In the kitchen we're mainly looking for an old-style kitchen scene, hence the old-fasioned stove, plus small elements taken from our own lives: our much-missed boxer, a plant dangling down the side of the cabinet (my wife loves dangling plants), a pie on the kitchen table (my wife loves to bake pies, and I love to eat them), etc. The small squares in the upper right are intended to be accent tiles, but we've asked Paul to re-work those in food themes: another pie, milk and cookies, bread and butter, etc.
And this is the current shower design:
I was looking for a Seattle waterfront theme, no I don't mean cranes and container-ships but basically what you see above: mountains, Space Needle, orcas, ferries, and yes that's a trimaran in the middle there. I like the sunken ship too. For awhile I was considering having some Ivar's billboards on the sea-bottom as well (a local seafood restauranteur anchored some billboards on the bottom of Puget Sound as an advertising stunt back in the 50's) but decided that would be too specific and would get dated too quick. The accent tiles in the lower right will be located in a border row of tiles above the tub surround.
If the designs above seem a bit "sparse", i.e. they don't cover every square inch of tile, keep in mind that the tiles are all 6"x6" in size so the total square footage is more than you would think; also, the price is based per square foot and we're limited budget-wise. I think Paul does a nice job of trying to "suggest" a broader view without actually painting all of the tiles.
Oh yes, forgot one thing: last weekend we went (with my mother who was visiting - hi Mom!) down to the DalTile showroom in Seattle to pick out tiles. We took along tile samples for our master bathroom, and the granite countertop sample for the kitchen. We ended up selecting their "Matte Urban Putty" (code 0761) for the kitchen backsplash tile, and "Matte Desert Gray" (code X714) for the shower surround tile. These will be the colors/tiles that Paul will paint these murals onto. He says he's never had a tile or color that he couldn't work with, but I suspect we made his life a bit difficult with the gray colored tile in the shower. I'm sure it will look great when finished though.
Lastly: I've never commissioned a work of art before, and I have to say the experience is very fun, and at the same time gives you a heady feeling of power: all you have to do is come up with some vague ideas, and a creative and experienced artist turns them into real-life for you. Pretty cool! :-)