Designers are using Zooey Deschanel's kitchen tiles as inspiration for 2024's big decor trend

Some of the industry’s finest designers weigh in on why Zooey’s backsplash tiles mark the dawn of a new kitchen trend.

Zooey Deschanel at the vanity fair party
(Image credit: Alamy)

Kitchen tiles are subject to trends as much as anything else. In recent years we've seen the metro tile, the finger tile, and then the Zellige. And now the actor Zooey Deschanel is spearheading a look at that we - and designers - think will be big in 2024.

Embracing pattern, Zooey's take on this kitchen trend is part of wider movement to add personality to as many areas of the home as possible. From deckchair stripes to tropical prints, we're seeing a riotous embrace of print in the work of designers as varied as Jake Arnold (who likes lattice on living room walls) and Jonathan Adler (who is going geometric on rugs). 

The New Girl and Elf star took to Instagram with The Real Housewives of Beverley Hills star Crystal Kung Minkoff to show her 7.7 million followers how to make dumplings but it wasn’t just the recipe designers were taking note of.

The modern kitchen providing the backdrop to Zooey’s cooking reel, which garnered over 20 thousand likes, showed an obvious move away from the standard subway style tile in favour of a mosaic style patterned tile in blue and green tones framed with rectangular cream rustic tiles.

Designer Hema Persad of Sagrada Studio in Los Angeles says whilst subway tiles are a classic style, they don’t add as much personality to a space as a tile like Zooey’s. ‘Tiles are a fun and low-lift way to add personality to a space,’ Persad says. ‘They also emphasize the inspiration you're working with (mid-century, Spanish, etc).’ 

a kitchen with a checkerboard floor and monochrome tiles

(Image credit: Douglas Friedman. Design: Lucas Interior)

It is this element of artistic experimentation that makes Zooey’s tiles so fun. Founder of Arsight design studio, Artem Kropovinsky, reminds us that ‘using patterned tiles can really change a kitchen's ambience. Instead of just being a backdrop, they become an engaging centerpiece and a talking point.’ 

Of course, tiles like Zooey’s also have practical value. As a tile which features a beautiful repeat pattern and has color running through it, they have a functional advantage as a feature which will cover messes naturally made in even the least experimental of cook’s kitchen. Persad tells us that ‘they hide any food or grease stains and also are easy to clean.  Just wipe away.  They also create a moisture barrier between your wall and the water that is inevitably going to splash up from time to time in a kitchen.’ 

If you are looking to replace your subway tiles with a patterned style there are a few factors to consider, according to designers. This particularly pertains to a kitchen that already has lots of color, texture or pattern throughout as you don’t want your new tiles to overwhelm the space or make it look too busy. To avoid this, Julia Longchamps, Principal at Julia Longchamps Design located on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, tells us to ‘keep with a consistent color palette that works with the rest of the home design.’ Hence Zooey’s kitchen is a design triumph - the patterned tiles are offset perfectly by muted cabinetry and neutral marble countertops

Balance is key when adding patterned tiles. As Kropovinsky points out, ‘if the tiles have a vibrant pattern, it's wise to pair them with more muted decor elements. Conversely, if the rest of the kitchen has a lively theme, subtler tile patterns might be a better choice.’

kitchen wall tile ideas

(Image credit: Idha Lindhag)

In order to achieve the relaxed country meets contemporary feel of Zooey’s kitchen, follow Persad’s simple advice regarding scale and utility: ‘Larger tiles work best on the floor, whereas smaller are better for backsplash.  And never use tile on countertops, it's just not sanitary because of the food and bacteria that can get trapped in the grout lines.’ 

If you’re redesigning your kitchen, start with choosing your tiles. Zooey’s kitchen shows that they really can add so much visually to the space, especially when the other more neutral fitted pieces work in perfect harmony. 

Katie is a freelance lifestyle writer who has recently finished an MA in Magazine Journalism at City, University of London. Before writing for Livingetc, Katie has gained bylines with The Caterer and The Telegraph and has interned at several lifestyle magazines including Grazia and Red. When not scrolling through Pinterest for interior design inspiration, Katie can be found writing about women's issues, trying out new beauty trends for her blog or seeing a West End show.