Talking Tile

Larry Stoddard stands next to a display of Antiquity Tile, handmade in Blue Hill.
Mary Blum and Sarah Wormwood collaborate on a design for a homeowner.
Mosaic tiles from New Ravenna and deco-inspired tiles from Country Floors and Sabine Hill decorate a narrow wall.
A drawer is stocked with samples for customers to peruse.
Artistic Tile’s Estrella Grande tile is carved with a precision waterjet.

Distinctive Tile and Design’s newest location in Kennebunk offers a formidable alternative to high-end Boston showrooms.

Inside Distinctive Tile and Design in Kennebunk, art surrounds you on the walls and underfoot. Intricate Escher-esque creations, mandala-inspired squares, jewel-like mosaics, and painted nautical scenes beckon from nearly every surface. There to guide you through the choices are two friendly design experts, Sarah Wormwood and Mary Blum, trained by owner and industry veteran Larry Stoddard. Kennebunk is new territory for Stoddard, who has been laying tile since he was 20 years old and operates showrooms in Portland and Rockland and a flooring store in Yarmouth. The southern location of the new store, which opened in December, puts him in a prime position to compete with not only big-box stores but also Boston design resources.

“I’m honored to be one of the state’s oldest tile suppliers,” says Stoddard, who opened his Yarmouth location in 1989. “And I’m excited to have a larger presence in southern Maine. We used to have clients going to Massachusetts for tiles they couldn’t find here, but that’s all changing now.”

Stoddard sources tile from small Maine companies, such as Antiquity Tile in Hampden, which uses an old-fashioned wood-firing process, and Heirloom Tileworks in Ellsworth, known for its high-relief offerings, as well as industry innovators such as Lunada Bay Tiles, Artistic Tile, Oceanside Glasstile, and New Ravenna. Current trends at Distinctive Tile include natural stone squares in antiqued and carved finishes. Marble, granite, and quartz slab vanity tops are also popular, as are porcelain tiles that resemble wood planks, which the team describe as timeless yet impressively low-maintenance.

Paintings, photography, and mixed-media works are natural companions for tile art, and Stoddard showcases them prominently in his stores. On display in Kennebunk are pieces by local artists Erin McGee Ferrell, Judy Schneider, Michael Walek, and Mary Woodman.

Beyond bathrooms and kitchens, the company can handle installations in entryways, wine cellars, commercial spaces, and even boats. For restoration projects, the team will match new tiles with existing ones. “We have a comprehensive knowledge of tile and industry trends along with a wide variety of products that are unique to us and unavailable anywhere else in southern Maine,” says Stoddard. As for who the tile is accessible to—at prices starting at just $1 per square foot, that would include me, and perhaps many of you.

A little more Shop Talk
Have a project in mind? Get started with some tips from Distinctive Tile’s team.
1. Prior to visiting the showroom, take photos of the area to be remodeled, as well as adjoining rooms and furnishings, to give the designer an idea of your style and existing decor. It also helps to bring in samples of your color scheme (fabric or paint swatches, a piece of broken tile to match) and inspirational photos from magazines, websites, or a Pinterest board.
2. Draw a quick diagram of the space, with measurements marked out, and decide on a budget before you set foot in the store.
3. Keep an open mind, and have fun—tile is an expression of yourself.