After a good century and more, Victorian hallway tiles are finally getting the appreciation they deserve.
In the 19th century, intricately tiled flooring was a hallmark of fashionable hallway ideas, but in the decades since, their beauty has been quite literally swept under the rug.
‘These hard-wearing historic tiled surfaces have over the years been painted, covered in carpet, and even had central heating pipes channelled through them, but they have stood the test of time,’ says Adrian Blundell, Production Director at Craven Dunnill Jackfield. ‘Victorian tiles are now coming back into contemporary style and many are now wanting to include them in their own residential properties.’
Victorian floor tiling is typified by the use of small to medium-sized encaustic tiles in numerous colors, laid out in a mosaic style to create geometric patterns. Luckily for period decor fans, there are companies out there that specialize in creating Victorian-style tiles, making it perfectly possible to get the look in your hallway today.
‘Our Victorian floor tile patterns are made up of individual pieces such as squares, rectangles, triangles and hexagons, in many sizes,’ says Emma Hughes, Studio Manager at Original Style. ‘This allows for the creation of ample patterns, from a simple chequerboard to more complex layouts that incorporate a number of pieces.’
‘Using individual pieces also allows for greater flexibility upon installation, as well as a more aesthetic and authentic finish, perfect for older properties where walls and floors may not be the most even. Back in the Victorian era, this is how these style of tiles were installed – it’s a true craft and takes more time than your average tiling project but the finished result is worth it.’
Victorian hallway tiles
Whether you’re looking to replace a long lost mosaic floor, start from scratch, or style existing Victorian hallway tiles, we asked the experts to share their tips for bringing a period entryway back to life.
1. For an authenticity, pair rusts with a splash of blue
‘If your goal is to recreate a Victorian pattern as a nod to the home’s history, opt for a classic color combination,’ says Hughes. For a design that fits seamlessly among your wider period entryway ideas, choose an authentic color scheme for your mosaic tiles. Although the Victorian era may not be widely thought off as the most flamboyant, they loved to splash a little color in their tiling: warm, inviting rusts, yellows and ochres were often punctuated with jewel-like greens or even sky blue like in this stunning example.
2. Keep it classic with a chequerboard design
‘For hallways, you cannot go wrong with a classic chequerboard pattern,’ says Hughes. While chequerboard-style floorings have long been a favorite for grand foyers, smaller format Victorian-style tiling means the pattern can look great with narrow hallway ideas too, as demonstrated in this example. ‘Our ‘Dorchester’ pattern uses smaller squares for a more intricate feel and ‘Oxford’ uses larger squares to achieve a classic look,’ she added.
Monochrome is an enduring favorite, but Hughes recommends thinking outside the box. ‘Popular in black and white, these patterns look beautiful in many colorways – we love mixing three tones together such as grey, green and white for a more contemporary look.’
3. Finish off your pattern with a border
A key design aspect of Victorian tiled hallways is the use of borders that are almost as elaborate as the central pattern itself. ‘Victorian tile borders allow for complex pattern field areas to fit neatly within challenging spaces, and are a great solution for areas such as hallways where many door openings and staircases interject into the space,’ explains Blundell.
And you don’t need a huge entrance hall to make them work either: this example shows that a vibrant, wide-set, contrasting border can work just as well with your small hallway ideas.
4. Use existing tiles to inspire your hallway color scheme
‘We love to celebrate a home’s original features such as fireplaces, windows, or flooring,’ says Louise Wicksteed, Design Director at Sims Hilditch. Not only should you consider keeping period features, but think about how you can use them to set a tone for the likes of your hallway paint ideas and beyond.
‘We retained the original Victorian floor tiles in the hallway of our Malvern family home project, using them as inspiration for the color scheme threaded throughout the rest of the interior. Not only does this patterned floor design pay homage to the home’s original character and heritage, it adds a splash of colour to the space, drawing the eye through to the rest of the house.’
5. Choose modern colorways for a contemporary look
If you love Victorian tiling but want to make them fit among your more modern hallway ideas, consider shaking up classic color schemes.
‘We offer an endless amount of patterns thanks to the variety of individual shapes on offer, allowing you to choose from simple patterns to bold, intricate ones,’ says Hughes. ‘You can use a number of colorways to achieve your desired style, from cool greys and monochromes to blue, green, warm browns and even pastel tones such as pink and yellow.’
In this example from the Original Style’s collaboration with Period Living, on-trend blues and soft tonal greys create a contemporary take on the historic tiling style.
6. Keep the rest of your scheme simple to let your tiles shine
‘Furniture, including coats and plant stands were typical items found in Victorian hallways, however keeping the space clutter free to be able to see the floor patterns was paramount,’ says Blundell. ‘The same can be said today and while Victorian tiles make a wonderful backdrop to contemporary furniture, they are also individual pieces of art that make the biggest statement within clear spaces.’
While hallway storage ideas are essential to keeping the space uncluttered, try to make them as discreet as possible to allow your tiles to be the star of the show. In this example, fresh white walls and minimal decor take a step back, while a large cupboard under the stairs provides plenty of space to stash away coats and shoes.
7. Pair Victorian tiles with an authentic stained-glass door
Tiled hallways can really make an impact as a standalone period feature in a hallway, but pairing your flooring with similarly cherished pieces of Victorian design shows real love for your home’s history. In this entryway, an intricately tiled floor is paired with a similarly ornate door, with a beautiful stained glass window at its center, and panels framing the door up to the ceiling. The overall design scheme celebrates not one, but two key aspects of Victorian interior design and craftsmanship (as well as a classic approach to entry table decor ideas), while keeping the space feeling fresh and modern with white walls.
8. Choose black and white for a chic monochrome look
If it’s not a color injection you’re after, add a smack of visual interest to a monochrome scheme with a patterned black and white floor. Chequerboard works well for a simpler affair, but this home uses Victorian-style tiling to create a real statement feature in its hallway floor, the pattern veering towards Mediterranean in its design. Here, it’s paired with crisp white interiors with dark accents, but a monochrome floor can also work really well among trending grey hallway ideas to create some tonal contrast.
9. Mimic historic patterns for an authentic design
For true Victorian authenticity, you can’t get closer than copying a genuine 19th century design – and there are many out there to choose from.
‘A vast number of companies at the turn of the century were producing these beautiful Victorian geometric mosaic tiles and as such, historic original schemes have an amazing variation in size, colour, and design,’ explains Blundell. ‘Craven Dunnill Jackfield are fortunate to have archive catalogues dating back to the time of the formation of the company in 1872. From very simple plain schemes to ultra-complex designs, Victorian tile patterns cover all budgets and are an ideal way of incorporating color into a scheme and making a historic design statement.’
10. Emulate a geometric mosaic with patterned encaustic tiles
If putting together a full-blown mosaic for your floor is a little beyond your expectations at the moment, there are modern reimaginings that can help you get a similar look in a simpler fashion. Patterned encaustic tiles are having a real moment among entryway tile ideas, and it’s possible to use these colored cement tiles to create an intricate geometric look with fewer pieces. This example shows a simple repeating pattern created using square tiles, but you can get even more decorative if you like, and even create borders.
What tiles are best for hallways?
As a high-traffic area of the home – and one that typically has to battle against muddy boots and more – it’s important to choose a durable tiling solution for your hallway floor. Porcelain is a favorite for this reason, as well as its ability to emulate other surfaces and the ease of its cleaning, but Blundell champions encaustic tiles too.
‘Utterly durable and long lasting, Victorian-style encaustic tiles are completely timeless and promise to stand the test of time’ he says. ‘Typically seen in historic locations, they are now being discovered and preserved within residential homes. For practical reasons, encaustic tiles are easy to clean and stylistically, they are the perfect way to incorporate pattern and color into a scheme.’
What are Victorian floor tiles made of?
Victorian tiles were traditionally made of ceramic and the modern equivalent still are today.
‘Our Victorian floor tiles are made of clay and powdered glazes, then fired in a kiln, giving them a matt finish in many color options,’ says Hughes.
If you’re thinking of going really authentic and using reclaimed original tiles for your floor, do so with caution. ‘These are available through architectural salvage centres, however due to the vast number of factories manufacturing geometric floors in the Victorian era there are many variations in color and design,’ explains Blundell.
‘At the turn of the century these products were batch produced and fired in coal fired kilns. These kilns produced a wide range of firing temperatures within each firing and as such the tiles shrank to slightly differing sizes. The skill of the Victorian tiler, to be able to handle the size variations within the product, whilst installing complex geometric layouts is something that we overlook today but should be celebrated.'
I started out at British GQ, where a month of work experience turned into 18 months of working on all sorts of projects, writing about everything from motorsport to interiors, and helping to put together the GQ Food & Drink Awards. I then spent three years at the Evening Standard on the GO London team, covering restaurants and bars, and getting to eat and drink a veritable smorgasbord of wonderful things around the city. I left the paper in 2020 and went freelance, writing about food, drink and homes for publications including Conde Nast Traveller, Luxury London and Departures. A little less than a year later, I started at Homes & Gardens as a Digital Writer, allowing me to fully indulge my love of good interior design.
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