7 Traditional Tile Designs to Get That Classic Look & Feel

Traditional tile designs have a few things in common:

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    They tend to have a muted, neutral, color palette.
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    They are laid out in classic tile designs, like grid patterns or mosaics.
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    They are typically also created from materials that have a long history of being used for tiles, like terracotta, stone, or concrete, not glass.
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    They also make use of traditional art themes and often use a repetitive pattern to create a soothing atmosphere in the room.

Having these concepts in mind, I've chosen the following seven traditional tile designs as some of my favorites to get that classic look and feel.

#1 Vintage Hexagon and Octagon Designs

One of the sharpest and cleanest historical designs has to be the octagonal and hexagonal vintage tile bathrooms of the past. They are not only hypnotically soothing to the mind, but easy to keep clean. They come in ceramic and stone tiles and differ only in shape and size, mostly using whites and grays to increase the simple elegance of this design.

Take a look at the way this hexagonal bathroom floor seems to stretch on forever, increasing the spacious feel of a small area.

The flat white also helps to accentuate the other design elements in the room. If you'd rather have a grayer palette, you can mix and match neutral shades of gray with white for a sexier bathroom.

Just remember that octagons and hexagons can come in bold sizes too, like this particularly stunning living room floor.

#2 Herringbone Patterns

These types of designs have been found in homes up to 200 years old in the United States and featured on "This Old House." That proves their sense of timelessness and traditional appeal. Here we have one that uses Blanch Sabba tile of the same size to give the kitchen a luxurious quality that won't go out of style. 

The more understated something is the more classic it feels, so if you want thinner grout lines and a smoother feel, you can try this design.

The final look for this understated elegance is a smooth backdrop with a subtle herringbone pattern added to the marble tiling.

#3 Overlapping Horizontal Designs

Another layout that has been popular ever since bricks were laid one on top of the other are overlapping horizontal designs. However, tile designs using "brick patterns" don't have to be made of terracotta only. You can use materials like marble or travertine, and any other type of stonework to get a similar effect. Here is one with travertine.

These types of designs do work extremely well with rustic, earthy, colors and materials to evoke that antique look and feel. It can be done not just with "brick-sized" tiles, but also larger pieces of travertine, as in this rustic-looking floor laid out in an overlapping pattern.

If you want a harder floor, you can even use marble with this style of design to get a high, quality, plank design.

#4 Grids with Classic Borders

Grid layouts are about as simple as it gets. Yet, they can be stunningly effective when paired with classic borders. The grid pattern makes a bold statement when used with marble and then paired with borders that are reminiscent of geometric Greek or Roman designs. You might even think you're lounging in your own private Greek day spa at home, like in this design.

Using earth tones and scrolled borders in the bathroom can give your the look and feel of a Roman villa, highlighting the good taste and culture of classic civilizations of the past.

#5 Checkered Patterns

Black and white checkerboards are as elegant as a tuxedo. They dress up any space to give it a highly formal air without much fuss and bother. This design not only does that, but also creates a visual pathway that draws the eye down a narrow corridor while widening its appearance.

This is done by laying the checkerboard tile pattern in a diagonal format. You can also create a bit more interest by using veined marble for the white tiles, like in this design.

However, your checkerboard can be as large or as small as you like, and you might find that a smaller pattern works best in a tiny bathroom.

Or, if you're sick of plain black and white, opt for other colors using an array of choices available in the chex tiles.

#6 Basketweave

The basketweave pattern is not as ancient in tradition as some of these other designs, since it became most popular around the Art Deco period of the early 1900's. However, since then it has not waned in popularity. The design itself is made to look like the tiles are weaving in and out of each other, but typically consist of square blocks that give that illusion.

When laid out next to each other the effect is similar to the patterning of a basket, with overlays and "gaps" that seem to be woven as in this bathroom design.

However, the basketweave can also be enlarged and then it produces a more grid-like effect, even though the pattern is still one of a basketweave.

#7 Mosaics and Historical Designs

Finally, what could be more traditional than including a mosaic in your next remodeling project? Mosaics are associated with classic periods in history from the Greeks to the Romans. They are enduring works of art that instantly upgrade a space. You can include them in such traditional areas, like within a pool, like this one

You can include a traditional design from any region of the world, to make your kitchen a classic Tuscan kitchen with it's own mosaic fruit bowl from a prior age.

Or choose a classic etched scrolled stone design for your "beauty parlor" to invoke a vintage feel in classic black and white.

Classic Patterns Are Subtle and Elegant

Most of the traditional color palette tends to be earthy and muted, if not straight out black and white in traditional tile designs. Patterns can be very intricate, from basketweave and octagonal layouts, but they are used to create a soothing backdrop to bring all elements of a room together, instead of being standalone stars.

There are no unusual materials and themes are kept historically accurate from classic time periods. In this manner, a traditional tile design stands the test of time and never looses it's cool classic feel.

Which was your favorite traditional design style? Would you include another to my list and why? Comment on this article below and share it with your friends and followers online.

About the Author

Nelson Londono founded Artsaics in 1998 after learning the ins and outs of designing custom artistic tiles and stone mosaics. The New York-based surfacing company specializes in producing stunning artistic tiles & stone designs with fine natural stone from around the world. Nelson and his team’s passion lies in working with their hands, heads and hearts to make each and every space a unique reflection of self expression. You can learn more about Artsaics here.

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