Classic or Craze: Mediterranean Tile

Is it a classic or is it a craze?

By Melissa Mauzy
Photography courtesy of Walker Zanger


For our August bath issue, we asked local design professionals if Mediterranean tiles in the bath are a classic or a craze. Here’s what they had to say. 

Mediterranean tile in a bathroom is classic!  Dating back many years ago, decorative tiles with unique prints and patterns have been used in many areas of a home.  Not only were these tiles used for aesthetic purposes, but they were used for the practical reason of keeping bare feet cool on a hot day in the warm climate in Spain and similar areas.  There are many tile manufacturers that currently are creating tiles to mimic the authentic Mediterranean look and feel.  This is a great way to achieve a vibrant and eclectic style!" Channing Glover and Maria Lesko, C & M Interiors.

“CLASSIC. The use of Mediterranean, or cement tile, dates back to the 8th century when the Moors invaded Spain, eventually creating the Moorish-Spanish culture and introducing this process of tile-making throughout Europe. The popularity of these tiles have come and gone over the centuries due to cultural/political changes and the introduction of mass-produced goods in the 1950’s. Recently we have seen a return in popularity due to the 'green' direction in design of sourcing authentic and sustainable materials. These tiles are a beautiful way to introduce an unexpected artistic element in any room that will truly stand the test of time.” Heather Helms, Interior designer, Srote & Co Architects.

“As much as I LOVE the look of the Mediterranean tile, or 'encaustic tiles,' I feel like this is a craze.  Everyone loves to have a space no one else has, which is why this is so appealing and current.  But, that makes it trendy.  Authentic encaustic tiles are made by hand, much thicker than standard porcelain/natural stone tiles, have a higher end price point, and require a highly skilled installer as they can be a little tricky.  When I start seeing these products reproduced at volume retailers, at a discounted price point, the trend can be overdone – therefore losing classic characteristics.  But it’s OK to love it right now!!  Use it as an accent in a backsplash or a powder room bath!” Anne Marie Boedges, Anne Marie Design Studio.

“Looking back in architecture and design history, Mediterranean tiles have been around for a very long time. It would appear as though they make their way in and out of style. Although I think of them as being bright and colorful there are many new tile designs introducing them in more muted color palettes in the distinctive tile patterns. Ultimately, I believe these are a craze of a classic design element.” Amena Zamora, Amena Zamora Designs.

“I like a pop of color and bold pattern when designing a bathroom; however, I do feel the Mediterranean tile is a craze that will eventually fade away.  So, when using a Mediterranean tile, I would use it in small doses, such as an accent tile or a tile border.  This way, when the craze is over or you grow tired of it, it would be easy to replace with something new and fresh!”  Barbara Collins, Barbara Collins Interior Design.