“I’ll tile just about anything,” remarks interior designer Jessica Jubelirer. Case in point: the lakeside Wisconsin family home recently published (digitally) on AD. Hand-painted tile—most of it made in Portugal—was applied to the hearth, the bathrooms, the baseboards, and, most memorably, inset in the closet doors in the boat house. (The latter ones were even painted with native flowers, inspired by the Piet Oudolf–designed gardens visible just through the doors.) “Kitchens, bathrooms, and fireplaces can all benefit from its practicality and beauty,” adds the designer.
Tile, hand-painted with graphic, often figurative motifs, is a relatively easy way to amp up a variety of surfaces, taking the place of heavy, expensive stone or even a large artwork. It’s a sure way to add visual interest—anywhere it’s needed.
We’re pleased to share the latest coverage of Country Floors on Architectural Digest’s AD Pro. The Large Birds Poly Glazed Ceramic Tile is featured in an article entitled “Hand-Painted Tile- The Age-Old Decoration that ‘Defies Perfection’ is Having a Moment”.
You’ll find stellar examples in Jamie Mizrahi’s Mike Moser–designed Montecito retreat, where custom Dorset Delft tiles by Aviva Halter create a charming kitchen backsplash. Or in a San Francisco home designed by the Archers where the otherwise rather minimalist kitchen is decked out with custom Bruno Grizzo hand-painted botanical tiles.
Meanwhile, in a historic Connecticut family home designed by Virginia Tupker Delft and Portuguese tiles create a sort of wainscoting in the entryway and bathrooms, as well as fireplace surrounds. In the kitchen of that project, hand-painted tile adds a splash of pattern (drawn from a William Morris motif) as a backsplash. For yet another idea, peep Alice + Olivia founder Stacey Bendet’s New York City apartment, where the 12-foot-long dining table top is clad in hand-painted tiles by Lola Schnabel.
There are loads of resources for beautiful hand-painted tiles of all origins on the market (we love Plain English for Delft-inspired, Fam Porto for a contemporary twist on Portuguese tradition, and British label Balineum for a dash of unexpected flair), as well as stunning vintage specimens to be put to good use (should you want to channel the 17th-century tiles used in this Bavarian escape by Studio Peregalli). But Donnelly says lots of his clients are requesting bespoke tiles with totally original artwork. In this case, he advises, “as with any commission, you’ll need a strong vision, good collaborators, and a detail-oriented installer.” Thankfully, with hand-painted tile variation is part of the appeal: “It inherently defies perfection, and there’s a warmth and joy that a material created by an artist brings to a space.”