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The New/Old Risky Tile Trend I’m Exploring For The Farm – Flower “Statement” Tiles, Murals, And Contemporary Delft Tile

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).

design by jessica helgerson design | photo by aaron leitz | via remodelista

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).

design by jessica helgerson design | photo by aaron leitz | via remodelista

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???

design by plain english | via architectural digest
via bddw
photo via marazzi tile

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).

photo via marazzi tile

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.

tile by lisa hardy and edit58 | via remodelista

This one also has this hand painterly feel and obviously would work in a Shaker-inspired farmhouse.

tile by lisa hardy and edit58 | via remodelista

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).

design by emma grant | via financial times

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’.

design by beata heuman | photo by paul massey | via house & garden

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

photo via dutch 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.

photo via dutch tile

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…

via dutch tile

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.

via dutch tile

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…

via dutch tile

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…

photo via douglas watson studio
photo via douglas watson studio
photo via douglas watson studio

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.

photo via douglas watson studio

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.

photo via douglas watson studio

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…

Opening Image Credits: British Standard by Plain English | via Financial Times

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Gayle
1 month ago

We did a row of decorative mexican tile, looks great and can’t beat the price
https://www.mexicantiles.com/arbia-siena-ceramic-tile.html

Abby
1 month ago

You might look at Reptile Tiles out of the UK: https://reptiletiles.co.uk/prices/
so cute!

emily jane
1 month ago
Reply to  Abby

Thank you for the suggestion/link Abby -Reptile Tiles is wonderful!

Hanneke
1 month ago

How about going to the source? Royal Delft still makes these tiles, as well as modern takes on them.

Roos
1 month ago

Perhaps you came by this one as well: storytiles. https://www.storytiles.nl/product-categorie/storytiles/old-dutch/
It is a Dutch company and most people just buy one as a kind of gift. They might be too modern for you but they are lovely!

jess
1 month ago
Reply to  Roos

mooie en gezellige tegels!

KC
1 month ago
Reply to  Roos

These are so sweet and adorable!!!
I want to remodel just so I can use them!

MM
1 month ago
Reply to  Roos

The storytiles are darling! So fun to use together or interspersed with blank zellige. Beautiful! These would be very sweet in a tiny bath or WC.

Nora
1 month ago
Reply to  Roos

These are adorable!

Michaela
1 month ago
Reply to  Roos

Ooh, I think you may have just found me my husband’s Christmas gift! I’ve been looking for a unique trivet for setting our coffee pour over on, something that can stay out on the counter all the time. I never would have considered looking at tile manufacturers, but these are such sweet gifts! I love the “Outdoor Lovers” one!

Sarah H
1 month ago

The tiles in the House and Garden photo are by Maude Smith (Maude_made on Instagram). They are gorgeous and exactly what I would have in my fantasy kitchen x

Clare
1 month ago

Love the pattered wall tile. I’m currently struggling to work with patterned floor tile in a dining room. Especially the rug/ no rug debate. Anywhere on the blog do you discuss this? Thank you!!

1 month ago

The Lisa Hardy and Marazzi tile are simply beautiful. Spare, artistic and modern.

Hana
1 month ago
Reply to  Ellen

Yes. They get my vote too! I understand that Brian needs to love them but wow! I also don’t think any of these say modern Shaker farmhouse.

Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Ellen

I love them too!

Johanna
1 month ago

In the nineties we went on family vacation to the city of Delft. As a souvenir, my little brother chose individual miniature Delft tiles as wall art for his room and hung them in a grid. So this might be a non permanent option for you. It looked really cute.

Shannon
1 month ago

Loved this post! It’s such a treat to understand your thought process. I love where you landed at the end, the mudroom will be amazing. And I love the idea of using colors other than blue, so that the overall vibe won’t feel too close to the floor tiles you have planned for the sunroom.

Mistymountain
1 month ago

Fun fact. in the early 80’s when we went to Portugal my mother had us carry blue and white Portuguese tiles back for her in our bags. She used them in the kitchen and they were very pretty with her painted navy blue cabinets, although over time the whole scheme felt a bit dark and heavy… The tiles you settled on are GORGEOUS. I love the delicate multicolored insects and flowers as a contrast with the sturdy tile, I don’t think it will get old. . I agree with Brian the random ones feel too random. In the fist example theres something vey satisfying about the curved shapes of the ferns as a contrast with square tiles that works well. Am I foolish or can you just do your own version of the ferns if you love them ? Is it such a big deal to have it be unique only to you or first?

Carol
1 month ago

OMG, the Marazzi! I love that. When we had our Spanish bungalow in LA, we leaned heavily into Malibu Tile-inspired, which in turn was inspired by Spanish tile, which was inspired by Moorish motifs. Now we live in Portugal, and are surrounded by Moorish-influenced azulejos! Is it any wonder we’re so at home here?
I’m eager to see how your choices turn out. The trad Delft-inspired tiles lean a little (okay, a lot) twee for me, and don’t especially say Modern Shaker, unlike the Marazzi, which totally does, to my eye. But you live with Brian, not with me, so there’s that. 🙂

Lindsay
1 month ago

I’m still trying to get my head around the “vibe” theme for the farm–I love your advice about when you start a room design, you ask” how you do want the room to make you feel?” –I’m trying to figure out what your themes are for the farm. I thought at the beginning you were going for simplicity and serenity, kind of like the Mountain House. But now it seems like you are going for a different, more historical, antique, victorian type vibe with a lot of detail–like heavily into the EEG side of things. I’d love to hear more about where you and Brian are going with the “feel plan” as it were, as the project evolves!

Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily

I’d LOVE the bug tilesin the mud room!

Tamanna
1 month ago

Have you considered Tabarka tiles? my dream tiles….lots of gorgeous handpainted floral motifs….

Dena
1 month ago

I love where you are headed! So many sweet and cute options.

Beth
1 month ago

Love this post. So unexpected and why I keep coming back. The creativity! The surprising pairings and layering of materials!

I love the very first (uncredited) picture the most. Those tiles, in that layout, feel like a stone washed denim quilt on the wall, which goes perfectly with the vibe of the room. It feels super cozy and light. Interesting yet background.

Of all the images and discussion that followed, I kept hoping you’d move back in that initial direction. To me, that image resonated the most with the vibe you seem to desire.

Roberta Davis
1 month ago

The cats made me smile! But I do love the last sets, the ones you are actually considering. I’m with Charlie, I like the bugs! I agree that the mudroom seems like the best place for these.

Elaine
1 month ago

Do you have a little bit of statement tile wall FOMO?! As in, you’ve seen other designers have their ‘special’ statement tile wall ‘moment’ and now you’d like one too (no judgement, I ❤️ EHD). But if you’ve chosen almost all the other tile for your home and you’re still quite undecided on the whole floral/hand-painted/delft style tile, maybe that’s saying something. I think it’s a huge tell when you say you freaked out at the Marazzi tile (gorgeous btw).

Also, I don’t understand the concept of engaging an English company to repro Dutch tile designs (albeit hand-made and high-end) and then calling the whole thing a delft tile. I’d rather source from the Netherlands, or just get an English company to make English delft tile alá Fired Earth – https://www.firedearth.com/kitchen-tiles/english-craft?range=1028. To me that speaks more to provenance and authenticity.

Nora
1 month ago

I really love that you’re leaning in this direction! And it’s great to see the additional recs in the comments section too – the storytiles are lovely.

Jamie S
1 month ago

I was in Lisbon a few years ago where painted tiles are very common, there is even a museum there dedicated to painted tiles. I took a course from an artist where we hand painted two tiles based on traditional patterns, they were then fired and I now used them as trivets. Like many of your examples they are all in shades of blue and so lovely. In the 90’s when my parents built there house a friend helped my mom add decals/stickers to a few tiles, fired them and used them as part of the show surround. Even all these years later they add a bit of whimsy to the room. I can’t wait to see how you take this trend on.

patty
1 month ago

“Pair it back a bit?” Nope. PARE it back a bit. Think of paring an apple.

Christa
1 month ago

Maybe Brian should take a second look because those modern floral subway tiles has a random quality that’s just right – look again?
I love the Delft tile and I think it’s a great direction for your kitchen but the ones with the centered florals are not quite right, nor the old timey looking stuff. I think you need a more random pattern. I would hire the fern mural artist to come up with something original to you, in patterns that cross over and combine tiles in interesting ways – not necessarily a true ‘mural’ but add more dimension and ways to explore and create interesting shapes in how you combine the tiles. Also take a look at Tabarka, they would probably be willing to create a pattern just for you!

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Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Christa

Love this!

Lucy
1 month ago
Reply to  Christa

I agree. The antique and antique-inspired Delft tiles are wonderful, but I don’t think I love them in a new kitchen like what I imagine Emily is planning for her house. Mixing old and new furnishings can be great, but finishes that feel like they’re totally from another time and place feel a bit awkward to me. I like the Marazzi subway tiles and the bug tiles. I think working with an artist Emily could commission something thats not such a literal historical reference and out of sync with either a 100-year old Oregon farmhouse or a new build.

Rusty
1 month ago

I like the fresh take on things re: the tiles Jess linked you to.

I love unique, bespoke, commissioned things more!

Painting tiles isn’t as big a deal as people think. You use underglaze pencils, underglaze paint and basically draw and paint whatever your design is. Then, the tiles are glazed with a clear glaze. Then you tile your wall or floor!
If you have an experienced maker, they should be able to do this without a hitch.
What if you took your favourite collection of botanical drawings as muse for the artist??
That’s what I’d do.

Excited to see what you’ll choose!🤗

Christa
1 month ago
Reply to  Rusty

Cle Tile will do commissions and they already have amazing artists doing beautiful work for them. It seems like an updated Delft tile would be a super fun challenge for a tile artist.

Lea
1 month ago

I love a hand painted tile so I can’t wait to see what you do!

Elise
1 month ago

Fun post. I am Dutch so of course I’m all for Delft tiles. Especially since I have been to the factory and have seen the process of hand painting the tiles. Just no bugs! Sorry, Charlie. I prefer the blue/white tiles over the colors, it’s what we had in my parents’ restaurant.

Michelle
1 month ago

Eek!!! So beautiful. Can’t wait to see what you decide.

Karen
1 month ago

I think these tiles are very fun and sweet and would love to see them in the mudroom or powder room. I personally am not a fan of statement tile for a kitchen because kitchens are busy by nature, and I like mine to look calm. YMMV.

Kate
1 month ago

Thank you for sharing the process. Please talk more about your decision to use tile on the floor in the rest of your house!!! I am leaning that way, but our architect keeps talking about wood for resale value (boring)! Also, curious abut tile in the kitchen since you do so much standing! Are you doing tile on the floor there as well?

Erin Dae
1 month ago

Fun post. I like that I can still enjoy the post even though I don’t really like most of your inspo photos on this one. The only one I remotely like is the Marazzi one and I think that is because the shape of the tile and the stacked layout have a Japandi vibe, which I love. I do like hearing about your thought process and hope you find just what you are looking for/dreaming of – perhaps from one of the suggestions by the other commenters!

Sarah
1 month ago

I love the fern mural, of course. Think you could do something with trees and still own it. It wouldn’t beat the ferns but maybe could be just as good? Not loving the other stuff. It doesn’t feel very farmhouse victorian to me. Have you looked at any of the William Morris tiles that are in the blue range? Minus the Shaker thing it matches a lot of what you’re going for and feels soulful. I love the swan tiles personally. https://williammorristile.com/gallery/william-morris-co-tiles-gallery.html

Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Sarah

Oooooh…..yes! TREES!!!😃

Heather
1 month ago

Country Floors is a company with Delft-style tiles based in the US.

Karen Patton
1 month ago

I think decorated tiles in the mud room makes so much sense. I love the traditional blue & white with paired flowers, butterflies & bugs.

Have you seen what Greg, @manwithahammer has used in the latest bathroom? (The sources are tagged in the photos) It’s a “dotted” tile he’s used for the entire shower. If you want the painted designs but not to busy, perhaps you could intersperse the painted tiles with dotted tiles.

KD
1 month ago

Please, YES, go for some of these types of tiles. So good! I love seeing how Meta Coleman uses similar custom and vintage tiles in many of her designs. https://www.instagram.com/metacoleman_/

Jas
1 month ago

The tile in this shower is my favorite ever. I bet it would be like showering in the forest in the middle of the trees.
https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/tour-this-revitalized-english-country-house

Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Jas

OMG….so great!

sg5785
1 month ago

I am a little concerned about blue in Portland. All the images you show from houses in Portland have very little blue, especially the brilliant shining blue of those tiles. This blue needs a lot of light to reflect, that’s why you see it in the mediterranean. Portland houses tend to have more muted tones, which register as slight variations of almost a textural quality. They’re inviting the mood that envelops the city into each individual house. Obviously, the Netherlands are not the mediterranean, but still, I’m wondering how this blue will fit with the rest. For that reason, and for modern-ness, I gravitated toward the dusty-pink-brown one.

KJ
1 month ago

OMG, I am so glad I am not in the market for tiles I would absolutely blow my budget. These are all amazing. One more suggestion which might be more cost effective – try etsy.

One more thing, when I did my bathroom I had tiles that were not perfectly square; my poor tile layer had to use the level with every row of tiles to keep them straight. Of course I would not change a thing.

Caitlin Mandel
1 month ago

I’m so freaking excited to see what you do! I loved seeing all of these truly unique tiles and I know what you pick will be fabulous!

Anna
1 month ago

Am I the only person who thinks the fern tile mural looks like snakes? I want to love it but it gives me the creeps! Anyway, I LOVE the idea of incorporating delft tiles and can totally picture it working well at least with how I picture your farm house design vibe, which does make sense to me and I am so excited about your mix of Oregon shaker with Victorian whimsy. I hope you’ll go for it and can’t wait to see!

Amy
1 month ago
Reply to  Anna

It reminded me of octopus tentacles! I was not a fan of that kitchen – too busy having the fern tentacles all throughout the kitchen. I liked the green bug tiles at the end of the post, those would look so cute in the mudroom!

Shannon
1 month ago
Reply to  Anna

Ha! I didn’t see snakes but i definitely get a creepy, the-fern-is-taking-over, abandoned-building-being-reclaimed-by-nature kind of vibe! Not a fan.

1 month ago
Reply to  Anna

Looked like a space alien to me. Would not enjoy;)

Brockway Stephanie
1 month ago

I agree,,,, the right one of a kind tile, but it’s hard to fine when you’re in the middle of a deadline.My friend on the job Palmer house on Mississippi a few years back her tiled Maroc in bathroom shown here cobalt blue and white with some pops of red it was one of the first party were instead of the kitchen we all hung out in the bathroom, it was epic and bright ! And one of the few times I loved floor to ceiling tile but it’s got to have a pattern and some contrast I should see if she has more photos of that bathroom

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person
1 month ago

love all these unique tiles! i had to mention this source, artist-made in Indiana (local to me here in Louisville Kentucky:
https://www.falkirktileworks.com/specialtytiles
https://www.instagram.com/kristenfalkirk_tileworks/

nora
1 month ago

YES these new ones are gorgeous. Do it!!! I love the Marazzi ones, too, but the Douglas Watson ones are so sweet and pretty and will fit more with the farmhouse vibe.

Kj
1 month ago

Are there a tile companies located in or around Portland who could do something custom for you? I’m not familiar with Portland but a quick search found these:
http://metoliusridgeartisantile.com/
https://www.finearttileworks.com/
https://www.jeannehenry.com/available-for-purchase.html
https://marocarchitecture.com/collections/sevilla-handpainted-tiles
https://prattandlarson.com/
https://www.annsacks.com/

Kj
1 month ago
Reply to  Kj

One more in Portland: https://www.tempesttileworks.com/

Emily
1 month ago
Reply to  Kj

Glad to see someone mention Tempest Tile Works! They are the ones who created the fern tiles in the photos above, and they also have a beautiful new tile (on their Instagram) that looks like blue and white quilt squares!

1 month ago

I so, so, so, so ,so want you to get some of that new Delft tile. And make a big, not so cute wall out of it. I’d prefer flowers to cat and birds, I have to say;)

1 month ago
Reply to  Lisa

Also some colors that are not blue. I feel like the blue might just get subsumed into the EHD “look” we are so familiar with, and any sense of adventure will dissipate.

Amy Elizabeth Jones
1 month ago

Great idea! Gorgeous. I think I saw a few photos featuring Meta Coleman’s work that also used delft tiles? I’m sure you’ve seen those too.

MJ
1 month ago

Omg I love all of these and I’m sorry to say Brian is v wrong this time that is all I have to say.

Kelsey
1 month ago

This came right as I’m finally gutting my bathroom and I have to say I’ve changed the plan for the entire shower and surround because of this post. This was exactly what I didn’t know I wanted to do!!!! We’ve already contacted the Marazzi people. Thank you!!!

Shannon
1 month ago

So many great options! When we renovated our kitchen a couple years ago I was kinda obsessed with hanging foods tile murals. Ultimately I felt like the rest of our kitchen design was a little too modern for it to work so we did backsplashes with the same quartz we used for countertops. I love how easy it is to clean, but I still think about those tiles sometimes — someday!

https://www.portuguesetiles.co.uk/products/hanging-foods-tile-mural-ref-pt322?currency=USD

Kris
1 month ago

A good friend designed and fabricated the tiles at Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve in nearby Hillsboro, Oregon, in which she depicted various animals you’d find at the preserve. My great-grandparents commissioned a local artist to create tiles that captured the plants from their garden. I would recommend working with a local artist to make tiles that are inspired by the farm, and/or the mountain house, for either a fireplace surround or decor in the family room.

1 month ago

Just stumbled across these tiles and thought of your recent post: https://shop.pollyfern.com/category/ceramics
Check them out!

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