Kitchen tile ideas – 15 designs to inject personality into your space
Sometimes shimmering, always decorative, these kitchen tile ideas can transform your space with color, pattern and texture
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Kitchen tile ideas are a practical choice for kitchen surfaces but are also a beautiful way to instantly transform the look and feel of a kitchen. With a huge range of materials and designs to choose from suitable for walls, floors or backsplash, it can be daunting to know where to begin when it comes to choosing kitchen tiles.
What type of kitchen tile is right for your space will ultimately come down to a balance of practicality, style as well as personal preference – there is no right or wrong choice. Key considerations are where they will be used and what material they are made from. Before making a decision be sure to take time to examine the existing features of your space, such as the room size and cabinetry design and even the lighting, as all these will have an impact on how the tiles look, too.
Whether you’re searching for something practical and hardwearing for a floor, or a feature splash back for your kitchen ideas, we’ve rounded up a selection of stylish looks as well as some handy advice to help get you inspired.
Kitchen tile ideas
Kitchen tile ideas are a fabulous way to bring color, pattern and personality to a space, but when choosing tile ideas for a kitchen they also to be eminently practical and easy to clean and care for, making them suitable for even the busiest household. A reputable tiler is essential for achieving best results and always be sure to get samples.
To calculate how many tiles you need, measure each wall length and height, and multiply to get the square footage. Add all walls together plus ten per cent to allow for cut tiles and breakages.
1. Combine encaustic pattern with ceramic plains
Encaustic – or encaustic-look – floor tiles, with their vibrant colors and striking Moorish designs, are enjoying something of a revival.
Working equally well with contemporary and traditional interiors, encaustic tiles are a versatile kitchen flooring idea or kitchen wall decor option. Modern versions are easy to maintain and durable, and large-scale tile designs are ideal for urban and contemporary settings.
However, their beautiful designs need no competition from other patterns – and this is a rule that's worth applying with all tile patterns. If you have a strong design on one surface, don't introduce another on a different surface.
Here, encaustic-look tiles grace the floor, while cheaper, plainer ceramic tiles provide a subtle complement on the wall.
2. Create an elegant feel with large-scale marble tiles
If you’re looking to totally transform your kitchen and fancy adding a marble touch, then new marble tiles will provide the perfect backdrop to a contemporary or country kitchen. Coveted for its subtle tone and beautiful veined effect, you can see why marble is such a hit – it looks good wherever it’s put and will continue to look striking year after year.
Whether you're considering marble kitchen backsplash ideas or marble flooring when designing a kitchen, bear in mind that it's easy to damage, particularly with caustic substances, such as lemon juice. So another option is to choose a marble-look porcelain kitchen tile, which can be incredibly convincing and is tough too.
3. Add warmth with a porcelain wood-effect tile
While wood is one of our favorite types of kitchen flooring (despite the fact that it is higher maintenance than tiles), it isn't the most practical choice higher up in a kitchen.
However, porcelain kitchen tiles can be created to convincingly mimic other materials – even wood. So, if you want to add warmth to your kitchen with wood, but do so in a way that will require no maintenance, this is the way to go.
4. Pick mosaic tiles for a characterful look
If your kitchen styling ideas are stuck in neutral territory, one of the best ways to create instant wow factor is with a striking backsplash.
As well as being ultra practical and easy to clean, a tiled feature area brings color, pattern and even unusual shapes to these hardworking zones. 'Porcelain mosaic tiles will add drama to any design scheme,' agrees Hamish Smith, creative director at Ca’ Pietra (opens in new tab).
5. Choose terracotta for a farmhouse feel
If you're looking for kitchen floor tile ideas for a farmhouse, country or cottage kitchen, terracotta is a wonderful material to use.
‘From baked clay tones that warm up any room to an earthy texture that’s just the right balance between rugged and refined, terracotta is a forever trend,' says Hamish Smith. 'Lay them in a kitchen to really add warmth to your space.'
The beauty of terracotta is that it will gain a patina over time, so the longer you have it, the more characterful it will look.
6. Embrace a tile shape trend
Eye-catching tile shapes can create a wonderful feature within a modern kitchen – triangles and hexagons are big tile trends for this year, while scallop-shaped tiles have endured for decades.
The beauty of these tiles is that they can look wonderful without the need for adding color – but choosing a stand-out tile shape and accent color is a great way to create impact.
7. Choose terrazzo for on-trend kitchen tile ideas
Terrazzo, popular five decades ago, is having a resurgence in contemporary kitchen tile ideas, with large-scale and smaller-scale designs gracing schemes both for flooring and as on-trend kitchen wall tiles, like in this mid-century design.
More affordable than marble or granite, it is often made with fragments of glass, marble, metal or quartz, and comes in an unlimited range of colors.
'Its decorative speckled design and soft textural pattern is understated, endlessly stylish and versatile,' says Damla Turgut, founder of Otto Tiles & Design (opens in new tab), while Topps Tiles (opens in new tab)' tile consultant Harriet Goodacre says: 'Terrazzo creates depth and texture, whilst a smooth finish keeps the look modern.'
8. Choose a traditional tile for a contemporary kitchen
If you are designing a scheme inspired by more modern kitchen ideas, especially one with a stand-out feature like this kitchen island, choosing a more traditional tile shape, finish and color can make a wonderful contrast that acts as a subtle backdrop.
These dark green tiles have been grouted with a dark green/gray which is not only practical, hiding any dirt, but is also a great way to create a single block of color, like you would with a painted wall.
9. Create an authentic look with reclaimed tiles
If yours is a period or traditional home, styling the kitchen with reclaimed tiles will create an authentic look that's full of charm – the vintage tiles here add a beautiful rustic look to a simple white kitchen scheme.
It's not always easy to find original reclaimed tiles that will fill an entire space though, so instead look for contemporary designs with purposefully crackle-glazed surfaces and chipped edges.
10. Run kitchen tiles from indoors to out
If your kitchen opens onto your backyard, running the same floor tiles across the two spaces will create an inextricable link between the two, heightening that indoor-outdoor link and enhancing the feeling of space – particularly useful if you are looking for space-boosting small kitchen ideas.
'If you want to use tiles outdoors, make sure you find out the slip-rating and ensure that they can withstand frost when you lay them in the great outdoors,' advices Hamish Smith of Ca' Pietra.
11. Add a tiled kitchen countertop
Tile countertop ideas have witnessed a resurgence in recent years as homeowners seek to experiment with different surface textures in their home. The primary appeal of a tiled worktop is its ability to bring texture, color and a decorative feel to a kitchen, plus they are easy to tie in with a splash-back. Handcrafted in Morocco, these zellige tiles display myriad differences in glazing, bringing a beautifully organic, rustic feel to a space.
However, there are drawbacks associated with a tiled countertop. If tiled with ceramic tiles they are unlikely to be flush, plus they can crack under heat from hot pans or with impact from heavy items. Tile countertops will also have grout lines which can collect dirt and become stained. 'To help prolong the life of your tiled worktop, it’s important to use a resin-based grout that is stain repellent and non-absorbent,' says Harriet Goodacre, Brand communications manager and tile consultant at Topps Tiles (opens in new tab).
12. Bring a country feel with stone-effect porcelain
Capturing the beautiful graining of natural stone but with the practical benefits that come with manmade tiles, stone-effect porcelain designs are popular choice for kitchen floor tiles.
Available in a huge array of stone finishes from limestone to marble, stone-effect porcelain tiles are extremely durable and are easy to lay, plus are perfect for use over underfloor heating. Furthermore, 'a porcelain tile is non-porous and will therefore provide a stain proof option which can be preferable with young children,’ explains Isabel Fernandez, Director at natural stone flooring business Quorn Stone (opens in new tab).
In terms of the finishes, 'stone effect porcelain has come a long way in recent years and the designs produced in Italy and Spain are second to none and extremely uncanny to a stone,' adds Fernandez. Indeed, they can even be designed to have a 'tumbled' edge to make them appear aged which is perfect for a country kitchen.
13. Try terracotta in a traditional kitchen
If you love rustic kitchen tiles and are looking to create a homely, lived-in look then consider terracotta. 'Terracotta tiles are a natural option that bring a lovely warmth and will sit very happily in a traditional kitchen,' explains Adrian Bergman, Design Manager at British Standard by Plain English (opens in new tab). 'You could choose a simple square tile in a diamond pattern or a hexagonal tile for something a little different. Note, these will require sealing,' he adds.
14. Choose a neutral stone tile for timeless charm
Deciding on kitchen floor tiles is a big decision to make, not only are they a big investment, once the tiles are installed they are also tricky to change. To ensure your tiles stand the test of time consider a neutral stone or stone-look tile which has enduring appeal suggests Isabel Fernandez, director at natural stone flooring business Quorn Stone (opens in new tab).
‘We always advise customers to steer clear of ‘trends’ and go for a classic style in the kitchen area. Our advice is to always go neutral in your chosen floor covering for ground floor spaces and instead inject color through paint and accessories. A coat of paint is far easier to change in years to come than a different floor.’
15. Create a feature backsplash with geometric tiles
While white kitchens are light, airy and uplifting, they can benefit from having a touch of color to give them depth and prevent them from feeling austere. Adding a backsplash made up of geometric designs is a fabulous way to inject personality without dominating the space. Boasting beautiful variations in tone and texture, these hand-painted tiles from Bert & May can be laid in all sorts of configurations for a playful look.
For more inspiration, see our guide on what is the best kitchen backsplash material?
What is the best tile to use in a kitchen?
Kitchen tile costs aside, the best choice for most kitchen tile ideas is porcelain, for the balance of practicality and designs available.
Durable, easy to clean and virtually indestructible, porcelain comes in an endless range of colors, shapes and finishes – including lookalikes of other materials, including wood.
What is the best color for kitchen tiles?
The best color for kitchen tile ideas really depends on your kitchen cabinet colors and materials.
It might be that all your kitchen color ideas are inspired by a particular tile color or pattern that you have fallen for. However, it's far wiser to choose a cabinet style, material and color that suits your the rest of your home's period, style and color scheme, then base your tile color around that.
If in doubt, pick a neutral tile color – white, cream, gray or black – which will suit most schemes.
Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.
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