Tile with Style

Designer tips that bring a fresh, eye-catching face to showers and backsplashes
Once Upon a Dream
FIRECLAY: From an Eichler kitchen designed by Lucile Glessner Design, 2x8-inch field gloss tile installed with one-third offset. Available in four tropical ocean colors: Emerald, Azurine, Martinique. Lagoon. Fireclaytile.com
Once Upon a Dream
AMERICAN OLEAN - QUICKILVER: From Eichler kitchen by Keycon via owner Jim Leung. Lowes.com.
Once Upon a Dream
ISLAND STONE - PALMS: From Go2 Design, installed here in an entertainment room in a San Jose Eichler.

In hardworking mid-century modern kitchens and baths, tile offers ideal ways to add a little personality.

Pretty materials and unique installations can bring a fresh face to your spaces—paying homage to the architecture while bringing it current with fresh colors and patterns.

"When using tile in a mid-century modern home, it's about taking inspiration from the space and not making a 100-percent replica of that era," says Feras Irikat, creative and marketing director for Lunada Bay Tile in Los Angeles. "It's all about keeping it simple with minimum materials and patterns selected for the space. Color-wise, neutral accompanied with soft chromatic colors are great choices."

Materials that are organic in nature, like handmade ceramic tiles or glass, will honor the design integrity of the home.

"Honestly, the architectural nature of the homes is so simple and pure that anything will go, but I would say stay away from true colors of the sixties, like pink or avocado green that will make your home feel in a time capsule instead of a fresh remodel," says Severine Secret, interior designer and owner of Go2 Design Studio in San Jose. "Go with whites and aqua colors for a fresh look that won't go out of style quickly."

Secret suggests modern colors and patterns because they will revive the space instead of keeping it in the past, which sometimes does not favor the house.

"Classic patterns like subway tiles will always work in an Eichler because of the linear nature of the pattern that relates to the typical architecture of the house, but I always say, there are no rules," she says. "Do what makes you happy, and it will all make sense!"

Lucile Glessner, a Silicon Valley interior designer and Eichler homeowner, agrees. "Subway tile is a very trendy classic," she says. "It can be made more interesting by adding texture, using thinner tiles, and setting them in a brick pattern at a third rather than half.

"A handmade crackled glaze, that comes in many colors from Fireclay or Wizard tile, can add a lot of style to your backsplash. Octagon tiles look good too. I also think a large-format tile from Porcelanosa with texture, or a back-painted glass panel for a more minimalist look without grout lines, are a good option for kitchen backsplashes."