As an American ex-pat who has lived in the UK for nearly 16 years, I still feel a strange pull to my home country whilst still feeling very much right at home in England. I am often inspired by what I see happening there in terms of interior design and enjoy exploring the way America might influence trends over here (or vice-versa). There’s always a cross-over when it comes to home design and while the US has a myriad of popular styles just as it does here, I thought today – seeing that we’re so close to Independence Day – we’d take a closer look at the tile trends that are popular in the US right now.
US Tile History
Of course, the US tile industry has played a role in what we see on our own shores, with subway tiles having been made popular by the NY Subway System back at the turn of the 20th century. But America’s tile history is an interesting one and in fact, it all started with the production of encaustic tiles by Herbert Minton in the lovely English county of Staffordshire. The business had been started by Minton’s father producing pottery but Herbert began creating decorative encaustic tiles which surged in popularity during the Gothic Revival period in the mid-1800s.
These tiles peaked the interest of Americans after Minton and his business partner, Michael Hollins, successfully exhibited their new tiles and new manufacturing methods around the country and were later endorsed by Andrew Jackson Downing, a famous American landscape designer and architect who recommended custom encaustic tile floors for residential homes. While tiles had been used mainly in bathrooms and kitchens in the US, Europeans had long been using them in other areas of the home, including entryways. The trend took off and soon decorative encaustic tiles were enjoying worldwide popularity throughout residences and public buildings alike, with Minton and Hollins exporting their tile products across the Atlantic.
Around 1870, encaustic tile production began in earnest on American soil and their availability brought the cost of these custom cement tiles to a more affordable level. The market later moved on to new types of tile including ornate glazed ceramic tile and mosaic tiles.
By the early 1900s trends changed and encaustic tiles slowly declined in popularity with hexagon, penny round, and square mosaic tiles creating the new trend for geometric designs popular in the American Craftsman-style homes being built around this time.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s tile production slowed to a halt when other cheaper options came onto the market including cork, rubber, linoleum, and hardwood flooring. From the 1980s onwards, however, the beauty of decorative tiles proved too much to resist and was soon back in a big way (and continues to be popular to this day).
US Tile Trends
Much like what we see on our own shores, tiles in the United States take on many different forms. Here are a few different tiles that are trending right now on US soil and you’ll see a lot of similarities to our own 2017 Tile Trends post!
With a renewed interest in artisan design, patterned and encaustic tiles are again trendy in the US. Now, there’s no need for your tiles to blend quietly into the background when they can make a real style statement in your kitchen, bathroom, or entryway. Make your floors and walls stand out with gorgeous patterned tiles instead.
We call them hex tiles here but across the shore, they are called ‘Honeycomb’ tiles and are just as popular there as they are here. This gorgeous style has its roots in the mid-century when bold patterns were making splashes in homes across the States. Today, we are seeing them surge in popularity, especially when combined with a contrasting material like wood (as seen above). Our Apollo Hexagon Tiles will give you a similar look and come in black, white, and grey for a mix-and-match effect.
Penny Round Tiles
The penny round tile, popular in the early part of the 20th century has regained popularity once again, not least for its ability to create intricate patterns in this small tile size (approximately the size of a US penny). Above, a pattern not unlike what you might find on an expensive rug, creates a glamorous backdrop to a stunning luxe bathroom design in black and white. Our Chequered Hexagon Black White Mosaic Tiles will give you a similar effect.
Fish Scale Tiles
While popular US-based design website Apartment Therapy is crediting the surge in popularity of mermaids for this latest trend, you don’t have to be a seafarer to enjoy it. The fish scale tile brings a warm and authentic vintage look to a kitchen or bathroom and provides a stunning backdrop in light or dark colours. If you love this look, check out our new Esenzia Gondola Patterned Wall Tiles to get a similar style without breaking the bank.