Since before the birth of Christ, tiles have existed throughout the Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa. Ceramic techniques and traditional motifs have been carried throughout the world. Stone, marble and glass mosaics and tile were featured decorations in most of the buildings of the Roman Empire and the Mozarabic culture. Many of these designs are protected and preserved for their majestic beauty. Some of these designs are so iconic that they are still reproduced today.
Kitchen areas, bathrooms, showers and backsplashes are places where we are accustomed to using tile. Don't overlook other areas that can be tiled. Why not tile a bedroom wall to give a more architectural backdrop to an interesting bed, or perhaps use tile to line a room from chair-rail height to the floor, the way that traditional Spaniards and Portuguese did?
Tiles are not only suitable for kitchen and bathroom walls. In fact, they can be used to line an entry wall or a significant structural or architectural feature of a home or building. Remembering recent history, banks and office buildings in the 1970s and 1980s used rough-cut stone tile to give long spans of walls visual interest. Today, that concept of textured surfaces has reemerged into contemporary residential architecture as a way of introducing an integrated design component. It's something different from lighter applications such as wallpaper or faux finishes.
Today's marketplace is full of a variety of types and sizes of tiles. There are ceramic, porcelain, resin, cement, stone, cork, aluminum and even wood tiles. There are also limited-edition tiles that designers custom-design and produce for specific projects or for brands. Artisanal tiles are also available from smaller producers that can be customized to fit your particular design project. Getting any ideas yet?
Tile can also be used to lighten up dark rooms. Selecting tile that has a glossy finish will help bounce light into a room and make a room seem brighter. Using a muted or matte tile will not offer that benefit, but it is appropriate where light is abundant.
Before the marble and granite craze, tile reigned kitchen countertops. Since the history of kitchens, tiles were the preferred material for countertops. Anyone that has a home from the 1890s through the 1950s is familiar with tiled countertops. This was the norm. They are very long-lasting surfaces; some are still being used today. Many homeowners are concerned about the grout lines and the fact that they are not as hygienic as the new slab materials. While this is somewhat of a matter of opinion, tile countertops do require maintenance in regrouting and sealing the grout to make sure the surface is impervious to bacteria and grime. Some tile manufacturers are even combining today's biotechnology to produce tile that is antibacterial.
Don't roll your eyes! Tiles are making a comeback as homeowner's look to individualize their homes from what is being done elsewhere. Todays' choices in tile make it much easier. So, in your next renovation project, give tile a chance. Its history is eternal.
Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Florida. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones, or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.