I don’t have photos of my 1896 grey stone house in Chicago. I wish I had take some, at least of the original cement tile vestibule floor with a plain rust-brown field and mosaic border in shades of terracotta, gold and gray. That floor was a typical Victorian era “drab” palette. And today, we’re just beginning to appreciate that sort of vintage style tile.
A photo a family kitchen of a renovated 1882 home in Paris [top] with a spectacular patterned floor is a good example of vintage style tile. There, it’s a companion piece to the original 1882 coffered ceiling. However, the floor was created from ca. 1900 cement tiles by Winckelmans, a French tile house which has been a name brand since 1894. Like Oriental rugs, these floors are composed of a field pattern and borders. Here, the geometric field is set on a grid with alternating dots and stars at the corners. Squares within diamonds alternate color to ramp up the intensity of the pattern. The interior mosaic border has shaded elements that give it a saw-tooth visual buzz. And to maximize it all, the pattern floats in a plain dark band of tile around the perimeter of the room. A La Cornue range also suits the 19th century look which also includes high-wainscoted walls clad in glazed Moroccan tile (zellige) which has slightly irregular charm that the Belgians also admire.
A 1930s blue-chip mansion on Long Island, redone by Steven Gambrel, has a love-it-or-hate it red, black and white vintage style tile kitchen floor that – apart from a fretwork border around the island – is rather simple, in keeping with the streamlined Art Deco era. The red Lacanche range reinforces the vivid floor color while the walls take on a slightly industrial look thanks to oversized custom subways that extend right up to the top of the 16-foot high ceiling. But here again, the glazed tile almost looks like old linoleum or perhaps a French Art Deco rug. Wonderful.
(Source: WOI, AD)
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