Step 7: GET SAMPLES.
This step is the most important. Get physical samples of every finish you will be installing in your renovation. This includes large paint samples for your walls and trim. Laying all these finishes out, along with the flooring in the room, will help you in choosing the right colors and coordinating the undertones in the finishes. It is good to remember that all whites are not the same.
Why people should get samples.
I always thought you could find all the tile for your home at one tile shop. In some cases, this might be true; but in many cases, you will have to go to several stores or showrooms to find the right tile for your project. Most homeowners are unaware that it may take looking through several tile shops to find what they are looking for. For this reason, it is best to bring samples of the other finishes when going to the various showrooms.
Every tile or stone sample looks great on its own so it is important to understand that when you are looking at finishes it is very hard to tell what they will look like next to another finish or paint color unless you get an actual sample of the material. Manufacturers typically provide samples. Most can be ordered from your local tile shop or on the web. Some samples come with a nominal cost, others can be “checked out” from a reputable tile shop. If the shop doesn’t offer this service, purchase a sheet or a few of the actual tiles that you are considering.
Getting samples also allows you to compare undertones. Having a large painted swatch of a “true” white next to the hard finishes will bring out the undertone more clearly. Recently, I was trying to identify the undertone of an existing flooring. By placing a swatch of “true” white on the finish I could identify which undertone was present.
Professional designers often provide clients with a sample board. This is simply a way to show all the finishes, paint colors and fabric next to each other. The finish samples are usually small and fixed to a board so it can be displayed or easily shown to a client. It is not necessary for you to glue samples to a board, but it is necessary for you to get samples so you can see them next to one another, as well as in the space they will ultimately be installed and under actual lighting conditions.
Comparing hard finishes.
Tile is specific to individual tile shops. For this reason, you will not find the exact same tile in each showroom. You might find something similar, but it may not be the exact same product. Getting actual samples of tiles and stone allows you to compare the undertones of each finish. Travertine is a good example to use here because some travertine stone flooring has a pink undertone where some is more yellow. This undertone will influence and be influenced by the other finishes in the room.
Currently I am working with a client on flooring selection. This client was not repainting the walls of his home, so I needed to find something that coordinated with the yellow undertone in his off-white walls. I found two good options, but he was having trouble choosing between them. One was a porcelain tile wood flooring look and the other, stone travertine. I suggested he purchase a sample of each material. We placed the options on the ground in the room where the product would be installed. Both tiles looked great against the newly painted walls. We then placed them next to the existing tile on the fireplace which was not going to be replaced. One of the finish tiles turned a bit purple which was not a desirable effect. The other looked much better with the existing fireplace tile. The decision was much easier for him when we both saw the result.
If you are looking for a comprehensive package of hard finish suggestions, shop my various finish schemes for sale. The PDF download is a materials list of coordinated hard finishes and appropriate foundation whites for kitchens or baths. Be sure to get both corresponding rooms if you are planning a complete remodel.