The phrase “everything old is new again” certainly applies to many fashion and design trends. And nowhere is it more apt than in the “new” trend towards patterned tiles in the home. Examples of intricate, colorful tiles have been around since medieval times, but bold new patterns have brought these tiles back to the forefront.
Encaustic tiles, popular throughout Europe for years, are among the more popular styles emerging today. These tiles use two or more colors of clay to create a pattern. The fact that the pattern is an integral part of the tile’s creation lends to its earthy nature. They are also called cement tiles, referring to their main ingredient, and many tile companies now offer some beautiful options. These tiles are very versatile and can be used on floors or walls, indoors or out.
Another option you can choose is hand painted tiles. As the name implies, the pattern is applied to the surface of the tile then it is glazed and fired. They can be made of ceramic, porcelain, cement or terra cotta, so they are also very versatile. Until more recently, the most common version in the US was Talavera tiles from Mexico or Spain which were often used in your favorite local restaurant. However, the offerings today are much broader, ranging from geometric patterns to floral motifs and other intricate designs.
Rather than purchase a patterned tile, you can also create a pattern with solid tiles using any size or shape to create a visually stunning design. Many tile companies provide pattern templates; you can also find inspiration in magazines or on blogs, Pinterest, and Houzz. Keep in mind that labor can be more expensive when you ask the installer to lay the tile in a pattern. But the material cost saving should help offset this added expense.
In order to make your patterned tiles really shine, be sure to keep the rest of the room fairly neutral. Coordinating your wall color with one of the lighter tones in your tile will help the room feel more cohesive. And be sure to pick a grout color that highlights the pattern, but doesn’t distract from it.
So if you are in the market for a new home, or remodeling your existing one, consider a patterned tile and step away from the ordinary.