Why classic tile always works

When I’m working with clients, we usually start with the layout. Next, I set up an appointment for them at Ferguson so they can pick their plumbing fixtures (and appliances if they are doing a kitchen). Next, we generally pick out the stone – tile, cabinet hardware and paint are last.

I just met with some new clients today. They want to do a white shaker kitchen with carrara-look quartz counters. I brought my Caesarstone samples with me, and we narrowed their favorites down to three. Caesarstone has come out with some new colors lately that mimic marble and concrete – they are really pretty.

We are totally not at the place to decide on tile yet, since today was just our initial design consultation, but the subject of tile came up anyway. My clients are pretty design savvy, and were talking about wanting a light, a medium and a dark in their kitchen. I agree that you need to have some contrast – with a white kitchen, it looks good to have a darker tone on the floors or counters. My clients were a bit concerned about having white cabinets and white tile, but I told them that I really think that white tile is a classic.

For most people, it works best if you keep the more expensive things in your home simple. In the kitchen, the most expensive things to change out after the cabinets (excluding the appliances, since most people do stainless, and stainless isn’t going anywhere soon) are the counters and the tile. My philosophy is – the more difficult/expensive it is to replace, the more timeless it needs to be. I think that if you have the money to update your kitchen every five years, go with it – do something trendy with your tile and counters. When we see these beautiful living rooms in House Beautiful with club chairs covered in a big pattern, we have to remember that the homeowners probably have at least two houses and can afford to reupholster whenever they want to. For the rest of us, we buy a good sofa, and that’s the sofa we have for 20 years.

For most people, selecting a sofa that is neutral is the best way to go. If you’ve ever had a sofa with a print and gotten sick of it, you know what I am talking about. It’s expensive to reupholster a sofa – it’s much easier to put a wild print on your pillows. Then it’s not such a big deal if you get tired of them and want to change them.

It’s the same principle with kitchens. For the most part, it’s best to stick to white (cream, taupe), indigo or gray (darker taupe) cabinets, white tile and white, black or gray counters. Then, you can get creative with faucets and lighting – those are so much easier to change out if you decide you don’t like them in five years. I have to say, though, you will never go wrong with a white (or slightly cream) kitchen. White always looks great!!!

When it comes to tile, I think for most kitchens, a simple white tile is best. I deviate from this rule with modern kitchens since everything else is usually so simple. For modern kitchens, I usually introduce texture or subtle color. The cabinets and counters are usually so sleek, they need a little sumpin’ sumpin’.

When I’m working on a traditional/transitional kitchen or bath, I like to use white tile. In the bathroom, I generally like to stick with the classic 3″ x 6″ subway tile, but in the kitchen, I like to mix it up with different rectangle proportions.

My favorite backsplash tile right now is a more square shape like this:



I like a longer rectangle as well, but not too skinny. I think a skinny rectangle is going to look dated soon. This is a pretty example of a nicely proportioned long rectangle in marble.



Here’s a pretty example of a classic 3″ x 6″ subway tile. This is a look that never gets tired. It really is the little black dress of backsplashes.



Here’s another example of 3″ x 6″ subway. So classic.




Here is a pretty Ann Sacks 4″x 8″ subway tile that brings in texture:



What are your thoughts? Are you a fan of a white tile?



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