Paints, wallpapers and artworks aren't the only ways to add a decorative touch to spaces. There's also tiles — and what a versatile yet functional medium these can be. Tiles can add color and texture to a room; while if you place them in interesting ways they can change the visual proportions of a space, too. Tiles provide a solid grounding to the interiors but also help anchor the home's design story.
If you're interested in giving your interiors a fresh, unique look and are tired of the same old tried and tested ideas, then consider the power and influence of tiles. See how these can adapt to different floor types and fill your home with personality.
1. Retrofit focal points
A stone fireplace can add real character to a space, but not everyone's so lucky to inherit one in their home. However, it's something you can recreate through the magic of tiles.
This charmingly rustic fireplace, for example, looks like its original to the house, but was actually recreated using tiles that look like huge blocks of stone. 'To design this fireplace, we used bluestone tiles to give the space an earthy feel,' says Melissa Lee, founder of Bespoke Only.
2. Tell a story with painted tiles
We love the idea of these custom kitchen wall tiles, painted bespoke to bring a sense of story to this modern space. 'We created an illuminated arch covered by hydraulic tiles and stamped them with musical symbols,' says Ana Sawaia, founder of Ana Sawaia Arquitetura.
If you can't go custom, look for collections that have variations in pattern — you can then mix and match with plain tiles to recreate a fun, whimsical look just like this.
3. Let the grout do the hard work
If you're looking for a way to elevate a simple tile, look to interesting tile and grout color combinations that enhance your design. Whether you choose a striking contrast which highlights the shape of the tile, or a color that adds another dimension to your design, there's lot of grout to consider over a basic white.
'These tiles were chosen for their strong geometric lines and subtle off-white satin finish,' says Anthony Chan, director at Chan Architecture, something highlighted by the contrast grouting in between. By switching up the orientation, the designer has added structure to the space, while keeping the materiality uniform.
4. Create a conversation pit
You don't always think of tiles as a "cozy" finish per se, but this fireplace tile idea shows just how they can be used to zone a space and make it feel comforting. Mera Studio Architects created a conversation pit of sorts, lined with tiles that are both practical, and that make this space feel self-contained, even in the wider room.
'The fireplace and cream-colored tiles, both original features from the 1966 mid-century time capsule, effortlessly integrate with the adjacent textured materials, resulting in a warm and inviting living space,' says Meghan Bannon, founding principal of Mera Studio Architects.
5. Frame your bedroom door with tiles
The ensuite bathroom of this modern New York apartment uses tile in place of traditional door trim, with curved edges for a modern, interesting effect.
'For this project the selective use of color centered around green, albeit different shades,' says Oliver Haslegrave, founder and creative director of Home Studios. 'The green tiles around the door frame serve to defy the conformity of a typical unit through visual interest and unexpected materiality, providing a unique diversity of expression.'
6. Go for a tile mural
If you're looking for a brilliantly decorative way to use tiles in your home, wall murals might be for you. Often made bespoke, or sold in sets to recreate on a certain scale, tile murals - like the one in this beautiful apartment - can create a focal point that feels so much more rich and textural than wallpaper ever could.
'Preserving, illuminating, and transforming the stunning 19th century tile panel into the central feature of the apartment was one of the main goals of our intervention,' says Rita Aguiar Rodrigues, founder of RAR.STUDIO.
7. Tile a kitchen island
Tiling is a big kitchen island trend is to tile it, and we think it's a great way to make the island a focal point. Whether it's color or texture (think Zellige tiles) that you're adding to your kitchen, it can upgrade a plain design into something magical and architectural.
'The main type of cladding used in the apartment are ceramic tiles in different sizes and colors to give the project a sense of dynamism and to avoid monotony,' says Inés Sierra, co-founder and partner at Sierra + Delahiguera, who designed this apartment in Madrid with textural Zellige throughout.
8. Create decorative borders with tiles
Regular stone or wood flooring can be given a decorated look with chevron-patterned tiles. Instead of laying these out in a regular format, consider these around the edges of the room — like pretty borders framing the room's dimensions.
'The design incorporates tiles along the room's edges, where the older room boundaries are, repurposing remnants from the previous layout of two smaller rooms while maintaining a consistent flooring pattern that extends into the private bedroom corridor,' says Utkan Gunerkan, founder of Studio Utkan Gunerkan.
Be The First To Know
The Livingetc newsletter is your shortcut to the now and the next in home design. Subscribe today to receive a stunning free 200-page book of the best homes from around the world.
Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast). Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.
This "Hidden" Fixture is Found in All the Most Expensive Closets — I've Found a Version for Less Than $30
It makes getting ready in your closet so much easier, and it can be added into an existing space without breaking the bank
By Hugh Metcalf Published
The New Trick Designers are Using To Zone Rooms and Create Privacy Is Both Beautiful and Functional
Designers have taken ‘zoning’ to new heights with this new way to separate a space that looks great, creates privacy, and is useful for storage too
By Raluca Racasan Published