Thankfully, tile trends tend to hang around for a while. Pictures: Washington Post
Thankfully, tile trends tend to hang around for a while. Pictures: Washington Post
If you choose a patterned tile with spontaneity let it be the life of a room’s party.
If you choose a patterned tile with spontaneity let it be the life of a room’s party.
Install a stunning tile backsplash.
Install a stunning tile backsplash.
If you choose a patterned tile with spontaneity let it be the life of a room’s party.
If you choose a patterned tile with spontaneity let it be the life of a room’s party.
For homeowners with champagne taste and a beer budget (isn’t that most of us?), it’s time to take another look at tiles. 

Whereas a full kitchen remodel might set you back a few years’ of savings, a smart mini rehab might involve only painting cabinets, replacing appliances and installing a stunning tile backsplash or flooring. “Tile is an easier, cheaper splurge,” says designer Kelly Emerson of Maryland’s Aidan Design.

“It takes hundreds of rand, not thousands of rand.” And thankfully, tile trends tend to hang around for a while, so you’ll be getting your money’s worth. Today, they reflect larger design trends – such as graphic pattern – and advanced technology, letting individual tiles get bigger and thinner without compromising their strength.

We spoke to Emerson, Samantha Klickna of Case Design/Remodeling and DeeDee Gundberg, director of product development for Ann Sacks, to determine which trends are worth following.

“Wood planks are trending because they are durable, maintenance-free alternatives to wood,” Klickna says. “They add depth and dimension to any space. You can also have a wood effect in a wet area: bathrooms.”

Many varieties of woodlike finishes are available today. Designers are laying these linearly, or in herringbone and chevron patterns.

With a wood look, Emerson says, “you can choose a matte or a polish to change the vibe of the tile. It might have a rustic appearance, but a polished finish applied to a wall becomes a very elegant look”.

Gundberg has been watching tile companies come out with larger sizes of the classic hexagon shape each year. At first, 406mm by 406mm was the new, bigger size. Then it was 457 by 457 or 508 by 508, she says. Recently, she has seen tile as big as 1.1m by 1.1m. “It just keeps getting bigger and bigger.” Much of this is driven by technological advances, which allow for a thinner, larger tile.

Traditional hex tile is beautiful but replicable. It is at once funky, modern, retro, graphic and classy.

There is a general trend toward organic materials in the design industry, Gundberg says. Included in that is oxidised metals, chunky ceramics, textiles, natural woods – and, in a big way, cement tile.

“This is purely about the aesthetic and the materiality of concrete.”

If you choose a patterned tile with spontaneity let it be the life of a room’s party, Klickna says. “Everything else becomes a backdrop.

“Look at the space as a whole and make sure that you’re not going overboard on colour and pattern. It’s okay to be bold with one or two selections, but it has to be in moderation.”

Subway tiles are as classic as you get. But homeowners and designers are getting adventurous, choosing long, exaggerated sizes or coloured tiles. (“Who said subway tile needs to be plain white?” asks Gundberg.) They’re arranging tiles vertically or in a chevron or herringbone pattern.

They’re even choosing contrasting grout; something that used to be a no-no now seen more often. “Grout is becoming more and more an integral part of design,” she says. Subway tile comes at all prices.

“Undulating and surface-textured ceramics will never go out of style,” Emerson says.

“Blue as a colour is back, instead of white, cream, grey and metallic, seen for the past five years,” Gundberg says.

Everything from deep navy to blue-greens such as peacock is trending, Gundberg explains.

“Tile is something homeowners and guests can appreciate. It brings warmth into a space,” Emerson says. 

The Washington Post