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Showroom Consultant Spotlight: Meet Sandra Bates

We have a wonderful team of consultants at each Conestoga Tile showroom and through our blog, we’d like to introduce you to them so you can get to know the friendly faces you’ll encounter when you visit one of our showrooms. Today, we’d like to introduce you to Sandra Bates.

Sandra Bates has been with Conestoga Tile as a design consultant in our Linthicum, MD showroom for 3 ½ years. Sandra came to us shortly after graduating from the Community College of Baltimore County with a degree in Interior Design. She has been a great addition to the Conestoga team and favorite among many customers. Sandra works closely with homeowners and their designers and contractors to ensure that the process of product selection, installation design and order processing is an enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

Sandra assisting a customer in Conestoga’s Linthicum, MD showroom.

We also wanted to give Sandra the opportunity to share her expertise with you. Below is a question-and-answer session we conducted with her.

Conestoga Tile: How should someone visiting the Conestoga Tile showroom prepare for their visit?  What should they bring with them?
Sandra: Usually when someone is remodeling their bathroom, they start the process by selecting the tile.  I find it’s helpful for the customers to do some research prior to walking into our showroom.  That can include looking at pictures online, in books, or magazines to get a sense of the end result they want to achieve.  Bringing pictures of their current space or a floor plan are great ways to give me an idea of the project.  For kitchen renovations, it is very important that the customers bring their countertop sample and a cabinet door.  If anything else in the room has been selected, such as paint colors or fabric, that may be brought as well.

CT: What current trends in backsplashes are you seeing?
S: Classic looks, such as natural stone, are always in style and complement granite countertops beautifully.  A subway tile (3×6 size) in a travertine or limestone is the most sought after trend.  Hints of glass mosaic tiles or metal accents can be incorporated to make the backsplash unique and add a pop of color.

CT: What current trends in bathroom design are popular?
S: Porcelain tile in a large format, typically rectangular, is very popular for its ease of maintenance and realistic look of natural stone.  When stacked vertically and taken to the ceiling, the  shower or tub area appears to be much larger.  Many homeowners will include a glass mosaic border about eye level.  Pebble mosaics on shower floors are becoming increasingly popular.  It’s the perfect way to add a spa like feel to a bathroom.  Pebbles have visual appeal and provide a massaging texture.  If you’re concerned about how they will feel under your feet, you may opt for shaved pebbles.

CT: What colors are hot right now?
S: Beige is still the most accepted color, but many people are turning to gray and taupe as alternatives.

CT: What are your thoughts on tile sizes for the floor as it relates to the size of the room?
S: I believe that the larger the tile, the more open the space seems.  There is a limit to this though.  Bathrooms are the biggest area of concern.  Usually a 12×12 will be best for even a small bathroom.  It will minimize the amount of grout lines, thus making the floor less busy.

CT: What do you advise visitors to the showroom to consider when they are selecting tile?
S: I advise visitors to think beyond how their project will look once the installation is complete, and consider practical options that will best suit their lifestyle.  If they don’t think they’ll keep up with regular sealing of natural stone, then I’ll suggest porcelain tile and appropriate cleaning products to take care of their investment.  A porcelain tile will look beautiful for decades, but a cement based grout may look dirty quickly.  To prevent this,  I suggest homeowners use an epoxy or urethane grout.  It never needs to be sealed and will clean up very easily.

CT: You create many different tile installation designs with your clients, what is the process that you go through to develop these designs that become a personal expression of the clients?
S: The process is different for every homeowner.  It may take a few visits to our showroom in order for the homeowner to select the right color for their home.  Once the field tile is chosen, I’ll offer layout suggestions based on the tile sizes available and the size of their space.  Accents, such as glass or metal, are often a personal preference, so many times the homeowner will be drawn to one right away.  I’ll draw layout options to help them visualize how the project will look.

CT: Beyond talking about tile and the installation design, what other products do you often talk about with customers who are visiting the showroom?
S: In some cases, the homeowners will have it narrowed down to several countertop and cabinet options.  I’ll often help them make that decision, based on their tile.  If requested, I can assist homeowners with paint colors.

CT: What is your favorite area to design with tile and why?
S: I love to design kitchen backsplashes.  Conestoga Tile offers so many products that the options are endless.  Since it is a vertical surface, your eye is drawn to the backsplash upon entering the room.  It’s a chance to add some personality to your kitchen, or keep it simple and classic.  Either way, it will make a huge difference in the overall appeal of your space.

CT: What area(s) of the home (it can be interior or exterior) is a great area for tile to be used that most people overlook?
S: I think many first floor powder rooms are a missed opportunity for tile.  A statement could be created by using a glass or stone mosaic on the wall behind the vanity.  Since this is a simple project and a small amount of material is required, you could have a great look for a relatively inexpensive price.

Sandra helps our customers select the perfect tile for their project from hundreds of options.