Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tile Fireplace Design Tips

— Written by , Avente Tile

As February comes to a close, so does this month’s focus on tiled hearths and fireplaces. Today I will share three tips that can help you achieve the best design for your tiled fireplace. Tile will dramatically alter the look of a fireplace and improve a room’s look and character for a modest cost. Most fireplaces need just a few tiles, so it’s one place you can splurge, get something you really love, and still not break the budget. 

A fireplace using hand painted Spanish Tile
A fireplace using hand-painted Spanish Tile

Design Rule #1 for Tiled Fireplaces: What’s your style?

Define your style and your home’s style before deciding what tile to use. Just because you love a tile doesn't mean it will work with the design and flow of your home. Do you like plain, solid color tiles or patterned tiles? Are you working with a rustic or contemporary design? Answer these questions, and then remember that fireplace designs falls into two categories:

  1. Fireplaces that use only plain or field tile. 
  2. Fireplaces that use pattern tiles and field tile or some other material, like a stone mantle.

You can add decorative tile as accents or create a pattern with plain tile using two or three different colors of tile. Decide what style suits your tastes and the style of your house.

Hand Painted Spanish Tile Accents used for Fireplace
Detail of hand-painted Spanish tile accents used for this fireplace

Choose patterns consistent with your style and textures that will enhance it. The rough, uneven surface of our handmade Rustic Pavers and Arabesque tiles, for example, impart a provincial  feel that works great for houses with a Spanish, Southwest or colonial design. Our hand-painted Yucatan field tile will evoke an Arts & Crafts feel when the right glaze color is used. For a more formal effect, look for tiles with a smooth surface and precise edges. Use lighter glazed tiles to brighten the area. Relief tiles are a great way to add texture. 

Hand painted Spanish tiles create a rustic look
Hand-painted Spanish tiles create a rustic look

Decide on a color scheme and then start looking for tiles! Make sure to give the design aspects of the project proper attention. Take into account the scale, pattern, and texture of the tile.

Design Rule #2 for Tiled Fireplaces: Frame the Firebox

Cement Tiles used around a fireplace's firebox
This handmade Yuna cement tile border frames the firebox

It may sound obvious, simple or overstated, but make sure your fireplace tile design works by framing the fire box. It’s pretty simple, the theme for our design is really about the fireplace – drawing attention, warmth and comfort to that one space to share with friends and family.

You can frame the fire box with a decorative border tile or patterned cement tiles. For plain tile installations, use molding, different color tile, or a different format. For instance, if you are tiling the fireplace in 6”x6” tiles, try using a 3”x3” tiles around the box. 

Patio Fireplace with Sangria Red Tiles
Sangria red plain tiles frame the fire box.

Take a look at the four design ideas below. Notice each one of them frames the  firebox even if other design elements like a tiled mural or panel are used. In Design #1, a border pattern of cement tile creates the frame. In Design #2, a decorative liner or border tile frames the fire box. 

Andalucia Spanish Tile Fireplace
Decorative Andalucia Spanish ceramic tiles create a border around the fireplace's firebox.

Similarly, a 6" deco tile was used in Design #3. Plain tiles in sangria red provide the detail for the final design.

Yuna Cement Tile Fireplace
1. Cement Tile Fireplace
Spanish Tile Fireplace
2. Spanish Tile Fireplace

Spanish Tile Fireplace
3. Spanish Tile Fireplace
Ceramic Tile Fireplace Mural
4. Fireplace Tile Mural

Design Rule #3 for Tiled Fireplaces: Consider Scale

Scale your project to the size of the room and fireplace surface for balance. Tile size and pattern will drastically alter the fireplace’s appearance. The tile’s size needs to be in scale both to the size of the firebox and the room. The pattern on the tile, the tile layout (or how it is set), color and texture will create an atmosphere – make sure it’s the one you want.
A medallion using Celtic tiles provides subtle interest.
A medallion using Celtic ceramic tiles provides subtle interest.

Frequently, folks love a certain tile pattern and want to use it for their fireplace. After ordering samples, they will give me a call and say it just didn't work. I’ll often ask, “Did you try it in a smaller format? That fireplace isn’t very big when you are trying to fit patterned and field tile.” Sure enough, the design works when the tile is the right scale for the fireplace. When working with patterned or decorative tile, it’s a good idea to look at patterns that are available in different scaled formats, like our Malibu, Barcelona, Spanish and Portuguese ceramic tile lines.

Cuban Heritage Border Tiles provide warm colors and charming pattern.
Cuban Heritage Border Tiles provide warm colors and a charming pattern.

If you want to tile your fireplace, keep these three tips in mind and you should be on your way to creating a design that you will love! I hope you enjoy our series of blog posts devoted to tile and fireplace design.

Do you have a question about using tile for your fireplace or hearth? No problem! Leave your tile question in the comments section of this blog, and we'll happily answer any questions you may have.

Fireplace and Hearth Tile Design Posts

If you enjoyed today's post, then you might enjoy previous posts on tile fireplaces and hearths.

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