Behind the Scenes of the Plant Penthouse
Shayla Owodunni is a true style icon. She says "ever since [her] days as a boisterous kindergartner demanding to wear neon knee-highs with printed dresses, styling has been a facet of my life that brings joy beyond words." We can attest to that. Her impeccable style, interior design eye, love for plants and overall vibe brings joy beyond words. Needless to say, we were thrilled to get started on Shayla's tile vision for the Plant Penthouse. But first, we wanted to learn a little more about what the Plant Penthouse is all about.
The Plant Penthouse was unearthed in 2019 as a personal ‘destination’ to germinate creative expression, exploration and joy – during a period when these facets of life were beginning to feel like dormant seeds. Watering these attributes through design inspiration, plant care education, and storytelling, The Plant Penthouse has lovingly grown into a flora-inspired interiors and lifestyle brand.
Learn more about this magical place located in NE Minneapolis on her site!
The Magic of Mood Boarding
We started dreaming and scheming with Shayla for The Plant Penthouse in early 2022. She says, "It’s wild to think this adventure started with an impromptu studio tour at a time when completing the space still felt like a gutsy goal". If there's one thing we know about a handmade tile project of this scale it's that all good things take time, patience, and persistence to come to fruition. So we rolled up our sleeves and got to work on this gusty goal with a little mood boarding magic.
Mood boarding is a powerful tool used in our custom design process to visually communicate and develop ideas with our clients for creating a specific atmosphere or style for their space. It involves gathering and arranging a collection of tile shapes, colors, pattern along with inspiration images for the overall vibe of the project. Pictured below our talented Tile Consultants worked with Shayla to create a direction that perfectly encapsulated her self-titled aesthetic of "Tropic Eclecticism".
Find an example of our mood boarding process on our Design Studio blog, "Room and Board's Modern Furniture Transforms our Design Studio"
What is Tropic Eclecticism?
Totally enthralled with this self claimed design aesthetic, we asked Shayla to describe what this style means to her.
Allow me to describe this self-titled aesthetic by taking these words right to their roots! While Tropic (adjective) means of, relating to, or occurring in the tropics, Eclecticism (noun) is the practice (originating in Paris during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries) of deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources. Bringing this home, I am forever inspired by tropic environments, the colorful vibrancy of my Nigerian heritage, and travels (be they my own or from an editorial lens) through Africa, Europe and Southeast Asia. These influences rendezvous together for an aesthetic rooted in French Contemporary, Art Deco and British Colonial design ideals to form colorfully juxtaposed, travelled, refined yet unrestrictive, and naturally flora-filled(!) environments.
The Design Direction
Working with Shayla to take her Tropic Eclecticism and make it a reality was an absolute dream. Our Tile Consultants went through our personalized process of working with the client to make sure their vision was fully realized. Since the Plant Penthouse is in a historic loft, there were many industrial elements including the vintage stacked window panes directly to the left of the pre-tiled wall. So instead of using a contrasting shape such as Moroccan Fish Scales or Hexagons, we saw an opportunity to create a visual balance by mirroring the vertical structure of the window panes with bold 4"x8" stacked subway tiles - saving the power of color for added distinction and movement! Next, we wanted to learn about Shayla's love for green and pink which radiates not only from wall to wall in the Plant Penthouse, but also in her personal style.
"Reflecting on color ways I gravitate towards, I somehow find the wherewithal to incorporate pinks and greens into each of my designs (for reference, I have a pink steel-coated four poster bed at home), so this color combination immediately felt authentic to me! With the Mercury Mosaics hues available in each of these color families, the selection process was nothing short of an absolute dream and each shade is perfect in it’s own way—even our splashes of Marshmallow! As a proud Mercury Mosaics fangirl, I have spent years pouring over samples—little did I know I was studying and preparing for this very moment. Mission ACCOMPLISHED."
To learn more about the custom design process, visit our blog "How to Design a Custom Tile Mosaic"
Evolution of colored CAD renderings for the Plant Penthouse.
Queue Custom Ceramic Tile Planters
Adding custom ceramic tile planters to this project seemed like a no brainer due to Shayla's undeniable love for plants but this was the first time we had ever constructed 4"x8" Subway tile ceramic planters in a vertical layout. Our Tile Artisans got to work testing out different ways to ensure these planters were both fully functional and fully beautiful. Through a trial and error process that was 100% done by hand, we locked down the perfect 4"x8" custom Subway tile planters for Shayla's lush statement wall. We knew Shayla would be over the moon about our one-of-a-kind tile planters so we asked how she thought they added to the overall design.
I adore design concepts that are multi-dimensional and provide range in styling possibilities (going back to the eclecticism) and these tile planters DELIVERED. At first glance, they have the ability to home a charismatic air plant, and at a moment’s notice they can be repurposed to display an array of floral stems! Without overpowering or taking away from the natural beauty of each hand painted tile, the planter possibilities and personalities are endless, and I love that so very much.
For more ways to use custom tile planters, visit our blog "6 Ceramic Tile Planter Ideas for your Next Project"
Check out the Custom Tile Planter process below!
We are head over heels with the final results of this tiled statement wall. Shayla's tropic eclectic style mixed with the vibrancy of our handmade tile are a match made in heaven. We always love to ask our designer friends what sort of tips and tricks they have after working through the process of our handmade tile designs. Here are Shayla's four pieces of advice for someone choosing tile for their space.
1. Examine your Space
Consider what shapes, patterns, structures, colors and/or design styles are within view and ask yourself – do you want to compliment or contrast what surrounds you?
2. Make a Mood Board and Let it be the Vehicle for Selecting Tile Shapes and Colors
This step helps to capture the design aesthetics and accompanying shapes/patterns/colors that most inspire you—and work for the space at hand. Are you creating a Mid-century modern moment? French cottage curation? Maybe a Moroccan retreat? Having design direction helps ground your vision and allowed me to eliminate shapes that I initially held as possibilities (like the Moroccan fish scales or hexagon flowers). Though lovely (yes I am still obsessed with both, just not for this space), no other shape achieved my desired vision as precisely as the 4x8 subway tiles.
3. Get Samples to Have and to Hold
Seeing your final choices in your space allows you to determine if you have a style star, or if a round of revision is required. When you know, you know.
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