Published on January 14, 2020

There are some trends that fade in and out of popularity (we’re looking at you, glass bricks). Then there are the ones that stay at the bottom indefinitely—and tile countertops are apparently one of them. In a new survey of 1,500 Americans, respondents voted on their least favorite home-decor crazes from the past 50 years, breaking them down by both decade and room. Fuzzy toilet seat covers, ruffled bed skirts, and art with inspirational quotes also topped the list, but when it comes to the kitchen, the message is clear: Never, ever tile your countertops again (or so say 30 percent of interviewees). 

The question the report doesn’t answer: What if your space already has them? After all, plenty of older homes feature this so-called faux pas. Yes, the seams between the individual squares can create problems (cooking on an uneven surface is tough and the grout collects crumbs). And though heat-resistant, ceramic isn’t the most durable material on the block—the pieces can crack under pressure. But the bad and the ugly aside, tile countertops can be cool. Before you start replacing yours, consider these three ideas.

Choose a Contrasting Grout 

Read between the lines: The literal glue holding your boring white tiles together is your best friend. Simply dyeing the seams moss green, bright yellow, or electric blue will make the dated feature feel fresh. We especially love the peachy pink hue designer Tina Rich chose for the Prose office

Bring It Down the Sides 

Starting from scratch? The dark green kitchen at Piccolina Gelateria, a gelato shop in Australia, makes a case for using tile all over: The small squares continue down the front of the counter, creating a waterfall-like illusion. But why stop there? D-Tile’s curved pieces make it possible to work around turns and corners. 

Paint the Trim 

Most ceramic tiles can be painted as long as they’re not subject to water. According to Sherwin-Williams, you’ll have to clean and lightly sand the surface first (as you would a wall) and go over it with an acrylic primer before applying a high-quality latex-based paint. You don’t have to go overboard: The cobalt blue edges in Jesse Kamm’s Los Angeles kitchen are all that’s needed to make the surface seem intentional. See? What’s old can be made new again. 

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