When I’m advising others on their renovations I will always say to stay safer with the permanent finishes, take your big risks with art/accessories, lighting and textiles… Paint, wallpaper even, but NOT things like flooring, tile, moldings, windows – the things that are so expensive to change. And yet I know from experience that if you take no risks you can find yourself living in a really expensive boring house in the name of being ‘timeless and classic’. So I got to thinking about a statement tile…
The Statement Tile Inspiration
You’ve probably seen this STUNNING kitchen by Jessica Helgerson, here in Portland. The backsplash is a handpainted tile mural, giving homage to the PNW and it’s pretty much unbeatable (I believe one of her team members painted it).
While there are no guarantees, I’ll go on record saying that this is statement wall is actually timeless simply because it’s so well executed, appropriate, full of so much creativity, high quality, and extremely unique. It’s like how beautiful art doesn’t date – knockoffs do, cheaper copies do, but an original masterpiece is always ‘in’. A beautiful mural appropriately executed is always beautiful. Have I thought about buying a time machine, ordering myself back a few years, wearing a mask, buying the farm (before the massive real estate jump), and asking her team to do their first tile mural wall for me? Yes. But sadly this has been done by her and nothing close to it will suffice (nor would I want to).
So I’m left with my own ‘creativity’ to figure out my own quiet statement tile wall. One that is appropriate for a farm, feels like ‘me’ (happy, with a bit of whimsy and a nod to vintage), and one that I won’t regret. I like sweet, humble, and not too flashy, but if everything feels that way is it going to look boring? I just want something extra, something to make this kitchen or mudroom feel 100% like ours. And it’s safe to say that I love flowers and trees (the real deal as well as motifs) more than anything. But flower tiles? How do you do that???
And then Jess slacked me a link to this tile and I freaked OUT. It’s handpainted, leaves and flowers, but in a modern fresh way.
I would honestly have pulled the trigger immediately. I don’t need to customize a tile if something better exists. Maybe there isn’t a hole in the market and I don’t need to fill it (which frankly would reduce a lot of work).
So sweet. Hand-painted and that BLUE! Sadly Brian didn’t have the same reaction to the tile – he thought it felt random and trying a bit too hard. And you know that’s my trigger, so I moved on. But the idea of a floral statement tile stayed in my head.
This one also has this hand painterly feel and obviously would work in a Shaker-inspired farmhouse.
I also love how the tile itself is so organic and handmade. But Brian still wasn’t sold and life is just more fun when we agree (and I want him to love the house as much as I do, so if he’s not as into something I keep moving). Honestly, it didn’t feel exactly right either…
Classic Delft Tile
As I’ve written about before I really love Delft Tile – Intricately handpainted tile from Northern Europe, often with little scenes on them. They feel like tile that tells a story which makes you dive in visually and emotionally. While you can find some antique remnants online they usually don’t preserve too easily or if they do it’s like 10 tiles which doesn’t really do much for me. They are so expensive that people usually only install them as a border or just behind the range, for instance. And I don’t think I feel very great about an ‘accent’ tile if mixed with other tiles. I don’t think it helps that there was a big resurgence in the 80s and 90s and many a french country kitchen had knock-off Delft tiles that existed in the suburbs (nothing wrong with that, but it feels neither old world or fresh to me).
I love this accent wall, but I don’t think it’s right for this project – it feels like it belongs in a European space that is more classic, less ‘Shaker/Victorian Oregon Farmhouse’.
Same with this one by Beata Heuman. What a lovely way to bring in Delft in a small way that leans the room more classic and old-world immediately. Again, the more I think about it the more I’m just unsure about this in our home, at least as we’ve designed it thus far (and there is no going back on a lot of what we’ve chosen).
Then I realized maybe it’s not that I love Delft tile for this house, per say, it’s that I love handpainted floral anything. So I found two companies that paint new Delft tile (in the traditional ways) and fell in LOVE.
New HandPainted Floral Tile
I found these, (above) from Dutch Tile (out of Connecticut, but in the traditional Amsterdam style) and I fell in LOVE. The detailing, the vintage botanical vibe (I love and collect hand-drawn botanicals so much), all the shading. It’s a classic, old-world method of painting tiles that is hard to copy, even though the knockoffs have made many of us hesitant to use these at all.
These get more decorative with the patterns in the corners – SO CUTE and yes they do make my heart SING. Definitely less ‘Shaker’ which is typically less ornamental. But maybe for the mudroom or the WC this could be a way to bring in my love for all things floral. But if I wanted to pair it back a bit…
All the shades of blue! Maybe that’s a way to keep it a bit more pulled back and therefore ‘modern’, against our mostly wood-toned cabinets in either room we are considering these for. They are just so detailed and happy and that color of blue is amazing. You can either mix them or just get the same tile and apply over and over and over.
Now, these are more traditional tile Delft patterns, but you don’t have to mix them. I could just do one of them and repeat them. I think this could be awesome for just a small backsplash behind a wall hung sink – just like an 18″ square so it’s not overwhelming and feels special.
But also if you like cats…
How cute is that? We are less into felines on our tiles, but guys the farm versions of these with cows, chickens, pigs were SO CUTE.
Then I found another maker in Europe that makes new versions, Douglas Watson Studio and was blown away by their work. Take a peek…
SO GOOD. And I showed Brian these and he said, ‘yah, I love those’. So turns out (not shocking) he’s far more into the classic antique feel than anything that feels new or “reinvented” which I suppose I knew.
I love even mixing in the insects and butterflies and the more and more I fantasize I can see it all in the mudroom as if feels like an indoor/outdoor extension where I’ll be potting plants, cutting flowers, and washing dogs and is all windows that opens up to the backyard.
So what do you think? My next steps are to get samples and touch/feel in person. We’ve chosen almost all the tile for the rest of the house (handmade in Portland via Pratt + Larson) so I’m hoping that waiting on a couple of places won’t hold up the whole project. I just feel like I’d be amiss to not include these SOMEWHERE since they make me (and Birdie and Brian so happy). Charlie liked the bugs 🙂 The only other thing I’m still exploring is finding a local artist and creating our own, but there are a billion risks in that which make me nervous, especially since Brian wasn’t as excited about the more fresh versions of the handpainted tile. Again, if it’s not right it can look very very wrong so I’m leaning towards one of these two new studios painting in the classic way. Stay tuned, y’all…