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Blending Tile Floors with Other Tile Features

Tile floors are often placed alongside other tile elements, including stone slab counters, glass mosaic backplashes and fireplace surrounds, porcelain shower surrounds, and countless other tile combinations. You may be wondering how you can successfully combine your floors with other tile elements.

Fortunately, when you know how to work other tile elements in with your floors, you will always achieve a positive outcome. Here are some tips on mixing different tile sizes, shapes, sheens, textures, and colors, whether your aim is to achieve a streamlined, monochromatic look or something more adventurous.

Choose Larger Tile for Floors

A floor's tile size affects the overall design of a room. The larger the space, the larger the floor's format. But even in a small room, using the largest tile that's appropriate for the application means fewer grout lines, which means fewer visual interruptions.

As for other tiled surfaces, go with a mix of small or midsize tile to create visual interest and add scale to the room. For example, although a large floor area can handle supersized tiles, mosaic or small square tiles are most likely your best bet for a kitchen backsplash. On the other hand, large-format tiles or slab products create a fluid effect that plays into a minimalist or ultramodern setting.

Photo features St. Germain Sable 6 x 24 on the floor and Sable 1 x 2 mosiacs on the fireplace wall.

Mix Basic and Complex Shapes

Squares and rectangles are the most common shapes of floor tile, unless you're considering a natural stone product, such as flagstone. There are plenty of linear and plank products that offer long, short, wide, and narrow dimensions. Using rectangular tile on your floor can also make a small room appear longer than it is, and if you continue the tile vertically up the wall, it can make the ceiling seem higher, as well.

The humble, basic square often takes a back seat to other competing tile shapes in the same space. So by opting for a square tile floor, you allow for a vivid complementary design, such as a herringbone or basket weave pattern on an accent wall or backsplash. Keep in mind that if you incorporate a busy design into a room, you should keep the rest of the space simple. In a kitchen, for instance, counter a vivid mosaic backsplash by wrapping the island in simple white marble or granite that matches the countertops.

To use different types of tile floors in adjoining rooms, go with distinctly different shapes, such as wide wood-inspired planks to offset glazed porcelain squares. Alternatively, you can use the same tile in a different direction, such as by turning a square kitchen tile diagonally, for an adjoining living space. With either of these options, you can create the idea of separation, and help to form defined areas, which is especially important in an open-concept structure.

Opt for the Right Combination of Finishes

Sheen isn't just about dull and shiny surfaces, it's also about light reflection. In some cases, the more bounced light, the better. For example, a design touting old-Hollywood glam would benefit from as much sparkle or glitz as possible. In this scenario, a mix of polished marble floors with glass or metal wall tiles can create a luxurious, shimmering ambiance. On the other hand, if you're looking to create a more muted look, balance matte and shine by using natural stone or wood-look tile floors to ground the room's shiny marble counters or stainless and gunmetal backsplash.

Keep Textures in Mind

A balanced home is rich in texture. Texture adds definition and keeps the home from appearing flat or monotonous. Of course, texture comes in many forms, from plush sofas to nubby rugs. But even before furniture and accessories fill the area, the room can offer an array of textures with its fixtures and finishes. For example, textured glazed porcelain tile brings a rugged touch to its surroundings, while glass mosaics offer timeless smoothness. Textured porcelain flooring is an ideal anchor for the entryway or washroom, and it can be counterbalanced with a wall of sleek, smooth glass, ceramic, or metallic tile.

Go with Neutral Colors and Bold Accents

It's often best to layer a home in neutral-colored pieces from the tile floors and natural stone slab counters, to the backsplash and accent medallions. This allows you to incorporate color into your home in less permanent ways, such as with the artwork, furniture, accessories, and wall paint.

Alternatively, if you're designing a futuristic or trendy space, it's advantageous to incorporate a power color. For instance, if you're going to put a bold tile hue on the wall, such as a striking blue glass mosaic, surround it with complementary browns or wood tones and white, chrome, and metallic elements. This way, the neutral colors won't steal its glory.

Blend Solid and Patterned Materials

The natural or nature-inspired patterns in tile—such as veining, flecks, and grain—contribute to a room's visual stimulation and movement. Some appear to resemble waves, some have a wood-grain pattern, and some feature a subtle concrete effect. But how you mix them may be more important than you realize. If patterns are too similar, they can create an overstimulating or visually busy space.

Similar to a collection of solid and printed cushions on a sofa, a mix of solids and patterns on surrounding surfaces offer balance and form. Before you begin, create a successful design storyboard by blending tile and slab samples in agreeable patterns. For example, try pairing a concrete tile floor sample with more vivid materials such as natural stone or wood-look tile. Even a minimalist space can benefit from a mix of solids and patterns, especially when the colors seamlessly blend from one to the next.

Don't Forget about Grout

When it comes to various styles, give the grout some serious thought. Although it may seem insubstantial, grout is a key player to creating a superior design. Dark grout, for instance, outlines pale wall or floor tiles, making their shape stand out, which is essential if you're after a dramatic geometric presence. If you're working on a monochromatic or minimalist design, however, closely match the grout with the tile color for a less pronounced, more fluid look.

Grout width is important, too. The wider the grout lines, the more rustic the result will be. This means that generous grout lines are ideal for the country, traditional, European, or old-world design, so consider going with thicker lines between terra-cotta or travertine tiles. Narrow lines, on the other hand, reduce visual interruptions and improve transitions for a clean, streamlined look that secures a modern vibe and is suitable for a contemporary development.