Smart ways with tiles

It's time to re-think using tiles in traditional ways, they can add style to all kinds of interior spaces

Introduce some texture

Textured tiles are a great alternative to wallpaper in a dining space. These cement tiles with an embossed pattern and a subtle matt finish add style and colour without overpowering the scheme

dining area with blue tiles wall and dining table with white chairs

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3D London Roundel tiles in teal, £185 per sq m, Lindsey Lang

Fake the look of real wood

In areas where a wooden floor might be impractical or you need an extremely tough finish, consider faking it with ceramic wood-effect tiles. These durable, slip-resistant tiles come in a plank-style format, with woodgrain-effect textured finishes making them appear just like the real thing

living area with wooden floor and white wall and large window

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Sandalo taupe natural wood-effect floor tiles, £12.98 per sq m, Tile Mountain

Tile the inside of an alcove

While a tiled fire surround is commonplace, putting tiles in an area you wouldn't traditionally expect to see them, such as inside an alcove, can have far greater visual impact. The unexpected flash of pattern and colour grabs the attention and turns the area into a decorative feature.

room with white wall and alcove area and fire place and chair

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Sophia Dove Damask tile in Coffee, Topps Tile, for similar tiles try Laura Ashley Josette tile, £23.22 per sq m, Tile Dealer

Create a table centrepiece

Lay patterned tiles along the length of a dining table to create a runner effect and a colourful centrepiece - it will protect the table from hot serving dishes, too.

tiles dining table with lemons and salts and salad servers

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For similar tiles try the Encaustic Tiles range, Walls and Floors. Acacia paddle cutting board, £7; wooden salad servers, £3 each; all George Home

Be practical with pattern

Don't shy away from mixing different tiles in one area, but
do minimise a clash of patterns and colours by keeping to a limited
colour palette throughout, using no more than two or three key shades
and keeping in a similar tone. Simplify your scheme and avoid an overly busy effect by restricting patterned tiles to just one surface - either the floor or a splashback - with plain tiles elsewhere. Use a pale grout - a darker colour will fight for attention.

fire place with tiles and white wall and table and chairs and pots

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Shibori wall tiles, £94.22 per sq m; FS York floor tiles, £61.68 per sq m; both Topps Tiles

Make a display with loose tiles

Ornate tiles and embossed designs can work out pricey if
used over a large area, but just one or two tiles displayed on a
mantelpiece or a picture shelf can make a great standalone feature.
Choose tiles in similar tones, but contrasting textures, patterns and
sizes. It will help you to anchor your display if you stand a couple of larger items at the back, then prop a couple of tiles in front of them to create another decorative layer.

tiles with white wall

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For similar tiles try the embossed Laccio range, £36 for nine tiles, Mandarin Stone

Upcycle flat-pack pieces of furniture

Customise an off-the-peg shelving unit by covering the back panel with mosaic tiles to create a bespoke kitchen island unit. Buy glass mosaic tiles by the sheet and attach them to the back of
the unit using wall-tile adhesive. Grout the area with waterproof grout so that any splashes and spills will be easy to wipe clean.

kitchen area with white cabinet and wooden counter with stools

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Grey glass and stainless-steel mix mosaic tiles, £6.98 per 300 sq mm sheet, B&Q. For a similar shelving unit, try the Stenstorp kitchen island, £200, Ikea

Zone an area

Use a mix of plain and patterned floor tiles to create a faux-rug effect in a dining or living room. Start with a central area of patterned tiles, then frame it with a border of a plain design.

living area with white wall and fire place and tiles flooring and white table and chair

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Parquet vinyl tiles in Charcoal, £42.95 per sq m, Neisha Crosland range; Jet Black
vinyl tiles, £36.50 per sq m; both
Harvey Maria

Tile outside the lines

Ditch uniform rows and neatly finished edges and try a standout tile treatment on walls. Arrange tiles in a herringbone format, leaving the top edge unfinished to give a striking zig-zag effect. Paint the wall above in a bold paint shade to create contrast.


blue and tiles wall and shelves and blue counter

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Carrara polished marble tiles, £76.80 per sq m, Mandarin Stone