November 3, 2022
Interior design today is having a moment. There has never been so much freedom of choice and expression in the way we decorate our homes. In practical terms, that means drawing inspiration from times gone by, with retro tile ideas, daring wallpaper prints, eclectic accessories, etc. This article explores the best retro tile ideas for creating a vintage-inspired home.
The days of the stark minimalist bathroom and kitchen décor are (luckily) over. We can now luxuriate in spaces where colour, pattern and character are back. And there’s no better inspiration than retro tiles ideas to lend a timeless look and lived-in warmth to bathrooms, kitchens, hallways and living rooms. This article provides both inspiration and advice on how to get the retro-style look using tiles.
Figure Spiral Dark 29.9×29.9×1 (Available in-store)
What exactly do we mean by the word ‘retro’ in terms of décor? The term describes nostalgia for things past, interior styles or ways of decorating from the past. Everything from the Victorian era to Art Deco, Mid 20th Century to 70s Chic. Nowadays, when decorating rooms like the kitchen and the bathroom, it makes perfect sense to start with the Victorians, as that’s when the kitchens and bathrooms of today first became popularised.
Pick up any interior design magazine or Instagram account right now and the first thing you’ll notice is how free and eclectic interiors have become. Not only in terms of furniture and fittings but finishes and colour schemes. This breath of fresh air in décor is being fuelled by retro tiles, both floor tiles and wall tiles. From wall mosaics featuring ceramics, coloured glass or metals to vivid and glossy metro tiles, the decorative possibilities are endless. Rule number one is that there are no rules. However, we have put the following list together to help recreate specific looks for the different eras.
Monochrome black and white chequer, metallic and glass mosaics and decorative geometric patterns.
Pastel colours in baby blues, canary yellow, and soft pinks combined with rounded edges. Chrome metallic mosaics and bubblegum terrazzo effect tiles.
Complex geometric tiles for the home in daring colours, patterned wallpapers in bold prints. Mixing hexagon tiles with other playful shapes.
The encaustic tiles of the Victorian era with the patina of age are a simple example to follow to bring an entrance hall to life. The black and white chequerboard of the Art Deco period can also lend character to a kitchen or a bathroom floor. But there are numerous other less obvious ways to exploit retro floor tiles.
It is not a question of imitating the past, it’s more a case of learning from the past. These beautiful kitchens below are bang up to date in their design but benefit from the addition of retro tiles. There is something un-mistakenly familiar about these retro tiles but yet the kitchens are fresh and appealing.
A period interior features the Aqua Blue mosaic for both the backsplash and to decorate the breakfast bar/island. The Mid Century retro tessellated tile contrasts with the contemporary silhouette and reflective treatment of the cabinet doors. The shifting colour tones of the mosaic provide a warm decorative feature. Curved lighting accessories and a parquet-style floor complete this timeless design that is nevertheless a mixture of several vintage styles.
This cool 1970s-inspired kitchen is the essence of simplicity. The simple volumes in a black and grey colour palate are alleviated with a worn look tile. The countertop set back and kitchen island set back add visual interest that is intensified with the retro Craft Grey tile.
Bathrooms are fun again. Nowadays, we have permission to be playful with bathroom fittings, artefacts, tiles and accessories. Hands down, the most impacting way to get the vintage style look is to feature a vintage bathroom tile. There’s no need to select period-style fittings to get the retro-style bathroom. Instead, choose a retro tile to create the look and keep the fittings contemporary for a more nuanced aesthetic. The following examples illustrate how any retro tile can lend warmth and character without ignoring the possibilities of modern design today.
The unmistakable geometric motifs of the 1970s provide the inspiration for this stylish bathroom. Here, the Figure Spiral Light mosaic is used on both the floor and the shower wall. The combination of straight edges and semi-circular motifs informs everything else in the bathroom: from the exaggerated cubic shower screen profile to the bathroom mirror with its rounded edges.
Figure Spiral Light mosaic (Available in-store)
This sensual bathroom oozes classic mid-Century rational design vibes with Treviso Gris terrazzo floor and wall tiles. The dado height wall treatment, on the other hand, contrasts with the free-standing bathtub, framing its organic silhouette. Feature light and wood accessories underline the tactile qualities of the assemblage of materials.
Treviso Gris 120×120 (Available online & in-store) – Credits: @gwenhoopman_interiors
The glossy white, bevelled edge tile, combined with black grouting, is doing all the work here to create a vintage-style Victorian bathroom. Bring the wall tile up the entire height to create a 360° surround environment. The vintage-style faucets add a Victorian touch to this bright and cheerful space.
Retro Blanco 10×20 (Available online & in-store) – Credits: @moriconehome
A built-in vanity unit with twin basins is elevated to retro chic with the addition of a textured timber effect wall tile and separate mirrors. Timber furniture and lighting accessories accentuate the tactile décor that combines quirky accessories with the warmth of wood tones.
Noah Minnesota Ash 33.2 x 59.2 (Available in-store) – Credits: @brickhousedesigns