Tile and stone flooring have traditionally been used very differently in the United States than how they are used in Europe. Here, we see these materials turn up most often in our heavy-use rooms like mudrooms, bathrooms and kitchens, where they serve a very utilitarian purpose, beloved for their easy care and easy cleanup characteristics.
In Europe, the story is quite different. Tile and stone are used in every room of the house and have been for hundreds for years. (Not to mention their prevalence in castles and cathedrals!) Across the pond, you’ll find tile flooring, but you’ll also see stone and tile used in mosaics, in entryways, on walls and more.
There’s a reason we look to Europe for stone and tile design trends. European designers know that these materials serve both a functional and an aesthetic purpose; they add longevity and durability to the building while also making an artistic statement. Spain and Italy, in particular, are leaders in tile design and manufacturing. Every year, designers flock to these two countries to attend tile trade shows and expositions seeking the hottest trends in European tile design. This year, the technology behind tile design and manufacturing took center stage to offer up flooring design trends that work just as well in the United States as they do overseas.
European Flooring Trends That Add a Luxe Look to Any Home
Try any of these European flooring trends to add a luxurious feel to your home.
Colors and Patterns
Ho-hum tiles serve a purpose, but they’re anything but exciting. Advances in technology have made it possible for ceramic tile manufacturers to create products that boast bold colors, bright murals and fabulous lines, metallics, patterns and textures. Always wanted an in-floor mosaic? Now you can create one without the custom cost.
Concrete and cement flooring are popular in contemporary American home design, but they are heavy. Lighter weight ceramic and porcelain tiles are now mimicking the look of cement and concrete to offer homeowners an alternative to poured concrete or slabs. Even better, these tiles open up a whole new world of design possibilities since each piece is individually placed. It’s easy to mix and match tiles, add in a mosaic or frame the edges of the floor with a completely different tile style or color.
Natural stone is lovely, but it’s expensive. European tile manufacturers have found a way around this problem by reproducing the stone look, complete with dramatic veining, in more affordable porcelain tile. Gorgeous used on the floor, this tile could also be used in shower surrounds or on kitchen islands and countertops.
Perhaps Europe is taking a page from American design because American favorite wood-look tiles are becoming much more common there. You’ll find wood-look tiles in glossy, matte, textured and smooth finishes with a distinctly European flair like wood inlays and parquet.
According to Lake Interiors, a home products and services store in Chelan, Washington, “Porcelain’s popularity has been growing rapidly. Porcelain tile features a denser build that makes it more durable … it’s even suitable for outdoor applications. Porcelain also has a much lower water absorption rate than ceramic … [It] is resistant to bacteria. This is one of the reasons for its popularity in kitchens and bathrooms. But with an increased awareness of the many sources of bacteria, we’re beginning to see porcelain used in other rooms — and newer styles suitable for those spaces.”
Big, But Not Bold
Just can’t bring yourself to go bold with your new tile color or design? That’s okay, you can go big instead! Large tiles, some as large as 18 by 18 inches, can be used to generate visual impact while keeping a neutral palette. Bigger tiles make it easier to match shading and patterns, and they minimize the appearance of grout lines to create a seamless stone or marble look
New Subway Tiles
Subway tiles have been a tiling staple for generations. Today, they are back and better than ever. We’re seeing them in smaller and larger sizes than the traditional tiles and being installed in floor patterns such as herringbone or stepped and even in mix-and-match colors and finishes.
Even the humble ceramic tile can exude opulence when manufactured in a certain way. Look for ceramic and porcelain tiles that mimic marble, semi-transparent glass or natural stone.
Sometimes less is more and that is certainly the case with the muted and subdued colors that are available today. Pale pinks, dreamy blues and sage greens offer a colorful (but not too colorful!) alternative to yesterday’s go-to tile flooring neutrals of beige and gray. When combined with the right wall color, these lighter colors can create an otherworldly feel.
A list of European flooring design trends would not be complete without marble. Pushing the envelope beyond the traditional stone choices like Carrara, statuario and travertine, Italian tile producers are manipulating naturally occurring stone to appear luminescent and out of this world. Nebulous veining, metallic surface effects and gem-like appearances evoke feelings of the evening sky.
As Lesley A. Goddin, editor of TileLetter, the official publication of the National Tile Contractors Association, noted: “The dark marbles and moody stone colors, whether in natural stone or porcelain/ceramic tile … make a nice counterpoint to all the light finishing and add drama and dynamism to a space.”
Tile for Every Room and Every Budget
If there is one thing that 2019 tile flooring trends have demonstrated, it’s that consumers are no longer limited to naturally occurring stone and tile. Manufacturers have refined their techniques for creating these natural looks in more durable and affordable ceramic and porcelain, which puts that opulent European stone or tile look within budget for many homeowners who never thought they could afford it. If you’ve passed on tile or stone up until now, these new flooring options are definitely worth a second look.
Liyya Hassanali is a Project Manager and Content Strategist for Kinship Design Marketing, a boutique agency that provides marketing strategies and content for architects, interior designers, and landscape designers. She is a 15+ year veteran of the marketing and advertising industry, working closely with her clients to provide written content that meets their marketing goals and gets results.
Liyya is passionate about home design and décor and is a confessed HGTV and Pinterest addict. When not providing content writing services for her clients, she can be found browsing home décor sites or spending time with her family.