Not only are they practical, but tiles give personality to our walls and floors. Lucy Baker-Kind focuses on the latest kitchen designs
The kitchen is probably the most hard-working room in the house – the cycle of prepping, cooking, eating and cleaning requires easy-to-maintain, yet hard-wearing and hygienic surfaces.
Tiles are a popular choice for that gap between work surface and wall cupboards. Simple to clean, they also inject a bit of colour and personality into your kitchen space.
Jane Addis, New Product Co-ordinator and Designer at Original Style, which has Devon-wide retailers, believes that customers use tiles to transform a functional space. Hand-crafted artisan tiles are proving popular, and Original Style’s hand-painted tiles offer that unique touch: “No two tiles painted by hand will ever look the same, which is really appreciated by customers looking for classic designs.”
Gill Dykes, from Moorland Kitchens and Tiles in Tiverton, finds customers living in traditional homes prefer a more conservative tiling scheme: “We find that painted scenescapes behind the cooker are still popular with us.”
Size-wise, Jane is finding a move away from the perennial favourite, the bevelled-edge Metro oblong, towards a larger, longer format known as kit-kat tiles.
Robert Ingram, Director at Devon Tiles in Ottery St Mary, agrees. His clients are requesting larger rectangle styles, with 10x30cm being the most popular size.
A mix-and-match style – using different sizes on a wall – can create a quirky aesthetic. Using glass mosaics as a border tile can add definition and interest. “They are an economical way to add a splash of colour to a plain tile,” says Robert.
In general, tiles are required as splashbacks behind the cooker and above worktops, with an average coverage of three to five metres, according to Robert. Gill’s clients tend to favour neutral colourways and soft hues, using an accent colour as a cooker splashback to tie in with the colour of their Aga: “Colour and style is determined by the period of the house,” she adds.
Jane is seeing a move towards Original Style’s deep, rich green and denim blues, as well as metallics such as old gold, steel and brass: “Our antique mirror tiles are also extremely popular, especially since they can make the room appear bigger.” Sparkly mosaics bring a touch of glamour and are part of the ‘cosmos’ trend that Original Style has picked up on.
Once size, shape and colour have been determined, installation pattern needs to be considered, with Jane’s customers opting for a bold herringbone pattern. The final choice to be made is the grout. Coloured grout can provide an interesting contrast against paler-coloured tiles. However, Jane has a word of caution: “You should be careful with these as some colours might stain certain types of tiles, so it is essential to check first.”
Both Robert and Gill are seeing limestone-coloured grout having its turn in the spotlight, due to its seamless look with similar coloured tiles.
Choosing a durable finish is vital in an area of high traffic. When considering floor tiles, Jane recommends Original Style’s Odyssey and Victorian range as hard-wearing and enduring, adding: “Patterned tiles also make for brilliant splashbacks if you’re going for the seamless wall-to-floor transition.” Floors should always be slip-resistant, so check the product details.
A tiled floor can introduce a large area of colour and pattern – Jane believes simple monochrome is timeless, with blues, greys and creams also proving popular. Large format, light-coloured tiles will make a smaller room appear more spacious: “Laying large format tiles with a landscape orientation will make a room look longer, whereas installing them as portrait will give height to a room,” says Robert.
According to Jane, modern marble or wood lookalikes are a great way to add luxury, while offering the practicality of porcelain. Gill agrees that porcelain floor tiles are the most efficient, as they don’t need sealing and are easy to clean. Robert advocates glazed porcelain, too, due to its stain resistance.
It is possible to add colour and pattern with Original Style’s Victorian floor tiles, which use individual pieces to make up a bespoke pattern – almost like a personal jigsaw. “Being original often means going for bespoke options,” claims Jane.
“Being original often means going for bespoke options”
Devon Home is published by We Make Magazines, a family-owned Devon company. The only specialist interiors magazine for the county, Devon Home is a celebration of homes, gardens and interiors, with expert information from local designers, architects and craftspeople. Together with our Devon-based writers and sales team, we show you how to improve and love your living space.
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