I love decorative tile—all kinds, although I have to admit that my partialities run towards the tiles (azuelos) of Portugal. The Portugese have been making beautifully decorated tiles for hundreds of years, and to me, their expertise shows. Even when they are new, they are lovely.
Although, to me, the antique tiles are the most glorious.
If you are looking for antique tiles, one of the most exciting sources is…..TaDa! Antique dealers. One of the most incredible antique tile murals I ever saw was at Carlton Hobbs in New York. Suddenly seeing something as large and amazing as the incredible murals he had enjoying pride of place in his booth, at one of the major antique shows at The Armory, is like walking into a museum and absolutely gasping with delight. Antique dealers get these beautiful things, and they are the serendipitous happenings that cause whole rooms to jump up in one's mind.
Portugal is filled with tiles. They are used out of doors as convites which are figures inviting one to enter.
And as the facades of buildings...
And in gardens...
And of course, they are used over and over inside the buildings—on stair cases...
And on the walls, sometimes used by themselves and sometimes in conjunction with stone work or even wood work.
As you can see in the rooms below, I use tile a lot. It is such a beautiful element in architecture, and so very, very practical.
Used in a kitchen or bath, it is impervious to water (so long as the grout is kept intact) and grease and dirt. Used out of doors in a loggia or similar, it allows a lower wall that isn’t dirtied by flying-in dirt.
And it allows decoration on the walls that is not destroyed by moisture. And anyway, it is just charming.
These last tiles are from Country Floors, but I have to admit that my favourite tile source for decorative tile is Solar Antique Tiles in New York City and West Palm Beach.