Top 5 2011 Tile Trends (Thus Far)

Trends in tile are a very interesting thing, because when you think about it, tile is really quite a permanent fixture in your home. Many people, especially commercial interior designers, love to embrace the trends and make them their own, while others prefer to avoid them and stick to the classics (which I’ll discuss in a future post). Either way, here are the top five most popular tiles for 2011, as I’ve experienced in my store:

Photo: Panaria "Pietra Celtica"

5. Large format floor tiles. For whatever reason, not a lot of people are interested in the classic 12″x12″ floor tile lately. The 12″x24″ format is extremely popular, likely because it can lengthen a small space depending on the way it’s installed.

For narrow spaces, such as a galley kitchen, it can be installed in a stacked formation horizontally to give the illusion of a wider space. Likewise, it can be stacked vertically on a wall to give a fireplace the sense of height. This versatility is likely what is helping to make it so popular.

Photo: The Tileist

4. Large format subway tiles. I would say of all my clients looking for kitchen or bathroom wall tile, at least half of them mention wanting a large format subway tile. To clarify, by large format I’m referring to subway tile larger than the classic subway tile ratio.

This is a trend that puzzles me slightly, as I overall prefer the look of the classic subway, although I will admit in certain applications (namely large bathrooms like the photo above) I do see the appeal.

Photo: Sunset

3. Staggered glass tiles. Particularly in blue and gray tones. I personally also love the look of these tiles, but I’ve found it is frequently difficult to get what I would call a good deal on them without resorting to cheaply-sourced material. Perhaps as the trend continues to grow, as I predict it will, more high-quality manufacturing plants will take on production of this style.

What I love about this tile is that, similar to the 12″x24″ format, you can install it to trick the eye into thinking a space is wider or taller than it really is. I would install it vertically in a kitchen backsplash with vertically-grained cabinetry, or as a waterfall feature in a walk-in glass shower, similar to the photo above.

Photo: Stagetecture

2. Back-painted glass tiles. This is actually a trend that I see lasting for a couple more years and then slowly disappearing. Here’s why: I have yet to find a manufacturer of this particular type of tile that is what I would call a high-quality product for a reasonable price. Read why back-painted glass can cause problems for you here.

That being said, I can’t deny the nice, clean look of it. If I were to recommend it for a client, it would only be for a very new, modern home. In terms of application, it makes a nice backsplash (if it’s a smaller kitchen), and can look quite nice as a wall-tile in a bathroom.

Sylvia Martin traditional bathroom

1. Anything with Carrera marble. And I mean anything. Actual Carrera, porcelain that looks like Carrera, Carrera counters, floors, walls, subway tiles, thin staggered tiles, etc. The list goes on. Everyone is loving Carrera right now in a big way. And why wouldn’t you? It’s simply an understated, beautiful, and classic look that can be used in quite literally any room. It’s not really appropriate to call this trendy because this look has been around for a very long time, but in case you had any reservations, it is here to stay for the long haul.

I personally can’t get enough of Carrera in bathrooms. I love a small-format floor tile, like a penny-round or a hexagon, with a Carrera brick on the wall, decorative trim, and nice molding to frame it in. There is definitely a reason it’s the #1 trend in tile! Here’s some more Carrera love to end the post:

Master Bathroom traditional bathroom
Drew contemporary bathroom
Orono Residence traditional bathroom

If you would like assistance planning your next tile project, email me at for a free consultation!

*Featured image courtesy of Interstyle

4 Responses to “Top 5 2011 Tile Trends (Thus Far)”
  1. Barb Singer says:

    I’m trying to find a backsplash for my kitchen. My granite is White Spring, a creamy white background with taupe, black and garnet veins. Its kind of a busy pattern.

    My cabinets are Transitional, cherry, with a black glaze. I have stainless appliances. The Kitchen is looking dark, so I need the backsplash to be light. I’d love to find a polished marble subway tile, but all the whites either have gray or pink undertones or are too yellowish beige.

    I found a soft white ceramic subway tile that might work, but I’m afraid ceramics in general may look cheap next to the granite. Glass seems too modern for the cabinets.

    Do you think a light Travertine like Ivory Amalfi in a 2 x 4 is too dated? I also found it in a 2 5/8 x 5 5/8 pillow top as well, but it’s tumbled and I’m concerned it will be too hard to keep clean, even with a sealant.

    Also do you think a pillow top is too trendy and busy?

    Thank you so much for your help.



    • Tile Tramp says:

      Hi Barb,

      I’m happy to help! Do you have any photos of your kitchen you could email to me at It would be very helpful to see the setup of your kitchen as it is before I give a recommendation.

      Off the top of my head, with the granite you’ve chosen (if it’s the one I’m thinking of, I’d need to see a picture to confirm), I wouldn’t go with a marble backsplash tile because the veining is going to clash with your counter.

      The pillow top look is definitely trendy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t attractive…I’ve seen it done a number of different ways and create a dazzling effect.

      However, if your counter is what I think it is, your best bet is going with a plain-colored tile in an off-white or similarly light shade. I understand your concern about cheap-looking ceramic tile, there’s a lot of it out there. To avoid a cheap look, go with either a handmade tile which should have some natural ripples in it that are quite lovely installed (and can’t be made cheaply), or go with a unique pattern like a diamond or arabesque pattern that adds a bit of interest. You can also incorporate decorative inserts into a plain field tile in a variety of different ways.

      Like I said, I would be able to give you a number of ideas if you could send some photos my way! But if not, hopefully that helps a bit 🙂


  2. Migo says:

    Would it be better to have a staggered tiles or stacked up tiles in the fireplace? The tiles are 12×24 either vertically staggered or stacked. Which will look more modern?

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  1. […] earlier this year I wrote a post discussing the tile trends for 2011. This was an all-encompassing list of the top 5 trends in the world of tile. A reader has suggested […]

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