Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 20
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

Prudential Fox and Roach, Realtors

Gloria Nilson GMAC Real Estate

Henderson Sotheby's International Realty

N.T. Callaway Princeton Office

Stockton Real Estate, LLC

Weichert, Realtors

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Iris Interiors

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Weather Forecast

It’s New to Us by Jean Stratton

DYNAMIC DUO: “There are so many choices of tile and stone today. One reason for our success has been having the knowledgeable designers who know how to pull it together.” Darlene Flood, one of the partners of A Step In Stone in Skillman, is shown in front of a collection of patterns in ceramic, including some of the hottest new trends.

Full Range of the Latest in Tile and Stone Is Offered at A Step in Stone in Skillman

“I believe the trend in tile and stone today is ‘in with the old and in with the new’,” says Darlene Flood, a partner of A Step In Stone, from the store’s handsome showroom at 1149 Route 601 in Skillman. “Tile and stone can take on a combination of looks. For example, it can be ceramic, but with added relief and dimension for an incredible effect. And stone has been around forever, but now there are new patterns, giving it a classic look, with a twist.

“Glass, metal, ceramic, porcelain, and many different natural stone tiles, including limestone and marble, are all being used in the home,” she continues. “Combining these beautiful elements together makes for one very special place. You see everything from traditional and classic to fresh and hip.”

Stone and tile are more in demand than ever, adds Ms. Flood. “Tile and stone are very durable, and it really is the look that makes them so popular. Also, people are more interested now in the sustainability of tile. We have environmentally-friendly and recycled products, including leather and glass.”

The selection is just incredible at the distinctive showroom. “Tile choices have grown exponentially in the past few years,” she points out. “Every year, there are more choices. There are such exciting patterns, relief, and dimension. With all these choices in color, texture, and style, you can spend hours trying to figure out what you like. I think the key for us is making the selection process easier. Clients can be very confused when they see all the choices. We don’t overburden them with too many options. We try to find out what the end result would be and work from that. When helping people with decisions during the process, we bring it all together and start by eliminating what people don’t like.”

Design Savvy

In addition, she continues, “We provide not only a wide range of custom lines, but the design savvy gained from years of project experience from waterfront mansions to town homes. We can help you mix and match a beautiful backsplash to complement your cabinetry or a gorgeous bathroom design that you will love and appreciate for years to come. We work with kitchen designers, architects, builders, lighting representatives, and homeowners. We are a true showroom, where your imagination and inspiration join our design ideas. Everything is customized for each client, and we can meet any budget.”

Indoor and outdoor living spaces can be enhanced by custom, high end lines, such as Sonoma Tilemaker, and others available from all over the world, including the U.S., Italy, Spain, and Turkey. Shower walls, shower stalls, backsplashes, foyers, mud rooms, sun rooms, cabanas, fireplace surrounds and hearths, patios and walkways are some of the areas well suited for stone and tile.

“New handpainted tile is coming in, also silver and goldleaf tile are new products, and we have mosaics that combine ceramic, stone, and glass,” reports Ms. Flood. “The patterns with glass tile now are incredible. We carry glass lines with 500 colors, and we can match to fabrics.”

Since she and the other partners opened A Step In Stone nearly three years ago, they have been delighted by the response. “We have a similar store in Red Bank, and we looked in the Princeton area and saw that we could offer our exclusive selection here,” she explains. “We have been more successful than I had even hoped, with customers from Princeton, Skillman, Pennington, and West Windsor. There are also lots of repeats and referrals.”

Visual Aptitude

Ms. Flood, who is a designer, stresses the importance of loving one’s work. “One of the things I’ve learned is to know what your passion is. If you want to be successful, you have to find the passion. My background was in corporate America, and it happened that I helped out a friend in a tile store. After one month, I realized this was my passion, and within six months, we had our own business. I did a lot of research, and I also had a visual aptitude. My dad’s family were all artists, and he was an entrepreneur in the restaurant business.

“We shopped all over the country so we could find artisans who create tile not found in other places in the area, and I built a relationship with these small business artisans. This is really our niche.”

Ms. Flood is enthusiastic about the showroom’s soon-to-be expanded space which will feature a new collection, exclusive in the area. “We are also working on some very exciting things for 2010. It will be an opportunity for everyone to see our work.”

In addition, Step In Stone has completed the tile and stone designs for the Stately Homes By the Sea Designer Show House, “Sheep’s Run”, in Rumson, which will be on view through May 31.

The Skillman showroom features a myriad of samples, including books, for customers to review, and Ms. Flood looks forward to introducing more people to the great variety of stone and tile. Personalized attention and one-of-a-kind, custom design are available at A Step In Stone. A warm and welcoming atmosphere is emphasized in the showroom.

“When guests come to my home to dinner, they are treated to a wonderful dinner and a great time,” says Ms. Flood. “Clients are treated that way when they come to the store. And if you are happy, your customers will be too.”

A Step In Stone is open Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 11 to 4, and by appointment. (609) 333-0610; Website:

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