Volume 51, Issue 1 - January 2016


Home is Where the Glass is
Residential Projects Bring New Opportunities

by Steve Sudeth

Homeowners are using glass in unique ways, such as these stair treads that were backlit with galactic images.

“We shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us.”

— Winston Churchill

Residential glass is a small but demanding segment of my company’s decorative business. Custom home projects are much more sensitive than corporate jobs because we are being invited into the process of creating someone’s home, often their dream home. We are working on a place that they have idealized in their minds and already have deep-rooted attachments. Not only do we need to help bring their vision to reality, but it has to feel like home when we are done.

Weird and Wonderful

And we have done some crazy things for people to give them the dream home they’ve imagined.

• There is a house in Malibu that is made of pieces from a 747 jet plane. The glass had to fit all the existing curves and lines of those recycled parts.

• One owner was obsessed with space and wanted the stairs to his man cave to be backlit images of galaxies.

• An owner in the Hollywood Hills had built a night club on his bottom floor (think tacky 1970s lounge, light-up floor and all) and wanted a telescopic wall with high-performance IGUs that opened up to an observation deck of downtown Los Angeles.

Even though we may think what they are asking for is ridiculous, the owner has been dreaming about it for years.

Where it Really Works

What we’ve found is that high-end residential projects are asking for decorative glass in two areas: kitchens and bathrooms. This isn’t too surprising because these are the most common impact areas in a home and lend themselves to decorative glass. Let’s start in the kitchen, where it’s all about the backpaint.

If homeowners want a seamless and clean look, they can use a custom-fabricated, backpainted glass that covers everything from under their cabinetry to over their range in one piece. It’s a sleek look that is becoming more and more popular as people understand the
capabilities of using specialty glazing in the kitchen.

Bathrooms have always been great for glass, and designers are incorporating decorative elements into shower doors and privacy walls. Etched and frit patterns are still popular for bathroom applications, but we are seeing more requests for natural elements and fade patterns. We recently did a job for a client who wanted wild grass laminated between two lites of low-iron glass for his shower because the rest of the bathroom was exposed wood and stone.

Designers are incorporating fade patterns in bathrooms for the client who is shy enough to want privacy but also wants visibility to the rest of the room. Because of the advances in digital printing, glass can now go from an opaque frit or film that slowly transitions to completely transparent in a way that satisfies even the pickiest client. When clients and designers know they have creative control over the type of fades we can do, it’s almost always integrated in a design.

Home has always been where the heart is, but now home is where the glass is. Decorative glass is becoming a dominant feature in how people envision their dream home, and we will continue to produce all the weird ideas they bring us.

the author
Steve Sudeth
is the creative director for Glas-Pro in Santa Fe Springs, Calif.

Copyright 2015 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.