Design at Altitude: Tile work can be the foundation of a fabulous home (column) | VailDaily.com

Design at Altitude: Tile work can be the foundation of a fabulous home (column)

Kim Toms
Design at Altitude

It used to be that selecting tile for a home renovation or new build wasn't super exciting. Thankfully, that has changed, and there are so many tile options, designs and materials to choose from. Tile work can be the foundation of your home and set the tone for how you want it to look and feel.

Tiles can work in most any room in the house: kitchen floor and backsplash, bathroom floor, shower and backsplash, living room or bedroom floors. Tiles have come out from the shadows to hold its own place in the limelight. They are easy to clean, durable, functional and available in many shapes, styles, designs and colors.

Many porcelain manufacturers have come out with tiles that look like real stone — once they are installed and grouted, it's hard for even the trained eye to discover it's porcelain. These manufacturers have new printing technology that allows them to create many variations of a tile that you will not pick up a repeat after 20 or more tiles.

Tiles can also speak volumes when they are in different sizes: think large-format tiles that create a sense of peace and are easy on the eye. Small, detailed tiles add texture. If you're updating an older home, such as a bungalow, then try to use tile that is reminiscent of that period, i.e., small octagon white-and-black tiles shine in a powder room. There are updated versions of these old favorites that mix in a touch of today's more contemporary aesthetic that many seem to be favoring.

Similarly to clothing, patterns and colors can be mixed and matched. Tiles should work together, too. Horizontal, linear, long, thin tiles in grays in the shower combined with decorative, darker colored tile on the floor create contrast and, thus, a more interesting look, one that shows you put thought and effort into the design and sets the stage for the rest of the look.

Subway tile is one look that won't ever go out of style. The size is appealing, and it's easy to clean and maintain. It keeps it interesting in an understated, classic way, and subway tiles work as a kitchen backsplash or in the bathroom.

Recommended Stories For You

Tiles come in several materials: ceramic/porcelain, glass, quarry and stone. Ceramic is made from natural clay, sand and water. These materials are molded and then baked in a kiln. Porcelain tile is made using denser types of clay.

Natural stone is my forever favorite. However, these days most of my work strays a bit away from using natural stone throughout a space. I might simply use it as a beautiful accent — say an entire textural wall or kitchen backsplash. Natural stone can be porous, and therefore, I am more thoughtful about where I place it in the home.

Before the work starts, take the time to sit down and decide what tile will work best for your home, throughout all the spaces. Remember, tile is the basis of your home.

Kim Toms is a principal at Slifer Designs and is the resident fixed-finish expert. She invariably has dozens of tile samples in the office and loves to find the right look for her clients.