gold line svg


I Design, You Decide – ‘Wood Inspired’ Tile


In my quest to create a ‘Modern Mountain Cabin’ in the Scandinavian style I’ve searched hard for materials that both Brian and I love that make sense for the house. Brian loved pebbles more than me, but i liked them (and I’m a wonderful wife) so I made it happen. But, WOOD is one in which we both love and know is appropriate for a mountain house. The problem is that wood in a bathroom can be tricky (unless it’s a powder). Sure you can build a custom vanity out of wood, or put it on the walls and ceiling and yes, some people have wood flooring, but there are some drawbacks to those (namely beautiful wood is expensive and even with sealing I don’t trust it completely). What’s a solution? As I was researching and shopping I was SHOCKED to find myself attracted to wood style motif tiles – you heard that right – TILES INSPIRED BY WOOD or what we are calling “wood inspired tiles”.

That last phrase generally conjures up wood printed porcelain tiles, like the below but that is NOT what I’m talking about.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Wood Tile Inspo Pic 23
Photo Source
Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Wood Tile Inspo Pic 8
Photo Source

Wood on walls that ‘pretends’ to be tile but fail in looking the part is another story (and yes, I’ll be addressing it because the porcelain wood category has upped its game in a shocking way and I can’t wait to ask you about it).

What I’m talking about is ‘wood inspired tile’.

There are some, like the below that give the feeling of ‘cabin’ while being a material that is definitely not trying to be ‘wood’.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Wood Tile Inspo Pic 10
Photo Source

I’m attracted to it, but its too bright and playful for this house.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Wood Tile Inspo Pic 7
Photo Source

It can often go in a direction that gets a bit ‘funky’, like below.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Wood Tile Inspo Pic 1
Photo Source

But when done in a certain way I can see how it can work in our ‘Modern Mountain Cabin’.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Wood Tile Inspo Pic 2
Photo Source

What I’m more considering for this home is what you see below – tile that gives the texture and warmth of wood, but in a way that feels modern and fresh.

Now, will that ‘modern and fresh’ feel dated in a few years? THEREIN LIES THE QUESTION.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Wood Tile Inspo Pic 12
Photo Source

It’s almost like it was stamped with a wood grain texture instead of printed with the color/pattern.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Wood Tile Inspo Pic 9
Photo Source

That above and below are beautiful in my mind and if they were white, why wouldn’t I love that?

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Wood Tile Inspo Pic 4
Photo Source

We are constantly trying to do something new and editorial but in a timeless way. GOOD LUCK. We need to take risks, but not hate them in a few years. HA.

The below also comes in white (it’s brand new so no great product photography yet). And if I liked brown I would LOVE this, but I think it’s more successful in white because it’s definitely not trying to be wood.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Wood Tile Inspo Pic 29
Photo Source

Here’s what it looks like in real life. The below tiles are what I’m actually considering for the mountain house. They evoke ‘wood’ without trying to emulate it. They have a beautiful texture but are subtle in pattern.

Wood Inspired Tile Cle Tile Ann Sacks Grain Tile 1

They are all tiles that can go in the shower surround, floor or wall and they are handmade so they don’t look or feel cheap.

Wood Inspired Tile Cle Tile Ann Sacks Grain Tile 2

This one from Cle can be oriented either way and because it’s a cement tile I’d likely use it on walls or backsplash but pair it with some brass, black, blues or green then I’m pretty excited.

It’s a little playful, but modern and in a ‘Scandinavian cabin’ sort of way – but references the mountains.

Wood Inspired Tile Cle Tile Ann Sacks Grain Tile 3

The Ann Sacks tile, above was the first that made me excited/question the idea. It’s so pretty and simple in person. If that were in a shower surround I would be all over it (in it).

Emily Henderson Rethink Wood Tile 1

But historically we are taught to avoid things that are trying to be “natural”. It could be gimmicky, feel forced or try-hard. But when done simply, subtley and in a high end, handcrafted way then do we still let our snobbery make the call? Wood Inspired Tile Cle Tile Ann Sacks Grain Tile 4

If someone proposed this idea to me without showing me samples I would be like ‘oh hell no, sister’, which is why we got the samples and took the above pics here in the studio. Seeing the real version really helps and when you see them and they are beautiful it makes you think. Could this be the ‘wood’ element that we need? Could this evoke ‘cabin’ in a modern way? Could we take the risk but pair it with other finishes that compliment it in a way that feels timeless?

Below are the ones that I am into and actually considering. For our house I’d likely do the lighter versions, mostly because I apparently am unable to do dark spaces.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Wood Tiles I Design You Decide Tiles To Consider2

1. John Whitmarsh Reconstruction Series | 2. Anello Field (Black) | 3. White Wood Plank | 4. Black Wood Blank | 5. John Whitmarsh End Grain | 6. Anello Field (White)

But the question is up to you. Can THESE wood inspired tiles be cool? Not just any. I realize the idea is questionable but one of my favorite things to do in life is play devil’s advocate and challenge the status quo. If the world is against wood printed tile, I get that. But is there a version, like these, that is actually beautiful and does the job we need in a simpler way?

Please let me know your thoughts below including whether you think it could work or not.

Wood you consider this tile?

I ‘wood’….. I ‘wood’ not.

I Design, You Decide

Wood Tile


I 'Wood'

68 %


I 'Wood' Not

32 %
(Vote by Monday, April 2nd to have your voice heard.)
You did it!

Thank you for doing your daily design duty.
Your vote has my vote 🙂


Now enter to win

A five-night stay at the cabin this summer (with some blackout dates, of course, because our family uses it) with $1,000 towards travel expenses (if you live driving distance then it’s just fun money, or if you live internationally then we will cover up to $1,000 of your expenses. So, all the international readers please feel free to participate and enter as well). We’ll make it a dream trip! Including cocktails out on the lake with me.

learn more

All you have to do for a chance to win is enter your name & email below...

Why don't you share it?

Update: Check out all of The Mountain House REVEALS here: The Kids’ BedroomThe Kitchen | The Kitchen Organization | The Kitchen Appliances | The Powder Bath | The Living Room | The Downstairs Guest Suite | The Loft | The Hall Bath | The Upstairs Guest Bath | The Dining Room | The Family Room


Fin Mark


Never miss a single post and get a little something extra on Saturdays.

Comments are closed.
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

I think option one of these is really the only one that would work, sorry Emily! The rest of them just feel cheesy to me- particularly 2, 5, and 6. That said I do quite like option 1…


I agree! 1 is the only one I even like. The other ones are meh.

Becky @ Daly Digs

Agree, one is the one!

Jenny B



Agreed. Option 1 is interesting, but the others are a definite no.


This, exactly.


Completely agree.


I agree, #1 is the only option that fits. The others feel fake, and although I’m certain they aren’t – look cheap. I’m general, I love how the house is shaping up!!


I agree!


I agree. No 1 is the only one that even REMOTELY works. And No 5 is particularly cheesy.


Agree with this!


Agreed! I like no. 1 – in a small dose. Tub or shower surround with a tile that size with that kind of texture seems like it would be a bit much?


1000% this! My vote should have an asterisk: I wood* with option 1 only.


Another on the ‘one’ only train

Rebecca H.

100% agree


I think you need to visit Scandinavia, your being too literal with this whole “cabin” vibe. I was so excited about this refined chalet series but the more I read about it the more I’m like meh. Definite no on the faux wood and pebble stone

joy bogdan

Yes to what Salsal said! This is getting gimicky


Yes, yes, yes to Salsal & no, no, no to faux pebble & wood.

Why not get real & go there to have a proper look. Scandinavians must be getting a bit over the “Scandi Look” that’s promoted everywhere and probably feels inauthentic and superficial to them most of the time. Is it your job to set this right? No.

But: this is clearly a global blog with a world-wide readership. Why not do some proper fieldwork, take us along, give some local designers a bit of a plug, do a genuine reinterpretation of the look. It’s probably not possible because of the time-constraints, but all that rushing is just such a shame. Why not ask the boss for an extension on the mountain house? 😉


I do not like this option. I think wood tile could be trendy, not timeless.
I could Be wrong ???‍♀️


No to these kind of tiles! They feel cheesy, fake, and like they’re trying way too hard. They don’t seem genuine in the Scandi sort of style. Plus, they feel trendy. Ugh. (But I do love you! You are not cheesy or fake. You are the opposite of these tiles. ☺️)

Kelly Kestler

I LOVE LOVE LOVE those end grain tiles!!! Not a fan of #5, it looks like a cheap printed tile, but the rest are beautiful and different, without looking like they’ll feel dated in a few years. Can’t wait to see what you do with these!


I agree – not a fan of #5, but the rest could be cool!


same! I love all of the tiles except #5


Agree. #5 Looks like it belongs in a cheap, trying to be modern, hotel room


How is that Cle tile so bad? Usually, their tiles are gorgeous. Hopefully better in person…


What about teak or ipe wood in a bathroom? I have a full bathroom with each one as the floor, and it works. Heck, they make decks and patio furniture out of these woods, so why would they be a problem in a bathroom? I really don’t understand why more people don’t use them in bathrooms. It’s warm and feels very authentic to my colonial house and we have had the ipe for about 10 years with zero water issues — and that’s in a kids’ bathroom! I am one who loathes the feel of tile underfoot and these hearty woods have been the perfect solution for me.




AGREED NOOOOOOOOOOO. This will 1000000000% date itself. This look is ALREADY dated in commercial design. We used a lot of this a year or two ago and are BORED of it. Please don’t do it. This is one where your professional opinion NEEDS to veto popular vote.

Régine from The 256 Project

I have no doubt that you can not only pull it off but do so spectacularly, and I can’t wait to see what you do with this. BUT I’m really not a fan. Especially with sample #5, which looks too try hard. Generally speaking, so leaving room for exceptions, I don’t like it when something is trying to be something else. Just get the actual thing you want or explore an entirely different option. But I don’t want to be negative because I really think your talent will make this look good.


Cleaning these tiles would almost require a pressure washer – how else would you get into the grain and make sure it isn’t getting all gunked up? Ugh, the thought of soap scum or toothpaste staring at you from the fake wood grain makes me want to keel over. IDK about you, but for me this mountain house would be all about no- or low-maintenance, not hunched over and chiseling dirt out of tiny crevasses with a tooth pick.


Agreed. Not only do I not like this look, it would be a ridiculous to clean, and only someone who never cleans their own bathrooms would consider installing it. Don’t do it. If you can’t help yourself, go with option 1 and keep it away from the shower or anywhere that might get grimey.

Kathy Miller

This is where my mind went. We have a large, active (read “incredibly dirty”) family, and I cannot imagine trying to keep these clean and beautifully white. Your precious babies will all too soon be of the “dirty urchin” phase of life and those grooves will make you want to poke toothpicks in your eyeballs when you think about cleaning them. I love the things you design—and wish I could live in your Insta rooms, but this is one place where the reality really might not live up to the beautiful plan!

Kathy Miller

Um—my mind was not going to the “only someone who doesn’t clean their bathroom” comment—that popped up before I was finished weighing in. Just clarifying!!!?


This!! It might be hard to clean. I have the same concern with the pebble tile.


The first thing I thought when I saw these was – omg cleaning them is going to be impossible. White WITH texture? So many places for grime to hide :/

But I think they’re really cool!!!


I voted for “I wood” but I don’t love #5. That one looks a little to try hard for me, the other light options feel a little more abstract and subtle. To me they come off more as textured and less like “Look at me, I’m fake wood!”


I like option 1, but I am not a fan of the others. I particularly don’t love #5! It’s interesting that wood tiles are winning in the voting, though. Excited to see how your space turns out!


Oh, no. Simple formula, same with the pebbles: nooks + crannies = cleaning nightmare.

If you do not want to do an easily cleanable smooth wood-grain porcelain for a bath space or a kitchen backsplash or floor (which I probably would not opt for due to fakitude unless really, really good), then why not bring in the in-your-face grain by way of wallpaper or a removable wallpaper, which can be easily undone if hated right away or in a few years?

Texture is likely to result in permadirt.


No, no no. It absolutely will look dated. It has been popular out here for at least five years and is already on the way out. It reminds me of a veterinary practice, or fake brick tiles that were really popular in the 1980s. Please go with a warm terracotta or something.


We installed “wood” porcelain tiles on our floors a few months ago. My first reaction to the idea was also no way, but when the samples came they looked so much nicer than the other options that would work with our site conditions. On the floors, they look great and have fooled nearly everyone who didn’t know beforehand that we’d installed tile. We’re really happy with them. That said, on the walls I think they’d look pretty cheesy. You don’t expect wood on the walls in a bathroom or a kitchen backsplash, so the material’s imperfections are more likely to stand out incongruously.

Hilary A Tschoepe

I think it is fabulous!! I was scoping out the VERY SAME tile (Cle) last night for our bathroom. If I see penny tile one more time I will scream. Ugghh… It’s fresh and looks resilient, yet still warm.


We just moved out of a house that had the “wood-look” porcelain tile you describe as “printed” — and it had a stamped texture on it, so I think your distinction between that and the ones you prefer is not quite right. Not sure I’d put wood-look in a house where I was choosing finishes, but it was definitely durable and easy to clean. Option 1 of your preferred tile, the John Whitmarsh, looks HELLISH to clean with those sharp uneven edges.


I really like the end grain block tile (option 1) – it does feel like a warm, modern homage to wood, and has a great visual texture. The rest look a bit cheesy to me. I thought I liked the Ann Sacks as well (as I generally like Ann Sacks everything), until the shot of you holding the sheet of it. That shot of it looks molded and contrived in a way that is strangely… plastic? Like if IKEA did wood-inspired tile. (Sorry!)


Totally agree on the Ann Sacks! (And everything else.) I liked it on insta story but hate it on that board.




I will say, ‘wood’ tiles have come a long way. That John Witmarsh end grain is AMAZING!


My gut says ‘no’ but having just renovated our house I can also agree that wood effect tiles are much improved and can actually look/feel very nice (I didn’t choose them in the end but was tempted – more for the floor, in particular). I would also look into Japanese inspired bathrooms for your cabin house – there are so many gorgeous wooden Scandi-feel ones to give you a little more inspiration to stay ‘au naturel’ (or mix it up even) for your house. Good luck Emily!

Angie RS

I like #5 but the other white ones remind me of plaster or papier mache and the dark ones have a real elephant/rhino skin vibe, which is unsettling. They’re probably beautiful in person, but the textures are skeeving me out a bit right now. I’m sure you’ll design beautiful bathrooms that I’ll love, but as an individual component in sample form, it’s not my fav.


I personally don’t care for any of these samples. #1looks the best, but I think you’d get tired of it real quick. Too busy. The rest just look fake.


Perhaps either just the wood tiles in a bathroom (#1 is the best one in my opinion) OR some pebble tiles, but I would definitely hesitate to do both of these options together in one room for fear of it looking gimmicky. I would then go super clean and modern with the rest of the elements in the bathroom. Good luck! I’m looking forward to seeing the room plans!

Amy jones

#6 is the winner


My mother installed wood print porcelain tiles in her home in Florida and they look gorgeous. Both her contractors and the people at the Floor and Tile warned against real wood or engineered wood because of all the moisture and humidity. They end up having to be replaced too frequently. She went with a grey wash and they are so practical and good looking. I understand if you are against them on “principle” but they serve an important purpose. I wouldn’t be so quick to judge; and if you need them because of a water issue I say go for it.


I came here to say something similar. We live in humid Houston, TX and installed wood-look tile in our entire house. It is really beautiful and nearly indestructible (two boys, one dog) (although we did find out that roller skates will chip it). I hate to disagree with you Emily, but these floors are a dream. I’d definitely use these tiles again.


I vote a qualified OK for the wood “texture” tiles, and a resounding “No” on the wood “grain” versions.

But I wonder – why not wood for walls and stone/slate for the tile? Not as “fun,” but beautiful. I suppose you are looking for interest, which, granted.


I “wood” stay away from this look. Aside from 3 examples above (light almost honed ruff stone tile with invisible grout lines in the bedroom being the best) all the tile still looks forced and hate to say it – cheap. With plethora of natural product, I’m sure you can find something more high end looking. On the other hand how important is the permanence of this product? How about embracing the look of weathered and aged wood. You know modern sauna style with all the imperfections:)


I like options 1, 3 and 6 but voted no. The photos of longer planks behind the bed and bathroom sink are the most successful examples, I can see the end grain also working in those applications. However all of these tiles somehow feel too modern, even for a modern mountain cabin.

Erin Adams has a line of real teak tiles made from reclaimed/recycled wood, suitable for wet environments, possibly too rustic and/or more pattern than you’re looking for, but an interesting alternative to the wood inspired tile (tile inspired wood). Specifically the whitewash finish.


wow. just looked those up and they are amazing. i’m sort of doubtful about the water resistance though. they say you can add a resin coat for “wet” surfaces…like aren’t all would-be tiled areas susceptible to getting wet? these are really cool though and would definitely be cool for a mountain cabin!

Terri Chanlatte

My daughter redid her house before moving in, and she wanted to use a medium light brown wood look tiles on her kitchen back splash and in her master shower. It doesn’t really look like wood to me, and I wasn’t on board at the time but I have to say they look great, rustic and its’ super easy to keep clean. But her style is modern farmhouse. So it works for her style. I think that I would use them on the floor but not in a shower or a backs plash, I think in the bathroom or kitchen it would be awesome. I voted I wood. But with restrictions, it has to work with the design and style of the house and be part of the look your going for. Good Luck Emily!


I think the messy geometry in 2 and 6 is much more likely to date. Stick to simple grid if you are going to do it. The only one I like is option one (which I really like) but agree it would be hard to clean in a shower


I said “I Wood” but I am not sure I really love any of the options you have here. The deeply stamped textures look horrible to keep clean and #5 looks way too ‘try hard fake’. We recently put a printed/lightly textured porcelain wood look tile running vertically up the shower wall in our guest bathroom and we love it, I had no idea people were so against wood look tile! It fools a lot of people until they get really close and we have the comfort of knowing we can’t accidentally ruin wood (because it’s tile!)

So I guess I Wood but not with your choices, sorry! They look too try hard for your cabin, in my opinion. I’d probably stick to more real wood colors and not white wood texture.


While I do love the wood look tiles you pulled out – I do think it would totally be dated in just a few short years. 🙁

Hannah Gokie

I like 1 and 5, not so much the other ones. I think it could go too trendy if you use a LOT of it, and if, for example, you used it in every single bathroom. One bathroom? sure, to show it can be done and “push the envelope” stylistically-speaking.


Ugh, no, it screams “bad/tacky house flipper”.


I work in an office that has an outdoorsy, handmade vibe and I have to say, the wood texture (when done subtly) can be very cool. We have a cement wall that is imprinted to look like wood beams. I didn’t notice it right away but once I did, I loved how warm and rich the texture looked (and it’s a cement wall!!) Its not overwhelming and goes so nicely with rich leather furniture and wool blankets. Which is to say — go for it! In limited areas, and done in a restrained way, it really shines and it a fun, tongue in cheek but not kitschy vibe.


I could definitely get on board with experimenting more with (if not committing to) all of them except option 5 – that, I violently dislike. The darker wood-grain effect is just so tacky even in a beautiful, high-end tile. But the others, sure – I can see potential.

Although I can also see these might be a cleaning nightmare? All those little grooves?

Emily S

Option 1 only…the others are pretty bad


I voted NO, but it looks like YES is winning. So, if you go for this wood inspired tile, my vote would be #6. Its texture is more subtle. And from a distance it wouldn’t look like wood, just a textured tile. All the other options look really, really fake and ridiculous.

Lisa Hamel

Wow. I didn’t even think of how difficult it would be to clean a textured tile if it was on the floor or in a shower stall.

That said, I think option one is beautiful, because it DOES look handmade and artistic, rather than uniform and commercial (which is perhaps why #5 is less popular?). If approached as an art installation rather than a faux wood design element, I think it would be beautiful and, if not timeless, at least reasonably long-lasting. To address the valid concerns about cleanliness, just be careful where it’s installed.

Regarding wood-look tile, I am surprised do many commenters dislike it. Hardwood floors are beautiful, but tile often makes more sense–like with dogs, rowdy kids, extremely arid air, or extremely humid air. It may not be right for every space or every style, but it is still valuable in its own right.

Finally–at least you know you can count on your readers to be honest about their opinions. I don’t know how you do it!


Generally speaking, I like the direction you’re going with this post but I think options 1 and 5 would become dated very quickly.


Nooooo!! I don’t like these tiles at all. Way too pretentious for a bathroom. Besides, if you have wood everywhere else, you need SOMETHING different in the bath. Like your gorgeous handmade subway tile or something. Anything but this!!!


I think the textured tiles look really beautiful, and prefer the look of them to the ones just printed with a wood grain. However they seem like they’d be a nightmare to keep clean in a bathroom with all of those grooves. So I’m kind of torn. I think 6 is my favorite because it has a pretty textured look but doesn’t have as much variation in texture to collect bathroom gunk. This look could definitely go bad, but I’d be really interested to see you do it because most everything you do is magic!


In the end grain tile (the first sampling you showed), there are only three that look like wood to me. The others look like rough plaster. I love the idea of wood tile, but the selection/implementation is so important. I’m nervous for this one.


I voted yes but only 1 & 6!

I am getting a weird rhinoceros or dinosaur skin vibe from 2, 3 & 4 and then 5 is way too repetitive…it’s not at all a naturally-occurring look! The irregularity of wood grain makes it beautiful, like the tree’s “fingerprints.” 🙂


I voted no, because I’m not sold, but I feel like maybe it’s the kind of thing I would think “this is sooo cool” if I saw it done well in person. This was a tough vote.

Kim Aline Alasu

Nr. 1 is the best thing EVER! So beautiful! I don’t think it tries to be like wood at all. It’s more like it’s some kind of beautiful, tile-ceramic-modern-art-thing. The texture is absolutely gorgeous and I think this could look so very special, but at the same time like “just enough” and not “too much”. And also I think it would work perfect for the minimalist/modern vision you dreamed of in the very beginning, but just as well for the cozy/modern cabin it will be. It’s special, beautiful, looks handcrafted (in a great way), it’s nothing you see everyday but still it’s soft and great to combine with. I’d go for it! 🙂


It’s too soon I think…the faux bois trend will definitely come back around…but it was popular the same time Britney and Justin were an item. Wait for lo-rise pants, body glitter, and smokey eyes to come back. They will be the harbingers that faux bois has returned! LOL


I really like option one because it feels so handmade. I think that the first option has the most potential to be relevant long term. Mostly just because it reminds me of a project made by professional artists I lived across the street from as a child. It so beautiful I never forgot it. They had made stationary from handmade paper and leaves that looked very similar to the tile – it was all white and had the imprint of leaves and the paper was highly textured. This was about 30 years ago (the artists were in their 60s at the time and well beyond youthful experimentation), so I think the idea has staying power. As for their taste level, they had original Eero Aarnio Ball Chairs in their living room and he drove a mini cooper from England.


I see where you’re going with this, you need something that looks “fake” enough so that no one is under the impression you’re trying to pretend it’s wood (like with the porcelain floor boards)… but still “wood inspired” to fit in the woodsy/cabin theme… I want to like them, but I just don’t. Wah. I was on the fence until you said “gimmicky” and I think that describes them perfectly. I fear you will dislike them in 2 years. Do I have a reasonable alternative? No. Ha.


There is a big difference between walls and floor. If you put wood-inspired tile on the floor, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Your feet touch the floor all the time, especially in the bathroom, and it’s cold, and wet, and totally tile. The fakeness comes out and you’ll hate it. But on the walls, it doesn’t matter at all, because you rarely touch the walls. I’m very happy with wood-looking tiled walls.


#1 is far and away the best and will last the test of time! It looks like porcelain made to look like wood, not wood that has been painted, and for that, it will stand the test of time. #2 and #6 have too much going on with the textures AND the different shapes. #3 and #4 look like plastic in photographs :/ #5 isn’t bad, but it doesn’t have the wow factor of #1….it doesn’t look as high end. Go with the first one for sure!!!!

Go To Top