Frieze Frames

Giving a plain tiled wall or floor a dash of pizzazz is easy with these ready-to-go mosaics

The Greeks created beautiful mosaic tile floors about 6,000 years ago, painstakingly assembling elaborate patterns, stone by tiny stone. These stone tile mosaic friezes, from Best Tile in Wappingers Falls, have the same look, but come attached to a mesh sheet about two feet long, which knocks several hundred hours off the installation time. When you’re adding tile, use them to jazz up a plain wall or shower, to define an area, or as a decorative accent around the perimeter of a floor. Ready-made corner pieces for walls and right angles for floors create a finished look, and once the sheets are grouted, the seams are invisible. Tina Schnaper, a design consultant with Best Tile, says professional installation is wisest because cutting the pieces to fit can be complicated, although handy homeowners skilled with a wet saw might manage the task. Like all natural stone, the friezes are durable but porous, and must be sealed and maintained.

“Rope” shows its classical origins

“Blue Ornamental” in blue and white is a perennial favorite

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A popular pattern since ancient Greek times, “Wave” comes in several vibrant colors — this one is verde

Simple borders in varied tones are an inexpensive way to add interest to an otherwise plain field of color

“Natural polished stone looks really beautiful, and it’s always in fashion,” so choose whatever suits your taste, suggests Schnaper. There are about 30 designs in different colorways in the showroom.
Prices depend on length and complexity of pattern, ranging from about $25 for the simple, shorter pieces to about $120 for the longer, more elaborate ones. Schapner and another designer are on hand to help mix and match with the other tiles in the store.
Best Tile is at 1659 Rte. 9 in Wappingers Falls. 845-297-0457.

Fresh From the Stone Age

You may have seen the Barra & Trumbore truck tooling around the Valley, the proclamation blazoned on its back that it’s “not coming from nor going to a mall where mass-produced junk is bought and sold.” It’s cheeky, but easy-going business partners David Barra and Martin Trumbore are justifiably proud of their own hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind product: gorgeous, natural stone. For the past 15 years, they’ve beautified many a kitchen or bathroom counter. “We even made a bathtub once,” notes Trumbore. “That was exciting — 32 individual pieces. It had to be craned into the guy’s house.”

This vanity, with curvy, carved corbels and an apron front, is made of beautiful Botticino limestone from Italy. A handsome Kirkstone sink (below) is a Barra and Trumbore original. It slants down to a slit in the middle instead of a drain

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Their artisan’s workshop in Kerhonkson, Ulster County, is a sight to see, with hundreds of slabs of travertine, marble, granite, limestone — or any quartz material — piled in glorious array. There are thousands of remnants, too, if you have a smaller job. The stone comes from all around the globe (including the Adirondacks), and, as Trumbore notes, in “many, many lovely colors.”
Trumbore visits the sites and handles design and measurements; Barra does the cutting. “If it’s wrong, it’s all my fault,” Trumbore says, but adds that dealing with the out-of-square problems common in older houses has been made simpler by a digital doodad that allows a computer to figure out perfect dimensions.

Talk to Trumbore for long, and he’s likely to launch into a brief discourse on the difference between, say, the creation of marble and metamorphic limestone. How did he learn all this scientific stuff about stone? “The hard way,” he replies. “I married a geologist.”

Call 845-626-5442 for more information, or to make an appointment to visit.

Concrete Counter Feats

The word “concrete” suggests something solid, substantial — perhaps even rough. So those encountering a concrete countertop for the first time are usually surprised that it’s not only beautiful, but silky and tactile. “People can’t stop touching it,” says Christian Lincoln, owner of the Saugerties business Counter Culture Concrete.

Concrete countertops can be easily maintained with clear paste wax, or homeowners can allow the piece to gain what Lincoln calls “that ancient Roman feel.”
Double sinks (top) are integrated into the counter; the legs on the island table (left) are made of the 300-year-old barn beams

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Originally trained as a painter and sculptor, in 2001 Lincoln was working in the dot-com world in New York. “When it all started to implode, I ran for the hills,” he says. “The hills” in this case were Woodstock, where Lincoln, also a carpenter, took a master furniture class. “At the end, there was a weekend workshop on concrete, and I fell in love with the material — it brought back all my sculptural training. I felt like I was in an art studio again, working with my hands.” Inspired, he shortly afterwards launched his aptly named company.

To fashion a countertop, Lincoln makes a wooden template in the customer’s home, then pours the concrete in his workshop. After the concrete cures, it’s polished and sealed — a process that takes about five weeks. Grays are the natural tones, but two colors can be added in the mixer for a marbleized effect, or any color can be acid-etched on the surface. “We spray the color on artistically — hopefully — let it pool or speckle, and then neutralize with baking soda,” Lincoln explains. Counters are sealed with “a secret penetrating acrylic” that has a matte finish, or a more durable, shiny epoxy. As for stains:

“It’s a fuzzy line between stain and patina,” Lincoln declares. “Concrete is a lot like zinc or copper — it’s mercurial, moody. It changes over time. People choose it because they like an organic look.”
Prices run about $75 a square foot for countertops.Visit or call 845-247-3860 for more information.

Hot Tap

An engineering marvel, the faucet bends in any direction and folds neatly away

Designed to hold any position you hoist it into, Kohler’s new ingenious articulated Karbon faucet, with its five pivoting joints, directs water wherever you want it to go. Extend it when you want to fill a big pot, point it at any angle when you’re rinsing vegetables or cleaning up. After you’re done, you can fold it up neatly, play with it for a while to discover the many different shapes you can create, or just stand and admire how modern and cool it looks. Kohler is so pleased with it they call it a New.Life.Form; go to, put it through its sinuous paces, and you’ll see why. About $990, depending on the finish. Faucets can be ordered through Williams Lumber & Home or any Kohler dealer in the area.

Glass Act

Formed from a single thick pane of molten glass, the lustrous, translucent color on this solid lavatory from Kohler creates the illusion of delicacy, while the dappled finish makes it look almost handcrafted. Twenty-inches square and four inches deep, it’s simple to install, and will give a lift to any powder room or bath. About $1700


Colorful scented candles are from Claus Porto; the shaving duo from the Fusion Chrome Collection

Casa Urbana means “town house,” but that name’s a little misleading to describe this swanky new salon-apothecary in Hudson. The salon offers the usual hair care as well as a variety of spa treatments; in the apothecary you’ll find some lovely scented candles and home fragrances, as well as luxurious lotions, soaps, and eau de toilettes your skin will thank you for. Most are from Zents, whose line is perfect for those with sensitivities or allergies. There are slick shaving appurtenances for guys (as well as the chance to have a hot towel shave right on the premises).
The salon-apothecary just moved into a new casa at 525 Warren Street in Hudson. Visit or call 518-828-2690.


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