Tile tips from a Designer

With all of the decisions you are faced with when you decide to build or renovate your home, tile selections are often the hardest because (1) they are usually in the first round of decisions you have to make for the project and (2) they lay the foundation for so many other design choices. One of my top requests from clients is to help them pick out the tile and countertops because it can be overwhelming …along with lighting but I’ll save that for another discussion.

So what is the advice I give to clients when selecting tile? Well let’s first assume you have already
decided on a certain aesthetic for the space and you have collected inspiration or a mood board for the overall look you are wanting. What’s next, stone for the countertops? Yes. If you are picking tile, then you are most likely picking out stone for the countertops. They go hand in hand and it’s important to think of them as a “pair”, because they will literally be sitting on top and beside each other. So as a designer I ask myself or my client, “Do you want the countertop to be quiet or loud”?  If the answer to the question is “loud”, then I need to start looking at slabs of stone for the counters and move to tile selections after. If the countertops are going to be more neutral, then I can start jumping into tile first. I do, however, touch base on the stone selections through this process so that my colors are cohesive. It’s very helpful if you can find a stone and tile company in one location to compare samples.

 Since I am talking “tile tips” let’s start with the concept of neutral countertop with patterned tile. I start this process by looking for the “wow” tile.  It’s the tile that jumps out at and grabs my attention; the tile that leads the design in the space. The “must have” tile.  Congratulations! Now ask for the price and available stock on the tile. Nothing (in design) is worse than when you find what you love and it’s unavailable for one reason or another.  So where does this amazing tile take stage. Is it wall to wall behind the vanity, or floor to ceiling behind a free standing tub? Are you going extra bold and laying it as the floor throughout? P.S.  check on the recommendations for floor or wall application to help answer that question.

Next choice is the “supporting role” tiles. These are often a neutral or matching tile that has a little interest via texture or mini-pattern. These elements are simple enough that they don’t take away from the “lead” tile but add interest in a subtle manner. Another element to consider is contrasting tile size. This adds a needed change in scale and helps to keep interest throughout the room. You can also change the pattern direction or play with the grout color to create depth to the design. I don’t recommend you do all of these but pick and choose what works best for your space and your selections.