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Emily Henderson

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by Jess Bunge
tile designs
image via cle tile

Mosaics don’t typically elicit very positive vibes for me. I think of either the historical eclectic charms of The Mosaic Man light posts in the East Village or really, I’m JUST going to say it…bad mosaic tile “scenes” or animals popular in ’90s style homes. I for one honestly would like to keep both out of my and your homes. But classic mosaic tile patterns have a beautiful and rich history and when done right are “knock you on your butt” stunning. This is where you ask “oh god, is Jess going to talk about her vacation again?” and the answer is yes. But let me start off by saying that “Moroccan design” was my first style love. I put it in quotations because as a young gal I didn’t really know the history of or what Moroccan design was truly all about (FYI I’m still learning). But much like how your heart stops (maybe more in a panic) when you see a person that looks like your first love, when I see a beautiful Moroccan lantern, my still heart skips a beat (panic not induced). So sure I’ve moved on to a modern euro style preference but a part of me will always have a fondness for my first love and my recent trip to Marrakech was a full-blown teenage dream on steroids.

Now, the Medina (the old city) in Marrakech was a total overdose of the visual senses. I was definitely that girl taking photos nearly every 20 feet. Do you want to guess what I was taking photos of? Mosaic tiled accents. The craftsmanship and stunning creativity of the designs were jaw-dropping and it had me thinking that the world needs to be reminded. Okay, I know that Morocco is not the only place where stunning tiling exists but I do think that people should really consider taking a “risk” and go for mosaic tiling in their homes. If you are worried about its timelessness, let me tell you that it’s a safe bet. It’s been around for literal centuries. There are also more modern styles and patterns for those who are wary of multi-colored and intricate designs.

First, I am going to show you some photos of what I saw on my trip and then we will get into examples and ways to incorporate mosaics into your home. Ready?

tile designs

Our first stop on our first day was the Dar El Bacha Musée Des Confluences. This is a beautiful museum showing off the beautiful art of Islam as well as the Moroccan identity which includes lots of ancient artifacts. But once we walked in, the only thing we were staring at was the detailed mosaic tiles. It truly takes your breath away when you think of the talent and time that went into laying each individual tiny piece of tile. Sadly, the tradition, which is such a huge part of Morocco’s cultural identity, was being lost as modern technologies pulled people into other professions and the country started seeing a lack of craftsmen. Because of that, an investment was made from the government to encourage people to learn the skill to preserve the practice. It always gives me hope when art is so clearly valued in a country.

tile designs

Seeing the visual impact of these patterns and colors makes you wonder why anyone would even consider an all neutral home…me included.

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Or have a beautifully tiled outdoor shower. We all need one I think.

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I loved that there were small mosaic accents all over the old city. I thought this doorway deserved a double take because look how beautiful and simple that mosaic trim is. Why aren’t we doing this more????

And look, I get that most people do not have homes that look like they were plucked from Morocco so I thought I’d pull some modern, real-life modern examples as well as purchasable options to drive home the point that this isn’t just an international pipe dream.

tile designs
image via ad russia | design by elena ivannikova and sergey tuletskov

I wanted to start out with a bolder example that probably won’t be something that you put in your home but to show you mosaic when done right is so cool. It’s truly a piece of modern art.

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image 1 via homes to love | image 2 via luigi rosselli architects

Now try and tell me these stairs are not stunning. Inspired by Carlo Scarpo, these Carrera marble pieced stairs give so much visual texture to what could very easily be a simple and boring cement staircase. Still may be a little much for a personal residence for the visual impact and cost for installation. So let’s get into the more user-friendly modern options.

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image via archilovers | design by plantea estudio

This floor pattern is still subtle but very interesting. It’s important to always consider color palette when deciding on a large scale permanent feature, like floor tile. If you are someone who is typically a “bolder the better” type then absolutely go for it. Get intricate with a handful of saturated colors. If not, and you are someone who is typically a minimalist but is really wanting to spice it up in the tile department, then keep the palette soft and more on the neutral side. In this photo, that hit of soft coral really pops and has less of a chance of a neutral lover getting over it in a few years than for example a supersaturated kelly green they thought would help them “get out of their comfort zone.” It’s your home, be comfortable.

tile designs
image via remodelista | design by studio shamshiri

But like in the photo I just spoke about, muted/neutral tones don’t have to mean boring. This bathroom floor is B.E.A.-utiful. It’s soft but with a ton of personality. The best part about picking a pattern (like this one) is that the rest of the room can be simple and understated. Let the floor do what it was born to do…show off.

tile designs
image via zio & sons | design by roman & williams

But if that pattern was still a little much you could tone it done even more and do something similar to what Roman & Williams did in the Hotel Emma in San Antonio, TX. The floor still has a mosaic feel but on the more reserved/less colorful side. Plus I really just had to show you this photo because it was too beautiful to keep it to myself. I guess I have a reason to go to San Antonio now??

tile designs
image via electromode | design by matteo thun

Subtle is great (I am more in that camp myself) but I know there are plenty of you that LOVE color. So color you shall have. This red bathroom is pretty killer. The mix of the bold red mosaic tiles paired with the gilded gold sconces and mirror are 100% EHD approved. If you are into it, we say that there are fewer things more fun than mixing styles and design with bold colors.

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image via remodelista | tile by sarah myers

Guess what?? This tile was DIY’d by artist Sarah Myers. This tile is glass as opposed to the zellige, marble and cement ones in the other photos. But yes she designed, hand painted and attached them to netting for easier installation. The result is stunning (look at the border!) and is yet another example of how time and artistry is always worth it.

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image via jackie o my | design by rigotang

I know I’ve shown you a lot of bathrooms but I have one more. This bathroom is much more of a classic Moroccan design and actually, I think the floor of my riad’s shower was nearly identical to this one(yes it was a beautiful place). But honestly, I would be remiss if I didn’t include at least one room that had a true Moroccan design. The detail that goes into these spaces is so special and this one in particular still feels modern. I’m basically saying I would happily have it as my own and wish it was.

tile designs
image via cle tile
tile designs
image via cle tile

You may have had the same thought upon seeing the last two photos as me…HOW DO I GET THAT TILE?! Ok, I said it in my head but can’t do anything about it since I’m still in a rental and believe it or not I do have limits of how far I’ll go…but then again yoooou never know:) But my design problems aside, you my friends CAN get this tile. EHD favorite, Cle tile, has a new collaboration with Zio & Sons and these photos are part of their beautiful collaboration baby.

Now while we love Cle and will always recommend their awesome product, there are lots of other companies that also sell beautiful mosaic tiles and I have picked a few of my favorites for you to pursue and maybe even purchase.

But before you start daydreaming like me I want to talk general labor costs. Depending on the area you live and skill level of your tiler (which for mosaic you want someone experienced) the average hourly if $40-$60 per hour. Woof. After chatting with the design team they recommend confirming a timeline so that you know what you are getting yourself into and your tiler can’t take time advantage of you by taking longer than necessary. Also know that you can always tile yourself but unless you are very confident, you want to make sure your most likely expensive tile is taken care of. Just be careful:)

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1. Midi L 21-1 | 2. Fan Club Ice White Gloss Mosaic | 3. Tanger C 17-1-8 | 4. Moroccan Retro Tile | 5. Geo Hex Green Tiles | 6. Nejarine 1 | 7. Zio & Sons + Clé Zellige Tile | 8. Azur MRB4-7-21 | 9. Fleurs Mod 1-15 | 10. White Moroccan Tile | 11. Anfa Tile | 12. ZigZag S 1 | 13. Bassat 8-1 | 14. Calacatta Marble Stone Tile | 15. Zio & Sons + Clé Zellige Tile | 16. Weathered White and Moroccan Sea Salt Tile | 17. Moroccan Tile 15 | 18. Levantine Tile

I know my tile loving heart hurts too. I want them ALL. I am already planning a return to trip to Morocco next year to further explore and to dive deeper into the vibrant design and welcoming culture. I wholeheartedly suggest you do the same because you will not regret it. Until next time my friends when I try and convince you of yet another somewhat crazy but hopefully less expensive design feature to put in your home.

Love you, mean it.

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  1. i love these so much. they remind me of our honeymoon to india. when we went to the taj mahal, it was INCREDIBLE. from far away, it just looks like a big white structure, but up close, you can see the entire thing is made up of mosaic inset stone flowers and stems and leaves and all kinds of designs. it is just insane to imagine people taking the time to make such beautiful things.

  2. Holy heck, that marble mosaic bathroom floor is everything. I’m definitely inspired. Thanks!

    1. Yes! Does anyone know where that stunning multi-colored stone mosaic tile (the one by Shamshiri design) was sourced from? Or one that’s similar?

    2. New Ravenna offers custom mosaics in tons of stone colors. Color chart found here: http://newravenna.photoshelter.com/gallery/Stone-Mosaic-Color-Chart/G0000bcQo1sTjRH4/C0000QTN8.dbIvDU

  3. Not retiling my newly renovated home anytime soon, and permanent strong pattern isn’t really my thing – but this was a great post (and I’d love to hear more about the trip)! Where I think I may pick up some of this in my home design is in fabric – I’m loving the delicate and intricate patterns I’ve been seeing in recent Elle Decor/AD/House Beautiful articles lately. I just looked all over for the living room that I fell in love with in the last month or so – tons of gorgeous red patterns on white, overlaid on each other on the walls, the soft furniture and the floors. Kind of Katherine Ireland esq, but more deliberate and delicate and EVERYWHERE (if you know the source please chime in!).

  4. I love mosaic tiles, always have – we’ve got them all over Europe too and I have blue ones in my bathroom.
    Now that I’ve seen the red bathroom vanity area above – I’d love to have that one instead of my blue bathroom. So gorgeous! Marrakesh is also on my bucket list..

  5. I also love Moroccan influenced design and would love to go back again and take even more photos. Small nod to mosaics in my downstairs loo. https://colourwisedesign.com/projects#/warren

  6. Psss… would love a detailed guide/itinerary from your trip!

    1. Yes please!

  7. This has really inspired me to remodel the courtyard in my 4-plex rental property. It’s always been so blah.. white stucco everywhere.

  8. Any chance you checked out Popham Tiles? They are AMAZING and need more pressure to sell more widely in the U.S.! Check them out http://www.pophamdesign.com

    1. Had never heard of them but just checked them out and everything they make is GOOOORGEOUS O.O – thanks for reccing Popham ! I’ll now go gaze at them lovingly while bemoaning my renter status….

  9. I love these mosaic tiles and certainly, if I had a style of home that would suit using them, then for sure I would go for it. It is when they are used in a home that has a style that doesn’t suit them that it just looks out of place. I think going for the more understated styles would remedy that, but it still has to be used correctly. Maybe I am just thinking of all the bad ’90’s jobs out there… I think I would rather appreciate mosaics in their natural and true surroundings and leave it at that!

  10. My favorite tile moment lately.. more Spanish than Morroccan but sooo good. I’m thinking something similar but in softer, more neutral tones when we retile our bungalow kitchen.
    https://www.dwell.com/article/a-dramatic-apartment-renovation-in-barcelona-features-salvaged-tile-and-brick-908e79ac/6318272140639752192

  11. Ahhhh I can’t get over how much I love these details. Talk about a dream home. Such a good post; thank you!

    I’m a renter too! I saw IKEA has some interesting wooden flooring tiles – which they “officially” recommend only for outdoor use – but I couldn’t help but imagine them elsewhere. I read a few comments from reviewers on the product page (linked below) that expressed the same desire to put them in their home’s interior. I’m really hoping IKEA expands the lineup to include designs that pay homage to these Moroccan styles.. while keeping the brilliant “click together” functionality! If and when they do… I’m all over it!

    (https://m2.ikea.com/us/en/p/runnen-decking-outdoor-brown-stained-90234226/)

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