While we’ll always pledge allegiance to subway tile, lately we’re seeing a new style take over. It’s often square, handcrafted, and glossy; no two pieces are exactly alike. This is zellige—and though it’s currently experiencing somewhat of a renaissance, this tile trend isn’t actually new at all.
Zellige tiling dates back to 10th-century Morocco, where it was (and still is) a prized artisan trade. While the O.G. zellige was mostly neutral, we’re now seeing a reimagining of the polished material in pastels, primary colors, and every hue in between. It’s comeback isn’t out of the blue: “Anything new and too ‘perfect’ feels mass produced and inhuman,” explains Clé Tile founder Deborah Osburn. “Right now, zellige is what our modern, digital world is craving.”
After a ringing endorsement at the 2018 Salone del Mobile—remember that stunning Hermès installation?—zellige 2.0 began to pop up left and right. “It was like a switch flipped to color,” says Osburn. “Since then, it’s become an endless summer movie vibe that’s especially rampant in California right now. A great example is Sally Breer’s Firehouse Hotel; it feels very of-the-moment.”
Read on to see some of the zellige-covered spaces inspiring us right now.
The Shower of Our Dreams
Used to differentiate the walk-in shower from the rest of the bathroom, this emerald green zellige really shines in Studio DIY’s space. Steal this idea if you can’t afford to cover every inch of your bath in tile but still want to make a statement.
The Color-Blocked Hotel Room
The aforementioned Firehouse Hotel has nailed the art of the color-saturated bathroom. Bonus points for the backsplash–floor tile coordination.
The White-on-White Kitchen
Whitewashed rooms don’t have to be boring when layers of different materials are involved. Here, wood paneling and shimmering zellige add tons of exciting texture to this rustic kitchen by Zio & Sons.
The Powder Room Draped in Yves Klein Blue
This is how you incorporate the color of the moment with a bang. When complemented with classic copper fixtures, this floor-to-ceiling tile feels fresh without being over the top. Props to Emilie Fournet for the design.
The Space-Saving Nooks
If you’re renovating and space is at a premium, consider adding built-in nooks to your shower like this SR Projects–designed space—and covering them with zellige, naturally. Another option: Add a few over your living room’s fireplace to house books and plants.
The Monochrome Marvel
We’d spend more time meal prepping just to be near this stunning black-and-white backsplash, courtesy of Zio & Sons’s collaboration with Clé Tile. Coordinating farmhouse sink very much appreciated.
Barbie’s Dream Bathroom
Seattle restaurant Willmott’s Ghost has the dreamiest bathroom hands down. When paired with a cool, irregularly shaped brass sink, suddenly millennial pink doesn’t feel so tired.
The One With Some Pattern Play
Just because you’re using one colored tile for your kitchen backsplash doesn’t mean it has to be one-note. Our proof? This emerald tilework, courtesy once more of Emilie Fournet, laid out in an eye-catching basket-weave pattern.
The Decor Equivalent of Vitamin D
Yellow zellige offers a burst of sunshine in this otherwise subdued kitchen, designed by Landed Interiors & Homes. Take a note from the setup and keep your cabinetry simple to let your tile have the spotlight.
The Kitchen That Could Be in a French Bed-and-Breakfast
Designer Dee Murphy was inspired by European kitchens when creating this space, and it shows. The zellige tile, gilded mirror, antique accents, and army of wood cutting boards are on point.
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