9 Ways Grout Can Enhance Your Tile Design

If you don’t know Houzz, you should. Check out this Houzz Ideabook where one of our favorite Kitchen & Bath Designers, Paul Anater, has led us on a visual journey of how grout can create unifying effect within a tile design.


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5 Myths of Handmade

There are many myths (or rather half-truths) about handmade products and those who produce them. We wanted to dispel some of these stereotypes and set the record straight (at least about our product!)

1.) We are dirty hippies

Absolutely not! While we love the unique nature of all things handmade (and we do own Birkenstocks),  we generally do not consider ourselves hippies. Well, maybe sometimes.  I do have a hippie skirt that I love… but I digress.

2.) We DO love the earth and want to help it any way we can.

Yes, very true. Handmade products often have a smaller ecological footprint, utilize more recycled or upcycled materials and a benefit from smaller shipping radius than their mass-produced counterparts. Plus, in buying handmade, you support the local economy and the artisans who produce these unique products.

3.) We produce tile by hand as much for the art, process and personal enjoyment, as the green attributes and final product.

Yes, we LOVE what we do!  Tile are like puzzle pieces. You need to find the correct fit to create the desired overall picture. Through the design, production and layout of tile, we keep our hands in the mud (quite literally) to produce a very personally satisfying product.

4.) We sell our product everywhere –  art fairs, block parties, boutiques, you name it and we’re there.

No. We have great relationships set up with the vendors of our tile and laNeva is NOT available everywhere.  We have an exclusive product line that is available through Designers, Architects, select showrooms such as Christopher’s Baths and Kitchens and our representatives, Spacial Adaptation.

(So instead of hippie, your going high-end with this “Exclusive” thing??)

Well.. in a sense, yes. We create a luxury product by hand and it is not intended to compete with the cheaply made $5/sf machine-made tile out there – Just as a hand-knit sweater with New Zealand wool targets a completely different market than an acrylic sweater from Target made in China. Different markets, traits, aesthetics and buyer motivation.

5.) We urge everyone to consider handmade instead of machine-made products when possible.

Yes!! While we know you can’t purchase handmade for everything, the intrinsic warmth, character and care put into development and production of a handmade product cannot be rivaled by machine-made products. We all need to be aware of this energy and help to support those who create (either products or jobs for those who create products) for a living.

We love (did we say love?  We mean LOVE) all things handmade and we are thrilled that there are so many people out there who “get” the value of handmade.

As a colleague, Carter Averbeck of Trompe Decorative Finishes put it during this holiday season:

“Bring cheer to your holidays by shopping local small businesses. Not only are you supporting the economy, you are supporting a small business owner who also is in need of a wonderful holiday season. Without Mom & Pop shops and their spectacular approach to customer service, we’d all suffer from lack of a true community and connectedness to each other. Shop local and your impact to make someone else’s holiday special will not go unnoticed!”

Thanks Carter, and thanks to all of you who have supported laNeva Tile in our quest for a beautiful, functional handmade product that will last for many years to come.  Now maybe I should change out of these Birkenstocks…

May your holidays be warm and bright!

(or if you prefer, Have a Happy Hippie Holiday!)

from Lisa, Jodi and Leslie for laNeva Artisan Tile


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laNeva News: December 2010

December already. Wow. So much has been going on behind the scenes recently at laNeva Artisan Tile. We have some exciting changes to announce for the end of 2010 and the start of 2011!

  • PARTNERS: laNeva is thrilled to announce our newest partners in the tile biz: Spacial Adaptation, who will be representing our tile nationally, along with a host of other amazing earth-friendly products.
  • BOLD BORDERS: We’ve been hard at work on our LINEAL Border Collection of 6 large, pre-designed tile borders, along with our delicate SLICE Accessories Collection based off of our Rift Series tiles. Please stay tuned, our next post will be to announce the launch of these fabulous customize-or-not designs! You can choose one of our suggested color palettes or customize to your liking using our any of our standard glazes.
  • THE CART IS DEAD: As you may have noticed, we are no longer offering our online shopping cart. While it was a flashy sales avenue, it became evident that with so many custom designs, an online order venue was just not relevant.  It is kind of nice to know that humans are still needed, in both the production and order placement!
  • SAMPLES,  ANYONE? We are working to implement online sample orders, without all the cumbersome cart features that we experienced with our online shopping.
  • PRIVACY, PLEASE! Another feature on to be implemented in early 2011 is a password-protected section of the site for our dealers and members of the trade.

As we continue to explore new and exciting ways to use our Rift and solid color tiles, we look forward to being a part of your lives in 2011.  Thanks for all your love and support in 2010. Happy Holidays!

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A Year of Thankfulness

Years ago, I found a set of books called “Simple Abundance“.  It is one of those daily inspirational books that gives you a sometimes overly-cheery page to read and ponder every day.  While this sunshine-y book has long since been relegated to a storage box somewhere, the concept, and its accompanying  ”Journal of Gratitude” made a  lasting impression on me.

As we approach yet another Thanksgiving, it is natural to reflect on what this past year has brought to our lives. What things are you expressing gratitude towards? I ask that you start a list, as the Journal of Gratitude suggests, and pay attention.  This can be just a few items per day and start with the easy ones such as health, family, a job, a home.

Better yet, when your Thanksgiving guests arrive, let them know you’ll be asking them to think of an example  for which they are thankful. Provide slips of paper for your guests to write down one item (or more) and then anonymously place these in a bowl to read before you enjoy your Thanksgiving feast.

It’s a simple gesture that will have you all thinking about the richness of good company, abundant food and a thankful spirit. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!

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Retro Finds at Spinario Design

One of my favorite places to browse for interesting furniture and accessories is long-time love, Spinario Design in Minneapolis.  I wrote about Spinario back in 2007 on the LLD Latest and Greatest blog.

Well, Spinario is better than ever with their unbelievable selection of midcentury modern and eclectic retro decor, including furniture, lighting, artwork and accessories. Their store is a place to dream and be inspired. I still am in love with the Lane desk that I wrote about previously, shown here, and long since sold. Sigh. Never to fear, though. Spinario always has a great selection in the store and warehouse, with treasures just waiting to be discovered.

My newest loves from Spinario, wouldn’t you like to know!? Okay… here are just a few of them:

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Check out Spinario’s website or connect with them on Facebook for some amazing one-of-a-kind treasures.

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Top 6 Reasons laNeva Tile is NOT For You

Although we’d love for everyone to have laNeva Artisan Tile gracing their bathroom, kitchen backsplash or reception  area, we know that our tile is not for everyone. How do you know if laNeva tile is not for you? We have a few pointers:

1.) You want tile that is uniform in color, texture and size. You need a machine-made tile rather than the inherent variation that comes with a handmade product like ours.

2.) You need tile yesterday, or today and can’t wait for it. laNeva Tile is made by hand for every order and is not pre-made or stocked. It takes time to produce and while many times it can be shipped earlier, our standard lead time is 4-6 weeks.

3.) You would like to color-match existing tile or design elements. laNeva has a solid color palette of 12 glazes.  It is possible that one of our colors may be a close match to what you need but we cannot create specialty glazes.  Please order a sample pack of 4 tiles (or our full-line sample pack of 16 tiles) to see examples in person before ordering.

4.) You are looking for a raised-pattern tile or an historic reproduction piece. While laNeva Tile fits into many different architectural styles, we do not produce molded or carved tile. There are many other handmade tile makers who do so beautifully.

5.) You need a floor tile. laNeva tile is approved for all interior wall uses and can be used as an accent on a low-traffic floor such as a residential bathroom or powder room.  Please note that our many high-gloss glaze colors can possibly scratch if used on any floor or if improperly cleaned.

6.) You need to meet a $5/SF (or less) budget. While we work with many different budgets, there are times when not even a decorative border or dot accent of handmade tile can fit the bill. We understand that our tiles are not for everyone at every time, so we hope you come back to us next time you need tile or  refer a friend who may be interested in a unique look. (Really though, our 2×2 “dots” are under $5 each.  Anyone can afford a smattering of gorgeous handmade tile!)

Please contact us with any questions or to see if laNeva Artisan Tile is the right fit for your project.

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Unity Temple Restoration

As you may have guessed, I have a love of art, old buildings and specific design elements- such as tile and stained glass. My love of old buildings is a family interest and most likely a catalyst for my profession in Interior design. It all stems from a summer road trip with my family into Wisconsin to explore all of the Frank Lloyd Wright structures we could find…. but I digress.

Frank Lloyd Wright, the infamous Architect, designer and creative genius is a favorite of mine.  I admire his work not just for the  ingenuity and unique thinking for the era, but for the personality needed to take such leaps.  Frank Lloyd Wright saw space and materials in ways that today are still being perfected.  His structures tested the limits of what was ( and is) possible and these inventive designs are showing more than their share of stress and wear from the years.

The Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois is one of those structures.

With a flat roof, signature Wrightean cantilevers and a large open interior, the  structure is cracked and crumbling and the exterior a new target for vandals. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Unity Temple one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2009. There is a foundation established, the Unity Temple Restoration Foundation, that has an excellent website providing information on the restoration, fundraising and steps that have been made since the 2009 listing as an endangered site.  Please donate to their efforts if you can.  Historic architectural sites such as  the Unity Temple are worth saving.

Watch this video for a glimpse of the site and a history that you may not have seen before. Also note the brass epitaph that was recently stolen by vandals is visible within the first seconds and again towards the end of the video.

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The Dirt – Clay

Everything you ever wanted to know about laNeva Tile’s clay body is here. Fun stuff, huh?

laNeva Tile uses a smooth white 3/8″ thick clay body for all of our tiles, which is rolled to thickness with a slab roller and cut onsite per order. We do not purchase pre-made bisque “blanks” on which to apply our glaze.  Since our tiles are cut by hand instead of molded, there is variation on each edge which creates a truly handmade look.

Because of laNeva’s contemporary image, we chose our white clay body to give a consistent texture and a more uniform finish than many handmade tiles.  It also helps us avoid tile warping, the bane of many a handmade tile maker.

laNeva uses clay from local Minnesota clay fabricators who get their materials from all over the upper midwest. We always use local material when possible and 100% non-toxic and lead free glazes are our standard.

3/8″ thick tile is consistent with many other handmade tiles but thicker than many of the mass-produced tiles available out there. We make no apologies for that. 1/4″ handmade tile, while convenient, isn’t a great cost savings to produce or ship and just doesn’t exude quality nor feel substantial enough for us.

We’ve designed laNeva to give a slightly contemporary yet warm feel in a world where there is mostly rustic handmade tile. Perfect for your modern green home, midcentury abode, or any other style inbetween, laNeva Tile is a timeless classic.

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The Effect of Wind & Waves

The look and feel of sea glass has always appealed to me. Its soft worn edges and muted, matte colors the result of long-term abrasion by sand and water. Sea glass feels so wonderful in your hands: cool and substantial, yet aged and rugged, like it has a story to tell of its adventures.

While out gathering sea glass for my small collection, I stumbled upon the extraordinary: Sea Tile. Yes, little broken shards of tumbled, worn tile that had been long ago discarded and washed up to shore. Where it is from and how it ended up in the ocean, I will not speculate, but the result is extraordinary.  It’s like typical mosaic pieces but after being thrown into a tumbler.  Sea tile has all the luscious, sensual appeal of sea glass, with the added benefit of being a medium that I work with every day.

For now, my sea tile shards reside in a little glass jar next to my larger jar of sea glass.  My favorite piece will someday have a new life as a pendant in a dramatic necklace and maybe the others will become adornments on a framed photo or a child’s art project. Who knows.

While my sea tile is not really vibrant or plentiful, if you need some additional eye candy, see the South of Rome blog for some spectacular sea tile from the Amalfi coast. Someday…

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A Midcentury Vacation Rental -The Kugel Gips House

We wrote a few months ago about the Mod on Cape Cod: Midcentury Modernist Homes on Cape Cod that were being saved and renovated thanks to the Cape Cod Modern House Trust.

Today we were thrilled to see in our email inbox information from a favorite design resource, Remodelista, regarding STAYING at the newly beautified Kugel Gips House in Wellfleet- the very house we featured. It is absolutely stunning, both the building and surroundings, and has made us quite green with envy for such a gorgeous week’s stay.

“The house, which overlooks Northeast Pond on Cape Cod, is available for rent during the summer months (a portion is tax-deductible); in the autumn and spring, artists and scholars can apply for a residency program.” via Remodelista.

There are actually three homes available for rent on the CCMHT site. They are auctioned in week-long blocks via email. Please contact The Cape Cod Modern Home Trust for more information. Please send us pics after your stay there, but we ask that you not rub it in too much!

The Cape Cod Modern Home Trust also accepts donations of furniture and art associated with the Midcentury Modern style, as well as monetary donations and volunteers for research, fundraising, construction, event planning, publicity, graphic design or technical support.

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