for resale in a pale color for a master bathroom?
Thanks for you advice.

Dear Wendy,
I would like to say one simple thing to show you how people think when in the process of buying a home:
Resale value is something people have in their mind, but it exist only to a certain extend. Why?
People buy homes mainly because of location, school district and square footage, followed by all the amenities such as how many bedrooms, closets, how many baths, how many kitchens, how many cars can fit into a garage, balconies, terraces, butler pantry, home automation, high-tech solutions, interior elevators, European doors, home theatre, wine cellars, home office, back yard, landscaping, lighting, and to an infinity of items.
People don’t buy homes because of colors in the bathrooms, or any other rooms, ever!
Having said that, any choice you make right now to improve your bathroom thinking it will sell better, 99% of the time, will be remodeled again by the new owner. New home owners will always try to add their own style to the home previously owned by somebody else. It’s our way to mark our territory.
So, please take my advice: remodel the bathroom(s) for your own pleasure and in your own style, enjoy it while you are living there and don’t worry about who is coming after you.

About the stones:
Marble is always more attractive, elegant, sophisticated and at times more expensive than granite, or anything else. It does add value to the bathroom and therefore makes it “upscale”. But “Upscale” is a perception, is an image sent to the eye. Anything can be upscale, even corian and avonite, depending on how people use stones and how they mix them together. I can arrange unexpressive stones in a gorgeous design and make it upscale.
Travertino filled or not filled is a lime stone, therefore brittle, but nonetheless durable. In Italy we have used it since the Roman times, buildings are still there and have been under the weather for centuries.
Vanity and floor are two different entities, you can match it, or you can do something totally different, there is no rule, whatever strikes your fancy.

Bathrooms don’t need to be similar and no color need to be carried from bathroom to bathroom, otherwise why would we make a distinction between Master Bath, Powder Room and Guest Baths?

You asked me if dark cabinetry are better for resale value. I like to know who makes up these rules. The only so-called “rule” to follow is:
lighter counter top, dark cabinet and darker counter top, lighter cabinet. This is what people do, but let me assure you, it is not my rule. There is never going to be a replacement for granite, people like it! It is easy to care for and maintaining, it is natural and durable, plenty available in plenty colors and in a variety of prices. Also granite can be found in so many fun finishes: polished, honed, tumbled, leather effect and many more.
I am finding that many of my clients appreciate the leather effect on granite and use it as an accent stone. They might use it only for a kitchen island, or for a small counter in powder rooms, or as a top for a piece of furniture. This finish is a bit more expensive than any other finishes, but if used wisely will add so much more value and beauty to a remodeling project.

Granite can be used as flooring, counter tops, window sills, table tops, door knobs, lighting switchplates, landscaping and many more, applications are endless.

I particularly don’t like the granite with a compact look filled with speckles, it has no life and it is boring. I like the granite with lot of movement and open fields. The lines must be book matched when joining the seems to make a continuous design, then you will see nature in a playful mood!
When spending money on any stone, make it attractive and a conversational piece.
You mentioned the caesarstone, silestone, and zodiac. Fine stones too, with attractive colors and mostly contemporary colors. They are man-made and there is nothing wrong with them, but they are not less expensive than granite, as most people think. Silestone is nothing but crushed marble chips fused together with silicon.

“Building Green” is real among those people who understand the concept and can afford it. Unfortunately, prices of the “eco-friendly material” are still way too expensive and discourage people from using them.

For a formal look, some people even use gold polished or satin chrome, or crystal. The hardware finishes must follow the style of your bathroom.
You might fall in love, as I did, with a total glass blue faucet, as in my photograph. This faucet can be placed in a formal, elegant and extravagant bath. It is such a beauty! The hardware is polished chrome and glass. This is formal enough to me, even though it has a modern style. (Photo: James McKelvey)

What if, let’s suppose your formal look is Old Europe? You will never use chrome hardware, but oil rubbed bronze instead, to emulate antiquity.
It all depends what formal means to you. Define formal, you will have the answer.
I want to conclude by saying that, in the perfect design world, there are no rules, thank God. It is all about YOU, the client !!!
What you like, what makes you feel good and what you can afford are all the rules! Nothing is written in “Stone”.

I am always available to resolve any design challenges. Love to hear your comments, or your friends’ comments, if you like to forward this article to someone else.
Designed regards,
Interior Designer
in business since 1990 and loving it!

Copyright © 2010 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved


Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior and Fashion Designer, working in the USA and Europe. She marries well fashion and interior in any of her design work. She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn unattractive spaces into castles.
Author of the forthcoming book on the subject of colors,  ©RED-A Voyage Into Colors. Stay tuned!


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