Upselling with Borders, Accents and Listellos
March 1st, 2005

Using quality materials and paying attention to installation details will deliver creativity and process

March-April 2005

By Karen Gustafson

Just as that perfect piece of jewelry or elegant tie can enhance your everyday business suit, borders, accents and listellos can make an ordinary tile installation extraordinary—and provide dealers and distributors with the opportunity to upsell.

At the recent International Builders’ Show, “personalization” was the buzzword. Architects, designers and homeowners are all looking for ways to personalize their projects and environments with color, color, color and details, details, details. In the tile industry, both color and details are in welcome supply today, but many dealers hesitate to suggest their use because they aren’t sure what’s out there or how they can best be used.


Just as tile is being used throughout the home today, borders, accents and listellos are also going beyond the kitchen and bath and being seen in living and dining rooms, home offices, family rooms and bedrooms, as well as outdoor entertainment areas.

Borders, accents and listellos come in a variety of shapes, materials and sizes. In ancient Greece and Rome, tumbled stone and marble mosaics were used in floor and wall murals. Accent tiles have traditionally been small to large mosaics (1″ x 1″ up to 4″ x 4″), while decorative tiles usually have a painted design or a three-dimensional, raised pattern. Decorative trim pieces, such as liner bars or listellos, have traditionally replicated ancient motifs (such as the egg and dart or rope patterns), but today they come in a wide variety of designs and textures. In addition, trim pieces are now available as crown moldings, chair rails and cove base moldings to create the look and finish of a period installation.

In fact, Jim Dougherty, vice president of marketing and business development at Crossville, Inc., has seen such an increased demand for borders, accents and listellos in the marketplace, that Crossville now offers Accent Innovations™, a large collection of glass, metal and natural stone accents and trims. These are in addition to mosaics, borders and trim pieces in Crossville’s trademark stone-look Porcelain Stone® tile and its newly introduced Color Blox line, a smooth textured, minimalist look Porcelain Stone® that comes in 20 colors.

Dougherty sees the following trends: lots of mosaics in all sizes, especially mixed with large-format square and rectangular tile in multiple-size applications; real metal tile in nickel silver, bronze and copper, as well as aged patinas of verdigris and rust; stainless steel in a mix of textures; the iridescence and reflectivity of glass tile on floors, walls and countertops; and, finally, the use of bolder and deeper colors, along with the water-inspired colors that have been popular the last few years.

What is important to remember is that while your customers might choose to tile an entire room with borders, accents and listellos, their strategic use in small quantities can make an impressive design statement and not break your customer’s budget. And because small quantities add up, borders, accents and listellos can inspire both new heights of creativity and profits.

Karen Gustafson, a former editor and design journalist, has written several books on design; she currently heads The Gustafson Group Ltd., a New York-based public relations firm specializing in the design/build industry.

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