Tiling continues to be one of most innovative areas of interior design and I’m delighted at the swell of requests this past year – not just for tiles, which are as old as houses, but for tiles made from cutting edge materials and displayed in inspired ways. The visual effect you can create with modern techniques of tiling seems to have ever-increasing parameters and this includes traditional tile styles and layouts so if you don’t happen to like a modern interior, you can absolutely create a stunning traditional look.
This reworking of the look and appeal of traditional tiles to such stunning effect is possibly the reason that this tile ‘trend’ has become mainstream.
Aesthetically, contemporary tiling creates impressive and transformative effects by way of introducing colour, texture, pattern, depth and light all at once and it can be used on almost every surface creating a seamless and stunning statement interior.
I can wax lyrical about the aesthetically impressive results you can achieve with modern, engineered tiles that alternative materials can’t compete with such as wood and marble effect tiles vs. wood planks and Carrara marble, but you need to understand their makeup and see and feel the tiles in order to make the right decision. It is worth noting these effect tiles are produced to a level that not only make them more user-friendly but at a price point that reflects their material so don’t think of tiling as necessarily a cheaper option!
I use Tubs and Tiles a lot of my tiles and so I decided to go to their source of tiles, which took me to Modena in Italy to Ragno, one of the market leaders in the tile industry. I have examined all their contemporary tiles and here are some valuable tips and trends stolen from the factory floor.
Wood effect tiles have been around for a while yet still I have clients looking nervous at my genuine suggestion of oak effect tiles instead of oak wood flooring, which by the way look identical and are cut into ‘plank’ tiles. These wood effect tiles are worth examining and you will be amazed - the tile revealing all the subtle variations and natural markings that you would find in real wood. Real vs effect / plank next to tile, I think the wood effect looks better and it can be laid in parquet and herringbone patterns as well as straight and the tiles fit more easily and can run between rooms more seamlessly than real wood. I particularly love this look of wood effect tiles seamlessly passing through open rooms such as the sitting room to the hall to the kitchen, creating this natural flow. This is near on impossible to do seamlessly with real wood and wood doesn’t always work in every room. The key benefit too of effect wood tiles is that it doesn’t mark easily and is far more durable than wood, which looks incredibly tired and scratched in ‘busy areas’. Wood effect tiles are just far easier
to maintain and clean. Also, don’t be afraid to put them on the walls too – wood effect tiles have this striking, rustic look in both modern and traditional homes.
Price wise, wood effect tiling is comparable to the more expensive wood flooring so it is not an inexpensive choice. A downside however is that tiles are colder than wood so if you wouldn’t consider under floor heating in large living areas, they will feel cold. However these tiles work better than wood flooring if you do have under floor heating because they the tiles are thinner and conduct heat better.
This naturally leads me on to stone and marble effect tiles, which are a
personal favourite because I absolutely love the subtle veining and shade
variations (that you would find in real stone) yet these tiles are warmer and
softer in texture and I genuinely love marble so I am not selling you a dummy! I personally don’t feel in any way like effect marble is fake marble – it has the best of marble’s aesthetic qualities but it feels nicer and it won’t mark, chip and damage like marble does, and it does very easily. Also, stone and marble effect tiles can be cut much more easily to the exact dimensions you want meaning you can create a much more dramatic, seamless look, which isn’t always possible with a lot of stone suppliers. A lot of clients want huge kitchen islands clad on all sides with marble and have big bathrooms where huge pieces of marble would
be too heavy and not practical.
Very recently I created a huge backsplash with two book-matched marble effect tiles. Book-matching is when a single piece of marble is sliced and then placed side by side to create a mirror image of each other with the veining matched up to create an unbroken pattern. I’ve seen the technique used to fantastic effect in bathrooms and it’s a wonderful tool to showcase the beauty of marble and is so easy to do with marble effect tiles.
Patterned tiles have been all the rage for a long time, but I am seeing a new elegant and softer take on the bolder colours and styles like Moroccan tiles that have dominated. The colour schemes illustrated in Ragno were monochrome, pastels and neutrals that bring a subtlety to a look. Pattern tiles look great on floors in hallways and bathrooms or to define or even differentiate areas within an interior space. The effect can be soft and subtle or dramatic and concise depending on the pattern and colour. Striking patterns have strong visual impact especially when one colour is bold and softer coloured patterned tiles create a calming scheme with depth.
This leads me onto tiles with texture, including three-dimensional structures, lace-like décors and geometric patterns, which will be a key design trend for 2018. The look is very contemporary and it’s not for everyone, but the interplay of light and beautiful patterns do create visual interest and by sticking to a single colour, it keeps the look elegant and understated.
The design possibilities because of today’s tiles are really exciting and with
colour schemes that are not shouting for attention, I’m really looking forward to creating interiors that exude a timeless, understated and elegant appeal and that are practical and long lasting. As ‘we’ become more confident using effect tiles and blending tile styles and patterns, I can see tiles being used for a myriad of creative places outside of the floor and in more creative and beautiful ways.