8 Unique and Unexpected Ways to Use Tile in Your Home

Tiled Kitchen Backsplash

Molly Rose Photo | StoneImpressions

For most homeowners, tiles are purely utilitarian: showers, mudrooms, and kitchen floors. It’s perfectly understandable. Tiles are an obvious pick for anywhere that sees a lot of wear, tear, and water.

“Tiles marry form and function perfectly, and because they are waterproof they won’t swell or degrade when wet or exposed to steam,” Abbas Youssefi, the director of independent tile specialists for Porcelain Superstore, explains to The Spruce. “Plus, they are easy to care for and keep clean—so from a homeowner's perspective, they’re a dream.”

But, there are some truly beautiful tiles out there, and relegating them to only the shower floor doesn’t seem fair. We turned to a few tiling experts to find out all the unexpected ways tiling can enhance your home.

  • 01 of 08

    Add an Accent Wall

    Stella Desk Nook

    StoneImpressions

    While accent walls are more typically created with paint or wallpaper, Elaine Hingle, the senior designer at StoneImpressions, says tile can serve a similar purpose. 

    “Anywhere you would think to install wallpaper could also be an ideal space for tile," she says. "We’re seeing a huge surge in tile replacing wallpaper in coffee bars, breakfast nooks, in-home office spaces, laundry room accent walls, and more. It's a great way to display your creativity and an opportunity to make a huge impact in a small space.”

    On the other hand, Smith says you can do both. “You don’t have to pick between wallpaper and decorative tile,” she tells us. “Pattern matching is so fun, and when done correctly, it looks killer. Install your decorative tile as a wainscotting with a fresh wallpaper above.”

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  • 02 of 08

    Upgrade Your Stairs

    Tiled Staircase

    StoneImpressions

    Seeing a pop of pattern in your stair risers is a stunning way to add color to an otherwise overlooked space—and our tile experts agree.

    “Stairs are a perfect place to express your personality,” Youssefi assures us. “Small patterned tiles on stair rises always make a visual impact, as do ‘patchwork pattern’ tiles. For a more subtle vibe that still wows, a tile with a repeating pattern is a great choice.”

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  • 03 of 08

    Create An Insta-Worthy Vanity Wall

    Bathroom Vanity Wall

    StoneImpressions

    Tile is a great option to create an Insta-worthy bathroom vanity wall, and when it comes to selecting a tile for a statement vanity wall, the bolder the better, according to Youssefi.

    “Darker tiles are on trend and are the antithesis of class white marbles, meaning they make a real impact," he says. "Choose something with a handmade aesthetic so not only will it catch the eye, but it will offer a relaxing, healing feel.”

    Hingle agrees, noting that this is a place where grout is an important consideration. “We prefer to select a subtle grout color that blends in with the colors found in the natural stone so that our beautiful patterns can really shine,” she tells us.

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  • 04 of 08

    Adorn Your Kitchen Backsplash

    Kitchen Backsplash

    Arrows Gloss White Ceramic Tiles from Porcelain Superstore

    Hingle points out that your kitchen backsplash is a place that calls for something truly beautiful.

    “Functional as well as eye-catching, a tiled kitchen backsplash is always a good choice for patterned tile," she notes. "Make a powerful statement by tiling counter-to-ceiling, or keep it simple and sweet with a centerpiece over your stove.”

    Youssefi advises that choosing a durable type of tile is particularly important. “Ceramic and porcelain tiles are better suited to kitchen walls than other materials for many reasons," he explains. "Primarily, they are far more stain resistant than natural stone and marbles, so there is no need to worry about oils, pasta, and sauces. Plus, there are hundreds of designs, quite literally something to suit every space and style.”

    A bonus? “They are easy to install, so you can change the look of your kitchen simply by updating your splashback with new tiles,” Youssefi says.

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  • 05 of 08

    Enhance Your Fireplace

    Briolette Indoor Fireplace

    Briolette for StoneImpressions

    Tile fireplaces are a classic, but jazzing up the tile selection instantly creates a focal point in your home. Youssefi notes that tile really ups the stakes on a fireplace and shares two rules to follow when tiling a fireplace.

    “Wherever possible, tiles should be fixed to cement backer boards, which are unaffected by heat," he notes. "Secondly, fireplaces can emit a lot of ash, and while tiles themselves won’t stain, grout joints can. Use epoxy grouts, which are far harder to stain than traditional cement-based grouts.”

    “You want to make sure that the tiles that you have selected a rated as appropriate for heat applications,” Georgie Smith, co-founder of LIVDEN, adds. “You can get that information from the manufacturer's website or by asking your local tile expert. Popular choices would be natural stone, ceramic, or porcelain.”

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  • 06 of 08

    Make a Statement in the Shower

    Jewel Onyx Pink Porcelain Tiles

    Jewel Onyx Pink Porcelain Tiles for Porcelain Superstore

    Obviously, tiles are a must in your shower, but Youssefi tells us that there are some major trends worth checking out. “Large format, onyx-effect porcelain tiles are a huge trend for shower walls in 2022,” he says. “Striking colors combined with dramatic veining ensure a spectacular finish, and we are seeing demand for this type of tile soar. They are the polar opposite of the minimal greys and sleek white marbles, which have dominated bathrooms.”

    Hingle agrees. “We're seeing a more bold approach in shower wall installations lately," she says. "Especially as more detailed murals or patterns are used on a larger scale, similar to a wallpaper application. While you obviously can never go wrong with the classic look, this current trend is really winning us over."

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  • 07 of 08

    Designate a Pet Station

    Pet Station

    LIVDEN

    Another popular place for showing off your tile style? A dedicated pet station. 

    “It is always nice when the tile that you select for the pet station ties into somewhere else in the home—it gives it a sense of cohesiveness,” Smith says. “One designer we worked with had leftover patterned tile from a project, so they used the bathroom tile as the doggy station tile. This was a fun and easy addition that added some boldness to the room.”

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  • 08 of 08

    Go With What You Love

    StoneImpressions Kitchen

    Ryan Garvin Photography | StoneImpressions

    No matter where you add tile, Hilary Gibbs, the co-founder of LIVDEN, says there’s no wrong answer. 

    “I really do believe that if you pick a patterned tile that you love, it will never go out of style,” she tells us. “I know it’s tempting to choose a patterned tile you see all over Pinterest and Instagram, but if it isn’t speaking to you, it will probably lose its luster.  Even if a pattern is deemed ‘not in style’ but you love it, choose that tile—go for the tile that makes you do a double take every time you see it.” 

    If you pick a patterned tile you love, it will never go out of style.