antique brick

Built on Customer Service

We were proud to learn early this year that we were given a Best Of Houzz award, in the category of customer satisfaction. I can’t imagine a category that would make me more proud. After all, if our tiles weren’t beautiful, if I didn’t listen to our customers’ needs, if we didn’t deliver in a timely way, or if our customers were disappointed at all, there would be no satisfaction for Houzz to recognize. It is really about the total experience. Our customers wrote to Houzz to recommend us for this award, completely unsolicited. Thank you to those of you who sent in recommendations — you know who you are, even if I don’t.

Remodeling and Home Design

There are many things that are part of this avocation of mine. I work with many architects, builders and designers, as a kind of team. We all work with the same goal in mind — to make the home owner happy, and to create a space that is both beautiful and easy to live in.

Custom brick tiles in dog shower

Proud Airdale in his doggy shower with custom brick tile border

I was raised in a merchant family, growing up under my dad’s feet in the prescription room of his retail pharmacy. His customers were his friends, living together in our small Wisconsin town. At dinner, on holidays, and in the middle of the night, he would leave the house to open his store for people in our community, who needed their meds right away. Although most of my customers are in other states, my instinct is to create that same sense of community for them. It used to be that people knew who created their goods and services, instead of the disconnect that is part of our time. Like my dad, I live my business. When I am out of the office, I have call-forwarding to my cell. I pick up evenings and weekends, because sometimes people are in the middle of installing their tiles, and have a question. (Not in the middle of the night, please…I will be polite, but not happy!)

I don’t just sell tiles. I can be a resource every step along the way, from the design to the finishing details. When customers visit my office, they will often bring blueprints, cabinet doors, and pictures of how they envision their home. Sometimes they email me the room plans, photos, or drawings, and we use those to work together. I am an artist/designer, and offer free advice and consultations to my customers, when asked. If I think our tiles will not be right for a space, I will say so. I look at pictures of existing bricked parts of a home, and help make suggestions of which color mixes will look best with it. I know all about the installation process, and can help with grout selections and recommend sealers. I often help customers find installers, if they are working on their own, or talk with their installers on the phone. Sometimes people will ask where they can find certain historic fixtures, or other items for their homes, and many times I can pull a card from my Rolodex.

Dog prints in custom brick tile

Prints from customer’s dog in their brick kitchen floor

Our tiles are all made to order, and are custom. We have suggested color mixes, but those are just a guide. Most customers decide upon their own color mixes. Here is a recent picture of one of these mixes — the customer pulled the plastic back to take a quick, informal picture of the work in progress (foot and all). This mix has all off-white clay powder and wood fire ashes, fired into our red clay body. (I’m kind of in love with it!)

Brick tile with custom color mix

Custom color mix in text from happy customer

Often, people will ask for a particular size or texture for our bricks. I will make up a new series of molds, at no extra charge, for orders of over 1000 sq.ft.

I have also created special accent tiles for customers. Once we did floors in a restored pig house, and there were a few pig tiles made for the floors. Another customer wanted a raven tile, because their farm was named “Raven’s Den”. Still another had me make a cast of her grandma’s cow butter mold, and I made some tiles for her floor. We make stamps of pet footprints, or child hand prints. We stamp the names of children, or special dates, into the tiles. People have sent me plants from their garden, and we will fire these impressions into the bricks. When these plants, or stamped tiles, are part of the total order, I don’t charge extra — it’s just part of the fun.

 

Brick tile design from antique butter mold

Custom tiles made from an heirloom butter mold

Brick tile with custom pig design

Custom pig tile for renovated “pig house” turned guest cottage

Some customers have made arrangements to bring their children to my home/office, and I set them up at a table with damp tiles to decorate. We have a craft day, and they create their own pieces to include in the family’s wall or floor. If I’ve just baked, customers have been known to sit down for apple dumplings, brownies, or banana bread (and take home recipes).

Children decorating tiles

Children decorating Inglenook brick tiles

Children decorating tiles

Close up of brick tile decorating at work

Maybe this is why so much of our business comes from referrals, or even from homeowners who bought tiles from us before. Sometimes past customers come to see me when they are in the area, invite me to their homes, and send Christmas cards.

With most of our houses furnished with mass produced items, often imported, sometimes it’s nice to look around our homes, and feel a connection to the artisans who were part of them. It’s even nicer when we know that we were part of the creative process. There is a Latin expression, anima locus, which means the ‘soul’ of a place, or its essential personality. I like to think we are part of that signature in a home, and are somehow connected to the families who live there.

Featured Installation: The Mylin House

The Mylin House is a restoration project almost in Inglenook Tile’s back yard, on the park-like property of a well-known luxury retirement village.

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The historic Mylin house is used for special village functions.The grounds surrounding the house are landscaped as garden plots. They are beautifully maintained by residents of the community.

In 1787, Martin Mylin III and his wife, Barbara Baer Mylin, built the existing stone farmhouse, above, where they raised their eight children. Martin Mylin, the first owner of the land on which the Spring Run community now resides, received the property as a land grant from William Penn in the early 1700’s.

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The property stayed in the family for over 100 years. In 1926, it was sold to Christian Herr, the founder of Herr Potato Chips, a well-known Lancaster County snack company. Herr’s first potato chips were made in a barn on the property. In 1998, the property was acquired by the retirement community. 

After walking in the front door that was hand-crafted by a local firm, our brick tiles are immediately visible from the main entrance. The foyer opens into a large meeting room, with our brick tiles on the floor.

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The first striking feature of the room is the unusual colors of the walls. The vivid paint tones are not what one would expect in an historic building, but the use of bright colors was common in early homes. The property manager explained to me that when they scraped the walls, these were the colors at the lowest levels. 

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The other striking feature is the woodwork and built-in corner cupboards — all original to the building. Inglenook brick tile complements these historic features beautifully.

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We are delighted to have our thin brick tiles gracing the floor of the Mylin house. We know that the strength and durability of Inglenook brick tile will ensure the floor will maintain its timeless look many more generations in this beautiful historic building. 

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Updated List Of Brick Tile Styles

There are a number of brick tile styles that are not yet on our website. I would like to introduce you to our assortment of brick tiles!
We have three styles that are roughly 4×8″ :
Wright’s Ferry
Tumbled sides and textured surface
Traditional Antique
Straight sides and textured surface
King Street
Straight sides, smoother surface
We have four styles that are slightly smaller than  4×8″:
Rutherford
Makes a good basket weave. 3-1/2×7-1/2″, straight sides and smoother surface, like King Street
Summer Kitchen
Just like Rutherford, but 3-1/2″x7″
Wimers Mill
The same size as Summer Kitchen, but with a textured top and rugged sides
San Sebastian
3×8-3/4″, straight sides, smoother top.
We also have 2×8″ and 2×4″ style for the “side” view of bricks. These sizes are most commonly used on walls, chimneys and other vertical surfaces, but they have also been used on floors and even arched ceilings.
Lancaster Running Bond
2×8″, tumbled sides and texture like the Wright’s Ferry
Watch for our next post with side-by-side comparisons of our various styles of tiles!

Featured Installation: “Pig House” — a guest house renovation

Concept of Lea projectJake and Gretchen Lea bought their lovely farm in Berks County, Pennsylvania, in 1972, and raised their twins there. The twins grew up, and the Leas decided that they needed a more private place to stay when they visited their childhood home with their families. 

Gretchen is a designer, and saw our tiles at the Historic Home Show, in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. She and Jake were planning a guest house on their property, and knew right away that our tiles would be ideal for the floors. Gretchen is full of imagination, and could see the possibilities in the touches of whimsy we could provide for her floors. In her work, she likes to include little “surprises” in the rooms she designs…which makes her a kindred spirit to Julie, owner/designer at Inglenook Tile.  

Jake enjoys piloting his small plane, so one day he and Gretchen flew to a small Lancaster County airport to see the tiles again. Julie picked them up at the airport, and brought them to the warehouse, so that they could see the full selection of styles and colors, and customize their order.  

In 2007, Jake and Gretchen decided to level the old pig sty on the property, where they raised pigs when the children were young. On the site, they built a new “pig sty” guest house, designed to complement the other buildings on the property. It has two bedrooms, a powder room, a full bath with a washer/dryer, a kitchen/dining room, a living room, and upstairs hallway. When Gretchen was planning the floors, she wanteFloor details lead a few tiles of pigs, to reflect the history of the old pig house that once stood on the site. We created a brick tile with an inset pig sculpture, to be placed randomly in the floor (see detail picture). 

Now when the twins visit, they stay in their own guesthouse. There are other guests that also enjoy the “pig house”; for example, a director from California recently took up residence there for a month and a half, while he worked with a local non-profit theater. Visitors can fish in the pond, swim in the pool, and walk the 2 fields of wildflowers on the Lea’s eighty acres of Berks County farmland. They have allowed their property to be used as a site for Geocaching (www.geocaching.com), and sometimes they enjoy seeing families digging for the “treasure” in their woods. Gretchen’s creativity is not yet satisfied with the “pig house” — she has plans to create additional living space in the tower silo.  

Lea kitchen

When asked how she feels about the tiles, now that they are installed, Gretchen says, “They fit in beautifully, and gave us a rustic look at a reasonable price.” She added that, as a designer, she appreciates working with companies that take pride in their work. 

Lea stairway 

If you are interested in working with Gretchen, she can be reached at glea316@ceinetworks.com, or at 610-367-6773. Her website is www.gleainteriordesign.com .

Feature project: Harvest Moon Farm

This past weekend, Emily and Julie went to visit Harvest Moon Farm, the home of some of our customers. The beautiful horse farm is tucked back in the woods outside Coatesville, PA, and we were lucky enough to have fabulous weather to photograph indoors and out.

Harvest Moon Farm’s home, barn, and windmill:

Harvest moon homeHarvest moon backyardHarvest moon barnHarvest moon windmill

A few of their friendly horses.

Harvest moon horses-distanceHarvest moon horse-closeup

Brick Tile Installation

The Harvest Moon farm installation used Wright’s Ferry 4×8″ brick tiles in Marietta color mix, across their entryway, into a powder room, and throughout their kitchen.

Below, Julie, Inglenook Tile co-owner, and Walt, the homeowner, in the kitchen. Walt told us: “We love it, love it, love it! People who visit just can’t believe how much it has changed our home.”

We start looking in the front door at the brick tiles, their herringbone installation pattern stretching out into the kitchen area at the far end.

Looking in the front door

Here, a close up of the floor and a pair of riding boots.

Brick tiles and riding boots

A side view of the entryway, the front door, and a lovely wardrobe.

wardrobe and brick tile entryway

Part way down the hallway, our thin brick tiles make a foray into the powder room, where a horse rug complements the thin brick flooring. Also, looking back into the hallway from the powder room.

Powder room with brick tilesPowder room sink

The powder room door, made of reclaimed wood from the 1700’s, has a notch in it to allow the home’s Jack Russell terriers free access. The door molding and wainscoting are both from fences at Harvest moon farm, reclaimed for the house when they were replaced outdoors.

Dog door and brick tiles

Next, we walk into the kitchen, where Julie admires the thin brick tiles.

Julie looks at thin brick floor

Several views of the kitchen toward the island and its Inglenook brick floor:

Harvest moon kitchen thin brick floorHarvest moon kitchen thin brick floor

The kitchen table, overlooking the backyard, barn, and pastures and a closeup of our thin brick.

Harvest moon kitchen table

Inglenook brick tile kitchen floor

Finally, the transition from the kitchen’s brick tile flooring to the dining room’s wood floor.

Transition from thin brick to wood flooring

Thank you so much to Walt and Tandy for inviting us to visit your home. We’re so glad that you are pleased with your Inglenook Tiles!