What’s Trending in Tile

Tile is a commonly used design material, but these days, tile design is anything but common. Whether you plan to use tile in the remodeling of your kitchen, bathroom, or outdoor living space, as a finish material, tile can offer a subtle or bold design element. The definition of tile is any baked (glazed or painted) ceramic, stone, metal, porcelain, concrete, or other material cut to a certain shape. Tile was first used in Egypt in 4,000 B.C. Tile was also created and installed by Assyrians, Babylonians and used throughout the Islamic Empire. Today, manufacturers are finding innovative ways to create sophisticated patterns, textures, colors and motifs, offering homeowners an incredible variety of tile trends to express their individuality throughout their homes.

Let’s explore some of today’s popular and incoming tile trends.

Modern Hues

Although the thought of pastels might make you think “baby colors,” today’s popular pastels offer more definition and sophistication, explains award-winning Harrell Design + Build Senior Designer, Sara Jorgensen. These trending pastels are comprised of a richly saturated palette including Pantone’s 2020 Color of the Year, Classic Blue, along with blush pink, sage green, dusty orchid, coral, and orange. As stated on Pantone’s website regarding Classic Blue, modern hues “instill calm, confidence and connection. The pink and orchid tones offer a flattering, slightly feminine feel.

“The trend in pinks first appeared in the apparel industry, and has now migrated to home design,” Sara explains.

Modernized Marble

Real marble has always been a go-to design classic and now, tile manufacturers have upped their innovations and have created porcelain tiles that mimic the look of marble. These large or small format tiles are durable and resist staining, making them a perfect choice for countertops, floors, or shower walls. Using a technology called water jet in which a thin, powerful stream of water is used to precision-cut tile, manufacturers can also create gorgeous geometric and mosaic patterns using a myriad of porcelain “marble” tiles.

Interested in a kitchen remodel? Harrell Design + Build can help!

Bas Relief

Texture and dimension have emerged strongly as a hot trend in tile. Monochromatic waves, ridges and embossed designs have a natural, hand-hewn appearance. These tiles come in a variety or sizes and can be a matte (dull) finish or polished (shiny). Stick with one texture and size to create a consistent visual statement or mix and match for a unique aesthetic. It is best to be very thoughtful at to where these textural tiles are used within a residence. “Dimensional tile can be harder to clean in a shower, but can make a bold statement at a fireplace or backsplash,” Sara reflects.

Industrial Chic

Taking its cues from old factories and industrial spaces, this tile trend is simple and utilitarian. A hallmark of this trend is a worn, unfinished appearance like exposed brick, rough stone and concrete, which lend a simple often stark aesthetic. Whether tile, or large one-piece slabs, the Industrial Chic look can be incorporated as flooring, countertops, shower walls or other applications. Wood grain tiles “planks” add rustic warmth, especially when used in tandem with concrete tile flooring. Although this once highly sought-after urban design aesthetic is waning a bit, it nonetheless retains its status among top tile trends.

Non-Traditional Geometrics

Geometric patterns, such as hexagons, chevron, picket or herringbone patterns, continue to be popular, along with shapes like trapezoids, triangles, and diamonds. This trend allows for interesting and intriguing tile layouts in entryways, as backsplashes and in showers.


A composite material that contains chips of marble, glass, granite or quartz, terrazzo is seeing a resurgence. Today’s speckled surfaces are a modern twist on a style from the 1920s when terrazzo was first popular – you can still see original terrazzo in many government and historic buildings (like the Empire State Building!). In the 1920s, terrazzo flooring was poured and installed on site, and was commonly used for flooring in high traffic areas. Because of its chip components, terrazzo comes in a variety of colors and patterns. Today’s “terrazzo” can still be installed on site (like the 1920s), but if you love the look, but not the laborious installation, you can find it as a precast tile. This installation as a tile can be more appropriate for certain settings, and can be less time consuming than pouring a terrazzo floor on site.

Terrazzo-inspired chunky Pezzo and two-tone encaustic porcelain tiles are the height of trendy while they also offer durability and minimal maintenance. Originally, this material was made from ceramic, lending a delicate, handcrafted look with a softer edge, while today’s porcelain versions still embrace the hand-made appearance but offer crisper, machine-cut (rectified) edges which enable a smaller grout line.

Large Scale Patterns

“We have notice a penchant for big, bold tile patterns, that offer a strong, eye-catching statement in home design,” emphasizes Sara.

Bold colors and versatile geometric patterns abound. Everything from Art Deco to pop culture-inspired themes, repeating designs using hexagons, arcs, diamonds and randomly combined shapes allow homeowners to express their personalities in an artful, playful manner.

Sara shares how this trend really allows for creativity, versatility, and eccentricity. “Not only can you create excitement with color, you can also employ a variety of shapes to create a lively and engaging design.”

Return To Color

Neutral palettes (as a design trend) are fading and color is taking the stage. Vibrant, bold colors like oranges and yellows are used to make a visual statement. Combining two complementary colors or two tones of the same color makes an impressive impact but must be used with restraint, recommends Sara.


Whether created using waterjet technology, printed on the tiles or handpainted, this tile trend is all about the whimsy of nature. Tile collections featuring vines, flora, and fauna in rich hues add a touch of biophilia to stair risers, accents in showers, or in powder rooms.

Refined Wood

Evolving digital printing technology continues to make collections that mimic natural wood grains and lumber — one of the popular tile trends in 2020. Organic and warm, these tiles work beautifully on walls and floors.

Woman-founded and 100% Employee-Owned, Harrell Design + Build has been creating distinctive homes in Silicon Valley and on the mid-Peninsula since 1985. If you are considering transforming your space, allow our award-winning Design + Build team to help you create the home of your dreams. Reach out to us to set up your design consultation or sign up for one of our frequent and informative educational workshops.

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