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Living Space: Go wild for tile

By By Kathryn Weber
Sept. 19, 2013 at 4:19 a.m.

Mixing tile sizes adds interest.

Tile was once coldly utilitarian and blandly oblivious to any kind of real style. Fast forward to today's tile and the choices and varieties are limitless. Perhaps the biggest news is that tile is being used in more ways than ever before. Tile's fresh look makes for easy upkeep, too.

From metallic to natural-looking stone to glass, you can now create a beautiful room by using one style, or better still, combining a variety of tile styles and sizes.

Tile is being used more on walls outside of the shower. Instead of sticking with small 4-by-4 or 6-by-6 tiles, you can now decorate showers and bathrooms with 12-inch and larger tiles; tiny, intricate mosaics; glass strips and even pebbles. Adding tile up bathroom walls creates a spa look at home.

Set the style

Tile can also be used to reflect the style of a home. The pattern can be especially powerful. For example, using certain tile patterns on floors and walls can create a period feel.

A running bond pattern in a long, rectangular-shaped tile will create a turn-of-the-century look. Add tile with a crackled glaze and the look can grow even more authentic. Take that same running bond and apply it to large tiles with a stone look, and you can even recreate the look of a castle floor.

Mix tiles

Today, tile manufacturers carry a wide variety of tile sizes as well as accent and trim pieces to match. If you want a cleaner, more contemporary look, limit the variety of tiles used. If you want an opulent look, mix tiles.

Try adding a stone pebble finish in a wave pattern in the middle of a shower wall or on the floor of the shower. Mix finishes, such as metallic or glass, with your tile to give it a burst of interest. Instead of wood trim in the bathroom or kitchen, add a tile baseboard. The look is updated, and tile can withstand more wear and tear than wood.

Be cautious

The only concerns with tile are where it's used and grout. Many kitchens today feature rough tile backsplashes, and while they look fantastic, once grease splatters on this type of finish, it can be tough to clean.

A particularly wonderful look is metallic tile behind a stove. These smooth-surface tiles dress up the area and are easy to clean. Tile should make your life easier because it's durable and easy to clean.

Grouting material has improved, especially in wet environments like the bath, grout needs to be sealed and with the new grouts that contain sealer, this problem is eliminated.

Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui ezine. For more information, contact Weber through her website redlotusletter.com.

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