The tiling style files

Bathroom or kitchen need a new look? Looking for something fresh? Follow these simple steps to wall heaven. By Kate Watson-Smyth
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The Independent Online

The decorative joy of tiles is often overlooked in favour of their basic practicality, but if your bathroom or kitchen is looking tired or a vision in white, then using tiles as a decorative touch is a great way to add a unique and dramatic look.

Jules Archard, of Surface Tiles, says suppliers are selling more and more tiles for use outside the traditional bathroom setting as people start to think of them as a new way of decorating bedrooms and living rooms. "The sheer variety of tiling materials now available and the recent trend towards tiling new areas of the home has led to an explosion in innovative new tile designs, textures and finishes."

Take your inspiration from countries like Portugal and Morocco where entire buildings are tiled, and use your imagination to create individual looking rooms. First off – who says the tiles have to be all the same? Buy a few different designs in toning colours and make your own pattern behind the basin or bath. They don't even have to finish at the same height – you can create a castellated effect. Or buy blocks of different coloured plain tiles and make up your own patterns and intersperse with small mosaic pieces to make words. Use black and white to make graphic designs in a plain modern kitchen.

Use tiles all along the hall wall up to the dado rail. Not only will this add colour and interest to a boring, functional space but it's a totally practical idea as you can just wipe them down. This will instantly end that permanently scuffed and dirty look common to most halls that comes from small children and dogs brushing past.

Another suggestion is to not use tiles in unusual places. So, if you have put them in the hall, think of using glass in the bathroom as a splash back for the shower. You can paint the wall a really bright colour behind it, or use wallpaper, or even draw your own designs.

For the really modern among you, consider using mirrored mosaic tiles to create a fabulous pixellated reflection.

Modern mosaics: Get the look

Surface Tiles: Fabulous range of tiles. Stocks everything from tiny mosaics to huge flagstones. ( www.surfacetiles.com )

Habibi: Vast range of Moroccan tiles. If you want patterns this is the place to come. They are expensive, so consider using a few patterned ones interspersed with some plain, toning colours. ( www.habibi-interiors.com)

B&Q: Has a large range of affordable tiles - this is a good place to come for basic black and white tiles that you can arrange in your own graphic pattern.( www.diy.com)

Ripples: Bathroom experts Ripples will design tile patterns to meet your individual needs. ( www.ripples.ltd.uk)

Dar Interiors: Another Moroccan-inspired shop. The tiles are gorgeous but all hand-made and priced accordingly. ( www.darinteriors.com)

Bisazza: At the luxury end of the market but a good place for inspiration. Check out their mosaic and glass tiles. ( www.bisazza.com)

The Tile Guide

Ceramic and porcelain: Made from clay and very hard wearing, making them a practical choice for bathrooms and kitchens. With types of glaze and finish increasing and improving all the time. Porcelain tiles are particularly good if you like the look of natural stone but either can’t afford it, or don’t want the upkeep, as it will be more durable and resistant than its natural counterpart.

Marble, granite and limestone: All very expensive and can stain but they do look fabulous. There are various treatments available to protect them from oil and waterbased spills.

Mosaic: Made from either natural or ceramic stone. For larger areas you can buy them attached to a net which makes them easier to fix, or you can really create your own wall art and stick them on individually. On a floor, the large amounts ofgrout will mean that it is less slippery when wet, but grout gets dirty and is harder to clean. So weigh up your priorities first.

Slate: Far more affordable than the other forms of natural stone and you don’t have to be restricted to black or grey. It also comes in shades of pink and green and its rough surface means it’s great at hiding the dirt and needs almost no lookingafter.

Glass: Glass tiles are becoming more and more fashionable thanks to the large range of colour and surface finishes. They’re expensive but will be stunning in a small area and can really make a statement in an otherwise minimalist room.

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