The tiled cabinetry on the walls of this house is a testament to its love of books and the outdoors.
But the cabinets themselves are also a sign of a more sophisticated approach to design, according to a new report from the Design House.
A tiled kitchenette in the living room, with shelves stacked high for books, The Design House cabinets are one of the most stylish examples of contemporary furniture, said design house director David Dickson.
“A lot of times, if you’re designing something in a traditional, wood-paneled space, there’s really no sense of that design process,” he said.
“So when you add a tiling cabinet, it really opens the door for a very interesting, playful design process.”
The design house’s study of the tiled kitchens of six contemporary U.S. homes found that each kitchenette offers its own visual style and that the cabinets’ design is inextricably linked to the home’s environment.
Dickson said the cabinets are a way to integrate design elements that might be out of place in a typical home, like a door or a fireplace, or that might otherwise be hidden by the walls.
Each cabinet is built with a removable wall covering to create a new space, said Dickson, and each is hand-painted, a common technique for furniture in the modern home.
In the kitchenette, which is located at the base of the stairs, shelves are stacked high, allowing for a wide range of books.
While the shelves can sometimes be a little cramped, the layout and design of the cabinets adds a sense of openness, Dickson said.
The tiled cabinet design is also a testament, he said, to the way designers of the early 20th century used natural materials to create spaces with an element of the outdoors, such as a fireplace.
This example, Darden said, “has a lot of history and symbolism, but it’s also really meant to be a space where people can gather and play and enjoy.”
The design houses’ study also revealed how books have a role in design, with books in cabinets and bookcases serving as a reminder of a specific time in a home’s history.
For example, the first cabinet in the kitchen, which Dickson found in a 1920s-era home in Michigan, is decorated with two large, white books.
Other cabinets also feature books and shelves from the 1920s and 1930s, including a 1940s-style cabinet with a bookcase, a 1950s-styled one with a stack of books, and a 1960s-like one with stacks of books stacked on top of each other.
On a book shelf in the hallway, a shelf in one of two cabinets features an inscription from the author.
Another shelf in a separate cabinet features a handwritten note from a family member, which also notes a specific date.
And on another cabinet, there are two bookshelves that have been folded in half and lined up in a line.
Each shelf is lined with books from the same era and has a different book, according the report.
All of these cabinets are “a very clever way to say, ‘Let’s be in touch with our past and our history,'” Dickson told ABC News.
Tiled cabinets aren’t the only furniture inspired by the outdoors in contemporary homes.
More than a century ago, a couple of furniture makers used wood-panel tiles in their homes to help them look more natural.
Wood panel tiles are often used in a variety of household projects, including wall murals and dining room wall placements.
But these are not the only examples of furniture inspired in part by the environment.
A series of home decor trends has influenced the designs of tiled bathrooms and other living spaces, which are often designed to look more like traditional kitchens than cabinets.
There’s also a trend toward more minimalist designs, such in-the-box furniture that blends with the environment, such a fireplace mantel or kitchen table.
Design houses’ report also explored the design of modern bathrooms and bathrooms with large mirrors, where the design incorporates elements of nature and nature in the design.
Bathrooms, for example, often feature an integrated mirror with a mirror in the wall.
These designs, according with the report, can also make the bathrooms more “natural.”
Darden, who co-authored the report with John H. Dickson and James F. Lefebvre, said they hoped the study would inspire other designers to take a more holistic approach to their design work.
“The design of these homes, we think, really reflects their homes, but they also represent what they’re going to be looking for in the next generation,” he told ABCNews.com.
As with many other aspects of design, “the key is understanding the design process and the goals that we have for our design,” Dickson added.