With an incredible array of colors, sizes and sleek or textured surfaces, tile has become a stylish choice for floor and wall coverings in homes across the country. Not only is it durable and easy to care for, tile can provide the distinctive and upscale touch that many homeowners want.
One of tile’s best features is its versatility. Traditionally, 4×4-inch ceramic tiles had been used as a hardwearing surface in the kitchen and bath. Today, there are a myriad of shapes and materials, including porcelain, stone and glass. “The kitchen continues to be the area where people congregate, and most women want a gourmet kitchen even if she eats out seven days a week,” says Lori Kirk-Rolley, marketing director for Daltile, a Dallas-based tile manufacturer. “The master bath has also evolved into a spa retreat.” One way to get an upscale look in these spaces is through custom tile applications.
Tile can also be used outside the kitchen and bath. Homeowners in warm climates often choose tile floors for the majority of their rooms, including living rooms and bedrooms, because it helps keep temperatures cool underfoot. In seaside or desert environments, it’s easy to sweep away sand and dust from tile.
Interior designers are using tile for many creative applications. For example, fireplace surrounds become focal points in a room when they’re covered in handcrafted artisan tiles. Accentuating a tray ceiling in a formal dining room with glass tile can reflect the glimmering light from a chandelier. Tile can also be used in exterior landscaping as non-slip, all-weather pavers provide a chic look for walkways and patios. Decorative tiles can also dress up outdoor kitchen and grill areas.
With so many styles to choose from, it can be difficult finding just the right tile for your remodeling project. Natural stone or stone-look tiles continue to be a wise investment because they bring in the atmosphere of the great outdoors and often feel a bit more luxurious than standard ceramic tiles. In the past, rustic ceramic styles that mimicked the variation, rough edges and pitting of natural stones were popular. This year, stone-look tiles are available in more contemporary designs that have a cleaner edge and sleeker appearance, according to Kirk-Rolley. Larger sizes, such as 20×20-inch, and rectangular shapes, such as 12×24-inch sizes, are also popular. Setting these tiles with a narrow grout joint of 1/4-inch or 1/16-inch also creates a cutting-edge look.
For extra sparkle, glass tiles are a great choice for both surface or accent tiles because they’re eye-catching and easy to maintain. “Glass allows brilliant, shimmering colors with a depth not attainable in other materials,” says Barbara Schirmeister, a New York-based color forecaster and interior designer. Glass works well in backsplash projects for the kitchen and bath and in shower surrounds. Mosaic patterns, created by 1×1-inch or 2×2-inch tiles, can sometimes provide enough slip resistance in shower applications thanks to the gritty grout used in those applications. Ask your local tile center for advice on finding the right tile for your specific project.
Color Your Way
Tile installations last a long time, and for this reason many homeowners choose neutral hues when choosing tile. “Homeowners are very conscientious about the color of tile they choose because they want to make sure that the color they pick today will also be good to decorate around years from now,” Kirk-Rolley says. White, cream, taupe and chocolate brown tiles make great choices for floors and walls. This year, gray is the most fashion-forward neutral, combining well with many other colors. Monochromatic color themes, such as white on white or cream on cream tiles in different textures, are also chic combinations.
For those who want to make a bolder statement, there are many color combinations to choose from. Greens in many shades are popular because of the eco-friendly movement. Thanks to the upcoming Olympic games in China, the Far East is influencing color choices. Think spicy hues such as pumpkin, sunny yellows and golds, clear red, lavender or coffee brown. For Hollywood elegance, consider inky blues, black and purple, combined with hints of metal for accent.
One of the hottest trends in tile design today is mixing different types of tile to create a custom look. You can combine earthy slate with shimmering glass tile, stone with porcelain or ceramic with metal accents. Mesh-mounted mosaic tiles, such as those produced by Oceanside Glasstile in Carlsbad, Calif., are a simple way to get this look. Walker Zanger also combines elegant natural stone with metal or glass tile.
Another way to get visual interest is by combining different textures. The current trend is tiles that mimic the look of leather or fabrics such as linen, damask or silk. Combining these decorative looks with more simple porcelain tiles will create a designer-inspired look.
In some cases, tile is also an eco-friendly option for your home’s surfaces. Several companies produce tile using recycled content. TerraGreen Ceramics, based in Richmond, Ind., has been producing recycled tiles since the 1970s. Each of the company’s tile series is produced using 55 percent recycled glass and come in a rainbow of colors and styles. Tennessee-based Crossville offers EcoCycle tile, which contains 40 percent recycled ceramic content and features stone looks in eight earthy colors. For a bit of glamour, Eco Friendly Flooring creates metal tiles made of 100 percent recycled aluminum or brass. Available in polished, matte and sandblasted finishes, their look works well in both contemporary and more rustic interiors.
Credit: Renovate with Tommy Mac