Here a Tile, There a Tile …

Here a Tile, There a Tile …

Tile is massively in vogue. Crack open any décor magazine and there will be countless images of striking kitchen backsplashes, multi-color mosaic showers or bright ceramic bath floors. Once restricted to these functional rooms, decorative tile is slowly venturing forth to other areas of the home.

“North America is behind the world in using tile outside the kitchen and bathroom,” says Lauren Cherkas, president of the retail division at Artistic Tile in Secaucus, New Jersey. An international traveler, Cherkas states tile is a popular design element in the walls, ceilings and floors of European homes.

Moving beyond the confines of the kitchen and bath, tile is now emerging in dining and living rooms, in entrance foyers and bedrooms. Tile is covering walls, appearing on ceilings and surrounding fireplaces in both contemporary and traditional residences.

“Tile is being used in foyers and stretching into the main areas of the home. We love to see it in fireplace design,” Cherkas says. “Feature walls are important in various areas of the home. I recently installed antique mirror tile above the chair rail in my dining room. Inside the chair rail is river shell mosaic.”

Dominated in the past by ceramic and porcelain, tile now runs the gamut from glass and metal to wood and stone, including slate, travertine, marble, granite, and sandstone. Cost effective and environmentally friendly, tile is a logical alternative to paint and other decorative materials.

“Tile has proven to be timeless. It’s durable and it’s easy to clean,” Cherkas says.

Trends in these ornamental overlays are just as broad.

“Wood looks are clearly among the hottest trends in the marketplace. The use of tile that emulates wood is a style trend gaining momentum in both floor and wall applications,” says Lori Kirk-Rolley, vice president of brand marketing for Dal-Tile in Dallas.

In addition, manufacturers are designing tile in new dimensions and fresh textures that add visual interest. Refracted light from their three-dimensional surfaces creates a sense of movement on walls and ceilings.

“Dimensionality is also a growing trend, especially on the wall. Tile is no longer square and flat. Tile with texture and dimension dominates the market. Mosaics and wall tiles create visual relief by utilizing highs and lows, bringing depth and dimension to any design project. Ways to achieve this look can also include tone-on-tone patterning,” Kirk-Rolley says.

Perhaps most significant are trends in size. Take your pick: very small tiles and very large tiles are both enjoying a moment.

“The trends are opposite to each other. We’re in a trend of tile being much, much bigger and much, much smaller,” Cherkas says.

With large sizes up to 48-inches-square, fewer tiles are needed to cover a surface. Big tiles create the look of a single expanse of ceramic or porcelain on a wall or floor. This expanse serves as a canvas for etched or painted designs created by digital imaging and ink jet printing.

“Larger format sizes offer a more transitional, clean look and have less grout,” Kirk-Rolley says.

On the other end of the size spectrum, faceted, micro mosaic tiles a few millimeters in size are in vogue for their light-reflecting qualities. When used to cover a wall, these tiny tiles mix and blend colors in eye-catching ways.

“The trend of mosaics is growing in a very exciting way. It’s great to use everywhere,” Cherkas says. A water-jet cutting machine allows cutting of unusual sizes and shapes in stone, porcelain and glass, she notes.

As a result, tile in unique designs, colors and materials can be used anywhere in a home, from floors to ceilings and walls.

“Everything is fair play. It’s more interchangeable. If it can go on the floor, it can go on the ceiling,” Cherkas says.


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