How do you finish up your new home renovation? The answer might just be the last thing you expected: with something old. Enter Historic Decorative Materials, a division of Pavé Tile, Wood, and Stone Inc., co-owned by husband and wife Emmi and Francois Micallef. The Micallefs are making the old seem new again with their repurposed stone and wood floors and gorgeous handpainted tiles.
Historic Decorative Materials was formed when Emmi, an artist and high school French teacher, joined forces with her husband, a French tile showroom owner. The professional marriage proved greater than the sum of its parts, and patrons flocked from all over to make a trip down to the couple’s showroom near Northampton, Massachusetts. But the majority of their business is e-commerce. “I wanted our website to be as beautiful as the products we salvage and create,” says Emmi. They photograph every image posted on the website themselves. When your business is beauty, there can be no room for the ugliness that a digital image can often provide in abundance.
“As an artist himself, François installed every stone and wood installation and wall vignette we have,” says Emmi. If they don’t love something after six months, they simply take it down. Their showroom is truly a monument to beauty, and an essential visit if you’re doing a total overhaul of your home. “People need to come to see how stones are installed, their edging, the grout colors, the patina, texture, and variation of the material,” says Emmi. She continues, “A sample will never tell the true and whole story.”
One of Historic Decorative Materials’ most beautiful offerings is their French Provincial 19th Century Cuisine de Monet Wall Tile Collection. The collection is painted by Emmi on reclaimed terracotta imported from France. The tiles are inspired by the Eduoard Monet’s home in Giverny, France. “His kitchen became iconic due to his own creativity. It transcends time and trends. François and I never espouse trends,” says Emmi. This truly shows in the work of this magnificent collection. The hand-painted tiles do not conform to a trend, they harken back to timeless beauty. It’s quite telling that Emmi was inspired by what a renowned painter wanted to look at every day.
“Monet’s kitchen, with its terracotta hexagon floor, was nearly my apex that I followed to get to this point today,” says Emmi. Even if the past is not being utilized directly, as is the case with this tile collection, the inspiration still comes from an ideal of beauty that was established decades ago, and that is still highly relevant today.
Francois makes trips to Europe multiple times a year to meet with suppliers for their business. If you’re renovating your home with Historic Decorative Materials your new floor might be reclaimed Italian bluestone tiles or reclaimed terracotta tiles. Either way, your home will be steeped in attractive history. “The beauty comes from highly skilled artisans generations ago and today, where time and craftsmanship bring out the best of what these materials can offer,” says Emmi. With Historic Decorative Materials, the best of what the past can offer is presented in a way that would fit in even the most modern home. “Installing reclaimed materials with modern elements in a home—historic authenticity with clean lines, opaque natural materials against translucent or metallic ones, is a pinnacle of the beauty of contrast,” says Emmi. Pairing the old with the new is a key part of the Micallefs’ work.
Emmi’s philosophy is simple. “Think of a mountain— with its opaque, rough textures against an ephemeral, blue sky,” she says. “This contrast creates a tension of beauty, holding space for both the mountain and the sky.” Emmi’s Monet-inspired tile collection, as well as her Delft tile collection comes to mind with this simple principle. Emmi’s precise depictions of ships painted in gorgeous blue on a white background on the reclaimed tiles are the epitome of her principle of the beauty of contrast. Home Design Materials can help make every inch of a home feel like a museum piece.