Totalook: interview with the designer
From New York to Milan, Berlin to London, this enforced period of lockdown has enabled us to rediscover the beauty of spending time outdoors. Even little things like soaking up the sun on the balcony or walking in the park have a different flavour now.
This explains why in the last year there has been a surge in purchases of properties with terraces and gardens and, for those who already possessed such external areas, a desire to modernise them and make them more welcoming and pleasant.
The outdoor kitchen is an absolute must for those that love to socialise. But choosing a kitchen countertop that will stand the test of time is by no means straightforward. In fact, not all materials guarantee the same technical performances. Remember that external kitchens are constantly exposed to the elements: the heat of the summer but also the icy cold of the winter.
The kitchen countertop must therefore guarantee suitable standards and excellent levels of performance, and porcelain stoneware is undoubtedly the best choice. In fact, outdoor kitchen tiles are water-resistant and capable of withstanding variations in temperature. Another key characteristic is the ease with which it can be cleaned: although external surfaces tend to get dirty quite easily, the regular maintenance (link to cleaning article) of ceramic is very straightforward.
For all of these reasons porcelain stoneware is the best countertop material for outdoor kitchens. But let’s take a look at some of the details.
Because of the reliability and versatility of stoneware, ceramic tiles are the best solution for decorating an outdoor kitchen. In recent years in particular, large sizes have proven to be highly effective in the creation of kitchen countertops and, more specifically, porcelain tile outdoor countertops.
To meet the demand for versatile decorations, Ergon and Level have developed two modern lines perfect for both indoor and outdoor use:
- The Level Stone range stands out for the adaptability of the stone-effect ceramic, available in large slabs and five different shades.
- Meanwhile, Elegance Pro by Ergon offers a modern take on sandstone. Thanks to the infinite number of colour combinations and the innovative Shield antimicrobial treatment which eliminates 99.9% of bacteria, it is the perfect solution for outdoor countertops.
Though it is important to choose the right materials when designing an outdoor kitchen, just as crucial is the selection of colours and, even more importantly, finishes.
For obvious reasons, outdoor kitchens often enjoy very good natural lighting. For kitchens that are very exposed to the sun it might be wise to choose lighter and paler colours which, as well as enhancing the natural light, also tend to reflect heat. This is the choice normally adopted for seaside homes where salt and sand deposits are easy to camouflage on a light kitchen countertop.
Conversely, for a modern effect, particularly for areas protected by the shade, darker outdoor kitchen tiles are an elegant and innovative option.
The Stone range by Level, distinctive for its large stone-effect ceramic slabs, has been designed in the five colours presented below and is able to offer various solutions for a modern and versatile look:
- Basalto: with natural finish, is one of the darkest colours in the collection.
- Slate Black: has natural vein patterns and a dark colour with contrasts.
- Cantera Grey: a mid-grey shade, a compromise between the lighter and darker colours of the collection, with the right quantity of vein patterns and details.
- Slate Grey: lighter version of Slate Black, with natural vein patterns and cool tones.
- Grigio di Gré: the lightest and most detailed shade of the Stone range. Perfect for a countertop that contrasts with dark kitchens or for areas very exposed to the sun.
Stone ceramic slabs are perfect both for decorating external countertops and as backsplashes. Thanks to their large dimensions which reduce the presence of joints and make the worktop easier to clean, they can also be used as outdoor BBQ island tiles.
However, as well as being functional and convenient, outdoor kitchen tiles must also go well with the surrounding environment: nature. And ceramic is one of the most natural and environmentally-friendly decoration materials there is. In fact, both the Stone by Level and Elegance Pro by Ergon ranges have Greenguard Gold certification, guaranteeing their safety for the environment and human health.
Aesthetically speaking, ceramic gives any surface a natural look. With the numerous vein patterns of the Elegance Pro ranges or the stone-effect details of Stone by Level, it blends in perfectly with the surrounding environments, seamlessly integrating with the natural landscape.
As previously mentioned, we recommend light colours for outdoor kitchen tile countertops exposed to the sun. These absorb less heat and camouflage dust, sand and salt. However, whatever your choice, here are three tips for creating the right contrasts or combinations with your outdoor kitchen tiles:
- Respect the 3 colours rule: for perfectly harmonious colours we recommend combining a dominant colour (that of the kitchen) with a secondary colour (perhaps that of the ceramic countertop). The third colour, present to a lesser degree, is used for the details: knobs, domestic appliances, etc.
- Use similar colours to create a harmonious and relaxing effect: avoid clear contrasts and opt for shades in the same tone.
- Prioritise complementary colours for more intriguing and audacious contrasts: in this case you could pair light-coloured kitchens with a darker ceramic countertop (or vice versa) or play around with the colours and combinations of materials and finishes.
Of the Emilgroup’s collections of coverings, the Elegance Pro sandstone tiles by Ergon definitely offer the widest array of options in terms of both colours and finishes.
Elegance Pro offers a choice of 7 different shades, from warmer browns to cooler greys. It also offers 4 finishes: Bocciardato, Lappato, Natural and Mural. In order to guarantee the safety of the surface when used outdoors, the last two of these are created with the Shield antimicrobial process, which reduces bacterial growth by up to 99.9%.
Another advantage of the outdoor countertop options is their versatility, particularly as regards their dimensions.
Because of their size, external spaces are the perfect place for large ceramic slabs or medium or large-sized tiles. Meanwhile, smaller sizes function brilliantly as complements.
In short, the outdoor countertop options offered by the Elegance Pro and Level Stone coverings will really allow you to give full vent to your creativity.
31 May 2021
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