Beautiful tile design ideas for the entire home

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Living room with tile design - New Ravenna Mosaics’ Solid Ovals

It’s time to step outside the box. Tile is well known as durable, easy-to-clean surface material ideal for messy and moisture-prone rooms in the home, such as the kitchen or bath. But if you look beyond the functional beauty of tile, you’ll find it to be a design element that can add a colorful, shiny, textured, or sparkly touch to any room of the home. 

“Tiles of today have evolved into art,” says Kass Wilson, decorative artist, creative director and owner of WallsTreat Studio. “With a little creativity, they can be featured like a piece of jewelry.” 

Create a feature wall
Want to make a big impression? A wall decorated with tiles will leave your guests in awe. Though feature walls are most often seen in entryways, they can add interest to any room you’d like. Taylor Jarson, showroom designer for Traditions in Tile and Stone, points to the rising trend of dimensional wall tiles. “It’s definitely not for everybody,” he says, “but with the proper lighting, the extra dimension goes a long way in creating depth you can’t get in normal tile.” He adds that the look “has its place in older homes with a retro feel, or in really sleek and modern new-construction homes.” 

Another tile appropriate for feature walls or insets is referred to as a decorative listel. “Listel tiles come in any variety of colors and patterns,” explains Susan Poindexter and David Patrick of the Myers Carpet Atlanta sales team. “They are long and skinny, and, when placed together, can create a wonderfully unique aesthetic. Patterned or optical listel tiles can create the illusion of a wallpaper.”

Maybe you don’t want to cover an entire wall with tile, but you’d like to use it in a smaller accent. Sue Rittenburg, pro sales manager at Floor & Decor in Atlanta, suggests tiling an art niche, stair risers or columns to add a pop of color, shine or textural interest. 

Fancy your floors
If you’d rather keep your walls neutral and let your floors do the talking, decorative tiled floors can be a stunning design element, or simply a durable stone groundcover. Nawal Motawi, founder and artistic director of Motawi Tileworks (sold locally at Renaissance Tile & Bath), speaks of the texture of her tile flooring, “The slight dome on the tiles and the soft edge makes them feel wonderful on bare feet!” 

Advances in the look and feel of tile products have made them a more viable option for flooring in living areas—especially the newest wood-look porcelain tiles. “American homeowners have loved hardwood floors since the colonial times,” notes Jonathan Embrose, creative director of Specialty Tile Products. “Now that wood-look tiles are nearly indistinguishable from the natural product, it’s a no-brainer to go with porcelain; you won’t see any dings, scratches or stains on a porcelain floor.” 

Porcelain tiles are also made to resemble other floor coverings besides wood, such as stone or concrete. And it doesn’t stop there: “The new trend we are seeing is the blending of textures and visual elements across materials to create a brand new surface,” Embrose says. “The weathered texture of wood is fused with smooth, chalky concrete to create a visually stunning, unique surface.”  

Make your hearth look hot

Another great opportunity for a decorative-tile design element is in your fireplace facade. “Great tile designs can be added to mantels,” Wilson says. Motawi agrees, noting that her handcrafted tiles’ “soft  edges, natural glazes, rich colors and pillowed surface promote the feeling of warmth and comfort—and a bit of luxury,” she adds. 

With an effect similar to that of a feature wall, but on a smaller scale (a smaller budget, too!), tiled fireplace surrounds can match any design style—traditional, retro, modern or other—and provide a “stunning, striking artistic focal point,” as Motawi describes. 

Take it outside
This may come as a surprise, but tile is also an option for your outdoor spaces, from the patio to the pool—even in the garage! “Tile your garage and you’ll never have to worry about motor oil, transmission fluid or other staining liquids messing up your pristine parking or work area,” Embrose says. He also recommends porcelain tile pavers for patios, garden areas or pool surrounds. “Porcelain tile won’t fade over time, doesn’t need to be sealed and withstands extreme temperatures and outdoor weather conditions without visible wear and tear,” he explains.  

Pools are also a great space to add decorative-tile touches, either on the floor surrounding the pool, or along the edge of the pool itself. Worried about matching your pool liner? “Most companies have ways to special order small mosaic tiles to fit any color needs,” Jarson says. “Anything from color gradients in glass tile to picture mosaics in ceramic can be achieved at a relatively low cost.”

Listen to the experts
In addition to aesthetic considerations, you should ensure that the tile you’re choosing will fit your application. “Listen to the salesperson regarding the appropriateness of a particular material for the use you have in mind,” Motawi advises. “Not all tile and stone can be used in every situation, and the salespeople should know the materials quite well.” 

While you should make sure your tile project is appropriate for the space, don’t forget to be bold! “Don’t be afraid to test the limits and boundaries of what you think is ‘allowed’ or ‘not allowed’ in tile use,” Jarson says. “There’s really no right or wrong when it comes to design. As long as you like the application and what it’s for, then you can’t go wrong!” 

Related Resources
Tile Experts and Flooring Experts
Flooring: Hardwood, Bamboo, Tile, Linoleum
Eco-Friendly Flooring Options

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