When it comes to adding that true Wow Factor to your home, look no further than Thorntree Slate. Thorntree was founded in Houston in 1980 after the Rae family moved to Texas from South Africa. Offering some of best porcelain, natural stone and glass products on the market, Thorntree describes itself as “for the exotic, for the unusual and for the practical.”

In other words, it’s a perfect fit for Texans.

In fact, Thorntree recently provided the flooring, countertops and backsplash for the stunning main pavilion commercial kitchen at The Halles events space in Round Top. They used Black Ash Brazilian Slate for the countertops and backsplash in a handsplit, natural cleft finish for durability and ease of use, selected by Chad Dorsey of Chad Dorsey Design. The flooring at The Halles kitchen is an Italian porcelain called Planches Miel, which is carefully produced by Italian artisans to show the variations and inherent beauty of natural wood.  

With humble roots, Thorntree Slate started in a small office and warehouse on Houston’s West 34th Street with three employees — Stuart Rae, his father Clive Rae and Berry Rae. In the beginning, the company primarily sold slate roofing to a small, but forward-thinking group of custom home builders. Ever the entrepreneurs and smart businessmen, Stuart and Clive Rae called on local architects from the Houston Yellow Pages and showed Thorntree’s first collection of natural slate flooring in five colors. The rest, as they say, is history.

Thorntree has now grown to warehouse more than a million square feet of porcelain and natural stone at its main headquarters in Jersey Village. The company is a purveyor of the finest stones and porcelains from quarries and factories around the world, importing from more than eight countries across the globe. It also now employs more than 40 people across three locations (at the Houston headquarters on West Gulf Bank Road, at the Houston Studio on Old Katy Road and in Dallas on N. Riverfront Boulevard). 

At the heart of Thorntree Slate, there is a commitment to customer service, a personal touch and a reliance on the highest quality materials. Not only is the staff warm and welcoming, they are some of the best and most knowledgeable experts in the field.  

“Thorntree prides itself on customer service,” Thorntree Slate founder Stuart Rae says. “You will get the same care looking for a few small tiles to repair your 20-year-old slate floor that you would get if you and your designer were looking to spend the afternoon in our showroom making selections for your entire house.

“We make every customer a priority, because every customer makes us who we are.”

This spring, Thorntree Slate is seeing a focus on exterior hardscape as homeowners renovate their outdoor spaces to enjoy with family and friends. For these spaces, the company is seeing a focus on porcelain pavers to create a durable and natural look that is easy to install. In bathroom spaces, they’re seeing a preference towards large and dramatic porcelain panels, such as Nature Mood to add interest and intrigue to shower walls and tub surrounds. In terms of counters, homeowners are leanings towards natural stone, such as Portuguese marble and limestone, Brazilian Slate, and Natural Quartzite to create a to create a classic look and feel.

“We are seeing a resurgence of timeless looks in the market,” Stuart Rae says. “Many suppliers have perfectly replicated natural slates, limestones and marbles with the newest technologies in porcelain tile manufacturing. You can get the look of natural stones with the ease of use of porcelain and ceramic tiles. 

Thorntree is also seeing a slight tilt and preference towards made in America porcelain this season.

“Over the past three years, we have started an extensive program of producing and inventorying made in Tennessee porcelain,” Stuart Rae says. “These are designed by Italians in America, but produced for everyday use, including slabs, tiles, pavers and mosaics.

“Simply put, for almost any application, there is a Made in USA porcelain tile to fit your needs.”

To learn much more about Thorntree Slate and everything it offers, check out its full website.