Home Decor & Tile: A Journey To The Future Through the Past

Torino Italian Porcelain Tile  Elements Series Earth

Ceramic tile, porcelain tile, and stone have been a part of home decor and design for thousands of years. Here’s why you should consider them in a modern space.


Yesterday I had the privilege of touring one of Portugal’s national palaces, and it was jaw-dropping to see the amazing potential that ceramic tile can have both for longevity and for art.

You haven’t seen tiling until you’ve visited Portugal, let me tell you. This is a country that loves tiles of all kind; porcelain, marble tiles, slate tiles, terracotta tiles, and anything else you’ve got.

Spanish and Portuguese tile

The Sintra National Palace has walls that are filled with Azulejos – the famous blue-and-white painted ceramic tiles that nobody on Earth does as well as the Spaniards and Portuguese. It’s amazing when you see these tiled artworks and realize they’re 300, 400, or more years old and they still look stunning. The colors are preserved, the contrasts still stand out.

Personally, I’ve always been a big fan of hardwood floor and plaster walls, but these Portuguese tile works are really making the case for just how smart it is to invest in quality tile – whether it’s for the floors or the walls or anywhere else in your home.


Marfil marble tiles

This Portuguese beach house I’m staying in has creamy Marfil marble tiles throughout the home and it makes the entire space seem light and airy. When traipsing back from the beach with a wet towel or sand in my shoes, there’s nothing I need to worry about if I throw the wet towel on the floor or track sand into the place. Clean-up is a cinch.

I’m told the home is over 15 years old, but the tile floors look as if they could’ve been installed yesterday, despite being original to the home. Sure, it might cost more than laminate, but these tiles are going nowhere, and they’ll stand up to the rough-house living that an AirBNB is liable to suffer as renters come in and out all year-round.

A look that never gets old

It’s funny that I’m only now rediscovering my love of tiles. My recent ambivalence wasn’t always a thing. Back when I was a kid, I remember when my mother redid our kitchen. It was a large kitchen with a lot of rustic love. There was a blue ceramic kitchen sink, funky burgundy counters, and then the piece de resistance was the tile backsplash.


Piastrella Porcelain Tile – Roman Collection White Calacatta from BuildDirect

My mother found some really neat ceramic art tiles and then used them on the backsplash, but she kept the price down low by using generic plain ceramic tiles in a complementary colour, and punctuating it here and there with the art tiles. It was a way of bringing style without breaking the bank.

Making a statement

If you’re looking to make a statement in your kitchen, bathroom, or even in an outdoor cooking area, why not think beyond your basic tile installation? Plan to mix some colored tiles or even designer tiles into the array and make the display a bit bolder.

Glass tiles can be expensive, but they’re beautiful and affordable in small doses. Or if you’re lucky like me and can spend a little time in, say, Portugal, Spain, Mexico, or the Philippines, consider picking up some Azulejos or other art tiles, then ordering some nice, neutral ceramic tiles to go around them and really make the array pop while letting your dollar go further.

I’m sold!

After walking on tiles that have held their ground – and their beauty – for many centuries, I’m sold on the brilliance of their versatility both inside the home and out. You should be too.

What about you? What kinds of tile patterning, colors, and contrasts do it for you? Have you ever considered tile in places more than just the kitchen and bathroom? Tell us all about it in the comments section.


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