Next James Treble Practical Design Workshop 18 August 2021. Enrol in the course to attend!
Next James Treble Practical Design Workshop 18 August 2021. Enrol in the course to attend!

Rectangular Tiles: This Way Or That?

It is a well known fact that large people are discouraged from wearing horizontal stripes which tend to make people look shorter and wider. The good news though is that this optical illusion can be put to good use in interiors, to make spaces seem wider, and this doesn’t just apply to stripes. Positioning tiles in horizontal or vertical lines will affect the way we perceive a space.

All images: James Treble design for Eden Brae Homes

In a nutshell: horizontal lines draw the eye to width while vertical lines enhance height. The  obvious application is to use the lay of tiles to optically lead the eye up or sideways, as shown in the images below. Stripes are not always to everyone’s  taste, but the edges of the tiles and the pattern they create can carefully be played with to similarly emphasise space and define a room. Here are some tips to get you started.

On the Floors:

The positioning of the tiling or timber boards has subtle but great importance and the decision on flooring should be decided on one important premise, the eye. The eye will follow longer lines in the understated pattern the flooring creates.

  • To stimulate a quick passage from one area to the next, like in the case of hallways, for example, the tiling or boards should be placed longways to subtly direct traffic through. This option makes spaces feel longer than they actually are.
  • Wanting to invite to a slower pace in a walkthrough, or even a stop in a certain area, then horizontally placed tiling should be the choice. This option also helps spaces feel wider.

On the Walls:

Tiled walls on wet areas can be used to suggest width or height as needed. Once again, the pattern that tiles make, depending on how they are laid, will direct you to look either sideways or up and down.

  • Horizontally laid tiles will help add optical width into a small bathroom for example
  • Vertical positioning of tiles will enhance a sense of height and length to a room.

When space is not a relevant issue, the positioning of tiles can be used freely to achieve any effect you are after. Exciting, huh? One last piece of practical advice: consult with the tiler on what extra work and expense would be incurred by laying tiles one way or another. Have fun with it!

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There are many design schools offering the theory of interiors, and there’s plenty of lifestyle television and Instagram and Pinterest pages to inspire the design lovers. Yet, we know it takes more than theory and pretty images to achieve good design. The intent of Practical Design is to offer sound information and practical design knowledge.

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