Finding Treasures Among CalPot’s Seconds, Overrun Tiles

When Elizabeth Chin and her husband Adrian renovated the bathroom in their circa 1940 home in the Montecito Heights area of Los Angeles, she set out to find tile to decorate the enlarged shower. The project also gave her a chance to explore a passion of hers – decorative tile.

“I’m nuts for tile,” Elizabeth said. “When I went to Cuba in 1993, that was the first time I saw encaustic tile and I fell in love. I still have a tile that I found at the beach in Havana and brought home. Recently I spent a week in Merida, Mexico, where the traditional pasta tiles are breathtaking. I have a fantasy that I’ll be able to have a back patio with those tiles one day.”

Elizabeth found California Pottery and Tile Works through a Craigslist ad, and was introduced to CalPot’s extra, unused and seconds tiles.

“I loved the deco tiles and bought all that I could find. I also bought as many of the green octagon tiles as I could find, and the teal tiles, as well as teal quarter round,” she recalled. “At that point I didn’t have exact dimensions on the shower; I just knew I loved the tiles and cobbled together piles of things I thought could work together.”

“I was there for hours,” she recalled. “I work at a design school (ArtCenter College of Design), so I’m interested in how things get made, materials, and workspaces. The owners were really generous and showed me around and let me get a close look at some of the projects they were working on.”

The seconds and overrun tiles were stored in the same room where “the people are doing the hand-painting of the tiles and it was such a privilege to get to see them at their work.”
Elizabeth experimented for several days to come up with a design that worked in the space and showed off the tiles she already bought to the best advantage.

The result? “The bathroom is now definitely the fanciest room in the house by far,” she said.

“I’ve been crazy about handmade tiles for years and years, and it was really so much fun to root around in the boxes. I had a very limited budget, but wanted something really special. The result is amazing, and I was able to keep the entire tile budget under $2,000.”

Photo: Elizabeth Chin

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