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How To Make Your Tile Look Really Special Without Being Dated In 10 Years – New Classic Tile “Trends” That I’m LOVING

Here’s what I’m going for – tile sooo quiet and special that like a good actor, you can’t even see them acting – they just are so good that you just engrossed by them. I sound like a broken record but I here I go again – designing and renovating an older house to be unique yet timeless in a MINIMAL way is my creative challenge on this house. Achieving my “simple but special” goal takes more time and brain space than you’d possibly think, but I’m honestly enjoying every second of it. If you have a contemporary style or post-modern home you have fewer rules – you are beholden to less architectural moments. But if you are working within a classic style of house (like a craftsman farmhouse built during the Victorian Era for instance) it’s my opinion that you should use more classic hard finishes. Of course, what “classic” means to you could be totally different than me and yes there are a BILLION exceptions (we are putting wall-to-wall carpet in the kid’s room for instance). Also, ANYONE can break the rules when done RIGHT. But for this house I want my hard finishes – I’m talking flooring, tile, countertop material, and cabinetry – to feel like a fresh twist on “classic”. Listen, these SHOULD be permanent once installed and IMHO should look like they belong to the home and to you. I want quiet but not expected. Fresh but not trendy. Full of life, but not busy. High quality but not ostentatious or “fancy”.

Most importantly not boring. Interesting. I write about this in my next book ad nauseam but once you know the rules (which is the first half of the book) you HAVE to break at least a few of them to have an interesting home that reflects your creativity and personality. With the tile for the farm, we are working with Pratt + Larson who manufactures everything in Portland and has ENDLESS customization options. Like endless. They are wonderful. But I don’t want to do something WACKY with the tile, I want to do something quietly impactful and special. I almsost don’t want you to even notice it at first – which if you aren’t obsessed with design woud seem like an odd thing to obsess over – something people barely notice. But for the vibe of this house that’s what I want. Where you know you are somewhere special, but your eyes aren’t freaking out trying to understand it. The first step is working with high-quality material… after that, the challenge begins.

So here is a brain dump of all the ideas I have to do this with tile. If you want into my creative process, today’s post is for you 🙂

Search For Vintage Uses Of Tile – To Rethink What Is “Normal”

via cnn

I secretly hate sharing this image (above) because once I found it (which took HOURS of digging) I caught my breath and knew that I needed to recreate a version of it. Especially with a house that goes a bit old world you can lean into some Victorian elements like this and still do it in a quiet way. Of course, this tile doesn’t exist so we have to literally build the pattern but it was a huge sense of inspiration to me.

photo by elliott anderson | via oregon live

It’s EXTREMELY hard to find vintage kitchens and baths on the internet because most of them were “before photography” or considered “dated” so were not photographed before they were ripped out. I found way more success looking up hotels in Europe and just staring at what they did in their kitchens and baths and more importantly how they did it. While you might look at that kitchen and scream how dated it is, look past that and instead note what they actually did and brainstorm how you can do a fresh version of it. That tiny little tile border around the window is unexpected and cool. I’m considering just mixing it in around our windows in the same finish and color as the field tile to just give it a TINY unexpected detail that you don’t notice until you are up close.

Go High Impact With One Simple Tile But Like A LOT OF IT – EVERYWHERE

design by heidi caillier design | photo by haris kenjar photography

Sure, these bathrooms have different tiles on the floor but the sheer impact of the one tile on all of the walls – floor to ceiling and wall to wall is enough to make this EXTREMELY special. Heidi Caillier is a design goddess and specializes in modern vintage soul – she is SO GOOD. Of course this look is a LOT more expensive than you’d think but doable if you are doing it yourself. We wanted to tile the ceiling of our main bathroom but ARCIFORM thinks it will be $3 – $5k just for the ceiling labor. We came up with a different solution that still feels VERY special but reduces the amount of tile and labor. Stay tuned 🙂 But the point is you don’t have to do something super detailed or wacky, you can instead just do a LOT of tile everywhere.

design by jr corleto | photo by virtually here studios | via cle tile

I love the simplicity of this bathroom, too and it’s a big inspiration for our bathroom. Herringbone on the floor (I’ll add a border) in an interesting scale (stay tuned) and just a TON of simple tile on the all walls.

design by jessica helgerson and yianni doulis | photo by aaron leitz and lincoln barbour | via architectural digest

Jessica Helgerson tiled every wall in her farmhouse kitchen and (notice even around the door and hood) and it’s just so pretty and special, but simple and classic.

design by fernando santangelo | via remodelista

Granted that these tiles are handmade and obviously very special, but it’s just one tile, staggered – EVERYWHERE. Note the different orientation around the window. LOVE.

Mixing Standard Tile Sizes (Subway, Square, Etc.)

design by joão rodrigues and manuel aires mateus | photo by filipe lucas frazão | via here magazine

I LOVE this look and will be doing my own version of it. We ordered samples in a lot of different sizes and I’ve played with them for HOURS. The key to this is the perfect amount of “randomness” (but not random at all). Your tile installer will likely hate you, but the look is simple and pretty. I’d also not do a dark grout so that you almost don’t even notice the variation, your eye just moves around easily and doesn’t register what is happening but tells your brain that it’s SO PRETTY.

via tile cloud

Here’s an example of subway installed vertically next to squares of the same height. Again, I also love that they didn’t just go back and forth between the two – that they did two subway next to one square then one subway next to one square, then two squares, AND they staggered them. Perfectly random.

design by joão rodrigues and manuel aires mateus | photo by juan rodriguez

This wall is a combination of one row of squares followed by one row of staggered square and rectangular. But it takes your eye a while to figure that out – in a good way.

design by studio mcgee | photo by lucy call

In this one, Shea McGee moved from white subway to pink square and it totally works. You could strip that from floor to ceiling in color blocks. Stacking it would feel more contemporary but if you want an old world feel I think the mixed stagger shapes could totally work. Again the key to making sure this doesn’t feel dated is all in the quality of the tile and installation and in the colors. I think this looks super fresh. Also you could put the pink ALSO on the floor and just have it come up the wall.

design by leanne ford | photo by alexandra ribar

My friend Leanne did this one above which is so gutsy. She mixed different SIZES of squares, different tones, AND rectangles. She is brave and makes me want to be more brave.

Rotate The Orientation Of The Tile To Highlight An Architectural Feature

This is a new favorite thing to do – take the same tile and use it to enhance an architectural feature. Depending on how arched yours is you might have to cut every single tile perfectly, but you also might be able to play with grout lines to achieve this. Obviously, this can be done on any straight surface too – I.e. around cabinetry, recessed mirrors, windows, doorways, etc.

design by alex bates and andrew hoffman | photos by marta xochilt perez for the maryn | via cup of jo

You can see it on this fireplace – it goes vertical at the top of the fire box and then at the hearth it orients go to in – mixing in another orientation or shape.

design by doherty design studio | photo by derek swalwell | via the design files
design by doherty design studio | photo by derek swalwell

Such subtle impact on that fireplace just by changing the orientation of the tile. LOVE.

The Difference A Tile Border Can Make

via fireclay tile

Oh I LOVE a tile border. We did one on our LA patio and it made it look instantly old world and took all the “trend” out of the cement tile pattern we used. I love how the above is just a simple color change and change in orientation but it’s not fussy. I usually do tile borders to run the length of the wall, but I love how they did this.

design by the victorian rectory | via devol

It’s my personal opinion that a herringbone needs a tile border if you want it to look old world or more classic (like above). It could be a different scale of tile and that one could have been even thinner but it just instantly frames the room and looks more custom (because it is). It just buttons all the diagonals up.

I love, again, how these two ran their borers perpendicular to the wall (or the transition floor) instead of along it. I love both but seeing this orientation locked a lot of ideas for me. Like then why not do a totally different scale into the wall.

image source

For all of you who want to do the checker or diamond trend but are nervous that is so hot right now, y’all, just add a victorian border. the customization of it really gives it more power and makes it more classic. We are doing our own custom version of this in the new sunroom (that will go more victorian than the rest of the house).

image source
photo by debi treloar photography | via marcela fittipaldi magazine

The above pattern (octagon with square) would look cute without the border, sure, but that border makes it SO SPECIAL and makes it look like it’s been there for years and years. The more intricate they are the more special they are in my opinion, and yes, you have to lay it out and make sure the pattern works (which is what I’ve spent SO MUCH of my time doing lately – literally out of cut paper, playing on the floor for hours).

Add Tile Trim For A Decorative Old World Detail 

via heritage tile

Just a little stripe makes it feel special. I’ve even thought about stopping the tile at the trim, but in another color and just carrying it throughout the room. It could just be a slight tone darker and a little stripe around the base.

design by dusty deco | photo by jonas ingerstedt

Look at the impact that that little bead has around the whole kitchen. I’m obsessed. Such a good detail.

via winchester tiles

Now I’m on the fence about these but I think mostly it’s the color, but the above and below shots did unlock some new ideas about taking one color and blocking out top and bottom, divided by a pencil trim. OR using the pencil trim as a stripe from floor to ceiling. Y’all the ideas of endless which is obviously both a good and bad thing.

via winchester tiles

Tile Border Around Doorway, Window Or Mirror

via sparrow haunt

I know that this can look dated, but what is the fresh new version of it? I think it’s all about the quality of the tile and how you install it. It could be simplified OR it could be even more detailed and decorative, depending on what you are going for. It could be all the way around the mirror or integrated like theirs is.

design by martyn lawrence bullard | photo by douglas friedman | via elle decor

Talk about a LOT of tile. Here they used a contrasting tile around the border of the entire room, as a strong accent, including the floor bath and doorway. While this is certainly not the look I’m going for it inspired some ideas that we are working with.

design by jam architecture | photo by gieves anderson

Here’s it’s hard to see but if you look closely you can see the tile on both sides of the shower niche. We are trying a version of this in the drawings and I honestly can’t tell if I like it or if I wished that we would just continue it on all the walls, so stay tuned on that.

Of course, this post did not cover the difference grout can make but I wrote that post a few years ago – check it out here. Also, I’m doing a separate post all about making penny and hex tile special AND how I’m creating a custom mosaic tile for our sunroom out of existing shapes – I’m so excited about it.

Next up I’ll discuss how we are doing this exact same process for our cabinetry – all the details that will make your standard cabinets feel wildly more special and custom without the risk of it looking dated. I’m learning SO MUCH 🙂

Opening Image Credits: Design by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design | Photo by Aaron Leitz Photography


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62 thoughts on “How To Make Your Tile Look Really Special Without Being Dated In 10 Years – New Classic Tile “Trends” That I’m LOVING

  1. Holy cow!!! I just learned a lot.
    The devil’s in the detail, they say. Act, I think the deliciousness is in the detail!
    Inspiring stuff, Emily. I can imagine spending aeons playing around snd creating patterns!
    Lucky you … lucky us, as voyeurs. 😁

  2. Love this inspiration so gorgeous!! I am currently renovating my 100 year old home in Philadelphia. I’m wondering if you’d be willing to talk about how you justify the investment in your renovation beyond what would likely be resale value (ignoring savings from partnerships). This is our forever home so I’m trying to convince myself its ok to go over resale value but its hard! And then you hit me with this inspiration and I want to soo bad. Share your wisdom please!

    1. Hi Erica! I’m your neighbor from over the bridge, living in an 80 year old twin house in Collingswood, NJ. We bought our house 4 years ago and it is also our forever house (small but mighty). We have done a half renovation of the kitchen and a full renovation of the bathroom since we moved in. I feel like we are investing more in this house than many others might but that was part of the allure of owning a smaller, more affordable home for me is that we can invest in higher quality furnishings and finishes. For the kitchen upgrade we installed handmade tiles from Mercury Mosaics for the backsplash. They were a splurge and because they are handmade are slightly irregular. I had to laugh because the installers all warned me it would look like they had done a bad job installing because of the handmade quality of the tiles — it’s not something you tend to see around these parts as often. Anyway I justify investing in my home and don’t worry about resale because I figure if this house truly is our forever home as I intend, by the time we would be ready to sell in 40-50 years then no matter how well done any bathroom or kitchen renovations we do now, they would be old and outdated by the time we would go to sell anyway. I figure it’s better to spend the money now to make myself happy for the next 40-50 years that to care about out pricing the current market.

    2. I feel I overspent. However, all homes appreciatedin value. If we sold today, we’d get a return, but no profit if that makes sense. We’d get at least 50k in profut if we did nothing at all. We might be losing today, but we’ll be in this home a while longer and when we sell in the next 10 years, I believe we’ll have an easier time than others.

    3. Hi from a fellow old (West) Philadelphia house person! I have also wondered about over-renovating for the market (although prices are going up a lot in most of the city). We’re planning to stay in our place as long as we can. I think as long as you are not getting into a lot of debt, you should spend what you want on things that will increase your enjoyment of the house.

      1. I agree with Lucy but truly its all about your budget. for older homes i also love the quirk of weird salvaged stuff – like found sinks, curtains under sinks, etc. I honestly think if its done well you won’t lose much but what do I know (about real estate). I thought for SURE we would never get out of the mountain house what we put into it – essentially doubling the cost of the house, and lo and behold the market exploded up here and due to its proximity to LA I don’t think its going to go down much. The point is – you don’t know what going to happen to the market and if you really think you are going to stay for a long time then invest in your enjoyment. But yah, tiling the ceiling is something you could skip :)))))

    4. When we renovated our townhouse in West Los Angeles, we spent too much for resale…AT THAT TIME. We would have just about broke even then, but maybe not. Now, 15 years later, we’d make a HUGE profit. Real estate is crazy these days. But we have a completely unique interior that we love, and it’s our forever home, so we didn’t really care either way.

    5. If you can afford it without hardship, why not make the house how you want it? I improved a house more than the market, and yes I did lose money when I sold it (years ago), but I was really happy living there with the changes I made, and I felt that was most important and had no regrets. I love that someone else now is enjoying the house. If I had kept the house, I would be making a lot of money on it now with this market, so it’s all a matter of timing in terms of spending more than resale.

    6. I totally agree with what others have said. You should go with what makes you happy. And look at how wild the markets have been! How can you predict what the markets will be like far in the future? Also, people might pay more just because you put in beautiful things in your home. You never know. I know I would pay more for a house with beautiful finishes vs. one without, or even renovated but just builder grade/cheap finishes.

  3. I love all of these! My motto when it comes to tile is: when in doubt go natural. I’ve never installed natural stone or clay tiles and regretted it.

    1. Me too. We have some incredibly dated clay tiles in our home and a quick paint/fixture update gave them a whole new life. They’re still going to be replaced eventually but I totally agree with you about versatility.

  4. I am planning to change my kitchen backsplash with Chloe subway tile, and you inspired me to get creative with the layout. I don’t want it look the same as everyone else’s and dated in a few years. I really like the idea of the contrast strip tile, but my favorite is changing the direction of the layout around an architectural feature. So simple, and it will be just the right detail. I can’t wait to see the farmhouse progression. Hoping you will do my progress shots and not just finished pretty shots.
    Also, with the tiling the whole room-isn’t that then really hard to hang and/or change art? Or is the tile the art?
    And Leanne Ford is fearless. Wasn’t the yellow tile all vintage that she had collected?
    Great post!!

    1. Yes, PROGRESS PHOTOS, not just the pretty pictures at the end.
      We’re here for the journey, not just the destination.

      1. Yep. we are just stuck waiting for permits right now. there will be some things that I keep for reveals because the past has shown me that you guys want some surprises, but i’m here to document for sure. As soon as we get up to portland and get through permits the fun stuff will begin, 🙂

  5. I need the number of Martyn Bullard’s Tile Person. Stat. The person is a mathematical genius. Look at how they did the inside vs outside corners of the tile border color. Then, how the diagonal tile laying is continued in the tub, up the wall, and again, how they incorporate the smaller, darker border tile. Masterful!

  6. wow! that was such a fun trip through tile country! i love all these details and i’m loving so many of them! i like that you’re showing us all the inspo you can find and glean from old “dated” spaces. i’ll probably keep coming back to this post for the visuals! i can’t wait to see your sunroom.

      1. hi rusty! you’re so sweet for asking. its coming along! we have had painters here for almost 2 weeks. today is their final day. then our house will officially be transformed from dark and brown to low-light but much lighter (we are surrounded by trees and have mostly east facing windows, so not a lot of light anyway. i’m very happy with the changes! next up is light fixtures! moving is legit the worst. but the decorating and styling part is fun. i’m going at a normal life snail pace : )
        how’s everything down under?

        1. I’m freeeeeee and got a painter to come quote on ancient windows. I wait with baited bresth, for the $$ of the quote. Hopefully this weekend.
          My BIL is up for decking in the back porch which is currently dodgy, and I’m busting with ideas for twesks indide – but no energy.
          There’s a small outbreak of Covid on the east cost (I’m west coast) @25-ish people and they’re in semi-lockdown, because it’s eradicated across the rest of the country, with @ less than 800 deaths! But, our vaccinations are a woeful mess. People are very lax coz they aren’t scared enough and we’ve lived mostly normally through the pandemic = double edged sword.
          Hope your new paint is fabulous!!🤗

  7. Yessss. . . . its these little details that make all the difference. I love the idea of looking at old European hotels!

  8. Cute ideas- pencil tiles rule! However some of those rougher more textured bathroom tiles just look ready to scrape me and seem very hard hard to clean ! I’d have loved if you had included more hard info on the various types of tile layouts, they’re named and all over there place online .

  9. I’m really starting to resent the words “custom” and “special” in all your posts. Their overuse makes me feel like you just want everything to look expensive as opposed to having a point of view on what the design needs to achieve (interesting, beautiful, quirky, unexpected or a hundred other adjectives).

    1. Aren’t quality and detail expensive? I must say, I have a very expensive taste, too expensive for my wallet. Details, workmanship, even pigments and patterns used require more effort, resources, and time to produce and install than the less expensive options. But I have an eye for detail. I am detail oriented in both work I do, and interiors I like to live in. I I mitigate this by having smaller spaces with higher quality.

    2. special is not a word for expensive. and no i don’t want to renovate a house and have it all look bought off the shelf., and like every other house on the internet. no one should. it doesn’t always mean you have to spend more money, it just means you have to spend more time being creative with your materials. i’ll snag a thesaurus next time out 🙂

  10. Thanks for being willing to share your deep digging with us, Emily! I think the point about the border around herringbone and checks is especially insightful.

    I’m not sure if you’ve already found these resources, but two books I think you’d really enjoy as you continue digging into all of this: “The Old Way of Seeing” by Jonathan Hale and “Get Your House Right” by Marianne Cusato. As you said, it’s hard to find images of old design on the internet, so I’ve found books very helpful. The other thing I’ve been loving recently is the BBC series “Restoration Home” which you can watch on YouTube. I’m learning so much watching people restoring homes that are older than America. 😉

    1. OOh i want to watch that!!! Will do. thank you for the rec, and i’ll look for those books, too!

  11. Gah!! These pins are just so inspirational! The best word I can think of to describe these tile designs is “thoughtful”. Thoughtful makes timeless.

  12. Wow! What a fantastic post! I feel like I just went to tile genius college. I am saving this for future projects. Thank you Emily for this beautiful deep dive! I am so excited to see your next house.

  13. I would love love love to see a version of this post focused on more contemporary, but still timeless, options with tile. The question of how to do timeless in a new build raises some different challenges, but still super interesting!

  14. I don’t think you need to worry about classic having to be being simple AT ALL. Everything I’ve ever seen or read about past interiors is that they were a LOT more into colour and pattern than we are. A visit to something like the V&A Museum supports that. Ditto I wouldn’t worry about things dating. The things that date are the things that are most ubiquitous, not the most adventurous because they become synonymous with an era, or overused, not because we think they are ‘wrong’ in retrospect. Who cares anyway? Better to choose what you love than trying to have something because it ‘fits’ a ‘forever’ house and you’re trying to future proof your future taste or future fashion. As Rita Koenig says, it’s not the beige sofa you look back on with fondness, it’s the more interesting pieces. (Although I do like beige sofas, I have to say).

    1. yah i agree with your persepctive with many styles and again there are NO RULES. But I don’t want it to be too colorful or busy (I’ll bring that in later) – but thats just a preference. 🙂 I LOVE staying in airbnbs or hotels that go all out and I prefer it in photography or when i’m on pinterest. But living full time in it is different. its a real conundrum 🙂

      1. I know what you mean. I did an exercise to hone your personal style on a website that I stumbled across and it was really insightful. I’ve probably got just under 10,000 pins relating to interiors on my Pinterest but getting down to 100 only on my ‘secret board’ showed me that amongst the things I love, a lot I really love looking AT, not living WITH. As an example, I pinned not one single moody room. Also, much as I love colour and pattern, it’s always on a white base which I realise provides serenity for me. But no all white or monochrome rooms in spite of the many I’ve got pinned. Very interesting exercise and very useful.

  15. What struck me the most is how much time Emily puts into design: hours laying cut pieces of paper to play with tile design. I’m impressed at her dedication, & also realize how I tend to underestimate the time & skill that really any professional puts into their work.

    1. ah thank you. i’m extremely lucky to have this as my job. But yes, you are not alone. I think the whole world underestimates the time it takes even the most experienced creatives to make new ‘art’ 🙂

  16. I love the inspirations. I’d love to use one of these at some point if I ever decide to change tile in the kitchen. I’m European, having grown up with it, I don’t like tile on all walls. I love the simple design without excess trims, but not tile all over. I think it’s outdated based on limitations of the past. Homes were humid, people were scared of mold, there was steam, bacteria, no ventilation, often no window in a bathroom either. I love to leave some walls without any tile. It makes a bathroom look and feel warm, pleasant, approachable, room-like, spa-like. Kitchen also feel warner like a place to gather rather than prep meat. These are actually good parts of American design. Europeans rarely leave bathroom door open because it’s considered unsanitary. I love that our bathroom is left opened all day and it brings so much light to the hallway. We have a beautiful window, as you walk by, you can see a bit of beautiful tile, and i have a big plant in there too. Because I didnt use tile on 2 of the walls, it saved me enough money that I went with higher end tile and finishes. Kitchens with tile everywhere remind me so much of butcher shops and fish markets. That’s a completely different feeling that I want in my kitchen. Finally, tile is much colder material than drywall, plaster or wallpaper, both in terms of actual temperature and its reflection. So that’s my case against it, having lived both in Europe and in the States. I do believe many of my European friends wouldn’t agree with me. But many of them actually change their mind when they come here. I’ll be curious to see what you do. I’m sure there are exceptions to what I think about tile all over. In any case, I just wanted to point out these things in case it might be helpful. Perhaps, you’ll find a way to mitigate this if you decide in favor of this

    1. what an interesting perspective. thank you! that actually makes a ton of sense re the warmth and the origins of the full wall tile … something to consider, for sure.

    2. Butcher shops and fish markets.
      That will be stuck in my head forever but it now explains
      why I cringe when I go into an all tiled bathroom. It just
      feels so cold. I love the idea of only tiling a couple walls.

    3. I agree as well, with the coldness of so much tile. It’s fabulous in warm climates but here in the PNW I find it a bit off. I couldn’t figure out why, but I think you described it well

  17. BTW, that little strip of tile is called a listello. Learned that from Sarah Richardson. She’s a genius at taking inexpensive field tile and then using the expensive stuff for trim, and using listellos to add some punch to a plain installation. I adore tile…especially English Victorian patterns. So cool.

  18. We are doing this too! Well. not exactly this, but figuring out ways to use tile in more special and interesting ways, we have an accent wall in our kitchen going all the way up to the ceiling of tile (no uppers) and finishing out the windows with tile as well, I’m so excited.
    Same with the bathrooms where were are using more budget conscious tile but playing with layout and pencil trim, borders etc. looking at boutique hotels has been a huge inspiration because it’s often white subway or white square tile just used in interesting ways. Great post!
    Really excited for the cabinetry one, as I am heavily leaning towards inset cabinetry with slab drawers and shaker doors, like Plain English or Devol.

  19. I have never gone from “wow” to “absolutely not” so much in a single post!!! I quickly realized that the tiles I did like (the all black bathroom, the octagon squares, the bead border in that kitchen, the handmade tile to the ceiling) were all in large rooms with high ceilings and a lot of natural light. A lot of the other suggestions looked a bit… fake, like intentionally trying to imitate a different style (some French, some Italian). But this post probably means we’re not getting a marble backsplash like in some kitchens Emily was posting before…

  20. I normally dislike tile posts because I don’t like anything patterned or noticeable… but wow are there some beautiful ideas in this one!! Thanks, I think I’m going to love anything in this series of how to make simple look special.

  21. Such a great post! As a newbie to thinking about these things – tile is heavy. Can all walls support all that tile? All floors/rooms? Do you have to think about those things, or can one do whatever one wants? Thanks!

  22. It’s posts like this that hooked me on your blog and your voice. I could eat this up all day. Thank you.

    P.S. I LOVE tile.

  23. You should follow @vintagebathroomlove and @bwtilecompany on Instagram. Amazing resources for vintage tile work, and tile that looks like it’s vintage. Also, @cheapoldhouses shares posts about- obvi- old houses that often times still have their vintage tile intact. So beautiful!

  24. Warning on the border tile. If your room is not square make sure you are happy where the tiler adjusts for the non-square room. I really regret our kitchen tiles where the border is parallel to the wall and consequently looks crooked with respect to the line of cupboards. I wish I had done no border at all!

    1. Sam, this is such a great point. Similarly, we had rethink our border tile in a steam shower, because the ceiling was slanted and fully tiled. The border would have emphasized the slanted ceiling. It was better to just have all the slanted cuts in the field tile.

    2. @manwithahammer did a border in a tiny water closet with not-square walls and said he enjoyed that it highlighted the wonkiness inherent to such an old house—it’s definitely something you’d need to be okay with!

  25. Beautiful and educational post. I’m currently struggling with the placement of eight 18th century delft tiles in my kitchen backsplash. Do you have any recommendations for a modern yet timeless way to incorporate them?

  26. I love this! As someone with a historic home, I’ve definitely tried to finally images of old houses to inform kitchen and bathroom tile decisions. Historic homes that have been preserved and made into museums like the Breakers in Newport, RI have good inspiration. My entire house is probably the size of that kitchen, but the service spaces are generally less ornate than the rest of those mansions, and the kitchens and butlers’ pantries are great for tile and cabinetry inspiration.

    1. For some reason this never occurred to me before, but I bet looking at stills from period pieces like Downton Abbey would be a great source of inspiration, too.

  27. This is my favourite post in a long while, loads of info and inspo – thanks! : )

  28. I love this post! I’m renovating the kitchen in my 1920s craftsman bungalow and planning on using Rookwood tile for the backsplash for sentimental reasons. This is exactly what I needed to read! Special and classic is exactly what I’m hoping to have at the end.

  29. We just ordered those tilecloud mixed size tiles last week for our bathroom reno! I found picking tiles to be horrible (so permanent!) so what a relief to see our selection here 🙂 I’d love to hear how you plan on integrating (or not) the 80s addition to your farmhouse. I’m struggling with the style/design theme with our house which has an early 90s family room and bedroom addition to a 1920s cottage.

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