For thousands of years, tiles have been used to beautify indoor and outdoor spaces. From the Moors and the Romans to the Chinese and the Turks, manufacturing processes and design techniques have been passed down, riffed on and reinvented to create some pretty stunning results. Places like Mexico, Spain, Portugal and Morocco are still well known for their use and manufacture of hand-painted and artisan tile.
In the old days, tile was a status symbol associated with opulent palaces. Today, tiles are still a great way to give your home a luxe feel and make any space pop. Ceramic or porcelain tiles are popular building materials thanks to their durability and ease of installation. They are also easy to clean, which is why you’ve seen them in bathrooms and kitchens for years. But there are plenty of other creative ways to use tile, plus new takes on the old.
Why not start with a creative layout? Use plain-colored tiles but arrange them in a surprising shape. The subway tile trend has been hot in restaurants and homes for a few years and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Stagger rectangular tiles at an angle to create a herringbone pattern. You can also add a few pieces of colored tile to give this arrangement a bit more personality.
Bold tile patterns are definitely having a moment in the design world. Why stick with white or monochromatic when you can use eye-catching designs full of color on the floor or for a focal wall or nook. Or put some pep in your step with tile stairway accents.
There’s much more to tile than just square and rectangular. Add interest to a room or space with a unique tile shape like the Mexican abanico 6-inch ceramic tile in turquoise or dark blue. You can use this fan-shaped tile to channel your inner mermaid to create a scallop pattern reminiscent of fish scales.
Hexagonal tiles create a honeycomb look that makes a statement, with or without a pattern. Choose a color for a feature wall that pops, or for a vintage look, go for all white or a black and white hex.
With such a variety of sizes and shapes available, tile is an incredibly versatile design element. It can go pretty much anywhere. With tasteful tiles accenting your fireplace, you’ll have more to gaze at than just the flickering flames. You could spice up functional but typically boring columns with colorful tile coverage. And if you’re not ready to go all the way with floor tiling, or you just want to add a focal piece to your living room, consider a unique tile floor “rug.”
Tile styling is not just for indoors. They are waterproof and weather resistant, making them great for outdoor landscaping. Pave your walkway with colorful tile or install a large mosaic planter. Or flip the script! Create an unexpected and dramatic look with a tiled patio ceiling or overhang.
Rebecca Rosenberg is a freelance copywriter, digital media strategist and world traveler. After working in marketing for some of Austin’s most beloved brands, Rebecca started her own business and left Texas behind to travel the world. You can find her currently bumming around Europe. Often flying solo, she has visited over 35 countries and lived abroad in four. In addition to being a digital nomad, Rebecca is an avid hiker, design enthusiast and certified plant nerd. She speaks English, Spanish, German and Korean.