Katy Harris, Marketing Director for Verona, outlines the implications for merchants of the trend for transforming exterior spaces to create an ‘extra room’ in the home and how consumers are bringing a sense of the outside in through creative flooring.
Our gardens and outdoor space have always served a range of different purposes. For some they’re an area for children to play, while for others they’re a place to entertain. But in recent years we’ve seen a huge trend towards treating the garden as an extra room in the home. Whether it’s an outdoor kitchen where you grow your own vegetables, a Zen-like retreat complete with fire pit or a walled garden, outdoor space has become much more valuable with homeowners now investing time and money in creating something functional and style-led.
The nation’s appetite for open plan living continues to influence interior and exterior spaces alike. From inspiring the use of raw, natural materials in the home, through to growing sales for bi fold patio doors and the movement towards more premium flooring choices, open plan living and exterior scaping have changed consumer buying behaviour. While traditional stone flagstones and timber decking still have their place, the growth in the market is within porcelain tiles that can be installed indoors and out, allowing consumers to create a wide range of stunning spaces.
An ideal up sell for merchants, tiles offer a wide range of designs to appeal to a diverse customer base, whether they are looking for a classic design or something more contemporary. Easy to maintain and clean, tiles save homeowners time and money in the long term, and give merchants the opportunity to sell floor solutions for two or three different areas of the home, maximising the value of each sale.
Indoors or out
Versatile and functional, porcelain tiles deliver a hardwearing floor covering that can withstand extreme weather conditions. Fade resistant even in the sun and frost proof (preventing cracking during winter months), porcelain will retain its good looks for years to come with no sealing or special maintenance needed. Easy to clean with a brush and warm soapy water, porcelain tiles are also resistant to algae and moss.
With most collections offering a 20mm thick porcelain for outdoor use with co-ordinating 10mm indoor tile, homeowners can easily extend the look from conservatory or kitchen to the patio.
Unlike flagstones and decking, the beauty of porcelain tiles is in the wide range of striking designs available — including natural materials, tactile matt textures, dark or light tones — which appeal to all consumer tastes. Printed using the latest technology, porcelain tiles can deliver a host of different finishes from classic travertine effects through to contemporary concrete and wood designs.
Detailed veining and tonal variation create a look that’s difficult to distinguish from real stone and wood, making it a slick, stylish alternative that’s easy to clean and maintain. Concrete stone effects in steely grey shades are proving to be strong sellers — reflecting the trend for industrial interiors — while washed out, heavy wood grain timber designs are also in demand as consumer tastes veer towards weathered, distressed looks.
Similarly, ‘pattern’ is a massive trend within interior design with homeowners looking to lay tiles in a variety of different patterns and formats to stand out from the crowd — so merchants shouldn’t be nervous of recommending alternative laying patterns for outdoors. The simplest layout is a stack bond, laying each tile side by side, but maximum visual impact can be created through diagonal layouts, herringbone and modular patterns to deliver a more contemporary aesthetic.
With some creative thinking, even the smallest space can be turned into a functional entertaining area or extra living room. Often the same collection can be used indoors and outdoors for a continuous look, but colour contrasts can be used to define and zone living spaces. For example, a stone effect porcelain tile in light beige on the patio next to a much darker stone in the kitchen helps to clearly define living spaces whilst also connecting the two together.
“While traditional stone flagstones and timber decking still have their place, the growth in the market is within porcelain tiles that can be installed indoors and out.”
With the great outdoors soon to be top of everyone’s design agenda, it is definitely worth considering holding a capsule collection in store to capitalise on sales. Make the most of any POS support offered by manufacturers to showcase the wide range of different looks available and, if you have the opportunity, transform one of your outdoor areas with a clever patio design. The investment will reap dividends.
For more information on Verona’s range of products and services, including its Al Fresco premium porcelain collection for indoors and outdoors, visit www.veronagroup.co.uk