Our Commercial Director, Brian Linnington, has been working on his very own bathroom refurbishment project and we couldn't miss out on the opportunity to find out which tiles he'd been purchasing. We chatted to Brian about his project, the inspiration behind it and, most importantly, who really made those tough design decisions!
A bit about Brian
Hi Brian! Thanks for letting us in on your latest design project, tell us a bit about your role at Topps Tiles?
I've looked after all things commercial for Topps Tiles for the last 4 years. That's leading the teams that do the product selection and buying, the pricing and promotions, the stock and displays, and the marketing and online.
What would you say is your favourite aspect of your job?
Writing this blog post for the topptiles.co.uk site of course! But more seriously it has got to be working with the teams and discovering new opportunities in anything from product design to stock replenishment.
Ah, thanks Brian! If you weren't in the tiling industry, what do you think you'd be doing instead?
What I'd like to be doing is playing professional sport, these days probably golf, what I'd actually be doing is something else in retail as that's where I've worked for nearly 30 years as I'm fascinated by customer behaviours!
Name one thing that you can't live without during the working day?
A good cup of tea whatever the weather (and a sneaky chocolate biscuit)!
The tiling market
Can you tell us about some of the changes in the tile market during 2016?
As I suspect we will see through the next few years, there is less house moving these days which means that people will spend more, and be more creative, with their own homes. There has been less of the bland ‘smartening up to sell' approach to tiling, and more expression of the designs the homeowner really likes. People also travel more these days and want to replicate some of the luxury they have seen in hotels and restaurants.
What influences the products that Topps Tiles develop?
We develop 4 to 5 key design trends which we evolve each year based on themes we see emerging in the home and related design markets. These are based on information gained from world shows, magazines, suppliers and the designers we work with.
The big bathroom project!
Now, we've heard that you have some of the Topps Tiles ranges in your home. Can you tell us some more about your latest project?
The latest project is updating my house's main bathroom, something we'd wanted to do for a while after planning to put a wetroom in. The original bathroom had an old fashioned corner shower with curved doors and an ugly plinth, a big Jacuzzi corner bath, sink and an outdated toilet. The white tiles and blue glass mosaic would have been nice 10 or 15 years ago, but not exactly one of our current trends!
So what new look did you decide to go for in the end?
For the design we chose some nice Villeroy and Boch fixtures and fittings with a designed towel rail and cool wetroom design (we used Topps Tiles' new wetroom tray and linear drain system which were both superb). For the tiles it was not so easy. After much time spent on the Visualiser, many samples purchased and a few visits to our local Topps Tiles store, we finally chose Stormstone™ for the floor combined with new Serac™ marble tiles on all the walls. Of course we had to add WarmUp underfloor heating (much needed in the winter), some steel trims and LED lights. The wetroom floor has a HexMix™ mosaic (coming soon!) that looks great with the Serac™ marble tiles.
Sounds fancy but, with so much choice, how did you decide which tiles were right for your project?
I worked hard with my wife Helen to narrow down the huge amount of choice, but we all know who made the final decision!
We're not saying anything! What was yours/Helen's main criteria when tile shopping?
Timeless classic design that will be a room we are really proud of.
How did you choose to shop? Online? In-store?
We found both equally as helpful. Initially we looked online to see the full range and played around with our favourites on the Visualiser and then we popped to the store to see the ranges in person to make sure we were 100% happy with the tile's aesthetic. We then had a look at the final samples in the room itself and picked our final choice that worked best with both natural and artificial lighting.
Finally, if you could offer just one piece of advice to people looking to buy tiles for their homes, what would it be?
It's something that's down for a long while, it's often one of the most important rooms in the house and it's, therefore, certainly not something to compromise on. Take your time, use samples, talk to our in-store specialists, use the Visualiser tool to experiment, and don't rush. It's important to think about both the tile designs you like, but also the overall room look you are trying to create – online design sites and magazines can help here. Finally find a good bathroom/tile fitter who's recommended and will take care of your project and don't compromise on the fixing materials; we used BAL's Rapid-Flex Fibre Plus - it's excellent!
Brian now has a stylish new bathroom that suits both his family's needs and personal taste, and we've loved being a part of it. Thanks Brian! Make sure you check the blog regularly to see who else's projects we've been getting a glimpse of!