January 15, 2020 | Updated: December 10, 2021
Patterned tiles provide interior designers and architects with one of the most visually impacting treatments of vertical and horizontal surfaces within the home.
These ceramic, cement and porcelain tiles are hard wearing and require little maintenance. With a guaranteed visual impact matched only by technical performance patterned tiles are equally suitable for floors and walls. Patterned tiles have a vitrified finish with a decorative treatment. The decoration can be monochromatic (featuring a single colour) or a combination of colours in geometric or floral motifs. Patterned floor tiles can be used in combination with patterned wall tiles, however restraint is advised. Below we look at some examples of how best to use patterned tiles in the various areas of the home.
Patterned wall tiles and floor tiles can equally enhance the kitchen, the bathroom, dining areas or any other part of the home where maintenance and hygiene are a concern. Patterned floor tiles can be used to provide visual interest that works in different ways seen from both far off and close-up with contrasting effects. If combined with other materials in the living room or dining area patterned floor tiles can be used to form an island or focal point. Patterned bathroom tiles provide a contrast to contemporary or classic sanitary ware, appropriate for walls and floors. The pattern can best be appreciated when used in these types of intimate spaces. Patterned kitchen tiles are the perfect compliment to a stone or wooden kitchen worktop when used as a backsplash. When laid in an entrance hallway patterned tiling can provide practical flooring or decorative wall treatment that also creates an ambience of welcome.
Monochrome patterned tiles like the classic black and white patterned wall tiles or the traditional intricate blue pattern azulejo tiles beloved of the Iberian Peninsula can also form patterns. As can more elaborate multicoloured floor and wall patterned tiles. In other words the tile itself can constitute a stand alone decorative motif as well as forming part of a larger composition. For flooring this might require four separate tiles to create a repetitive pattern for instance. Another popular and more contemporary approach is to mix the patterns to achieve a haphazard mixture of motifs.
The use of patterned wall and floor tiles stretches back to antiquity, the Romans incorporated extraordinary mosaics depicting figurative and geometric motifs in their domestic and public buildings. Within the Islamic culture depictions of living beings was traditionally frowned upon so artists and architects turned to geometry to express their creativity and decorate the walls of their secular and religious buildings. Europe during the 17th and 18th Centuries was obsessed with Chinoiserie and its blue pattern tiles brought back from the East. The traditional use of richly decorated azulejos in the architecture of Andalusia and Portugal is also noteworthy. Reflecting an evolution of the Moorish and Christian heritage of the Iberian Peninsula.
Closer to the modern day the Victorians mastered the cement tile producing robust as well as colourful practical floor finishes. The Victorians were the first to industrialise the production of cement tiles and so democratise their use. Also known as hydraulic tiles they were equally used to decorate both public and private buildings. Simple and more complex geometric motifs that allowed floor mosaics to be constructed with custom borders using individual tiles. The daring colours and bold designs resemble a carpet and reflect the way the Victorian embraced new technologies informed by craft sensibility.
This legacy has passed down the generations, reinterpreted in stunning historical periods till today with retro patterned tiles. Nowadays avant-garde designers and architects are creating contemporary applications that are equally powerful and stunning. Drawing from history but not bound by it a selection of hydraulic tiles can now be featured in the home to create built-in works of art for walls and flooring.
The illusion of depth and dimension can be achieved through subtle shading effects, by creating visually engaging trompe l’oeil effects or simply using a single colour such as green patterned wall tiles or blue patterned wall tiles to create a work of art that is in itself part of the fabric of the space.
The use of patterned wall tiles is most successful if considered as a feature within a room. This could be a chimney breast or an area of wall in a bathroom that frames a bath or wash hand basin. Panels of patterned wall tiles can be surrounded by other wall treatments such as simple painted walls or other plainer tiling. This draws attention to the intricacies of the pattern and avoids overkill. Other than grey patterned tiles the use of colour can enhance the overall effect. Using a single alternative colour such as green patterned wall tiles or blue patterned wall tiles for example the decorative potential is underlined. Colour patterned tiles will help determine other choices for the chosen décor.
When selecting a patterned floor tile, designers can choose from contemporary, traditional or more ethnic motifs. Moroccan style tiles have become trendy in recent years reflecting interest in the crafts of North African. Eclectic motifs inspired by the country’s Islamic tradition. A popular approach is to repeat a singular motif or alternatively the more avant-garde eclectic mixing and matching of motifs. This seemingly haphazard fashion nonetheless provides visual cohesion, especially when combined with tiles of more neutral tones.
Patterned tiles are normally understood as regular square or rectangular tiles decorated with a flat two dimensional surface pattern. Alternative tiles for fans of the decorative possibilities of intricate geometry and pattern are the range of geometrical tiles for the home. Tiles of different shapes with three-dimensional effects that are textured and reflect the light in unusual ways. They are generally shaped in accordance with their geometric motif.