Considering he comes from a family with deep roots in a design industry that dates back to 4000 BC, it’s no surprise that Nick Mastrogiovanni tends to end up looking at tiles first, and everything else second whenever he’s in a beautiful place for the first time.
“I find that I’ve turned into that guy that analyzes the design of every new restaurant or hotel that I walk into,” says the third-generation owner of Toronto’s Classic Ceramic + Tile, which recently reinvented itself with a cutting-edge renovation. “I am always looking at their floors and walls, and truly admire the design work that goes into the planning of these spaces – especially because I know how much work goes into it. The tiles chosen create, and add to, the overall atmosphere and ambiance of these establishments. They really do make a difference.”
The earliest decorative tiles date back to the ancient Egyptians, who began using them to add colour and style to some of the world’s first architectural marvels. By the Middle Ages tiles had become the rage all across Europe, adorning everything from opulent royal palaces to towering churches to family homes.
Classic Ceramic + Tile has been making a difference in Toronto ever since Mastrogiovanni’s grandfather opened the store as a small business nearly a half-century ago. After immigrating from Italy in the 50s, he made it a mission to bring European quality and craftsmanship to his new city.
“I believe, with his love for his home country, he always had that passion to import from Italy and share the great products they had overseas with Canada,” Mastrogiovanni says.
That attention to detail as well as superior products has served Classic Ceramic + Tile well over the decades, the store’s one constant being an eagerness to adapt to the times. Mastrogiovanni notes that when he first entered the business, most home decorators were happy walking out of the store with a box of one-foot-by-one-foot beige tiles.
A visit to Classic Ceramic + Tile’s stylish and engaging new showroom demonstrates how much things have changed today.
The COVID-19 lockdown created unprecedented challenges for the business, but it also presented a great opportunity.
“During the height of the pandemic, we had to close our showroom, which was very challenging for us, being a small family-run business,” Mastrogiovanni says. “When it comes to purchasing tiles, most people prefer to shop in-store because it allows them to see the tile sizes and colours in person – something that just isn’t captured as well online.
“Being in business for over 45 years – now owned by the third generation – we knew we needed to freshen up our space in order to stay competitive and appeal to a younger demographic,” he continues. “That’s when we realized, what better time to renovate than now? It was no small task but we completely modernized our showroom and are really proud of the space that we created – a space that we ourselves would be proud to shop at as well.”
Just as no one has to order vanilla ice cream in a gelateria with 100 flavours, no one has to be satisfied with the tiles their parents might have chosen in the 70s. Those looking to freshen up a house, condo, summer cottage or winter chalet have a dazzling array of Classic Ceramic + Tile options to choose from, ranging from classic porcelain, ceramic and mosaic to vinyl and engineered hardwood. And those moving ahead with a full-scale renovation will find everything in one place, including quartz countertops and a myriad of flooring options.
Offering free design consultations, Classic Ceramic + Tile is there with hands-on support, whether you’re looking for guidance on larger tiles for your fireplace, many styles of mosaics for backsplash, or porcelain in all different sizes.
“I always tell people that tiles are more like fashion than construction,” Mastrogiovanni opines. “There are so many different styles, colours and sizes of tiles that can create and add to an ambiance of a room. Unlike other parts of construction, tiles can really demonstrate the personality and character of a person through their visuals.”
To that end Classic Ceramic + Tile has made it a mission to provide ideas for those looking for inspiration when they’ve got a project to tackle. Walk into the showroom and you get an experience that comes complete with hip-hop, house or ambient electronica on the store’s sound system, free espresso and a staff that’s as supportive and passionate as it is knowledgeable.
“There is a whole new generation of first-time home buyers that continues to grow and they likely want to renovate their new space,” Mastrogiovanni thoughtfully notes. “Going into a tile place shouldn’t seem boring – it should be exciting. With our new showroom we’re always playing cool music, offering our guests espresso and making their experience fun, seamless and easy.”
For more information on Classic Ceramic + Tile go to www.classicceramictile.ca, or give a follow on Instagram at @classicceramictile.